14th century Spain

A bad, bad man and his fiery exit

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a colourful if unsavoury gentleman. Well: gentleman he was not, no matter he was born under the fleur de lys on both sides, i.e. both his mother and his father were close relatives to the French king. Just goes to show that there is no correlation between royal …

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The life and loves of a Spanish señorita – meet Isabel of Castile

In 1355, Pedro I of Castile, a.k.a. Pedro the Cruel (or Just, depending on your take on things) and his long-time mistress, Maria de Padilla, welcomed their third child into the world. Yet another daughter, and I imagine Pedro would have preferred a son to the newborn Isabel that lay at her mother’s breast. Things …

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The mysterious death of a summoned king

In early September of 1312, Fernando IV of Castile died alone. Medieval kings were rarely alone. Even when they slept, there tended to be someone close at hand, sleeping on a pallet or standing guard. Not so in the case of our Fernando. Even more suspiciously, Fernando was a young man in his prime. All …

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John of Gaunt's Castilian matter

Sometimes I find myself considering the impact of John of Gaunt on medieval Europe—as one does, right? I’m going to come clean right at the start and say I rather admire this gent, whom I perceive as educated, intelligent, brave, loyal and very ambitious. Extremely ambitious, even. But not so ambitious as to want to …

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