Ramiro II (24 April 1086 – 16 August 1157), called the Monk, was King of Aragon from 1134 until withdrawing from public life in 1137 (although he used the royal title until his death). He was the youngest son of Sancho Ramírez, King of Aragon and Navarre and Felicia of Roucy.
Life before the throne
His father had placed him as a child into the Benedictine monastery of Saint Pons de Thomières in the Viscounty of Béziers. As a respected monk there he was elected abbot of the Castillian royal monastery of Santos Fecundo y Primitivo in Sahagún and later was abbot of the monastery of San Pedro el Viejo at Huesca. Wanting to limit Ramiro's power within the Kingdom of Navarre-Aragon, his brother Alfonso the Battler had blocked his elections as bishop of Burgos and as bishop of Pamplona. In 1134 he had been elected bishop of Barbastro-Roda when the death of his childless brother made him one of the candidates for succession to the crown. Others put forward included Alfonso VII, king of Castile, who as a foreign king found little support, and the choice of the Navarrese nobility, Pedro de Atarés, grandson of Sancho Ramírez, Count of Ribagorza, the illegitimate son of Ramiro I of Aragon. At an assembly at Borja intended to resolve the succession, a misunderstanding alienated Pedro from his supporters, yet they were unwilling to accept the Aragonese-favored Ramiro, and in the end the kingdoms were divided. In Navarre, García Ramírez, a scion of the pre-union royal family of Navarre and protégé of Alfonso VII was chosen king, while in Aragon the choice fell on Ramiro, who suspended his monastic vows to take the crown.
King of Aragon
The reign of Ramiro the Monk, as he is known, was tumultuous. At the beginning of his reign he had problems with his nobles, who thought he would be docile and easily steered to their wishes, but discovered him to be inflexible. In order to produce an heir, he married Agnes, daughter of Duke William IX, Duke of Aquitaine. Once wed, his wife bore a daughter, Petronilla, who was betrothed to Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona at the age of one. The marriage contract, signed at Barbastro on 11 August 1137, made Petronilla the heiress to the crown of Aragon, which in event of her childless death would pass to Ramon Berenguer and any children he might have by other wives. Ramon accepted Ramiro as "King, Lord and Father", 'renounced his family name' in favor of the House of Aragon and united the County of Barcelona with the Kingdom. This union created the Crown of Aragon, returning the previously-landlocked kingdom of Aragon to the position of peninsular power it had held prior to the loss of Navarre, as well as giving it a window to the Western Mediterranean it would come to dominate.
In the time between his accession and the betrothal of his daughter, Ramiro II had already had to put down a rebellion of the nobles, and knowing himself not to be a war king, he passed royal authority to his son-in-law Ramon Berenguer on 13 November 1137. Ramon became the "Prince of the Aragonese people" (Princeps Aragonensis) and effective chief of the kingdom's armies. Ramiro never formally resigned his royal rights, continuing to use the royal title, and keeping aware of the business of the kingdom, he withdrew from public life, returning to the Abbey of San Pedro in Huesca. He later became known for the famous and passionate legend of the Bell of Huesca. He died there on 16 August 1157, the crown then formally passing to his daughter Petronilla.