|Date of birth||Burgos, Burgos Province, Castile and León, Spain|
|Date of death||Dec 25, 1406 Toledo, Toledo Province, Castile-La Mancha, Spain|
|Authority||ISNI id VIAF id Library of congress id|
Henry III of Castile (4 October 1379 – 25 December 1406), called the Mourner (Spanish: Enrique el Doliente, Galician: Henrique o Doente), was the son of John I and Eleanor of Aragon. He succeeded his father as King of Castile in 1390.
Birth and education
Henry was born in Burgos, the capital of Castile. He was the first-born child of the recently crowned king John I of Castile and his wife Eleanor of Aragon. His younger brother Ferdinand grew up to become king of Aragon.
His upbringing was entrusted to Inés Lasso de la Vega, the wife of John Niño. As a child he was educated by Diego de Anaya Maldonado, Bishop of Tui-Vigo, who later became Archbishop of Seville. His tutor was Juan Hurtado de Mendoza el Limpio and his confessor was the Dominican Alonso de Cusanza, who later became Bishop of Salamanca and León.
Shortly after his birth, he was promised to be married to Beatrice of Portugal, the heir to the Portuguese throne. This was part of a peace treaty between Castile and Portugal, who had signed a truce after the Ferdinand Wars. But this marriage did not happen. Instead, Beatrice married his father, who would instigate a war of succession with John of Aviz.
In 1388, as part of the Treaty of Bayonne, he married Catherine of Lancaster in Palencia Cathedral. She was the daughter of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, and Constance of Castile, a daughter of Peter the Cruel. This solved the dynastic conflict that had raged since the death of Peter the Cruel, secured the House of Trastámara, and established peace between England and Castile.
Prince of Asturias
At the time of his wedding, he received the title Prince of Asturias with the approval of the court of Briviesca. This title designated him as the heir apparent. He was the first person to hold this title, with earlier heirs to the throne being known as infantes mayores.
In 1390, his father considered abdicating in his favour to gain the recognition of the Portuguese, but he was dissuaded from this plan by his council. They were against it because of the damage caused to the kingdom by earlier similar decisions. However, in October of the same year, King John died in Alcalá de Henares by falling off his horse, and Henry was proclaimed king.
He assumed power on 2 August 1393, at the age of 13, during a tumultuous period of changes in the regency.
Despite his nickname, he engaged in a vigorous foreign policy and manoeuvres during the first few years of the 15th century. He was able to pacify the nobility and restore royal power.
He was supported by the aristocracy and displaced their most powerful relatives (such as Alfonso Enríquez and his aunt Eleanor). He repealed privileges granted by his predecessors at the Court of Castile, such as the alcabala (a heavy sales tax) and the right to attend the council. He increased the number of city magistrates and cleaned up the kingdom's economy. He reduced persecution of the Jews and passed various bills against the violence, which had become particularly bad by 1391.
During his reign, the Castilian fleet won several victories against the English; Henry sent a naval fleet in 1400 that destroyed Tétouan in North Africa, a pirate base. In 1402, Henry began the colonisation of the Canary Islands, sending French explorer Jean de Béthencourt. He deflected a Portuguese invasion with an attack on Badajoz in 1396, finally signing a peace treaty with John I of Portugal on 15 August 1402.
He supported the papal pretension of Antipope Benedict XIII. He restarted the conflict against the kingdom of Granada, winning a victory at the Battle of Collejares, near Úbeda, which freed the town in 1406. However his untimely death in the same year prevented him from completing this campaign.
He also sent Payo Gómez de Sotomayor and Hernán Sánchez de Palazuelos, and later, on 21 May 1403, Ruy González de Clavijo, as ambassadors to Timur to discuss the possibility of an alliance between Timur and Castile against the Ottoman Empire. The latter recounted his travels in a book, Embajada a Tamorlán.
Due to his poor health, he delegated part of his power to his brother Ferdinand I of Aragon in the later part of his reign, who became regent while Henry's son John II of Castile was too young to rule.
Henry died in the city of Toledo on 25 December 1406, while preparing a campaign against the Emirate of Granada.
After his death, Henry's body was taken to the city of Toledo, which he was interred in a tomb in the Chapel of the New Monarchs of the Cathedral of Toledo, and his remains are still there today. The tomb is located above the choir stalls on the Gospel side and is in the Plateresque style. The box part is decorated with the shields of Castile and León, and the lower interior has three panels decorated with trophies. Above the three panels two cherubs hold a plaque on which is engraved the Monarch's epitaph:
"AQUI IACE EL MUI TEMIDO Y JUSTICIERO REI DON ENRIQUE DE DULCE MEMORIA QUE DIOS DE SANTO PARAISO HIJO DEL CATHOLICO REI DON JUAN NIETO DEL NOBLE CAVALLERO DON ENRIQUE EN 16 AÑOS QUE REINO FUE CASTILLA TEMIDA Y HONRRADA NACIO EN BURGOS DIA DE SAN FRANCISCO Y MURIO DIA DE NABIDAD EN TOLEDO IENDO A LA GUERRA DE LOS MOROS CON LOS NOBLES DEL REINO FINO AÑO DEL SEÑOR DE 1407." (Medieval Spanish language)
Which translates to:
Here lies the very feared and justice-maker king Henry, of sweet memory, may God give [him] the Holy Paradise, [he was] son of the Catholic King John I and grandson of the noble knight Henry[.] In the 16 years he reigned, Castile was feared and honored[. He] was born in Burgos on the day of St Francis and died on Christmas Day in Toledo, going to the Moors war with the kingdom's nobles, finishing AD 1407.
There is a recumbent statue of Henry III over the tomb, made in polychrome alabaster. Henry appears clothed in a Franciscan habit, although his hands are holding his sword in his girdle, which runs parallel to the Cordón de San Francisco. The king's head in his crown rests on three rich cushions, and his feet are bare. Four kneeling angels are at the corners of the statue.
Marriage and issue
In 1388, Henry married Catherine of Lancaster (1372–1418), the daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and Constance of Castile, who was the elder daughter of King Peter. This ended a dynastic conflict and solidified the House of Trastamara. Their marriage ceremony took place in Palencia Cathedral and they had three children:
|Ancestors of Henry III of Castile|