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Marie de Padilla (1335–1361)

Marie de Padilla (1335–1361)

Mistress of Peter the Cruel, king of Castile, and possibly his wife . Name variations: Maria Padilla; Marie Padilla. Born in 1335 (some sources cite 1333); died in July 1361 (some sources cite 1365), in Seville, Spain; daughter of Diego or Juan García de Padilla and Meria de Henestrona also seen as María González de Hinestrosa; secretly married Pedro el Cruel also known as Peter the Cruel (1334–1369), king of Castile and León (r. 1350–1369), in 1353; children: Constance of Castile (1354–1394, who married John of Gaunt); Isabel of Castile (1355–1392, who married Edmund of Langley, duke of York); Beatriz of Castile (1354–1369); Juan (1355–1405, who married Elvira de Eril ); Alfonso (1359–1362). Peter also married Blanche of Bourbon (c. 1338–1361), in 1353.

Marie de Padilla was born in 1335, the daughter of Juan García de Padilla and María González de Hinestrosa . Perhaps in 1350 or 1351, she joined the household of the wife of John of Albuquerque, one of King Peter the Cruel of Castile's chief advisers. Marie's beauty caught the king's attention and she began a relationship with him that lasted until her death in July 1361. She lacked sufficient rank to marry the king, but her status as royal mistress brought her social and economic benefits.

These were controversial and tumultuous years in Castile. The Black Death struck Europe at mid-century, and constant warfare wracked the peninsula, both sectarian conflict between the Christian and Moorish kingdoms and civil strife between the monarchs and their restless nobility. Although Peter agreed to marry the French noblewoman Blanche of Bourbon for political reasons, he had already fallen in love with Marie de Padilla. He married Blanche in June 1353 but immediately returned to Marie, leaving his unfortunate bride imprisoned in the royal fortress of Toledo. Marie secured from Peter rich properties, including the major port of Huelva on the Atlantic coast of Andalusia, plus other royal favors for her family. In turn, Marie had three daughters (Constance of Castile, Isabel of Castile , and Beatriz of Castile ) and two sons (Juan and Alfonso). She showed little interest in becoming involved in the political disputes surrounding the court, although it was inevitable that Henry II of Trastamara, Peter's half-brother and bitter enemy, saw Marie and her sons as obstacles to his own power.

In 1361, Blanche died while still imprisoned, leading to speculation that Peter had ordered her death, perhaps to prepare the way for legitimating Marie and her children. His plans were frustrated, however, by Marie's death in Seville in July of that same year. Soon thereafter Peter publicly announced that he and Marie had secretly wed sometime prior to his marriage to Blanche of Bourbon and produced witnesses to support his claim. He persuaded the cortes (parliament) to legitimate Marie's children and recognize Alfonso as heir to the throne, although the boy's death shortly thereafter made that issue moot.


Estow, Clara. Pedro the Cruel of Castile, 1350–1369. NY: E.J. Brill, 1995.

Sitges y Grifoll, Juan Bautista. Las mujeres del rey Don Pedro I de Castilla. Madrid: "Sucesores de Rivadeneyra," 1910.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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