Alfonso VI of Castile

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Alfonso VI (before June, 1040 – June 29/July 1, 1109), nicknamed the Brave (El Bravo) or the Valiant, was King of León from 1065, King of Castile and de facto King of Galicia from 1072, and self-proclaimed "Emperor of all Spain". Since the Toledo's conquest he also self-proclaimed victoriosissimo rege in Toleto, et in Hispania et Gallecia[1]. Much romance has gathered around his name.



As the middle of three sons of King Ferdinand I of León and Sancha of León, Alfonso was allotted León when the kingdom was divided following his father's death, while Castile was given to his elder brother Sancho, Galicia to younger brother García, and sisters Urraca and Elvira given the cities of Zamora and Toro respectively. Each of the brothers was also assigned a sphere of influence among the Taifa states. Alfonso appears to have taken the first step in violating this division, in 1068 invading the Galician client Taifa of Badajoz and extorting tribute. In response, Sancho attacked and defeated Alfonso at Llantada but three years later in 1071 they joined forces against García. Sancho over-marched Alfonso's León to conquer García's northern lands, while Alfonso himself is found issuing charters in the southern part of the Galician realm. García fled to taifa Seville, and the remaining brothers then turned on each other. This conflict culminated in the Battle of Golpejera in early January, 1072. Sancho proved victorious and Alfonso himself was forced to flee to his client Taifa of Toledo. Later that year as Sancho was mopping up the last of the resistance, besieging his sister Urraca at Zamora in October, he was assassinated, opening the way for Alfonso to return to claim Sancho's crown. García, induced to return from exile, was imprisoned by Alfonso for life, leaving Alfonso in uncontested control of the reunited territories of their father. In recognition of this and his role as the preeminent Christian monarch on the peninsula, in 1077 Alfonso proclaimed himself "Emperor of all Spain".

In the cantar de gesta The Lay of the Cid, he plays the part attributed by medieval poets to the greatest kings, and to Charlemagne himself. He is alternately the oppressor and the victim of heroic and self-willed nobles — the idealized types of the patrons for whom the jongleurs and troubadours sang. He is the hero of a cantar de gesta which, like all but a very few of the early Spanish songs, like the cantar of Bernardo del Carpio and the Infantes of Lara, exists now only in the fragments incorporated in the chronicle of Alfonso the Wise or in ballad form.

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