Ferdinand III, King of Castile, St.
FERDINAND III, KING OF CASTILE, ST.
Reigned in Castile from 1217 and León from 1230 to May 30, 1252; b. Valparaiso, June 24, 1198; d. Seville. He definitively united Castile and León and reduced Muslim power in Andalusia to the kingdom of Granada. Ferdinand was born of the second invalid marriage of Alfonso IX of León (1188–1230), that to Berengaria, daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castile (1170–1214). He succeeded to Castile after his mother, inheriting it upon the premature death of her brother Henry I (1214–17), had abdicated. Alfonso IX opposed his son's accession to León. However, by the Concord of Benavente (Dec. 11, 1230) Ferdinand actually succeeded his father. On Nov. 30, 1219, he married Beatrice, daughter of Philip of Swabia.
Ferdinand's measures to quell civil disturbances arising at his accessions interrupted his conquest of Muslim Andalusia. From the expeditions undertaken in 1224 until he received the surrender of Córdoba in 1236 and of Seville on Nov. 23, 1248, his reign constituted a permanent and efficacious crusade. His invasion of Murcia necessitated the Agreement of Almizra with James I of Aragon (1213–76), in which the southern and western boundaries of James's kingdom of Valencia were fixed and Castile was left free to subdue Murcia and ultimately Granada.
Tolerant toward the Jews and Muslims who submitted to his authority, Ferdinand strove to re-Christianize the conquered peoples through the ministry of the new mendicant orders. He especially advanced legal studies by his promotion of the University of Salamanca. Having centralized the administration of his two kingdoms, he initiated the production of a uniform code of laws, a project completed by his successor, Alfonso the Wise. He was canonized by clement x on Feb. 4, 1671.
Feast: May 30.
Bibliography: l. fernÁndez de retana, San Fernando III y su época (Madrid 1941). d. mansilla reoyo, Iglesia castellanoleonesa y Curia romana en los tiempos del rey san Fernando (Madrid 1945). a. m. burriel, Memorias para la vida del santo rey Don Fernando III, ed. m. de manuel rodrÍguez (Barcelona 1974). j. gonzÁlez, Reinado y diplomas de Fernando III, 3 v. (Córdoba 1980-1986). m. del c. fernÁndez de castro cabeza, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III (Mount Kisco, NY 1987). j. m. de mena, Entre la cruz y la espada: San Fernando (Sevilla 1990). a. cintas del bot, Iconografia del Rey San Fernando en la pintura de Sevilla (Sevilla 1991). g. martÍnez dÍez, Fernando III (Palencia 1993). f. ansÓn, Fernando III, rey de Castilla y León (Madrid 1998). f. gil delgado, Andalucía, designio de Fernando III el santo: pregón de San Fernando (Sevilla 1998). a. dumas, Catholicisme 4:1186–87.
[r. h. trame]