Money isn’t Everything: Concubinage, Class, and the Rise and Fall of Sibil·la de Fortià, Queen of Aragon (1377–87)

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Sibil-la de Fortià became queen of the Crown of Aragon upon her marriage to Pere the Ceremonious (r. 1337–87) in 1377. The fifty-eight-year-old king ruled one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Western Mediterranean, an aggregate that spanned the principality of Catalonia, and the Kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia and Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Duchies of Athens and Neopatria. Sibil·la was a Catalan, a member of the lower nobility, who married Pere after having been his concubine for some time and having given him a daughter, Isabel. She was remarkable because typically, a queen should have been a woman of royal lineage or of the highest nobility whose family could provide a considerable dowry and with whom a marriage alliance would offer political advantages. Women of such families tended to be raised with the aim of marrying them well; it was important that they be cultivated, sophisticated and of virtuous repute. They were frequently betrothed as infants, and married off soon after puberty.1 Sibil·la, thus, represents one of the few examples of an illiterate member of the lower nobility who ascended to the rank of queen after having served her future husband openly as a concubine. This chapter examines Sibil·la’s trajectory from concubine to queen, the opportunities and challenges that her rank and status presented her with, and the resistance she faced from the established elite.


Royal Family Real Academia Royal Court Extrajudicial Killing Future Husband 
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© Theresa Earenfight 2010

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