Peter of Castile

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Peter (Spanish: Pedro) (30 August 1334 – 23 March 1369), sometimes called the Cruel (el Cruel or O Cruel,) or the Lawful (Spanish: 'el Justiciero', Galician: 'O Justiçeyro') (Old Spanish- El Iusteçero), was the king of the Castilian Crown from 1350 to 1369. He was the son of Alfonso XI of Castile and Maria of Portugal,[1] daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal. He was the last ruler of the main branch of the House of Burgundy.

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Early life

Peter began to reign at the age of sixteen, and found himself subjected to the control of his mother and her favourites. Peter was to be married to Joan, the daughter of Edward III of England, but on the way to Castile, she travelled through cities infested with plague, ignoring townspeople who had warned her not to enter the town. Joan soon contracted the disease and died.[2]

At first he was controlled by his mother, but emancipated himself with the encouragement of the minister Albuquerque and became attached to María de Padilla, marrying her in secret in 1353. María turned him against Albuquerque. In the summer of 1353 the king was practically coerced by his mother and the nobles into marrying Blanche of Bourbon, but deserted her at once. This marriage necessitated Peter's denying that he had married María, but his relationship with her continued and she bore him four children. He also apparently went through the form of marriage with a lady of the family of Castro, who bore him a son, and then deserted her. A period of turmoil followed in which the king was for a time overpowered and in effect imprisoned. The dissension within the party striving to coerce him enabled him to escape from Toro, where he was under observation, to Segovia.

In 1361 Blanche died in Medina Sidonia. Legend states that Peter murdered her. One version of the story says she was poisoned, another that she was shot with a crossbow.[3]

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