Queens-Dowager and Queens-Regent in Tenth-Century León and Navarre
In the spring of the year 975 a large Christian army, composed of contingents drawn from the kingdom of Navarre, the county of Castile, and the lesser lordships of Peñafiel and Alava, besieged the recently refortified Arab stronghold of Gormaz. The siege, which had begun by early April, dragged on for over two months. A relieving army sent by the caliph al-Hakam II (r. 961–76) was unable to cross the Duero to assist the besieged garrison, and it must have looked as if the fortress, the most powerful Muslim stronghold in the central March, would fall. At this point the fourteen-year-old king of León, Ramiro III (r. 966–85), put himself at the head of the Christian forces to ensure that the imminent triumph was secured under his leadership rather than that of the overly independent frontier counts who had instigated the campaign. The young king’s decision to take this personal role was inspired by his aunt Elvira, who had exercised the regency of the kingdom since the death of her brother King Sancho the Fat in 966. She accompanied her nephew to Gormaz (García Gomez 1967: sections 218–20, 223, 229–30, 233–36, 239–42; Pérez de Urbel 1969–70: ii, 339–45).
KeywordsEleventh Century Royal Family Royal Court Royal Charter Monastic Life
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