Sancha of Leon (1013–1067)
Sancha of Leon (1013–1067)
Queen of Leon and Castile. Born in 1013; died on November 7, 1067, in Castile; daughter of Alphonso V, king of Leon, and Elvira Gonzalez of Galicia; married Ferdinand I (c. 1017–1065), king of Castile (r. 1038–1065), around 1032; children: Sancho II (b. around 1037), king of Castile and Leon (r. 1065–1072); Garcia of Galicia (c. 1042–1090), king of Galicia (r. 1065–1090); Alphonso VI (c. 1030–1109), king of Castile and Leon; Urraca (1033–1101); Elvira (1038–1101).
Sancha of Leon, who reigned as queen and regent of Castile, was the daughter of Alphonso V, king of Leon, and Elvira Gonzalez of Galicia . In 1032, Sancha married Ferdinand of Castile, heir to the throne. He succeeded in 1037 (as Ferdinand I), and Sancha thus became queen of Castile; in the meantime, she had inherited the crown of Leon from her father. This united the two kingdoms into Leon-Castile, which became one of the most powerful nations in Western Europe.
Sancha was a popular queen, and one who took her responsibilities seriously. She was involved in the daily administration of the combined kingdoms, and was also an important figure in the Reconquista of Spain, the political, religious, and military movement to eliminate Muslim rulers from their strongholds on the Iberian peninsula. Sancha and Ferdinand joined other Catholic leaders in a unified effort to retake Spain, an effort which proved mostly successful from a military standpoint. However, several centuries of Muslim rule had left the peninsula profoundly influenced by Arabic culture, and it retained a large Muslim population even after their governments were dismantled. Sancha was regarded by her subjects as a pious and active woman; when Ferdinand died in 1065, Sancha was chosen as regent of Leon-Castile, a position in which she served well for two years.
Echols, Anne, and Marty Williams. An Annotated Index of Medieval Women. NY: Markus Wiener, 1992.
Laura York , Riverside, California
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