The Crown of Aragon is a medieval kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula. Besides the Kingdom of Aragón it includes the County of Barcelona and other Catalan Counties. It borders to the west the Kingdom of Navarre and Kingdom of Castile, southwest Almohad Empire and to the northwest France.
The Crown of Aragon is the dynastic union of the lands of the Kingdom of Aragón, Principality of Catalonia and County of Toulouse. The component realms of the Crown are not united politically except at the level of the king, who rules over each autonomous polity according to its own laws, raising funds under each tax structure, dealing separately with each Cortes or Estat.
Pedro II participated in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 that resulted in a devastating defeat of the Spanish Kingdoms. Gathering what was left of his forces, and according to some sources thanks to payments made to the Almohads his retreat, he made it to the the safety of Aragon. However Pedro II's territorial and political ambitions were chiefly on Occitania and was trying to create a Pyrenean kingdom that encompasses the lands between Ebro and Garonne rivers.
Victory of Muret and Cathar Crusade
Returning to Aragon in 1212 he finds that Simon IV of Montfort had conquered Toulouse, exiling Count Raymond VI of Toulouse, who was Peter's brother-in-law and vassal. He decided to cross the Pyrenees and deal with Montfort at Muret. Arriving at Muret in September 1213 to confront Montfort's army. The siege of Muret was won when a the small contingent commanded by Montfort attacked the Aragonese forces the 13th in order to lift and escape the siege. In combat Montford is killed causing his forces to dispel and surrender Muret. Pedro II's victory leaves him has overlord of great part of the Languedoc. He negotiated with the papal delegate to continue and command the Albigensian Crusade in exchange of the repealment of the papal excommunication and recognition of his suzerainty of Toulouse, Montpellier, Foix and Provence.
Pedro II committed himself in carrying out the crusade on an oath to the Pope. Cathars were persecuted, their property confiscated, expelled or burned at the stake. Perhaps less zealously than the Church wanted but he carried out its will in extirpating heresy. The Cathars real or supposed presence became an excuse to raze castles and sack the lands of rival lords and make clear his authority to uncooperative nobles forcing their homage to him or destruction. Peters II interest was to lengthen the crusade's time and consolidate his rule in Occitania. King Philip II Augustus of France was not satisfied with the Papal outcome but he did not dare to alienate the Church, but he allowed his vassals and knights to help in the Crusade. However he dexterously accepted homage and donations from Occitania and pushed to keep Peter II's domain territorially unconsolidated and limited to Occitania.
Pedro's gains culminated in 1220 (616–617 AH) when the Estats de Toulouse were summoned to assembled for the first time. Its first business of the day was to recognize the suzerainty of the Crown of Aragón in Occitania.
The Valencian Levant
The nobles and burghers of Aragon were unhappy with their King's attention over the Pyrenees and cost of the Crusade. Several nobles also saw with greedy eyes the lands of Valencia in hands of the Muslims. Pedro II reluctantly called the Corts of Aragon in 1219 to deal with taxes, the limits of Catalonia and Aragon and demands for a campaign against the Almohad.
From the footholds of Castellon and Teruel several raids were made against the Almohad, however Pedro waited until better times and meanwhile built forts and organized his armies for a major campaign that included the capture of the Balearic Islands.
Having organized his domains and vassals in Occitania and under pressure from the nobles and prelates of Aragón, Pedro II resumed his oath to Crusade against the Muslims. From the footholds of Castellon and Teruel several raids were made against the Almohad, However Pedro II waited until better times and meanwhile built forts and organized his armies for a major campaign that would included the capture of the Balearic Islands.
His patience yielded fruits when the Berber rebellion broke up in Algeria, Maghreb and parts of Al-Andalus and Ifriqiya. So taking advantage of these rebellions, in 1242 Pedro II marched from Castellon to Valencia. Although the rebellions in the Almohad Empire impaired a swift response to the threat of Aragonese armies Pedro II did not count was in the obstinate resistance of Valencia and two accomplished Almohad commanders, emir Abdul ibn Maarufi and his son Yussuf.
The short and lighting Argonese campaign to gain Valencia became a disaster. Stopped at the walls of Valencia Pedro II for the first time openly vexed. Abdul ibn Maarufi seeing his advantage and instead of directly attacking blockade all exit routes. By the end of two weeks with his troops exhausted, thirsty and hungry Pedro II negotiated a retreat leaving behind horses, armors and weapons.
The Emir's son, Yussuf, would led in 1243 the capture of Kunka (Cuenca) and Teruel. At the Battle of Almazora (July 1244) Pedro II would try again to have a decisive victory by routing the Almohad army led by emir Abdul ibn Maarufi and his son Yussuf in its way to Castellon. However things turn around and the Aragonese army had to retrieve with its King mortally injured and Castellon opening its gate to the Moors. Days later Pedro II would die being suceded by his son, Jaime I.
A truce was signed by both parties. However like his father Jaime I had troubles with part of the nobles and burghers. Has it was the custom and necessities he called for a joint meeting of the Cortes of Aragón and Catalonia to confirm his royal rights and petition more resources to continue the war in Levant.
At least three revolts of the nobles Jaime I had to put down. The cause of rebellions was taxation and renewal of the Reconquista in the Valencian Levant. The last cause firmly ignored by the King in favor of consolidating his territories north of the Pyrenees. Several times he had to personally lead his army in Occitania against rebellions lords. He also had to squash several mudéjar rebellions in Aragón and Valencia.
A Conquest Fades in the Sea
The long planned conquest of the Balearic Islands, staring with Palma de Mallorca (Madina Mayurqa) began in 1664. With this conquest he expected to gain a key trade route, control of the coasts of the Valencia Levant and dismantle the Barbary pirates who used Majorca as a safe haven. It started encouraging with the Corts Catalanes and Estats de Toulouse approving its finance and rallying nobles and clergy in a new Reconquista. All previous quarrels between King and nobles were forgotten and the future spoils planned.
The expedition left for Majorca from Salou, Cambrils and Tarragona on September 1265, with a fleet of over 150 vessels, the majority of which were Catalan. Various sources indicate an armed contingent of between 800 and 1,500 men and 15,000 soldiers. The Muslim Valis of the island, Abú Yahya, had between 18,000 and 42,000 men and between 2,000 and 5,000 horses and received no military support, neither from the peninsula, nor from North Africa, by which they tried to hinder the Christian advance towards the capital as much as possible. The journey to the island was hampered by a severe storm that nearly caused the convoy to retreat. After three days, between Friday 7 September and part of Saturday, the entire Christian fleet arrived at Pantaleu island.
An ongoing rebellion could had marked the capture of the Island, Abú Yahya was preparing to execute 50 of the rioters, but the Almophad governor pardoned them so they could help in the defense work. Instead of returning to their homes and some of them preferring to side with the Christians, they helped the Emir order Abú Yahya organize the defenses and call for help from the mainland.
In battle of Portopí the Christians were victorious, but they suffered significant casualties. The military superiority and morale of the Muslim was helped as news of the arrival of a fleet from mainland. The Almohad victory at the naval Battle of Madina Mayurqa (20 of September) deprived the Christians of a naval blockage during the siege. After a month of fruitless siege and heavy fighting success of Aragonese expedition began to came down. Aware of the possibility of being enclosed by the Muslim troops of the city and reinforcements from the mainland Jaime II decided to desperately leave the island with what was left of his forces. So a conquest faded in the sea.
War of the Three Infants of Aragón (1276-1278)
Jaime I had a patrimonial conception of the Crown of Aragón so he acted in this way in the distribution of the Crown according to this principle among his sons. Changing numerous times his will between his legitimate (Alfonso, Pedro and Jaime) and illegitimate (Fernán Sánchez) sons.
The favor Jaime I showed to his illegitimate offspring led to protest from the nobles, and to conflicts between his legitimate and illegitimate sons. When one of the latter, Fernán Sánchez, who had behaved with gross ingratitude and treason toward his father, was slain (1275) by the legitimate son Pedro, the old king recorded his grim satisfaction. In 1276, the king fell very ill resigned his crown, intending to retire to a monastery, but he died at Valencia on 27 July.
In his last will of 1275, James divided his states between his three sons: Alfonso (son of his first wife Leonor of Castile) received the Kingdom of Aragón, Pedro (son of his second wife Violante of Hungría) Catalonia and Valencia, and Jaime (brother of Pedro) Roussillon and Cerdanya, and the Lordship of Montpellier. The division inevitably produced fratricidal conflicts.
Kings of Aragón
Titles: King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona, and Lord of Montpellier.
- Pedro II The Catholic (1178-1244) Reign 1196-1244.
- Jaime I (1208-1276) Reign 1244-1276
- Alfonso III of Aragón (1222-... ) King of Aragón Reing 1276-...
- Pedro III of Catalonia (1240-...) Count of Catalonia and Valencia Reign 1276-...
- Jaime II of Montepellier (1243-...) Lord of Montepellier and Count of Roussillon and Cerdanya Reign 1276-...