My History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


03/04/2007
  A Royal Mess .... eh, Mistress

I'm preparing a post about Donizetti's opera Maria Padilla but got a bit sidetracked by the historical background. Since it ties in with Edward III (whom we already have met in L'assedio di Calais), I think there might be some interest among my readers. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article is a mess, but I don't want to get so sidetracked as to look for books in the University Library. The Spanish version is more detailed and obviously makes more sense, but my Spanish doesn't make any, lol. Maybe David can read it and add some interesting details.

Maria de Padilla (1134-1361) was mistress and later the wife of King Pedro the Cruel of Castille (1334-1369; he's also called 'el Justiciero', the Law-Abiding?, depending on the sources).

The first connection of the young King of Castille with Edward III is that he was supposed to marry Edward's daughter Joan, but she caught the plague on her way to Castille and died. Next candidate for marriage was Blanche of Bourbon - first England and now France, and with the Hudred Years War going on. Makes one wonder. Pedro's mother and her Portugesian favourite Alfonso de Albuquerque may have talked him into that alliance.

At that time Pedro was already living with Maria de Padilla. She was of the Spanish noblity and daughter of Juan García de Padilla, Señor de Villagera. So when Blanche arrived, Pedro took one look and put her off to the Alcazar in Toledo, which did not please the French and Albuquerque one bit. Nor did it please the Pope. Pedro didn't care about Albuquerque who fell from favour faster than a Bavarian peasant boy falls off the ladder to the window of a girl who doesn't like him. France and the Pope were another matter, but not even the latter could talk Pedro into sending off Maria instead of his wife.

And here's where part of the confusion comes in. Blanche died in 1359, but it is said Pedro married Maria in 1353. Was the marriage to Blanche annuled, or was she indeed killed by instigation of the king because the Pope would not annul the marriage, and would Pedro and Maria then have married in 1359? And what role plays another woman, Juana de Castro, who seems to have seeked to replace Maria but without success? Well, fact is that the children of Pedro and Maria must have been legitimized at some point, or Edward III would scarcely have married his younger sons to them: John of Gaunt married Constance, and Edmund of Langley Isabella. There's the next connection to the Plantagenets. Alliances with England again. Don't you love politics?.

Maria de Padilla died in 1361 but I have not found any details (childbirth, illness?).

Pedro was not popular among the Castillian nobility, and he had some troublesome half-brothers - his dad Alfonso looked for fun outside the marriage bed as well. The most important of the lot was Enrique de Trastamara who led the rebellion, or became its figurehead - depending whether one sees it as a rebellion of the nobles against a king, or the result of Enrique's ambitions. In the following period of turmoil, Pedro may have been imprisoned for a time, but I could not find proof for that. Following the not unusual politics that the best means against inside troubles is an outside war, Pedro attacked the kingdom of Aragon, but without success.

What followed was the the Castillian Civil War (1366-69). Enrique had the support of France, the Pope, and Aragon (Pedro had a talent collecting enemies) and could use French mercenaries led by Bertrand du Guesclin, and I bet French money as well. Pedro got kicked off the throne and was obliged to flee to Gascony, then held by the English. He implored Edward Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, oldest son of Edward III, for aid in exchange of some land in Castille and other compensations.

The Black Prince managed to send Enrique packing after the battle of Navarette (Najéra, 1367). But Pedro didn't keep his promises to Edward who soon got sick both in real and of Pedro and left Castille.

Enrique meanwhile signed a treaty with Charles of France (who now was promised the bits of Castille Pedro failed to give Edward of Wales) and when he saw that Black fellow had left, went back to Castille. Pedro lost the Battle of Montiel, and Enrique killed - or had him killed - his half-brother in the tent of du Guesclin to make sure Pedro would not cause any more trouble. But what was Pedro doing in the tent of the leader of the French mercenaries in the first place?

If anyone can sort out the confusions and add more interesting tidbits, feel free to comment.

Picture: Pedro's beheading, from a 14th century manuscript. Public license.
(Strange how they were all running around with their crowns on all day long)
 
Comments:
Constance, Pedro's daughter, is one of those people I'd really love to know more about. I believe that there's a biography of her own daughter by John of Gaunt, but I think it's in Spanish.
 
Hmm.
She figures in my family tree somewhere - but such claims are so notoriously unreliable I never pursued her history.
 
Susan,
there seem to be a lot of interesting people that never made it to the historical spotlight. The 'Edwardian' blogs on my blogroll have introduces me to several of them.

Lol Bernita,
I'm of old Abodrite nobility, it seems :)
 
Very interesting post! I'd also love to know more about Constance, and her sister Isabella - who was meant to have had an affair with Richard II's half-brother John Holland, though that may be vicious gossip. Apparently her tomb was opened in the 19th century, and she was only 4 feet 8 inches tall (according to Alison Weir).
 
Lol, I'm always more interested in the men. But that's an interesting tidbit about Isabella's size - or lack thereof. ;)
 
Wasn't Isabella the one with forked teeth too?
 
Edmund of Langley was 5 feet 11, so there was a pretty big difference in height.

Susan - yes, Weir claims that Isabella had 'strange, forked teeth', but I've also read that she hopelessly misinterpreted the evidence.
 
I'm with you, Gabriele.
John of Gaunt, now, was far more interesting to my taste.
 
Bernita,
maybe someone of the 'Edwardians' on my blogroll will write a post about John and Edmund and their Spanish wives. :)
 
You always have the most awesome pictures on your site!
 
Yeesh, you need a flow chart to follow the intrique. I think the most important question comes at the end - "What was Pedro doing in the tent of the leader of the French mercenaries?" That's what I'd like to know. What scheme was he up to? Just stopped by for lunch seems a bit implausible, given his history. :)
 
Thank you, Megumi.
That one I found on Wikimedia, though, it's not one of my own.

Constance,
I hope David aka Excalibor, who is Spanish, will chime in with more info. Though he loves the old guys like Alexander and some pharoahs better than the muddled Middle Ages. :)
 
Interesting post :) The Dutch Wikipedia has some more detail about Pedro's death: He tried to escape from the siege of Montiel by offering du Guesclin a lot of gold. However, once he'd gotten hold of Pedro, du Guesclin made him a prisoner and surrendered him to Enrique. Pedro was not amused and tried to stab Enrique, but some random knight noticed and tripped him. Then Enrique grabbed his dagger and stabbed Pedro.

Thea Beckman has a rather good trilogy about the Hundred Year's War; the third book is about du Guesclin's trip to Spain. Here it's the MC (a ten-year-old with a talent for throwing knives) who kills Pedro. I really need to reread those books.
 
So it was self-defense, not an execution. Interesting story, thanks for posting that, Celede.

I should try to find those books albeit it may prove difficult here.
 
Well, better late than later (heh :-)

According to my reading of the Wikipedia (spanish edition), Pedro married Blanca de Borbón (Blanche) and three days later he leaves her due to a supposed infidelity, and returns to María de Padilla, his lover, who had already given him a child, Beatriz. Apparently the marriage between Pedro and Blanche was highly desired by D. Juan Alfonso de Albuquerque (king's favourite) and the treason of his new wife would had been with D. Fadrique de Trastamara on her way from France to Valladolid, the Trastamara being one of the most powerful families of the time.

Later on, he asked/forced for the nulity of his marriage with Blanche (who was imprisoned) so he could marry Juana de Castro, but he kept having children with María de Padilla.

WHen Pedro moved to Medina Sidonia, he ordered the assasination of Blanche so he could marry María, but she (María) died of some natural causes, de su dolencia (according to Ayala on his chronicle: of her dolence/illness; probably the Black Death?) in Astudillo. He managed to get all his marriages nullified so she could be her one, only and true love forever.

Later on, a Frenchman called Duguesclín accompanied Pedro to a tent where his brother Enrique was waiting for him: they run on each other and fell to the ground, Pedro on Enrique: a Duguesclín is said to say these famous words: "I don't quit nor put kings, but I'll help my lord", he moved Pedro and put him on the ground as well, then Enrique de Trastamara stabbed him repeatedly and then beheaded him: sounds like treason to me, anyway... :-P

And this is all modern history to me, open to interpretation: I'm still collecting the fragments of the Roman Empire, by love's sake! ;-)

Laters!
 
Thank you, David.

This is getting more convoluted. So Pedro was married to Blanche, divorced her (or annulled the marriage - but why then did he order her assassination), married Juana who is said to have refused a sexual relation without a marrige, but continued to sleep with Maria, got that marriage annulled, too, and married Maria when she was dying to legitimise the children she bore him?

And wasn't that Fadrique of Trastamara who is said to have had an affair with Blanche, a brother or half-brother of Enrique? And what side is Du Guesclin on before he decides to help Enrique?

A novel writer could have a field day with that. Just well I write about earlier periods; so no plotbunny there. ;)
 
Maria is rumored to have gone to great lengths to claim her 'rightful title'. Apparently during her life Portugal decided to deport Gypsies [Roma] people to Brazil. She apparently travelled with some of them, or to the colonies they were being deported to. In these new settlements she gained followers. They believed her the rightful Queen. Maria is rumored to have long reaching powers. Many people were convinced that she was a wicked witch. She may have had a hand in Blanche's assasination. Pedro constantly returned to Maria, but he constantly left her. He had a harem of mistresses. He wanted to be with her but she was not a favorite amongst his people. Blanche was an acceptable wife.
The folklore of Maria goes: She had a brother and sister. Her brother raped her and her sister as children. At some point she came of age and was forced to find a husband. She decided on Pedro.
Maria was able to get close to Pedro. When it was realised that Pedroand Maria were growing close, they were distsnced. Pedro was being groomed. Maria was a fit Queen. Maria was forced out of the family home. She fled due to a forced marraige. She kept her heart on Pedro. She found a community of prostitutes. She took every opportunity to make money. Pedro was not aware of the prostitution. While a prostitute, her brother came to the area looking for a woman. He did not recognize Maria. She took her brother's money, but she stabbed him several times, even after he was dead. Maria was not always under Pedro's roof. Maria had time to conspire. With the type of people Maria is acquainted with it is possibe she used connections. Blanche may not have cheated. She may have been on an unescorted trip with a man. Maria die of natural causes. It is in the folklore that Maria was in her old neck of the woods. She was disturbed by what her brother had done to her , and that she had murdered him. She hallucinated, thought she saw her brother's ghost. She ran from the ghost but slipped smashed her head on a rock. This type of death would have been deemed natural. No one murdered her. It is also said it was a priest that found her body. [Wasn't it the pope who had a problem with her?] This is all the folklore I have gathered. I know she is mentioned in Prosper Merimees' 1845 novella, Carmen [source material for Bizet's opera], the gypsy Carmen sings magickal songs invoking Maria de Padilla, who is described as Bari Crallisa, "Queen of the Gypsies".
There are two different religions in which Maria is worshipped as a Queen and Goddess of love. It is very interesting. She is known as Maria de Padilla, Maria Padilha, and Pomba Gira Maria Padilla, Maria Mulambo, Maria Quiteria, Pomba Gira Seven Crossroads, Pomba Gira Queen of the Crossroads, Pomba Gira of the Souls, Pomba Gira Tsigana [Gypsy], Pomba Gira Queen of Calunga [Queen of the Sea], Pomba Gira Bonita, Sulamita.
 
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The Lost Fort is a history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history and architecture, as well as some geology, illustrated with my own photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, pretty towns and beautiful landscapes.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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The Star Wars

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg


England and Normandy

From the Conquest to King John

Normans, Britons, and Angevins
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond

From Henry III to the War of the Roses

Great Fiefs
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War (1)
King David and the Civil War (2)

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Princes and Rebels

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

The Rebellions
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Scandinavia

Kings and Vikings

Kings of Norway
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Other Times and Miscellanea

Post-Mediaeval History

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

History in Opera and Literature

Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Historical Ballads

Ballads by Th. Fontane, translated by me
About Theodor Fontane
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan


Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit

The Harz
Karst Landscape
Karst - Lonau Falls
Karst - Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bogs
The Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Paleontology

Fossils
Ammonites


Fun Stuff

Not So Serious Romans
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future Series
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Royal (Hi)Stories
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Historical Memes
Charlemagne meme
Historical Christmas Wishes
New Year Resolutions
Aelius Rufus does a Meme
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

Funny Sights
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg

My Novels in Progress / Planning

I'm a bit of a writer, too; here are the novel projects on which I'm currently working

Roman Novels (Historical Fiction)
The Saga of House Sichelstein (Historical Fiction)
Kings and Rebels (Fantasy)


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Links leading outside my blog will open in a new window. I do not take any responsibility for the content of linked sites.

History Blogs - Ancient

Roman History Today
Ancient Times (Mary Harrsch)
Bread and Circuses (Adrian Murdoch)
Following Hadrian (Carole Raddato)
Mike Anderson's Ancient History Blog
Mos Maiorum - Der römische Weg
Per Lineam Valli (M.C. Bishop)
Zenobia (Judith Weingarten)

Digging Up Fun Stuff
The Anglo-Saxon Archaeology Blog
Arkeologi i Nord
The Journal of Antiquities (Britain)
The Northern Antiquarian
The Roman Archaeology Blog

History Blogs - Mediaeval

Þaér wæs Hearpan Swég
Anglo Saxon, Norse & Celtic Blog
Casting Light upon the Shadow (A. Whitehead)
Norse and Viking Ramblings
Outtakes of a Historical Novelist (Kim Rendfeld)

Beholden Ye Aulde Blogges
A Clerk of Oxford
Daily Medieval
Historical Britain Blog (Mercedes Rochelle)
Magistra et Mater (Rachel Stone)
Michelle of Heavenfield (Michelle Ziegler)
Senchus (Tim Clarkson)

Royal and Other Troubles
Edward II (Kathryn Warner)
Henry the Young King (Kasia Ogrodnik)
Piers Gaveston (Anerje)
Lady Despenser's Scribery
Simon de Montfort (Darren Baker)
Weaving the Tapestry (Scottish Houses Dunkeld and Stewart)

A Mixed Bag of History
English Historical Fiction Authors
The Freelance History Writer (Susan Abernethy)
The History Blog
History, the Interesting Bits (S.B. Connolly)
Mediaeval Manuscripts Blog
Mediaeval News (Niall O'Brian)
Time Present and Time Past (Mark Patton)

Thoughts and Images

Reading and Reviews
Black Gate Blog
The Blog That Time Forgot (Al Harron)
Parmenion Books
Reading the Past
The Wertzone

Imaginations
David Blixt
Ex Urbe (Ada Palmer)
Constance A. Brewer
Jenny Dolfen Illustrations
Wild and Wonderful (Caroline Gill)

German Travel Blogs
Alte Steine
Blickgewinkelt
Meerblog
Reiseaufnahmen
Sonne und Wolken
Teilzeitreisender
Travelita
Unterwegs und Daheim

Highland Mountains
The Hazel Tree (Jo Woolf)
Helen in Wales
Mountains and Sea Scotland

The Colours of the World
Shutterbugs


Research

Archaeology
Past Horizons
Archaeology in Europe
Orkneyar

Roman History
Deutsche Limeskommission
Internet Ancient Sourcebook
Livius.org
Roman Army
Roman Britain
The Romans in Britain
Vindolanda Tablets

Not so Dark Ages
Burgundians in the Mist
Viking Society for Northern Research

Mediaeval History
De Re Militari
Internet Mediaeval Sourcebook
Kulturzeit
The Labyrinth
Mediaeval Crusades
Medievalists.Net

Castles
Burgenarchiv
Burgerbe
Burgenwelt
Exploring Castles
The World of Castles

Miscellaneous History
Heritage Daily
The History Files

Mythology
Ancient History
Encyclopedia Mythica

Online Journals
Ancient Warfare
The Heroic Age
The History Files

Travel and Guide Sites

Germany - History
Antike Stätten in Deutschland
Burgenarchiv
Strasse der Romanik

Germany - Nature
HarzLife
Naturpark Meissner
Naturpark Solling-Vogler

England
English Heritage
Visit Northumberland

Scotland
The Chain Mail (Scottish History)
Historic Scotland
National Trust Scotland

Books and Writing

Interesting Author Websites
Bernard Cornwell
Dorothy Dunnett
Steven Erikson
Diana Gabaldon
Guy Gavriel Kay
George R.R. Martin
Sharon Kay Penman
Brandon Sanderson
J.R.R. Tolkien
Tad Williams

Historical Fiction
Historical Novel Society
Historia Magazine

Writing Sites
Absolute Write
TheLitForum.com
National Novel Writing Month


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