Alfonso X (Spanish king of Castile and León)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Alfonso X (Spanish king of Castile and León)

Alfonso X (Alfonso the Wise), 1221–84, Spanish king of Castile and León (1252–84); son and successor of Ferdinand III, whose conquests of the Moors he continued, notably by taking Cádiz (1262). His mother, Beatriz, was a daughter of the German king Philip of Swabia, and Alfonso's principal ambition was to become Holy Roman Emperor. In 1257 he was elected by a faction of German princes as antiking to Richard, earl of Cornwall, but because of papal opposition and Spanish antagonism, he did not go to Germany, and in 1275 he finally renounced his claim to the imperial throne. In his domestic policy, Alfonso's assertion of royal authority led to a rebellion of the nobles. His Moorish subjects also rose (1264) against him and were subdued only with the help of James I of Aragón. After the death (1275) of his eldest son, Ferdinand, while fighting the Moors, civil war for the succession broke out between Ferdinand's children and Alfonso's second son, who eventually succeeded him as Sancho IV. Sancho's partisans in the Cortes at Valladolid even declared Alfonso deposed (1282). The king died while the dynastic dispute was still unsettled. Alfonso stimulated the cultural life of his time. Under his patronage the schools of Seville, Murcia, and Salamanca were furthered, and Muslim and Jewish culture flowed into Western Europe. He was largely responsible for the Siete Partidas, a compilation of the legal knowledge of his time; for the Alfonsine tables in astronomy; and for other scientific and historical works.

See studies by E. E. S. Procter (1951), J. E. Keller (1967), and J. Ribera y Tarragó (1970).

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