Alfonso II of Aragon

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Alfonso II (Aragon) or Alfons I (Provence and Barcelona; 1157[1] – 25 April 1196), called the Chaste or the Troubadour, was the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona from 1162 until his death. He was the son of Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona and Petronilla of Aragon and the first King of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona. He is thus sometimes called, like his successors, especially by Catalan historians, the "count-king". He was also Count of Provence from 1167, which he acquired from the heiress Douce II, until 1173, when he ceded it to his brother Berenguer. His reign has been characterised by nationalistic and nostalgic Catalan historians, as l'engrandiment occitànic or "the Pyrenean unity": a great scheme to unite various lands on both sides of the Pyrenees under the rule of the House of Barcelona.[2]

Contents

Reign

Born Raymond Berengar (Ramon Berenguer) at Huesca, he ascended the united throne of Aragon and Barcelona as Alfonso, changing his name in deference to the Aragonese, to honour Alfonso I.

For most of his reign he was allied with Alfonso VIII of Castile, both against Navarre and against the Moorish taifa kingdoms of the south. In his Reconquista effort Alfonso pushed as far as Teruel, conquering this important stronghold on the road to Valencia in 1171. The same year saw him capturing Caspe.

Apart from common interests, kings of Aragon and Castile were united by a formal bond of vassalage the former owed to the latter. Besides, on January 18, 1174 in Zaragoza Alfonso married Infanta Sancha of Castile, sister of the Castilian king.

Another milestone in this alliance was the Treaty of Cazorla between the two kings in 1179, delineating zones of conquest in the south along the watershed of the rivers Júcar and Segura. Southern areas of Valencia including Denia were thus secured to Aragon.

During his reign Aragonese influence north of the Pyrenees reached its zenith, a natural tendency given the affinity between the Occitan and Catalan dominions of the Crown of Aragon. His realms incorporated not only Provence, but also the counties of Cerdanya and Roussillon (inherited in 1172). Béarn and Bigorre paid homage to him in 1187. Alfonso's involvement in the affairs of Languedoc, which would cost the life of his successor, Peter II of Aragon, for the moment proved highly beneficial, strengthening Aragonese trade and stimulating emigration from the north to colonise the newly reconquered lands in Aragon.

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