Huesca temática

Number 146 - July of 2010Spanish language Principal menu

Pedro II of Aragon

Second king of
the Crown of Aragon

     Pedro II of Aragon, the Catholic (Huesca, July, 1178 - Muret (current France), September 13, 1213), king of Aragon, count of Barcelone (1196-1213) and gentleman of Montpellier (1204-1213). Son of Alfonso II the Chaste of Aragon and Sancha of Castile and of Poland.
     He was born in July, 1178 in Huesca, city in which there was reigning his father Alfonso II who, the same month, granted at least two documents. He received the baptism in the cathedral of Huesca and his infancy passed in the Upper Aragon capital raised by his nanny Sancha de Torres.
      In general lines, the reign of Pedro II was dedicated to the politics in the trans-Pyreneans territories, with limited results and finally failed, what, apart from the chronic decrease of financial resources and the indebtedness of the crown during his reign, determined a minor attention to the Hispanic border, achieving scarcely some position advanced in territory andalusí (Andalusia), like Mora de Rubielos (1198), Manzanera (1202), Rubielos de Mora (1203), Camarena (1205) and Serreilla, El Cuervo, Castielfabib and Ademuz (1210), although iy had a political support role to a joint Christian action that would brake the force of the Almohad power in the peninsula, and took part actively along with Alfonso VIII of Castile and Sancho VII of Navarre in the campaign that culminated in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa -1212-; a Christian victory, decisive according to many, and of big resonance already in those moments.
     Pedro II renewed the vassalage of Aragon to San Pedro (as Sancho Ramírez and Pedro I were already doing time behind) with his coronation for pope Inocencio III in the monastery of San Pancracio of Rome in November, 1204, acquiring also the commitment of the authorization to the Papacy of an annual sum. This politics of papal legitimization turned him into the first monarch of the kingdom that was crowned and anointed. From him and by authorization of the Holy See, in bull dictated on June 6, 1205, the Aragonese monarches will be crowned in the Cathedral of Saragossa of hands of the archbishop of Tarragona, after requesting the crown the Pope (formality that was implying the permission of Rome), this prerogative would be extensive to the queens in 1206.
     He married in 1204 Maria de Montpellier; a marriage guided by its interests in the French midday that provided the sovereignty to him on the city of Montpellier. His scarce marital life was on the point of creating a situation of succession crisis for lack of heir. The queen Maria gave finally a son, Jaime I, who guaranteed the continuity of the dynasty although there was an attempt of divorce, which the Pope did not grant, to marry Maria de Montferrato, nominal heiress of the crossed kingdom of Jerusalem, for then nonexistent already in practice.
     Pedro II did not resign from the politics in Occitania and with him is happen, simultaneously, the culmination and the defeat of this politics in the Crown of Aragon that inherited from the count of Barcelone from the XIth century and the campaigns with help of trans-Pyrenean magnates of Alfonso I of Aragon, his father Alfonso II had increased in his double condition of Count of Barcelone and King of Aragon.
     Ramón Berenguer I had initiated, in opposition to the counts of Toulouse, a penetration politic in Occitania of the county of Barcelone, with the acquisition of the territories of the counties of Carcasona and Rasés (later lost to hands of the Trencavel), that continued in the XIIth century with Ramón Berenguer III and IV consolidating their position in the area like counts of Provence and obtaining, between 1130 and 1162, the vassalage of numerous gentlemen in the area.

      Throughout the XIIth and XIIIth centuries, the influence of the catarismo, a Christian confession with origins in Asia Minor and the Balkans, had been spreading in the Occident Latin and consolidated strongly in the called Occitania or territories of the current French midday, where a Cathar Church was structured with several episcopates and which epicenter was the area of the city of Albi, by what also it is named an Albigensian movement. The coexistence situation with this church rival tolerated by the powers of the area, was threatening there the hegemony of the Roman Church.
     The event that untied the conflict was the murder in January, 1208 of Pierre de Castelnau sent to Toulouse like papal legacy to come up on behalf of Rome, which induced the Pope to excommunicate the count of Tolouse and promulgate the crusade against the Albigensian.
     The «lightning« war in 1209 went initially against the viscountcies of the Occitan dynasty Trencavel, where the brutal capture of Béziers took place, with a generalized slaughter without distinction of creed. This initial phase of the crusade finishes with the place and the subsequent capture of the city of Carcasona in the Summer 1209, after which there were granted to the Frenchman crossed Simón de Montfort, for the proper papal legacy, the submitted grounds of the family Trencavel..
     After the defeat of the conciliation between Occitan and Simón de Montfort, Pedro II declared himself a protector of the threatened Occitan dominions and of Toulouse. Although his son was remaining under tutelage in power of Simón de Montfort and to the excommunication of Inocencio III, he had chosen to support finally the French cause; there assembled finally an Aragonese and Catalan army with whom he crossed the Pyrenees and together the Occitan Allied Forces he put encirclement to the city of Muret, where Simón de Montfort came. Departing from a profitable situation by the forces and provisionings, in the campaign, it seems to be, his hosts acted with precipitation and lack of organization, without waiting for the arrival of all the contingents. He would be dead when being isolated by the French gentlemen in a combat in which the king was occupying a danger position in the second line, instead of, as it was the habitual thing, of being located in the rearguard. The death of the king brought the disorder and the rush between the tolosano-Aragonese forces and the consequent defeat. Muret supposed the defeat and abandonment of the pretensions of the Crown of Aragon on the territories ultra-Pyreneans- and, according to author Michel Roquebert, the end of the possible formation of an Aragonese - Occitan powerful kingdom that would have changed the course of the history of Spain.

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     Excommunicated by the same Pope who crowned him, Pedro II of Aragon remained buried in the Hospitable of Toulouse, until in 1217 the Pope Honorio III authorized the transfer of his remains to the real pantheon of Santa Maria de Sigena in Huesca, where he was buried out of the sacred enclosure.

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