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Henry of Castile the Senator

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Title: Henry of Castile the Senator  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Amadis de Gaula, Frederick of Castile, 1230 births, 1304 deaths, Conradin
Collection: 1230 Births, 1304 Deaths, Castilian Infantes, House of Burgundy (Spain), Regents of Castile, Spanish Mercenaries
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Henry of Castile the Senator

Henry of Castile
Arms of Infante Henry of Castile.
Born March 1230
Died 8 August 1303
Burial Monastery of San Francisco, Valladolid
Spouse Juana Núñez de Lara
Issue Enrique Enríquez de Sevilla (illegitimate)
House House of Ivrea
Father Ferdinand III of Castile
Mother Elisabeth of Swabia

Henry of Castile[1] (March 1230 – 8 August 1303), called the Senator (el Senador), was a Castilian infante, the fourth son of Ferdinand III of Castile by his first wife, Beatrice of Swabia.


  • Youth and rebellion 1
  • English exile 2
  • Tunisian expedition 3
  • Italian campaigns 4
  • Traditions 5
  • Ancestors 6
  • References 7
  • Sources 8
  • Further reading 9

Youth and rebellion

Henry spent his childhood at Burgos, where among his tutors was the future cardinal Giles of Torres.[2] He received the typical education of a royal prince in both arms and letters.

In 1246, Henry accompanied his father on the expedition to Jaén. His father granted him in fief the first of the new conquests: Morón de la Frontera and Cote. After the fall of Seville, he was enfeoffed with more conquered towns: Jérez de la Frontera, Lebrija, Arcos and Medina Sidonia. In the repartimiento (division) of Seville itself, Henry and his retinue received a part.[2] He spent the next few years mostly at Seville, often at the court of his father's second wife, Joan of Ponthieu. The troubadouric allusions to their illicit relationship are, however, of no evidentiary value.[2]

As early as 1246, Henry had refused his father's request that he pay homage (homagium) to his elder brother, the future Alfonso X.[2] After their father's death in 1252, Henry and his brother Frederick chafed under the rule of Alfonso. In March 1253, Alfonso withdrew the privileges which Ferdinand had granted Henry on his vast southern estates. He also interfered to prevent Henry from contracting an advantageous marriage.[2] At Calatayud, according to the Libro de las armas of Juan Manuel, Henry's nephew, he asked for the hand in marriage of king of Aragon's daughter, Constance, but Alfonso prevented it.

These insults induced Henry plot against Alfonso. In a meeting at Maluenda in 1255, Henry temporarily brought James I of Aragon over to his side. Finally, in October, leagued with Diego López IV de Haro, lord of Biscay, and drawing support from Galicia as well, he went into open rebellion. Despite an initial victory over troops of the royal party, he was defeated near Morón and forced to flee the country.[2] He took ship at Cádiz and sailed through the Mediterranean, stopping at Valencia, and passed through France, initially seeking refuge with his stepmother in Ponthieu. She may have suggested he visit his half-sister Eleanor, who was married to Edward, the son and heir of King Henry III of England.

English exile

Henry arrived at the English court in towards the middle of 1256. He lived comfortably there for three years entirely on King Henry's good graces, but the English offered him no political support.[2] In the spring of 1257, Giovanni Colonna, archbishop of Messina and an ambassador from Pope Alexander IV, arrived in England to negotiate with the king the investiture of his second son, Edmund, with the Kingdom of Sicily. Henry offered to lead troops to Italy to conquer the kingdom for Edmund, but a rebellion in Wales diverted attention from these projects.[2]

After several sojourns in France proved fruitless, Henry decided to seek his fortune in Africa, where the Hafsid emir of Tunis, Muhammad al-Mustansir, had carved out a large empire. After securing a vow that he would not attack Castile, the king of England let Henry leave for Tunisia in July 1259, even granting him a safeconduct through the Gascon ports under his control.[2]

Tunisian expedition

Henry sailed to Catalonia, but King Jameso refused to allow any of his vassals to accompany Henry to Tunisia. In 1260, Henry arrived in Tunis, where his brother Frederick soon joined him. Henry took command of a contingent of Spanish knights in the service of al-Mustansir. In 1261, with the emir's brother, Abou Hafs, he led an attack on the desert city of Miliana.[2] These campaigns strengthened Hafsid independence in the face of the Almohads, the Moroccan dynasty which had also ruled much of Spain the previous century.

In Tunis, Henry adopted the customs and dress of the Hafsid court, much to the shock of the local Christian community. He used the money he earned in the emir's service to finance commercial ventures originating out of the Genoese merchant colony in Tunis. From funds accrued through this trade, the king of France, Louis IX, was later able to make a loan to Henry of England.[2]

Italian campaigns

Henry later made his way to Italy, where he joined his cousin Charles of Anjou's campaign in 1266 to become King of Sicily (Battle of Benevento) and lent him large sums of money. It was here that Henry earned his title of El Senador when Charles had him made Senator of Rome (at the time, the ancient Senate of Rome evolved into an institution where a single "Senator" was entrusted with civil power in the city of Rome). However, he was never repaid by Charles; and Henry had aspired to the Kingship of Sardinia or some other high title, and found the senatorship poor compensation.

As a result, when his cousin Conradin invaded Italy in 1268, Henry changed sides and joined him. He was one of Conradin's generals at the Battle of Tagliacozzo; he was in command of a host of three hundred Spanish knights sent by his brother Afonso X of Castille. He won the first encounter against the French, but was defeated by a surprise attack of a hidden reinforcement of one thousand French knights under Charles of Anjou. After the loss of the battle, he fled to the Convent of San Salvatore, Monte Cassino, where he was captured by the Angevins.

According to Ferdinand Gregorovius he spent the next twenty-three years in captivity - in Castello di Canosa from 1268 to 1277, and in Castel del Monte from 1277 to 1291.

In 1272, his half-sister Eleanor and her husband King Edward I of England came to Sicily on return from the Crusades. Eleanor's attempts to get him released from prison were unsuccessful, but she kept in touch with him until her own death.

Both Eleanor and Charles were dead before Henry was finally released in 1291. He returned to Castile in 1298, where he was appointed Regent for his grandnephew, King Ferdinand IV. He married Juana Núñez de Lara, but had no known legitimate children before his death in 1304.


According to tradition he had a son out of wedlock with a lady called Mayor Rodríguez Pecha, daughter of the lord (Alcaide) of the castle of Zamora. This son was called Enrique Enriquez de Sevilla, who became Justicia Mayor or Chief Judge of Castile under King Alfonso XI.

Recent literary studies attribute the famous tale of chivalry "Amadis de Gaula" to Henry of Castile. He was a poet, a troubadour and a daring warrior. He might have written "Amadis" while imprisoned in Castel del Monte, Terra di Bari, Italy for many years.



  1. ^ Spanish: Enrique de Castilla, Don Enrrique; Italian: Enrico di Castiglia, Arrigo di Castiglia; Latin: Henricus de Castella, Henricus de Hispania, Anrricus
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kamp 1993.


  • Kamp, Norbert (1993). "Enrico di Castiglia (Henricus de Castella, Henricus de Hispania, Arrigo di Castiglia, Anrricus, Don Enrrique)". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 42. Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. 

Further reading

  • Ballesteros Beretta, Antonio. Sevilla en el siglo XIII
  • Parsons, John Carmi. Eleanor of Castile: Queen and Society in Thirteenth Century England
  • Santiago Sevilla Setecientos años buscando al Author del "Amadís" in Liceus El Portal de las Humanidades.
  • Santiago Sevilla Personajes Reales en el Amadis in Liceus El Portal de las Humanidades
  • Santiago Sevilla El Verdadero Author del Amadís de Gaula Diario de León Jueves 13 de Marzo de 2008
  • Santiago Sevilla Parentescos Principescos y Amadís in Liceus El Portal de las Humanidades.
  • Santiago Sevilla La Geografía fantástica del Amadís de Gaula in Liceus El Portal de las Humanidades.
  • Letteratura Antiangioina tra Provenza, Italia e Catalogna. La Figura di Carlo IPaolo Borsa
  • Peter Herde Die Schlacht bei Tagliacozzo, Zeitschrift für Bayerische Landesgeschichte
  • Giuseppe Del Giudice Don Arrigo Infante di Castiglia Biblioteca nazionale Sagarriga Visconti-Volpi-Bari - BA.
  • Arrigo da Castiglia Don Alegramente e con grande baldanza / canzone/ in Virgilio da Benedetto, Contributi allo studio della poesia storico politica delle origini. Due poesie per la discesa in Italia di Corradino di Svevia 1956.
  • Ferdinand Gregorovius Wanderjahre in Italien in Projekt Gutenberg-DE
  • Valeria Bertolucci Pizzorusso, Universitá di Pisa Don Enrique / Don Arrigo: un infante di Castiglia tra storia e letteratura. ALCANATE IV 2004-2005 Revista de Estudios Alfonsíes El Puerto de Santa María
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