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e-Journal of Portuguese History

On-line version ISSN 1645-6432

e-JPH vol.10 no.2 Porto  2012


Why was it nearly forgotten? The 1304 Agreda Treaty between Fernando IV of Castile and Jaume II of Aragon

Bernardo de Sá-Nogueira1

1 University of Lisbon. E:mail:



In 1304 the kings of Portugal, Aragon and Castile, the latter through his uncle Prince Don Juan, and the bishop of Zaragoza were judges in two complex arbitrations that resolved two old conflicts between Aragon and Castile, namely, the claim to the throne of Castile by the Infantes de la Cerda, whose rights were upheld by Jaume II of Aragon, and the demarcation of the border between Aragon and Castile in the region of Murcia. Following the arbitrations, they signed the Treaty of Agreda. This paper reviews the existing bibliography while clearing up misunderstandings and approaching the subject from a slightly different angle.

Keywords: Agreda, treaty, arbitrations, Portugal, Castile, Aragon.



Em Agosto de 1304 os reis de Portugal, Aragão e Castela, este através do Infante D. João seu tio, e o bispo de Saragoça, foram juízes em duas complexas arbitragens que vieram resolver dois antigos conflitos entre Aragão e Castela, a saber, a reivindicação do trono castelhano pelos Infantes de Lacerda, cujos direitos eram defendidos por Jaime II, e a demarcação da fronteira entre Aragão e Castela na região de Múrcia. Após as arbitragens, assinaram o Tratado de Agreda. Este artigo passa em revista a bibliografia existente, esclarecendo equívocos e abordando o tema de uma perspectiva ligeiramente diferente.

Palavras-chave: Agreda, Tratado, arbitragens, Portugal, Castela, Aragão.



In 1304, from the 30 July to the 12 August, high-level royal delegations of Aragon, Castile and Portugal met on both sides of the Castilian-Aragonese border—more precisely in the territories of Agreda (on the Castilian side) and Tarazona (across the border, in the old Roman territory of Caesaraugusta, Zaragoza, now the center Crown of Aragon). The kings themselves headed the courtly retinues, composed of senior lay and church dignitaries.

Most primary source data collected for this text was published by Ángeles MASIÁ DE ROS (Masiá, 1994). The first document, dated 30 July 1304, marks the beginning of the peace talks proper, with both parties appointing proxies to hear and ratify the arbitration sentences (Masiá, 1994, I, p.121). The last document, dated 12 August 1304, contains the ratification by King Jaume II of Aragon of the arbitration sentences dated 8 August and the peace agreement signed on the 9 August by the said Jaume II, together with King Fernando IV, King Dinis and Prince Juan of Castile (Masiá, 1994, II, pp.136-137).  On the 13 August, Jaume II was already informing the frontier municipalities of Valencia, Calatayud, Daroca, Teruel and Albarracín of the peace agreed with Castile on occasion of the recent meeting, ordering them to publish the document and respect the truce (Masiá, 1994, II, pp.125-126). The biography of Fernando IV by César GONZÁLEZ MÍNGUEZ makes extensive use of chronicles to approach the 1304 juncture (González Mínguez, 1995).

The main short-term objective of this meeting was to formally solve, by way of arbitration, two closely related political problems that had seriously affected the relationship between the Aragonese and Castilian crowns since the death of Alfonso X, el Sábio, in 1284. First, the succession to the throne of Castile and Leon, claimed by Don Alfonso de la Cerda, the son of Fernando who was himself the eldest son of Alfonso X, against his uncle King Sancho IV. Second, the demarcation of the border between the two kingdoms in the area of the former Muslim kingdom of Murcia. The meeting additionally focused on achieving the much desired long-term objective of establishing a long-lasting peace between the crowns of Castile and Aragon (Costa, 1981).

Why was Portugal involved? Portuguese historians have already underlined the key role played by King Dinis as arbiter at these meetings—as well as during the preceding period, namely after the death of Castilian King Sancho IV in 1295 and the invasion of Murcia by King Jaume II in 1296.

The Portuguese historiographic tradition stems from a narration by Conde Dom Pedro de Barcelos, himself a member of his father’s retinue, completed by late-fifteenth century chronicler Rui de PINA (Tarouca, 1952-1953, II, pp.48-58; Pina, 1945, pp.59-74). As regards the Castilian sources, while the Crónicas de Afonso X and his successors pay very little attention to the subject matter, the Chronicle of Fernando IV extensively covers it (Lindley-Cintra, 1990, pp.515-516; Benevides, 1860, apud Lopes, 1967, p.288). In the opening section of Part Sixth of Monarquia Lusitana, dedicated to the period of King Dinis’s reign subsequent to 1303, Francisco BRANDÃO reviews the previous historiography and carefully reports the events, writing a brief description of the political context in which they took place (Brandão, 1980, pp.38-56). In modern times Félix LOPES was the author who more closely reviewed the political history of the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325), devoting in-depth studies to this period based on extensive Aragonese documentation which had never been used until then (LOPES, 1962-1963, 1963, 1964, 1967). As regards modern synthesis books we can only mention José MATTOSO and more recently José Augusto PIZARRO, who make reference to the peace process of Agreda-Tarazona. MATTOSO takes stock of all main articles by Félix LOPES, except “Actividades pacificadoras…” (Mattoso, 1993, pp.150-153).  PIZARRO devotes a large section of his biography of D. Dinis (titled “D. Dinis, árbitro peninsular”) to this subject-matter, but refers to one single sentence, issued by one tribunal – instead of two sentences, given by two collective tribunals, as shown below. In the final chronology of the book however the author refers to two agreements (Pizarro, 2005, pp.115-124).

The arbitration sentences of Tarazona of the 8 August 1304 and the ensuing Pact/Treaty of Agreda of the 9 August 1304 were highly significant at the time, but their importance was subsequently diminished and nearly forgotten in the long run—likely due to political convenience. In this paper we revisit their context, scrutinising a number of points and seeking to find out why the Portuguese crown was so keen on this peace process, especially at such high expenditure. We want to take a step further in our interpretation of the main Portuguese source on these events, i.e. Book Five of King Dinis’s Chancery.

A short note on Book Five

Book Five of King Dinis’s Chancery, contrary to what the archivist’s classification may suggest, is not a register book. It is an authentic cartulary, more precisely a chancery cartulary (Bautier, 1993). It consists of charters regarding, among other themes, the newly acquired ownership by the crown of river Tagus’ polders (lezírias), the richest farming land in Portugal, issues related to Knights Templar property, the Agreda Treaty and other minor subjects. It was drafted between 1305 and 1315 by Lisbon notary-public Lourenço Eanes and two scriveners working for him, at the request of the king’s vice-chancellor, Lisbon canon Afonso Martins, and by order of two consecutive bishops of Lisbon, João Martins de Soalhães and Friar Estêvão Miguéis.

This note on Book Five is a very short summary of the introductory study preceding the publication of its full text (Sá-Nogueira, 2003). The codex consists of 74 transcripts in public form drawn up by a notary-public. We think the documents can be ranked hierarchically: 30 of them are “principal documents”, as the remaining 44 (“subsidiary documents”) were included in the manuscript as back-up to the respective “principal”. (For example, principal document no. 14, an exchange of property between King Dinis and Lisbon’s Monastery of São Vicente de Fora has three subsidiary documents subordinated to it – numbers 15, 16 and 17, included to prove the previous transactions of the said property, prior to its transfer to the Crown). All principal documents are transfers of property to the Crown – by way of donation, sale, exchange or sentence. All but three. The first is the bullPridem compositionem, dated 28 October 1289, in which Pope Nicholas IV absolved King Dinis of the excommunication sentence issued against his father by Pope Gregory X. The second is the bull Cum summus pontifex, dated 8 September 1301, in which Pope Boniface VIII granted the dispensation required for the Portuguese Crown Prince Afonso to marry the Castilian princess Beatriz – as they were relatives in a degree forbidden by canon law. Finally, the third document is the 1304 Agreda Treaty (mentioned as concordia).

The principal document at the head of the book is precisely the Agreda Treaty of the 9 August 1304. Formally speaking it has 5 subsidiary documents, but transcript number 4 consists of two documents—therefore there 6 in all. Not surprisingly, their transcription by Portuguese-speaking writers slightly altered the original Castilian.

We list them chronologically, indicating their ordering number in the book.

20 April 1304 (no. 6)—Prince Alfonso de la Cerda and King Fernando IV of Castile and Leon (by his proxy, his uncle Infante Don Juan) undertake to accept the sentence on the conflict that opposed them in connection with the rights to the throne of Castile, to be given by the King of Aragon, Jaume II, and the King of Portugal, Dinis, the arbiters respectively appointed by each of them.

20 April 1304 (no. 3)—King Jaume II undertakes to accept the sentence given by King Dinis, Infante Juan of Castile and Don Jimeno de Ahe (of the Luna family), bishop of Zaragoza, judge-arbiters appointed to decide upon the conflict that opposed him to King Fernando IV regarding the Kingdom of Murcia, handing to them as hostages the castles of Ariza, Berdejo, Somed, Borja and Malón.

21 April 1304 (no. 4a)—King Jaume II promises the judge-arbiters not to take any military action against the castles handed to them as hostages [cf. no. 3]. 

3 May 1304 (no. 2)—King Fernando IV undertakes to abide by the arbitration of King Dinis, Infante Juan of Castile and Don Jimeno de Ahe, in the conflict that opposed him to the King of Aragon, handing to them as hostages the castles of Alfaro, Cervera, Autón, San Esteban and Atienza.

7 May 1304 (no. 4b)—King Fernando IV appoints his uncle Infante Don Juan as proxy to represent him in the conflict that opposed him to Prince Alfonso de la Cerda and to accept the decision given by King Dinis.

10 June 1304 (no. 5)—King Fernando IV informs King Dinis of the terms agreed with King Jaume II regarding the demarcation of the former Kingdom of Murcia and the land lordship of Don Alfonso de la Cerda, which should be incorporated by both arbitration colleges in their respective sentences.

The chronology of these “subsidiary” documents corresponds to the final stage of negotiations, which started on 20 April, with a meeting at Tarazona. In this meeting, aimed at preparing the peace talks, the King of Aragon, the King of Castile, through his uncle Infante Juan whom he had appointed his proxy for these affairs on 20 February 1304 (González Mínguez, 1995, p.128), and Don Alfonso de la Cerda, formally appointed the judge-arbiters, as they had previously agreed to solve the conflicts by way of arbitration (Masiá, 1994, I, p.117). Contrary to what Masiá indicates, King Fernando IV did not attend this meeting and Infante Juan represented him (Masiá, 1994, II, pp.99-100). The last stage of negotiations ended on 10 June 1304 (information sent by King Fernando IV to King Dinis concerning the terms agreed with King Jaume II). We believe that both the form and content of the Vistas were then agreed and the date of 15 August established as deadline for finishing the business.

Documents in Book Five were not transcribed in chronological orderTherefore the primacy granted to the texts concerning the Agreda Treaty possibly means that, as we have stated before, in the mind of the men responsible for making the manuscript, the other documents included in the book corresponded to facts associated with, or stemming from, the pact signed at Campillo/Agreda on 9 August 1304 (Sá-Nogueira, 2003).


On 8 August 1304, on the Aragonese side of the border, “en el logar de Torrijos, sitiado cerca de Tarazona,” two arbitration tribunals passed two separate sentences. The first set forth the destiny of Don Alfonso de la Cerda. The second defined the new border between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in the territory of the former Muslim Kingdom of Murcia.

MASIÁ DE ROS publishes the first arbitration sentence, on Don Alfonso de la Cerda, dated 8 August 1304, incorporated in her Appendix with number 69 (Masiá, 1994, II, p.109). She rejects the place name “Torrellas” proposed by Zurita (Masiá, 1994, I, p.120). This distinction between “Torrijos” and “Torrellas” is idle and the existence of two similar place-names in the same territory (i.e. Tarazona) cannot be accepted. It must be the same place, the name varying according to its Castilian or Catalan spelling, respectively.

The seventeenth-century historian F. Brandão gives a clear synthesis of the previous historiographic tradition:

There were two suits; i.e. one opposed the Kings of Castile and Aragon and concerned the division of the Kingdom of Murcia. King Dinis, Infante Don Juan and Bishop Don Ximeno were appointed its judge-arbiters. The second concerned the claim of Don Alfonso de la Cerda to the throne of Castile and Leon and was judged by the two brothers-in-law, King Dinis and King Jaume

[Duas erão as contendas nesta occasião: huma dellas tocaua aos Reys de Castella & Aragão que era sobre a partição do Reyno de Murcia e nesta forão Iuizes arbitros os tres nomeados, El Rey D.Dinis, Infante D.Ioão, & o Bispo D.Ximeno. A segunda era acerca da pretenção que D.Afonso de la Cerda tinha aos Reynos de Leão, & Castella, na qual forão Iuizes os dous cunhados El Rey D.Dinis, & El Rey de Aragão D.Iaime] (Brandão, 1980, p. 38).

In spite of such straightforward description, modern historians still hesitate, either mixing the two suits, or stating that the two were decided upon by way of a single sentence.  

MASIÁ DE ROS summarizes document no. 69 of her Appendix, mentioned above, as follows: “Arbitration sentence on the boundaries of the Kingdom of Murcia, given by Infante Juan, King Dinis of Portugal and the Archbishop(sic)of Zaragoza” [Sentencia arbitral sobre los limites del reino de Murcia, pronunciada por el infante Don Juan, el rey de Portugal Dionis y el Arzobispo de Zaragoza.] Oddly the text published under this title is the arbitration sentence given by King Dinis and King Jaume II on the landed estate of Don Afonso de la Cerda, saying nothing about the demarcation of Murcia (Masiá, 1994, II, pp.108-109). In turn MATTOSO generally states that one sentence was given, “onde D.Dinis pronunciou a sua sentença sobre as questões em litígio” (Mattoso, 1993, p.152). GONZÁLEZ MÍNGUEZ, although drawing the distinction between the Murcia border affair and the heritage of the Infantes de la Cerda, systematically refers to a single arbitration sentence (González Mínguez, 1995, pp. 134-137).

The demarcation of the Kingdom of Murcia was a much more important matter indeed. The pleas, though linked, were different and definitely considered separately. Let there be no doubt as to this separation. On 1 August 1304, already in Agreda, King Fernando IV appointed Ferrench Gómez, chancellor and high notary of the Kingdom of Toledo, and Diego García, chancellor of the king’s chamber and steward of Queen Constança, as his proxies to hear and ratify the arbitration sentence regarding the Kingdom of Murcia on his behalf. Infante Juan was appointed to hear and ratify the sentence regarding Alfonso de la Cerda (Costa, 1981, pp.35-36).

In the first plea King Dinis of Portugal and King Jaume II of Aragon, judge-arbiters appointed respectively by King Fernando IV of Castile and Don Alfonso de la Cerda, defined the landed domain that should be awarded by Fernando to Alfonso until the 11 November 1304. In the second, arbitration regarding the division of the Kingdom of Murcia between the Kings of Castile-Leon and Aragon was assigned to the Portuguese King Dinis, Don Jimeno de Ahe (or Luna), bishop of Zaragoza, and the Castilian Infante Juan.

Prince (Infante) Juan, son of King Alfonso X, was born in 1264. The will of his father (dead in 1284) made him King of Badajoz and Seville, although subject to his overlord Don Alfonso de la Cerda—the King of Castile and Leon appointed by Alfonso X. Already a widower in 1287, Infante Juan opposed the almighty Lord of Biscay, Don Lope Diaz de Haro, at the court of Castile, but ended up marrying his daughter and heir, Maria López de Haro. He did not suffer the fate of his father-in-law, assassinated by order of King Sancho IV on the 8 June 1288 (Vistas de Alfaro), because Queen Maria de Molina spoke on his behalf. Between 1288 and 1291 he remained a prisoner at the castle of Curiel, but was eventually released from jail after Don Juan Nuñez de Lara pleaded for him. His political heyday came in 1295, when King Dinis of Portugal recognised him as King of Leon. From 1295 to 1300, during the regency of queen-widow Maria de Molina, he permanently rebelled against the King of Castile, in articulation with King Dinis, King Jaume II and Don Alfonso de la Cerda, as detailed below. From June 1300 onwards, after an agreement signed at the Cortes of Valladolid, he made peace with King Fernando IV and became his right arm. He was judge-arbiter at Agreda in this capacity (Suárez Fernández, 1981).

The pleas then addressed by the two arbitration tribunals were closely related, i.e. the solution of the second plea, though much more important, could only be found after addressing the first. Both stemmed (the first directly, the second indirectly) from the complex succession of The Wise.

The will of Alfonso X, dead in 1284, assigned to the King of France the task of protecting the rights to the Castilian crown of his grandsons born of his eldest, but late, son Fernando (the so-called Infantes de la Cerda). Nevertheless on the 13 July 1288 an agreement was signed at Lyon that had been secretly negotiated by kings Sancho IV of Castile and Philippe IV of France. The latter gave up on his rights pursuant to the will of Alfonso X and promised to never again back up the Infantes de la Cerda, his nephews. Once deprived of the protection of the French king, the Infantes de la Cerda turned to the Aragonese monarchs for support. In September 1288, the eldest, Don Alfonso, was sworn King of Castile in Aragon and promised King Alfonso III to never make separate peace with Sancho IV of Castile. In 1296, the successor of Alfonso III on the Aragonese throne, his brother Jaume II, conquered the largest part of the former Muslim kingdom of Murcia (extending his conquest to Lorca, between 1300 and 1301). From then on, Jaume II made the negotiations on the Murcia border depend upon a solution for the Infantes de la Cerda’s case.

Therefore two instruments bear the date of 8 August 1304, corresponding to two arbitration sentences.

We have the full text of the first sentence, as stated above. But the second’s does not exist, or at least modern historiography no longer has it at hand. Still its provisions are enunciated (in full, we assume) in a letter sent from Burgos by King Fernando IV to King Dinis on the 10 June 1304, briefing him on the terms in which the King of Portugal should arbitrate each of the two conflicts – and specifying the composition of each arbitration college (Brandão, 1980, pp.39-40).

The text of the Agreda Treaty, dated 9 August 1304, states that “sentences”—not one sentence, had already been passed. So we assume they were issued on the same day.

“In their capacity as arbiters, they [King Dom Dinis and Infante Don Juan] and Don Ximeno bishop of Zaragoza put them [the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon] in peace, passing sentences as evidenced in the charters of such sentences.” [“E como arbitros ellos [D.Dinis e o infante D.João] e don Ximeno obispo de Çaragoça pusieron lo [os senhorios de Castela e Aragão] a assessego dando hy sentencias assy como es continido en las cartas de las ditas sentencias” (Sá-Nogueira, 2003, pp. 43-44)].

On 9 August 1304, once the arbitration had concluded, the party moved to the Castilian side of the border, “en Agreda” (more specifically in this town’s territory, “en el lugar que es dicho el Campiello [i.e. Campillo], en el qual fueron las dichas vistas”).

In the version of the agreement extant in Book Five (Sá-Nogueira, 2003, p. 45), the location is mentioned only as “en Agreda”. The large place-name data is found in the ratification of the arbitration sentences by King Fernando IV of Castile, done on the same day and place (Masiá, 1994, II, p.111—Appendix, document 70).

At Agreda, King Jaume II of Aragon and King Fernando IV of Castile, now on political speaking terms, associated with them two of the judge-arbiters, King Dinis of Portugal and Infante Juan. The four then signed a treaty of peace and friendship extendable to their respective successors.

“And in order to secure loyalty between us, King of Castile and King of Aragon, and better secure what has been established, agreed and signed by us, we decide, for our good and advancement, to include in this agreement the said King of Portugal and Prince Don Juan, so as to be closer to each other, as well as our successors, in loyalty and peace, thus remaining friends of our friends and foes of our foes.” [“E por gardar se uerdadero amor entre nos reyes de Castiella e de Aragon e por que se guarde melhor lo que es feyto e ordenado e firmado antre nos tenemos por bien e por nostra pro meter en este feyto con los ditos rey de Portugal e el infant don Johan por seer mas ensemble nos e nostros successores de un amor e de un acuerdo, e que seamos amigos de amigos e enemigos de enemigos” (Sá-Nogueira, 2003, p. 44)].

The Agreda Treaty, or Peace of Agreda, marked the end of the prolonged conflict between Castile and Aragon in connection with the partition of the Kingdom of Murcia, made more complex by the older pending issue of the Infantes de la Cerda, but it did not achieve a global solution for the highly intricate political game played at the court of Castile and Leon.

Some authors call it Torrellas Pact because of the two arbitrations that preceded it, which had taken place in this village of the Tarazona bishopric, on the Aragonese side of the border (Álvarez Palenzuela, 2003). No pact however was signed at Torrellas; as stated above and below in this text, Torrellas was the venue of the arbitration process where two sentences were passed on the 8 August. The King of Castile however had remained on Castilian soil, his uncle and other officials acting on his behalf as proxies. Fernando IV’s ratifying signature on the next day, 9 August, at Campillo, Agreda, on the Castilian side of the border, in the presence of the King of Aragon, King Dinis and Infante Juan, these two formally made parties on equal terms, constituted the treaty (or pact, or concordia) proper.

Special reference should be made, among other unaddressed issues, to the litigation over the lordship of Biscay, claimed by rivals Infante Juan and Don Diego López de Haro. Equally unaddressed remained the lawsuit on the lordship of Albarracín, claimed by Don Juan Nuñez de Lara from the King of Aragon. Jaume II had seized this lordship and incorporated it into the Crown of Aragon in 1300, following a reconciliation between the Lord of Lara and King Fernando IV (Masiá, 1994, p.82).

Even if Jaume II was the key driving force behind the treaty (Álvarez Palenzuela, 2003, p.7), still the Portuguese mediation had helped Castile and Aragon solve most of their pending problems and formalize peace, after more than four years of negotiations filled with ups-and-downs and hesitations.

Portuguese mediation in the conflict between Aragon and Castile (1300-1304)

According to Frei Fernando Félix Lopes, the Portuguese mediation (first covering domestic Castilian affairs, then extended to conflicts between the crowns of Castile and Aragon) became unstoppable after the Vistas de Ciudad Rodrigo, held in late March, early April 1300. In spite of the scarce sources available on this meeting, the sequence of events seems to suggest that the Portuguese king persuaded Infante Juan to recognise Fernando IV as king at the Cortes de Valladolid.

The closely connected chain of events points at a cause-effect relationship; between May and October 1299 King Dinis had waged war against his brother Infante Afonso, rebelled against the king his brother in his lordship of Marvão and Portalegre (Sá-Nogueira, 1991). Infante Afonso welcomed to his territory (adjacent to the border) the armies of Infante Juan. This Castilian prince being an enemy of his king Fernando IV, the then prevailing rationale behind any political alliance automatically made him enemy of the king of Portugal who was then friends with the Castilian king – or better with his mother, queen-regent Maria de Molina.

Meanwhile Infante Afonso had married his elder daughter Isabel to Don Juan el Tuerto, son of Infante Juan. Furthermore he had married his other daughter, Maria, to Don Telo Alfonso de Molina, nephew of the Castilian queen-regent Maria de Molina. The demarcation of the old Kingdom of Murcia also concerned Infante Afonso, as his wife was Doña Violante Manuel (daughter of Infante Don Manuel, brother of King Alfonso X of Castile, a sister of Don Juan Manuel), lady of the towns of Elda and Novelda, close to the town of Villena. On several occasions Ángeles MASIÁ makes reference to this Portuguese prince, uncle of Queen Constança, but fails to identify him properly, although he was a vassal of Fernando IV and confirmed at least one document in 1304 as such (Coria, 1999, p.168). This mistaken identification jeopardises her interpretation of the facts, as she calls him “Afonso Sanches” and says that he was a bastard son of King Afonso III (Masiá, 1994).  Afonso Sanches, indeed a bastard son, but of King Dinis, had married to Dona Teresa, daughter of the lord of Albuquerque, João Afonso de Albuquerque. This Castilian nobleman had moved to Portugal in 1295, following the death of King Sancho IV, and King Dinis made him first Conde de Barcelos. He died in May 1304 (Brandão, 1980, p.30).

At the Vistas de Ciudad Rodrigo, in March-April 1300, King Dinis had met with Queen Maria de Molina at her request. In June Infante Juan was already a vassal of King Fernando IV, ceasing his support to King Jaume II. He had been in total rebellion against the King of Castile since the death of Sancho IV, in 1295, claiming his rights to the Lordship of Biscay, supporting Alfonso de la Cerda as heir to the throne of Castile and letting himself be hailed King of Leon. After 1300, however, Infante Juan became the king’s right arm and played a pivotal role as negotiator of the peace between Castile and Aragon.

Thus the affairs included in the political negotiations at both the Vistas de Ciudad Rodrigo and the Cortes de Valladolid, between February and July 1300, probably outreached the strict scope of the Kingdom of Castile and Leon. This juncture probably marked the kick-off of the process of appeasement of the Castile-Aragon relationship, which would continue until 1304.

In this period (February 1300) began the ceaseless to-and-fro travels, between kings Jaume II and Dinis, ending only in 1304, of the key person in the negotiation process leading to Tarazona-Agreda – i.e. Ramón de Montrós, clerk of the King of Aragon and archdeacon of the Guarda see in Portugal (Péquignot, 2009; biography of Ramon de Montrós in Annex I, notice 225). Franciscan historian Félix LOPES was the first to underline the important role played by Ramón de Montrós in the period of 1300-1304 (Lopes, 1967, pp. 292-293).

Also in July 1300 the Portuguese Infante Afonso made peace of his brother King Dinis. In the light of the data mentioned above, this sequence of events cannot be interpreted without linking them to each other.

According to Ángeles Masiá, the meeting (Vistas) of Ciudad Rodrigo did not mark the beginning of the Portuguese mediation. She further states that King Dinis’s declared wish to intervene in the conflict between Castile and Aragon “no fue consecuencia de las vistas”. But she does not fail to quote, among the scarce documentation available on these vistas, a letter addressed by Portuguese queen Isabel to her brother King Jaume II, informing him that the Count of Barcelos, João Afonso de Albuquerque, in charge of organising the meeting, had sent her information by hand of the archdeacon of Guarda, Ramón de Montrós (Masiá, 1994, I, p.80). Likely the Vistas de Ciudad Rodrigowere not at the root of the mediation. They may none the less have strengthened it and rendered it viable, given the chronology of the intervention of players important in such mediation.

From the summer of 1300 to the early 1302, however, the Crown of Aragon did not commit to find a quick solution for the conflict, frustrating the political success of the initiatives developed by the Portuguese mediation. On the contrary, open conflict loomed and almost became real at the end of 1300.

A truce between Castile and Aragon, negotiated by Portugal and made public on the 18 September 1300, with a view to organising a meeting (vistas) of the parties, was never respected. The representatives of King Dinis, the Count of Barcelos, João Afonso de Albuquerque and the Byzantine princess Lady Vatatsa, senior lady of the house of Portuguese Princess Constança, future queen of Castile, did not manage to get the envoys of Castile and Aragon to speak to each other at Ariza. In October 1300, Jaume II informed the King of Granada, then his ally, that he was willing to resume hostilities, and Don Alfonso de la Cerda also developed intense political bargaining with the monarch of Granada until the end of the year. The King of Granada and Don Alfonso de la Cerda were the least interested parties in promoting a stable relationship between Castile and Aragon, as Ángeles MASIÁ wisely stated (Masiá, 1994, I, p.93). On the 18 December 1300, Jaume II attacked the Kingdom of Murcia and conquered Lorca. The military action taken by the King of Aragon was countered by the siege of Murcia by the Castilian forces, ordered by Queen-Regent Maria de Molina. Apparently the Castilian withdrew on initiative of Infante Juan and Infante Enrique. These conflicts broke another truce meanwhile agreed by mediation of Portugal, to prepare a meeting for solving the conflict (Masiá, 1994, I, pp.84-87).

The Kingdom of Aragon likely anticipated that a normalisation of the relationship between Portugal and Castile, moreover involving the loss of an ally as important as Infante Juan, could weaken the succession odds of the Infantes de la Cerda and, consequently, diminish the probabilities of having the Kingdom of Murcia incorporated in the territory of the Kingdom of Aragon.

The political stand of Queen-Regent Maria de Molina had been strengthened since the summer of 1300 by the stabilized relationship of the Crown of Castile and Leon with the Portuguese monarch and Infante Juan. The firm support of King Dinis to Don Juan certainly opened good prospects – both internally and externally. In the first quarter of 1301 the Cortes de Burgosgranted the Queen-Regent the funds required for Maria de Molina to seek and obtain from the Pope the legitimisation of her marriage with King Sancho IV and, consequently, of the royal couple’s children. Thus Pope Boniface VIII, between 6 April and 8 September 1301, going against strong pressure from the King of Aragon, awarded the regent various bulls that recognised the marriage and the legitimacy of her royal children, also granting the dispensation for the forbidden degree of consanguinity that enabled her son Fernando IV to marry Infanta Constança, daughter of the Portuguese King. Jaume II talked Philip the Fair of France into breaking the 1288 Treaty and putting pressure on the Pope to refuse the requested legitimisation (Masiá, 1994, I, pp.88-89). The Pope granted another dispensation for sanctioning the union between the heir to the Portuguese crown, Infante Afonso, and the Castilian Infanta Beatriz (Masiá, 1994, I, p.92; Lopes, 1967, p. 20).

By then King Jaume II was bracing himself for another inevitable change in the political scene, i.e. the majority of Fernando IV, who came of age on the 5 December 1301. In January 1302 the young monarch married the Portuguese Infanta Constança (Mattoso, 1993, p.153), a marriage probably consummated later that year (Baquero Moreno, 1998, p.647), rendering even more intricate the already complex chessboard of Castilian governance. The Kingdom of Aragon was then looking for other trumps to wield and establish an advantageous position in the negotiations of its top priority in peninsular politics, i.e. the definitive annexation of the old Kingdom of Murcia.

Jaume II, perhaps to gain even more political clout, offered his services to arbitrate the conflict between Fernando IV and Dinis over the lordship of the castles of Serpa, Moura, Castelo Rodrigo, Sabugal, Campo Maior, Olivença and others. Perhaps also to avoid such influence the Castilian king refused, on the 13 July 1302, to accept such mediation, stating that neither the Aragonese king nor the Pope had the power or the authority to confirm the sentences and decisions taken (Masiá, 1994).

In turn, as had been made clear in the end of 1300, the Castilian monarchs were not willing to waive their rights to the old kingdom of Murcia. The Lord of Murcia Don Juan Manuel, first cousin of King Fernando’s father, was vassal of the King of Castile.

The Crown of Aragon, eager to secure the definitive annexation of the Kingdom of Murcia, went on manoeuvring and manipulating to its own benefit the ambitions of the great Castilian magnates. Jaume II had suffered a severe blow upon the legitimisation of the children of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina by Pope Boniface VIII, as the Infantes de la Cerda were thenceforth worth much less as a political trump. But the claims to the Castilian throne of Don Alfonso de la Cerda were still backed up in Castile by a large party, headed by Infante Enrique, El Senador, grand-uncle of King Fernando IV. Upon his death in 1303, however, the project vanished into thin air – Don Alfonso had lost the support of the King of France his uncle in 1288 and by then only the King of Aragon stood for him.

Portuguese interference in Castilian politics (1295-1312)

Medievalists tend to diminish the role played by Portuguese King Dinis at this juncture as irrelevant, stating that his actions merely followed his brother-in-law Jaume II’s strategy. Whilst this may be partly true, the fact remains that Dinis had a political agenda of his own and successfully accomplished his goals vis-à-vis Castile.

The period ranging from the death of King Sancho IV to the death of King Pedro I (1295-1369) was marked by an objective novelty in the relationship between the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile-Leon, i.e. a systematic organized interference of the Portuguese court in the affairs of the Castilian-Leonese court.

In this text we address the Portuguese leading role only to understand he pre-eminence and commitment of King Dinis in the arbitration sentences of Tarazona and the Agreda treaty. We therefore restrict our reflection to the reign of Fernando IV, leaving outside the time of Alfonso XI and Pedro I (1312-1369).  But we must take a step back to the 1267 Treaty of Badajoz to give the framework for our interpretation (González Jiménez, 1998).

We deduce Portugal’s influence from the consecutive marriage of two Portuguese princesses (Constança and Maria, respectively daughters of Portuguese kings Dinis and Afonso IV) to two kings of Castile and Leon (Fernando IV and Alfonso XI).

This influence became palpable when King Sancho IV was still alive. On the 15 September 1291 kings Dinis and Sancho IV agreed at Ciudad Rodrigo on a double marriage, i.e. Dinis married the heir to his throne, future Afonso IV, to the Castilian princess Beatriz, and his daughter Constança to the Castilian crown prince, future Fernando IV (Lopes, 1967, p.290). This agreement was so important to the Portuguese king that the materialisation of both marriages, only possible after 1301, seems to have been the main cause for his (sometimes violent and winding) interventions in the political affairs of the Kingdom of Castile and Leon. From 1295 onwards Infante Juan apparently became a decisive ally in enforcing the strategy developed by King Dinis, whose military and political action in the border yielded the Portuguese monarch major territorial acquisitions under the Treaty of Alcanices, signed with the Castilian-Leonese regency in 1297.

Obviously Portugal’s influence cannot simply be gauged only by the actions taken by the Portuguese king or crown. Moreover the activity developed at that juncture can be explained by other factors, not only in the light of “Portuguese” objectives.

Consider, for example, the precarious legitimacy of Sancho IV, his marriage to Maria de Molina and his children. It should be remembered that the second-born of the Wise King had seized power in 1276—from his father, alive until 1284—with the help of a nobility coup sanctioned by the Cortes.

Upon the death of his first-born son Fernando, in 1275, Alfonso X had tried to force the kingdom to accept the sons of Infante Fernando as heirs to the throne. The group of Castilian institutions and magnates who had opposed the alliance with France, materialized in the marriage of the said Infante Fernando, disagreed and gave their support to the second-born Sancho, future Sancho IV. Widespread instability structurally marked political life in the Kingdom of Castile and Leon between 1276 (seizure of power by Infante Don Sancho, future Sancho IV, depriving Alfonso X of the throne and the rights of his nephews, sons of his older brother, Fernando de la Cerda) and 1369, first year of the new Trastámara dynasty, following the assassination of King Pedro I.  In between central government had been weakened by two consecutive minorities—first of Fernando IV (1295-1301) and then of Alfonso XI (1312-1325).

King Dinis’s policy with regard to Castile was guided by the unshakable purpose of imposing the commitments agreed with King Sancho IV at Ciudad Rodrigo on the 15 September 1291, contracting the “double” marriage between Infante Fernando, heir to the Castilian throne, and Portuguese Infanta Constança, on one hand, and of Portugal’s crown-prince, Infante Dom Afonso, and Castilian Infanta Doña Beatriz, on the other. Castile’s commitment to deliver this agreement simply disappeared after the death of Sancho IV and the 1295-1300 political juncture in Castile, corresponding to Fernando’s minority, was marked by constant pressure exerted by King Dinis to secure confirmation of the two promised marriages.

One important issue, among many to be addressed by the new Castilian monarch, was certainly the relationship with Aragon. This had never been good since the death of Alfonso X, in 1284, when the Infantes de la Cerda were placed under the guardianship of the Aragonese king. The relationship between the two kingdoms had consecutively worsened in 1288 (Don Alfonso de la Cerda sworn King of Castile in Aragon), 1296 (Conquest of the Kingdom of Murcia by Jaume II) and 1300-1301 (Conquest of Lorca). Two other highly complex conflicts over the lordships of Albarracín and Biscaye continued to simmer. The first had been seized by King Pedro III of Aragon in 1284 from its lord, Juan Nuñez I de Lara, and definitely incorporated into the Crown of Aragon in 1300 following the reconciliation of Juan Nuñez II de Lara, son of the last lord, with King Fernando IV of Castile. The conflict over the lordship of Biscaye, opposing Infante Juan as husband of Maria Diaz de Haro and Diego López de Haro her uncle, would be solved in 1306 (González Mínguez, 1995, p. 168-171).

After the two marriages took place, in 1302, King Dinis became the father-in-law of Fernando IV. After the death of Infante Enrique, el Senador, in 1303, the Portuguese monarch, due to his close personal relations with the kings of Castile and Aragon, seemed the best suited person to act as arbitrator and secure a commitment capable of putting an end to the two major conflicts that opposed the two most important peninsular kings – i.e. Fernando IV of Castile and Jaume II of Aragon.

Arbitration was chosen as method of mediation in the last days of 1303. After a series of misunderstandings, Jaume II finally persuaded his brother-in-law King Dinis to accept the role of arbiter in both conflicts and sent his envoys to Rome for engaging the Pope in the process (Costa, 1981). Over the first half of 1304 all steps were taken to prepare the meeting. Then diplomatic formalities began on the 30 July at Torrijos (Torrellas, in Catalonian), a village in the periphery of Tarazona (city belonging to the territories of the Crown of Aragon). On the 8 August 1304 two arbitration sentences were passed, i.e. King Dinis (on behalf of his son-in-law, Castilian King Fernando IV) and King Jaume II (on behalf of Don Alfonso de La Cerda) decided upon the matters pertaining to the heritage of the challenger to the throne of Castile; then King Dinis (this time on behalf of his brother-in-law, King Jaume II), Infante Juan (on behalf of his nephew King Fernando IV) and the Bishop of Zaragoza, Don Jimeno de Ahe (president of the tribunal - elected by the other two judges, with the back-up of the papacy? And/or chosen because of the ecclesiastical regional pre-eminence of his diocese, made archdiocese in 1318 by Pope John XXII?) established the definitive demarcation of the border between Castile and Aragon, along the former kingdom of Murcia (Costa, 1981, p.31).

The first conflict was solved by almost entirely granting the King of Aragon the jurisdiction and lordship of the former kingdom of Murcia, north of the Segura river, save the city of Murcia and Molina, with its territory, up to the southernmost point of the territory of Villena. This town remained the property of its Castilian lord, Don Juan Manuel, but under jurisdiction of the King of Aragon.

Don Juan Manuel, lord of Villena, was the son of Infante Don Manuel, a brother of King Alfonso X of Castile, and of Beatrice of Savoy. His father, lord of the conquest of Murcia, had died prematurely. He inherited the office of “adelantado de Murcia”, given by the King of Castile, as well as a very large estate in the Kingdom of Murcia. In 1296 Jaume II of Aragon took advantage of the agitated political juncture generated by the death of Castilian King Sancho IV occurred in 1295 and, after strengthening his grip over Corsica and Sardinia through the Treaty of Anagni, signed with Pope Boniface VIII that very same year, he conquered the territories of Murcia. As a result the Lord of Villena lost the jurisdiction of Elche and received the town of Alarcón as compensation from Infante Enrique – uncle of the late king Sancho IV, whose “party” he belonged to. Thus when King Fernando IV came of age in 1301 Don Juan Manuel feared that he might lose his position at the Castilian court, from then on dominated by Infante Juan – head of the party that opposed Infante Enrique. Following Don Enrique’s death in 1303, however, Don Juan Manuel approached the King of Aragon and negotiated his marriage with the daughter of Jaume II, Princess Constanza, simultaneously threatening to back up the claim of the Infantes de la Cerda to the Castilian throne. He was the true protagonist of the Tarazona negotiations, joining forces with Infante Juan. In 1306 he confirmed his promise to marry Doña Constanza. Don Juan Manuel was the younger brother of Doña Violante Manuel, married to Infante Afonso, brother of the Portuguese King Dinis.

Elche, Alicante and Orihuela, plus Cartagena, south of river Segura, were thus integrated into the lordship of the Crown of Aragon. Lorca belonged to the lordship of Castile. In this region the border between the two kingdoms was almost definitively established. The second dispute was addressed by way of a sentence, which granted Don Alfonso de la Cerda a vast landed lordship dispersed through the kingdoms of Castile and Leon (González Mínguez, 1995, p.136). The heir to Don Fernando de la Cerda finally gave up his claim to the throne of Castile – a feud that had de-stabilized Castilian politics since 1284, when Alfonso X proclaimed in his will that his succession line (i.e. Don Fernando’s) was the only legitimate.

On 9 August 1304, at Campillo (a village in the jurisdiction of Agreda), the two kings signed a pact of friendship and non-aggression that bound themselves and their successors. Let us call it the Peace of Agreda, although it would be equally correct to label it the Peace of Agreda/Tarazona, as it resulted from the arbitration sentences given at the second city on the eve. In order to simultaneously consolidate the established peace and, most likely, to reward the mediators who made the arbitration possible, the two kings invited King Dinis of Portugal and Infante Juan to join them, as full partners in the arrangement. Which was the visible part of such reward? To be considered parties to the treaty, on equal footing. In order for that to be possible, their suzerain king, Fernando IV of Castile, had to release them from all oaths and loyalty pacts that bound them to the Castilian monarch—in the case of Infante Juan, King Fernando had moreover to free him from the bonds of a subject proper, as citizen of Castile.

Paraphrasing the wording of the treaty, its text clearly says that in order for the King of Portugal to be able to sign the pact “without breaching any pledge, homage, oaths and loyalty” (sem nenhum quebrantamento dos preitos e homenagens, das juras e das fidelidades) that bound him to the King of Castile a long time ago and forever ((ya pieça ha pora venir), the said King of Castile, in his name and of his successors, “for the sake of good peace and good love” (para boa paz e bom amor) freed him and his successors from such commitments, “inasmuch as this reason and this plea are concerned” (quanto é por esta razão e por este feito).  With regard to the remaining donations, exchanges, definitions and pacts agreed between them they remained firm and valid. As to Infante Juan, a vassal and citizen born in the kingdom of Castile, King Fernando IV freed him from his vassalage and citizenship obligations, as well as any oath, homage and pledge possibly made to him.

Doubts stemming from the interpretation of the arbitration sentence regarding demarcation of the border in Murcia were clarified and solved until the Treaty of Elche of 19 May 1305. For example Don Juan Manuel had his donation of Alarcón in exchange for Elche confirmed without conditions, while his sister Doña Violante Manuel and her husband Infante Afonso of Portugal received Medellín and Arroyo del Puerco (Cáceres) for Elda and Novelda. Juan Nuñez II de Lara tried once more to recover his lordship of Albarracín, definitively lost since 1300 to Jaume II, who refused to give it back in spite of the insistence of Fernando IV (González Mínguez, 1995, pp.140-146).


Our report covers the juncture of 1304, in which King Dinis played the outstanding role of arbiter among Iberian kings, dismissed by most historians. In order to have the ability to play such role, the King of Castile had released him of vassalage commitments which are currently difficult to ascertain. In fact our ancestors, both historians and citizens at large, found it impossible in their hearts and minds to acknowledge that such commitments had simply existed.

What pledges, homage, oaths and loyalty were these that had bound Portugal for so long that they had to be formally untied so that the Portuguese King could become a party to the Pact of Agreda, on equal foot with the others? Maybe they were mere feudal formalities required at that time on such occasions. Moreover we have no documents that support our reflection – an absence that is, per se, food for thought. Be that as it may, conjecture is not risky in this case.

They were all related with key steps in the consolidation of the Portuguese Crown, taken in the reign of Portuguese king Afonso III (1248-1279); both/either his marriage to Beatriz, the daughter of Castilian king Alfonso X, in 1253, and/or the 1264 Agreement of Seville on the Portuguese-Castilian border and/or the 1267 Treaty of Badajoz. Pursuant to contracts and agreements then signed, the Portuguese king was entrusted with the Kingdom of the Algarve (which he had himself conquered in 1249) as pledge of his loyalty to his father-in-law (Ventura, 1998, pp.46-49). Several magnates of the Portuguese court, mostly related to the Military Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, remained guarantors to this pact.

But future generations would care little about the memory of this pact signed at Agreda—which was only mentioned again by historian Francisco Brandão in the mid-seventeenth century. On the side of Portugal, neither the dynasty of Avis (1385-1580) nor its junior branch, the dynasty of Bragança (1640-1910), were ever interested at all in recalling the treaty. In truth to lay emphasis on evidence that Portugal had been released from vassal bonds to Castile was, ipso facto, to recognize that such bonds had existed in the past—a remembrance that the Portuguese side did not want to keep, either in 1385 or in 1640. By the same standard, on the Castilian (later Spanish) side, I suppose no author, of no time, would care to pay much attention to the document by way of which King Fernando IV legally put an end to Castile’s suzerainty over Portugal.

In a book covering the theme of diplomatic relations, more exactly treaties, between Spain and Portugal, eminent Spanish medievalist LADERO QUESADA makes no reference to the Treaty/Pact of Agreda, dedicating only 6 lines to the 1304 Arbitration of Torrellas as a mere extension of the Treaty of Alcañices and forsaking the 1981 paper of MARÍA-MERCEDES COSTA (Ladero Quesada, 2006). Equally GONZÁLEZ MÍNGUEZ, author of the biography of Fernando IV, considers the events of the 9 August at Agreda as mainly a ratification of the two arbitration sentences by Fernando IV and Jaume II, dismissing the Treaty signed by the two kings, plus King Dinis and Infante Juan, as “the signature of a few other commitments or peace agreements among them, in which the King of Granada was also included”. In truth the King of Granada could only be a party to any agreement after the one signed on the 9 August (i.e. the Treaty of Agreda) and that indeed happened on the 10 August, as the author states afterwards (Gónzalez Mínguez, 1995, pp. 138-139).

A final question. If the document could harm Portugal’s best interest, why was it not simply destroyed? There is one possible answer, so down-to-earth and utilitarian that some will deem it too pragmatic and politically realistic to be acceptable. The document none the less contained the proof of the realm’s release from Castilian subjection. Thus and therefore, perhaps it was better to keep it, but not to show it—let alone divulge its existence.

Historical facts, unlike people, are not biological and consequently last much longer. But they only remain alive in the memory of future ages if they are mentioned. Otherwise oblivion becomes their guardian, by the hand of those who carefully choose such guardianship.



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