Ferdinand III of Castile

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Saint Ferdinand III (5 August 1199 – 30 May 1252) was the King of Castile from 1217 and King of Galicia and León from 1230. He was the son of Alfonso IX of León and Berenguela of Castile. Through his second marriage he was also Count of Aumale. He finished the work done by his maternal grandfather Alfonso VIII and consolidated the Reconquista. In 1231, he permanently united Castile and León. He was canonized in 1671 and, in Spanish, he is Fernando el Santo, San Fernando or San Fernando Rey.


Early life

Ferdinand was born at the monastery of Valparaíso (Peleas de Arriba, in what is now the province of Zamora) in 1198-99.

His parents' marriage was annulled by order of Pope Innocent III in 1204, due to consanguinity. Berenguela took their children, including Ferdinand, to the court of her father. In 1217, her younger brother Henry I died and she succeeded him to the Castilian throne, but immediately surrendered it to her son, Ferdinand, for whom she initially acted as regent. When Alfonso died in 1230, Ferdinand also inherited León, though he had to fight Alfonso's heirs, Sancha and Dulce, daughters of his first wife, for it. He thus became the first sovereign of both kingdoms following the death of Alfonso VII in 1157.


Early in his reign, Ferdinand had to deal with a rebellion of the House of Lara. He also established a permanent border with the Kingdom of Aragon by the Treaty of Almizra (1244).

St Ferdinand spent much of his reign fighting the Moors. Through diplomacy and war, exploiting the internal dissensions in the Moorish kingdoms, he triumphed in expanding Castilian power over southern Iberian Peninsula. He captured the towns of Úbeda in 1233, Córdoba in 1236, Jaén in 1246, and Seville in 1248, and occupied Murcia in 1243, thereby reconquering all Andalusia save Granada, whose king nevertheless did homage as a tributory state to Ferdinand. Ferdinand divided the conquered territories between the Knights, the Church, and the nobility, whom he endowed with great latifundias. When he took Córdoba, he ordered the Liber Iudiciorum to be adopted and observed by its citizens, and caused it to be rendered, albeit inaccurately, into Castilian.

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