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Ferdinand I of Leon

Ferdinand I of Castile, El Magno or "the Great," king of Castile (d. 1065), son of Sancho of Navarre, was put in possession of Castile in 1028, on the murder of the last count, as the heir of his mother Elvira, daughter of a previous count of Castile.

He reigned with the title of king. He married Sancha, sister and heiress of Bermudo[?], king of León[?]. In 1038 Bermudo was killed in battle with Ferdinand at Tamaron[?], and Ferdinand then took possession of León by right of his wife, and was recognized in Spain as emperor. The use of the title was resented by the emperor Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and by Pope Victor II in 1055, as implying a claim to the headship of Christendom, and as a usurpation on the Holy Roman Empire.

It did not, however, mean more than that Spain was independent of the Empire, and that the sovereign of León was the chief of the princes of the peninsula. Although Ferdinand had grown in power by a fratricidal strife with Bermudo of León, and though at a later date he defeated and killed his brother García of Navarre[?], he ranks high among the kings of Spain who have been counted religious.

To a large extent he may have owed his reputation to the victories over the Mahommedans, with which he began the period of the great reconquest. But there can be no doubt that Ferdinand was profoundly pious. Towards the close of his reign he sent a special embassy to Seville to bring back the body of Santa Justa[?]. The then king of Seville, Motadhid[?], one of the small princes who had divided the caliphate of Cordova, was himself a sceptic and poisoner, but he stood in wholesome awe of the power of the Christian king.

He favoured the embassy in every way, and when the body of Santa Justa could not be found, helped the envoys who were also aided by a vision seen by one of them in a dream, to discover the body of Saint Isidore[?], which was reverently carried away to León. Ferdinand died on the feast of Saint John the Evangelist[?], June 24, 1065, in León, with many manifestations of ardent piety?having laid aside his crown and royal mantle, dressed in the frock of a monk and lying on a bier, covered with ashes, which was placed before the altar of the church of Saint Isidore.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Preceded by:
Sancho III of Navarre
List of Castilian monarchs Succeeded by:
Alfonso VI

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