ALPHONSO I. is said to have married Ormesinda, daughter of Pelavo, who was raised on the shield in Asturias as king of the Goths after the Arab conquest. He is also said to have been the son of Peter. duke of Cantabria. It is not improbable that he was in fact an hereditary chief of the Basques, but no contemporary records exist.
His title of"the Catholic" itself may very well have been the invention of later chronicles.
ALPHONSO II. (789-842), his reputed grandson, bears the name of "the Chaste." The Arab writers who speak of the Spanish kings of the north-west as the Beni-Altons, appear to recognize them as a royal stock derived from Alphonso I. The events of his reign are in reality unknown. Poets of a later generation invented the story of the secret marriage of his sister Ximena with Sancho, count of Saldana, and the feats of their son Bernardo del Carpio. Bernardo is the hero of a cantar de gesta (chanson de geste) written to please the anarchical spirit of the nobles.
The first faint glimmerings of medieval Spanish history begin with ALPHONSO III. (866--914) surnamed "the Great." Of him also nothing is really known except the bare facts of his reign and of his comparative success in consolidating the kingdom known as "of Galicia" or "of Oviedo" during the weakness of the Omayyad princes of Cordova. ALPHONSO IV.
(924-931) has a faint personality. He resigned the crown to his brother Ramiro and went into a religious house. A certain instability of character is revealed by the fact that he took up arms against Ramiro, having repented of his renunciation of the world. He was defeated, blinded and sent back to die in the cloister of Sahagun. It fell to ALPHONSO V. (999-1028) to begin the work of reorganizing the Christian kingdom of the north-west after a most disastrous period of civil war and Arab inroads. Enough is known of him to justify the belief that he had some of the qualities of a soldier and a statesman. His name, and that of his wife Geloria (Elvira), are associated with the grant of the first franchises of Leon. He was killed by an arrow while besieging the town of Viseu in northern Portugal, then held by the Mahommedans. (For all these kings see the article SPAIN: History.)
Continued on page two.
This article is from the 1911 edition of an encyclopedia, which is out of copyright here in the U.S. See the encyclopedia main page for disclaimer and copyright information.