House of Trastámara

The House of Trastámara (Spanish: Casa de Trastámara) was a dynasty of kings in Spain, which first governed in Castile beginning in 1369 before expanding its rule into Aragon, Navarre and Naples. They were an illegitimate cadet line of the House of Ivrea.

The line of Trastámaran royalty in Castile ruled throughout a period of military struggle with Aragon. Their family was sustained with large amounts of inbreeding, which led to a series of disputed struggles over rightful claims to the Castilian throne. This lineage ultimately ruled in Castile from the rise to power of Henry II in 1369 through the unification of the crowns under Ferdinand and Isabella.

House of Trastámara
Casa de Trastámara
Royal Coat of Arms of the Crown of Castile (15th Century)

Armorial of Trastámara
Parent houseCastilian House of Ivrea (illegitimate)
CountryCrown of Castile, Crown of Aragon
FounderHenry II of Castile
Final rulerJoanna of Castile
Cadet branches
  • House of Trastámara-Aragon
    • House of Trastámara-Naples

14th century: toward unification with Aragon

Peter I and the Rise of Trastámara

Upon the death of the Castilian King Alfonso XI in 1350, his eldest son, Peter, took control of the Castilian throne as Peter I of Castile. Peter was born to Alfonso and his wife, Maria of Portugal, but Alfonso lived out a long and public affair with Eleanor of Guzman. Alfonso's illegitimate children by Eleanor, known collectively as the Trastámaras, immediately became rivals of the newly crowned Peter.[1] Because of a personal history including political murders, his enemies quickly nicknamed him Peter the Cruel.[1] Also increasing the hostilities between Peter and his half brothers was the act of Peter's mother taking the opportunity of his power to have Eleanor of Guzman arrested and executed.[2]

Peter first resisted an attempt at his crown by defeating a coalition led by Henry of Trastámara (for whom Peter's half siblings derived their surname) in 1356. Peter again defeated his rivals at Nájera in 1360 and had his half brothers Juan and Pedro executed. Having been protected by Aragon,[1] Henry was forced to flee to France when the Castilian crown signed a peace treaty with Aragon in 1360.

Pedro Castile beheading
Henry supervising the beheading of his rival Peter, from the Grandes Chroniques de France.

Gaining support throughout Castile because of his relation to Alfonso XI and Peter's continuous military escapades, Henry built an alliance with Aragon and France, including mercenaries led by French constable Bertram Du Guesclin for another attempt at the Castilian crown in 1365.[1] Peter gained the support of Edward the Black Prince, heir to the English throne and son of Edward III of England, to help defend his crown with the promise of territorial gains. On 13 April 1367, Peter and Edward's forces strongly defeated the armies of Francs, Aragonese, and Castilians led by Henry and captured Bertram Du Guesclin. As Edward fell ill, and sick with Peter's attempts to get Edward's prisoners executed, and perhaps with Peter's delay or failure to fulfill his promises of land to England, the Plantagenets withdrew from their direct battlefield support of the Castilian Crown to the new front in Gascony opened to the French. In March 1369, with the continued support of France and Aragon, and growing support in important cities in parts of Castile, Henry's forces again invaded the Castilian Crown's realm and checked Peter's army.[1] Henry of Trastámara himself was responsible for the death of his brother, Peter I of Castile.

Reign of Henry II

Following his killing of his half brother, Peter I, Henry of Trastámara took control of the crown of Castile as Henry II. Under Henry, a new nobility rose in prominence to gain land grants of large estates and vast royal privileges. The public rise of this new class of nobles caused discontent and instability in Castile. This class of nobility was driven by their desire to reclaim family holdings and was generally compelled to use any means necessary.[3] Despite the instability, Henry's forces were able to withstand Portuguese, Navarrese, and Granadian attempts to invade and take control of Castile.[1]

Henry made an agreement with the ruler of Aragon, Peter IV, to have their children wed. Henry's son, John, was married to Peter IV's daughter, Eleanor, on 18 June 1375.[1] This marriage by Henry's son would eventually put the Trastámaras in control of both Castile and Aragon, comprising a majority of the Iberian Peninsula. After giving birth to three children, Eleanor died in 1382, after only seven years of marriage.

The Trastámaras’ rule in several realms

Upon Henry II's death in 1379, his son John came to power as John I of Castile. During his reign, John took Beatrice, daughter of King Ferdinand I of Portugal, as his second wife. On the basis of this marriage, John made an unsuccessful claim to the throne of Portugal upon Ferdinand I's death in 1383, a move that possibly could have led to the unification of all of the Iberian Peninsula.[1] John died very unexpectedly in 1390.

Upon his untimely death, John's eldest son Henry came to the throne as Henry III, at the very young age of twelve years. He waited only two years to independently take control of the throne in 1393 at only fourteen years of age, amidst a great deal of violence being carried out against Jews throughout Castile.[1] Among the young king's accomplishments was his taking of control of the Canary Islands, providing Castile with a holding in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1406, amidst an invasion by Granada's forces in Murcia, Henry died while planning a response at the age of 27.

John II, Henry III's son, was left as the only heir upon Henry's death in 1406, but he was only two years old. Henry's brother, Ferdinand, served as regent, along with John's mother, Catherine of Lancaster.

During his time as regent, Ferdinand was chosen as the ruler of Aragon, due to his maternal relation to the Aragonese throne through the Compromise of Caspe in 1412.[1] The Trastámaras now ruled in both the realms of Castile and Aragon.

1418–69: Conflict within the House of Trastámara

John II and Don Álvaro

John II came to power upon his mother's death in 1418. He was now a cousin to the King of Aragon, as Alfonso ascended to the throne upon Ferdinand I's death. John married Maria, the sister of Alfonso V of Aragon. Alfonso himself had already married John's sister, Maria, making the two rulers both cousins and brothers-in-law twice over. John II was now also a cousin and brother-in-law to Alfonso's brothers John and Henry, known collectively as the Infantes of Aragon, who had been given large amounts of land in Castile while their father worked as regent during John II's childhood.[1]

John II lacked widespread authority, and Castile became a battlefield for nobles to gain power and political influence.[1] In 1420, just two years after coming to power, John was kidnapped by his cousin Infante Henry. Henry ruled on John's behalf for much of the year until John was able to escape because of the help of his friend, and eventual royal favorite, Álvaro de Luna, who was known as Don Alvaro.[4]

In 1429, Alfonso V ordered the Infantes to lead a joint attack on Castile. Now John II's constable, Don Alvaro, agreed to a basically victorious truce, as the Aragonese branch of Trastámaras was removed from Castile.[4] John II's authority continued to decline following this military engagement, and he eventually ceded all power to Don Alvaro, who created an oligarchy of nobles. Don Alvaro lost this power in 1439 to a nobility which was allied with Alfonso V, and in 1443, John II was once again captured by Infante John of Aragon, throwing Castile into near anarchy.[1] This confusion was settled in 1445, when a group of nobles favoring the monarchy, led by Don Alvaro, won a battle at Olmedo.[4] Infante Henry was killed as a result of this battle.

In 1453, Don Álvaro was publicly beheaded for charges of tyranny. In July of the following year, John II died and his son Henry became King Henry IV of Castile.

Henry IV and the rise of Isabella I

Henry IV of Castile was an unpopular ruler, in part because of his taste for Moorish fashion and his disagreement with military engagement with Granada.[1] He was married at the age of 15 in 1440 to John II of Aragon's daughter, Blanche. John II had succeeded to the throne of Aragon upon the death of his brother Alfonso V of Aragon. This marriage failed, however, as a result of Henry's inability to consummate it. He was remarried in 1455 to Joan of Portugal. Queen Joan gave birth to Princess Joan in 1462, and she was recognized by the Cortes as Henry's legitimate successor. In 1464, charges were raised by powerful noble families that Princess Joan was the daughter of one of Henry's favourites, The 1st Duke of Alburquerque.

These powerful noble families eventually forced Henry IV to hand over power to his brother Alfonso in 1465, but Alfonso suddenly died a month later. Amidst the struggle to settle the ensuing claims to the throne, Henry's wife Joan became pregnant again while being held as a hostage of a noble family. This sign of misbehavior further weakened her daughter Princess Joan's claim to the throne, and paved the way for Henry's half-sister Isabella to take power.[1]

Pact of the Toros de Guisando and War of Succession

The Pact of the Toros de Guisando was signed in 1468 and named Isabella heir to Henry's throne, as she and the nobles renewed their allegiance to Henry in return. A quick marriage for Isabella was a condition of the agreement, however Henry objected to her 1469 marriage to Ferdinand, who was the King of Sicily and the heir to the Aragonese throne,[5] as a breach of the pact. He once again named his daughter Joan as his heir, and a civil war ensued throughout the next decade. Isabella's military factions were eventually victorious with the help of Aragon, making her queen and uniting the crowns of Aragon and Castile.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Reilly, Bernard (1993). The Medieval Spain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39436-8.
  2. ^ Ruiz, Teofilo (2007). Spain's Centuries of Crisis: 1300-1474. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4051-2789-9.
  3. ^ Prescott, William (1842). History of Ferdinand and Isabella. London: Richard Bentley. pp. 22–23.
  4. ^ a b c Jaen, Didier (1978). John II of Castile and the Grand Master Alvaro de Luna: A Biography. Madrid: Castalia Publishing.
  5. ^ Elliot, J.H. (1963). Imperial Spain: 1469–1716. New York: Penguin Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-14-100703-8.
House of Trastámara
Cadet branch of the Castilian House of Ivrea
Preceded by
Castilian House of Ivrea
Royal Coat of Arms of the Crown of Castile (15th Century)
Ruling House of the
Kingdom of Castile and León

1126 – 1369
Succeeded by
House of Habsburg
Preceded by
House of Barcelona
Royal arms of Aragon (Crowned)
Ruling House of the
Aragon, Sardinia & Sicily

Succeeded by
House of Habsburg
Preceded by
Capetian House of Anjou,
House of Valois-Anjou
Arms of Ferdinand I of Naples
Ruling House of the
Kingdom of Naples

Succeeded by
House of Habsburg
Alfonso II of Naples

Alfonso II (4 November 1448 – 18 December 1495), also called Alfonso of Aragon, was King of Naples from 25 January 1494 to 22 February 1495 with the title King of Naples and Jerusalem. As Duke of Calabria he was a patron of Renaissance poets and builders during his tenure as the heir to the throne of Naples.

Blanche II of Navarre

Blanche II (Basque: Zuria) (9 June 1424 – 2 December 1464), titular queen of Navarre, was the daughter of John II of Aragon and Blanche I of Navarre. She was also Princess of Asturias by marriage.

Eleanor of Alburquerque

Eleanor, 3rd Countess of Alburquerque (1374 – 16 December 1435) became Queen consort of Aragon by her marriage to Ferdinand I of Aragon. In Spanish, she is known as Leonor Urraca de Castilla, condesa de Alburquerque.

Eleanor of Aragon, Queen of Castile

Eleanor of Aragon (20 February 1358 – 13 August 1382) was a daughter of King Peter IV of Aragon and his wife Eleanor of Sicily. She was a member of the House of Aragon and Queen of Castile by her marriage.

Eleanor of Castile, Queen of Navarre

Eleanor of Castile (after 1363 – 27 February 1416) was an infanta of Castile and the Queen consort of Navarre.

She was the daughter of King Henry II of Castile and his wife, Juana Manuel of Castile, from a cadet branch of the Castilian royal house. Eleanor was a member of the House of Trastámara.

Eleanor of Navarre

Eleanor of Navarre (Basque: Leonor and Spanish: Leonor) (2 February 1426 – 12 February 1479), was the regent of Navarre from 1455 to 1479, then briefly the queen regnant of Navarre in 1479. She was crowned on 28 January 1479 in Tudela.

Ferdinand II of Naples

Ferdinand II (Italian: Ferdinando/Ferrante; 26 August 1469 – 7 September 1496) was King of Naples from 1495 to 1496. He was the son and successor of Alphonso II, and heir of the Brienne claim to kingdom of Jerusalem.

Ferdinand I of Aragon

Ferdinand I (Spanish: Fernando I; 27 November 1380 – 2 April 1416 in Igualada, Catalonia) called of Antequera and also the Just (or the Honest) was king of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, Sardinia and (nominal) Corsica and king of Sicily, duke (nominal) of Athens and Neopatria, and count of Barcelona, Roussillon and Cerdanya (1412–1416). He was also regent of Castile (1406–1416).

Ferdinand I of Naples

Ferdinand I of Naples should not be confused with Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, a later king of Naples.Ferdinand I (2 June 1423 – 25 January 1494), also called Ferrante, was the King of Naples from 1458 to 1494. He was the son of Alfonso V of Aragon and his mistress, Giraldona Carlino.

Frederick of Naples

Frederick (April 19, 1452 – November 9, 1504), sometimes called Frederick IV or Frederick of Aragon, was the last King of Naples of the Neapolitan branch of the House of Trastámara, ruling from 1496 to 1501. He was the second son of Ferdinand I, younger brother of Alfonso II, and uncle of Ferdinand II, his predecessor.

A combination of King Louis XII of France and Frederick's famous cousin King Ferdinand II of Aragon had continued the claim of Louis's predecessor, King Charles VIII of France, to Naples and Sicily. In 1501 they deposed Frederick; Naples initially went to Louis, but by 1504 a falling-out led to Naples' seizure by Ferdinand, after which it remained part of the Spanish possessions until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession.

Henry, Duke of Villena

Infante Henry of Aragon (1400 – 15 June 1445), 1st Duke of Villena, 4th Count of Alburquerque, Count of Ampurias, was the Grand Master of the Order of Santiago.

Henry II of Castile

Henry II (13 January 1334 – 29 May 1379), called Henry of Trastámara or the Fratricide (el Fratricida), was the first King of Castile and León from the House of Trastámara. He became king in 1369 by defeating his half-brother, Peter the Cruel, after numerous rebellions and battles. As king he was involved in the Fernandine Wars and the Hundred Years' War.

Joanna la Beltraneja

Joanna la Beltraneja (21 February 1462 – 12 April 1530) was a claimant to the throne of Castile, and Queen of Portugal as the wife of King Afonso V, her uncle.

John II of Castile

John II of Castile (Spanish: Juan; 6 March 1405 – 20 July 1454) was King of Castile and León from 1406 to 1454.

Juana Enríquez

Juana Enriquez de Córdoba, 5th Lady of Casarrubios del Monte (1425 – 13 February 1468, Tarragona), a Castilian noblewoman, was Queen of Navarre from her marriage in April 1444 to King John II and Queen of Aragon from John II's accession in 1458 until her death. She married John three years after the death of his first wife, Queen Blanche I of Navarre.

Juana Manuel

Juana Manuel of Castile (1339 – 27 March 1381) was Queen consort of Castile from 1369 until 1379. She also was the heiress of Escalona, Villena, Peñafiel and Lara, as well as Lady of Biscay.

List of Castilian monarchs

This is a list of kings and queens of the Kingdom and Crown of Castile. For their predecessors, see List of Castilian counts.

Maria of Aragon, Queen of Castile

Maria of Aragon ((1403-02-24)24 February 1403–(1445-02-18)18 February 1445) was the Queen consort of Castile and Leon as the wife of John II of Castile. She was the daughter of Ferdinand I of Aragon and Eleanor of Alburquerque.

House of Trastámara family tree

Monarchs of Castile: ; monarchs of Aragon: ; monarchs of Navarre: ; monarchs of Castile & Aragon (i.e. Spain): ; monarchs of Naples only: ;
—————— legitimate children
— — — marriage
........................ liaison and illegitimate children

of Portugal
Alfonso XI
King of Castile
de Guzmán
King of Castile
Henry II
King of Castile
Juana Manuel
of Villena
Duchess of
John I
King of Castile
of Aragon
of Lancaster
Henry III
King of Castile
Ferdinand I
King of Aragon
Countess of
John II
King of Castile
of Aragon

de Córdoba
John II
King of Aragon
Blanche I
Queen of
of Castile
Alfonso V
King of Aragon
Henry IV
King of Castile
Isabella I
Queen of Castile
Ferdinand II
King of Aragon
Charles IV
de jure
King of Navarre
Blanche II
de jure
Queen of
Queen of
Maximilian I
Holy Roman
Ferdinand I
King of Naples
Royal Family
of Naples
Crown Prince
of Portugal

of Aragon

Queen of
Manuel I
King of Portugal
of Aragon

Queen of
Queen of Castile
Queen of Aragon
Philip I
King of Castile
Prince of

of Austria

Duchess of
of Aragon

Queen of
Henry VIII
King of England
Alfonso II
king of Naples
king of Naples
archbishop, cardinal
duke of Montalto
Miguel da Paz
Prince of Portugal
and Asturias

of Portugal
of Portugal

Queen and
King of Spain
Holy Roman
Mary I
Queen of
Ferdinand II
king of Naples
duke of Bisceglie
duke of Calabria
House of

(casa de
Royal houses of Europe


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