Alternate History

Castilian-Leonese Wars (Of Lions and Falcons)

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The Castilian-Leonese Wars (Las Guerras Castellano-Leonesas)

1213 to 1230


Mostly fortresses, strongholds, towns and villages in the kingdoms of León and Castile

  • Truce between León and Castile
  • León gains full control of Tierras de Campo and the towns of Carrión and Palencia in exchange of giving back Valladolid to Castile
  • León keeps Plasencia

Leon banner.svg Kingdom of León
Christian and Muslim Mercenaries

Castilla La Vieja Kingdom of Castile
Christian and Muslim Mercenaries
Volunteers from Aragón and Portugal


Alfonso IX (1171–1226) Fernando III (1226-...)

Eleanor Plantagenet (1212-1219)
Enrique I (1219-...)

Casualties and Losses

The Castilian-Leonese Wars (Castilian: Las Guerras Castellano-Leonesas) was a series of conflicts waged for control of the Kingdom of Castile by the Crown of León between 1213 and 1230. It is considered one of the causes for the end the Reconquista.

Almohad gains

Despite calls from the Pope to both sides to end the war and renew the crusade against the Moors (Reconquista), both parties continued their struggle.

The Almohad took advantage of this turmoil between the two Christian Kingdoms and conquered Alcántara (1216), Uclés (1216), and Toledo (1218). Most of the Almohad gains were in Castile. After the fall of Toledo, Enrique I of Castile agreed in 1223 the payment of parias[1] and a ten year truce with the Almohad Caliphate. Alfonso IX of Léon had made similar arrangements earlier.




Military both kingdoms hired mercenaries, either Muslim or Christian. Thanks to the truce signed with the Almohad Caliphate, Alfonso IX had at his disposal the services of Muslim mercenaries. Enrique I would have his share of mercenaries that would include a substancial number of Argonese almogavars.

Besides cavalry the Christian kingdoms started to heavily employ, first in Tierras de Campo campaigns and skirmishes and later on, lightly clad, quick-moving foot-soldiers (almogavars).

Absent in all battles were perhaps the best disciplined and organized forces both sides had access to, the military orders. These kept their autonomy and serviced their mission of fighting Muslim forces across the border and their lands. Their abundant resources of men and wealth, with lands and castles scattered along the borders of Castile and Léon were however attacked with mix results by the Almohad.

Stages and main events

The wars started with León easy gaining the control of Simancas from Castile (1213). This early victory stirred Alfonso IX ambitions and now he planned to have all or greater part of Castile under his control.

The campaigns of 1215 were of mixed results, Castile gained Tordesillas but failed to conquer Medina de Campo and Olmedo from León.

The main series of battles and skirmishes occurred between 1217 and 1222 were Castile and León tried to gain the upper hand and control of the fertile plains of Tierras de Campo. The conflict divided the loyalties of the local vassals between those who favored Castile or León regardless of their formal homage and the fealty. Leon's control of Palencia and Valladolid, in 1222 from Castile, gave it the control of Tierras de Campo at the end of 1222.

The siege of Valladolid (1223) by Castile that ended in a stale mate. It was followed later by the recovery of Tordesillas (1224-1225) and Simancas (1226) by Alfonso IX.

The death of Alfonso IX and the ascension of Fernando III of León in 1226 marked the end of major combats and the fall of Plasencia to León. After 1227 the war is characterized by minor skirmishes by both sides in order to consolidates their territorial gains.

The Peace of Valladolid

To most observers by 1227 both kingdoms had exhausted their sources and war had come to a stand still. For León the prize of gaining full control Campos de Tierra had brought troubles in gaining full homage and the fealty from the former vassals of Castile. Fernando III was more engaged it gaining royalties and control then continuing a war that saw no further gains for León. In Castile, Enrique I had in his hands a rebellion of the nobles that opposed his rule and the losses of war.

Also the military weakness brought again the fear of further advances from the Almohad and a posible crossing of the Tangus, now established as the de facto limit of Christian and Muslim kingdoms. Neither Leon nor Castile had the resources to follow the calls for a new crusade called by the Pope, effectively ending the Reconquista for the time being and leaving Portugal to its own devices.

In the winter of 1230 both sides agreed to solve their differences. The terms of the peace were the following:

  • Truce between León and Castile
  • León gains full control of Tierras de Campo and the towns of Carrión and Palencia in exchange of giving back Valladolid to Castile
  • León keeps Plasencia

Castile was the losing party, small comfort was found by many nobles in the return of Valladolid. More serious were the land and river tolls imposed by León on the commerce coming and going from the Tierras de Campo, restrictions on trade, and land requisitions in Tierras de Campo for those that did not swear loyalty to Fernando III.


  1. A form of protection money established by treaty. The payee owed the tributary military protection against foes both Islamic and Christian

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