Peter of Castile Biography
Birthday: August 30, 1334
Died At Age: 34
Sun Sign: Virgo
Born in: Burgos
Famous as: King of Castile and León
Spouse/Ex-: Blanche of Bourbon, María de Padilla
father: Alfonso XI of Castile
mother: Maria of Portugal, Queen of Castile
siblings: Henry II of Castile
children: Constance of Castile, Duchess of Lancaster, Duchess of York, Isabella of Castile
Died on: March 23, 1369
place of death: Montiel
Peter of Castile, also known as Peter the Cruel and the Just, was the Spanish king of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369. His contemporaries accused him of being an extremely cruel ruler while later historians came to view him as a strong executor of justice and nicknamed him "Peter the Lawful". Born as the son and successor of Alfonso XI of Castile, he came to the throne when he was around 16 years old. The early years of his reign were subjected to stringent control by his mother and her favorite courtiers. Tired of his controlling mother, he sought the help of the minister Alburquerque and eventually freed himself from his mother’s control. However, he buckled under his mother’s pressure to marry Blanche of Bourbon who he deserted immediately after the forced marriage. Several years of his reign were spent in constant wars with Aragon in what came to be known as the "War of the Two Peters". During the war period, Peter gained much notoriety for the series of brutal murders he committed which earned him the name Peter the Cruel. As the king he faced much competition from his own half-brothers, including Henry of Trastámara who ultimately assassinated the king.
- Peter was born on 30 August 1334 in the tower of the Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos, Spain, to Alfonso XI, the king of Castile, León and Galicia, and his wife Maria of Portugal, daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal.
- He received a good education and grew up to be a well-read young man. He enjoyed entertainment, music, and poetry.
- His father Alfonso XI died in March 1350 and Peter succeeded him as the king of Castile. The young king was not even 16 at the time of ascending to the throne. Due to his young age and inexperience, his mother began to dominate the affairs of the court with some of her favorite nobles. Peter struggled to free himself from his domineering mother’s control and sought the help of the minister Albuquerque who aided him in his emancipation.
- His reign was marked by almost constant warfare. He had several illegitimate half-brothers vying for the throne, and Henry of Trastámara was the most powerful among them. He led several revolts against Peter which Peter crushed effectively. Unable to usurp Peter, Henry escaped to France.
- Henry found support from Peter IV of Aragon who wished to dominate the Mediterranean in opposition to Castile and Castile's ally Genoa. A fierce war between Peter of Castile and Peter IV of Aragon ensued in 1356.
- The war, which came to be known as the "War of the Two Peters" continued for several years. During this time Peter of Castile killed may people which earned him the reputation of being an immensely cruel king.
- Henry continued his conspiracies against his brother and in 1366 he assembled a large army, with both French and Aragonese components and English mercenaries. Then he invaded Castile with the support of the kings of France and Aragon. He was successful in forcing Peter to flee from the land.
- Peter fled to Bayonne, a city in English-held Gascony. There he sought assistance from Edward, the Black Prince, to help him reclaim the throne. Edward agreed and James IV of Majorca also joined him to support Peter. The English led by Edward entered into the Battle of Nájera against Henry in 1367. By the end of the war, Edward had successfully driven away Henry restoring Peter to the throne.
- Henry returned to Castile in September 1368. A few months later, in March 1369, the forces of Peter and Henry met at Montiel, a fortress then controlled by the Order of Santiago. Negotiations were opened between Peter and Henry, and Peter sought aid from du Guesclin, who was acting as Henry's envoy. Du Guesclin, however, betrayed Peter, leading to his assassination at the hands of Henry.
- Peter of Castile was engaged in a fierce battle with Peter IV of Aragon from 1356 to 1366, in what came to be known as The War of the Two Peters. Peter of Castile aimed to claim the Kingdom of Valencia, which included parts of Murcia, Elche, Alicante and Orihuela, while Peter IV of Aragon wished to dominate the Mediterranean in opposition to Castile and Castile's ally Genoa. Peter of Castile successfully conquered Cariñena, Teruel, Segorbe, Morvedre, Almenara, Xiva, and Bunyol over the course of the war.
- Peter met María de Padilla in 1352 and fell in love with her. He secretly married her in 1353. However, the same year, his mother forced him into marrying Blanche of Bourbon; he deserted his new wife soon after and continued his relationship with Maria who bore him four children. Maria died in 1361.
- He also had children with Juana de Castro, daughter of Pedro Fernández de Castro, and Teresa de Ayala, a niece of Pero Lopez de Ayala.Peter of Castile was assassinated by Henry on 23 March 1369.
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