30.06.

1109: Alfonso the Brave – Conqueror of Madrid and the “Emperor of all Spain”

1109: Alfonso the Brave – Conqueror of Madrid and the “Emperor of all Spain”
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ A 12th-century painting of Alfonso VI at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 30 June 1109
  • He was the ruler of Castile, León, Galicia and Portugal, and took the pompous title of "Emperor of all Spain" (Latin: Imperator totius Hispaniae). In his time, the southern half of present-day Spain was still ruled by Muslims.

On this day died the mighty King Alfonso VI, nicknamed the Brave (El Bravo). 

He was the ruler of Castile, León, Galicia and Portugal, and took the pompous title of “Emperor of all Spain” (Latin: Imperator totius Hispaniae).  In his time, the famous El Cid (real name Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar) lived on the territory of Spain.

Alfonso VI was born at a time when the southern half of present-day Spain was still ruled by Muslims. Alfonso had two brothers and each of them inherited one kingdom. Alfonso inherited León, his older brother Sancho inherited Castile and his younger brother García the Kingdom of Galicia. However, both Alfonso’s brothers died before him without an heir, so Alfonso united the three kingdoms under his authority.

By attacking small Muslim states in the south, in 1085, Alfonso VI succeeded in conquering the important city of Toledo, as well as the area of today’s Spanish capital Madrid.

The Archdiocese in Toledo was then restored and the archbishop of Toledo was the first primate of the whole of Spain. It is interesting that French monk Bernard de Sedirac, who was a monk in the Abbey of Cluny, was named for the archbishopric of Toledo by Alfonso VI.

The way that Alfonso VI titled himself is quite interesting. In documents, he referred to himself as:

“Ego Adefonsus imperator totius Hispaniae -“I, Alfonso, emperor of all Spain”

“Ego, Adefonsus, constitutus super omnes Spanie imperator” – “I, Alfonso, appointed emperor of all Spain”

Indeed, in a letter in Arabic, Alfonso VI styled himself the “al-Imbraţūr dhī-l-Millatayn”, which could be translated as “Emperor of the Two Religions” (referring to Christianity and Islam).

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