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DONA URRACA AND HER BROTHER ALFONSO VI: INCEST AS POLITICS Teresa Catarella Technische Universität, Munich The figure of doña Urraca (c. 1033-1 101), daughter of Fernando I "El Magno" and Sancha de León, is one of the most powerful of medieval Iberia. She is the dominant and central character ofthe first cantar of the epic Las particiones del rey Fernando, "La muerte del rey Fernando", and the driving force ofthe second, "Las guerras del rey don Sancho".1 She is die pious and devout daughter, sister, and co-ruler recorded in the Latin historical chronicles, as well as the passionate and cruel temptress in vernacular chronicles and in the ballad tradition. She is die prototypical epic anti-heroine, the narrative counterpart to the idealized figure ofJimena. Her persona incorporates a veritable arsenal of carnal sins including seducing Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, "El Cid", blackmailing her father on his deathbed by threatening prostitution, and sexually manipulating Vellido Adolfo into murdering her brother Sancho.2 One aspect ofUrraca's dishonorable narrative legacy, however, that has not received as much attention has been her alleged incest with her brother Alfonso. In this article, I analyze the incest accusation as it has come down to us in two chronicle references: a politically-charged tympanum commissioned by Urraca for the Basilica of San Isidoro, and the royal incest allusions in the romance "Las almenas de Toro". These are the prisms through which the Urraca-Alfonso relationship 1 I follow Diego Catalan's division ofthe gesta orpoema oíLas particiones del rey don Fernando into three cantares whichhe designates "La muerte delrey Fernando", "Las guerras del rey don Sancho", and "El reto de Zamora" (La épica española 18, 38). 2 Alan Deyermond points out the uniqueness ofthe Hispanic medieval epic tradition in its treatment ofwomen and sex: "se trata de mujeres dominantes, mujeres que funcionan socialmente como hombres ... mujeres conscientes de su propria sexualidad" (768). La corónica 35.2 (Spring, 2007): 39-67 40Teresa CatarellaLa corónica 35.2, 2007 will be refracted, from the white light of praise in the Latin chronicles and church iconography to the darker images appearing in the vernacular chronicles and the romancero. By looking at the Urraca-Alfonso relationship through its historical, artistic and oral-poetic legacies, the incest accusation emerges as a politically motivated recoding of Urraca's very close and public relationship with her brother into an incestuous bond. This, along with the other sexual allegations against Urraca, formed part of a popular, jongleuresque campaign to undermine and discredit the Leonese royal line as descended from Fernando I and Alfonso VI. Urraca and Alfonso's mutual admiration was well known in their day and alluded to in contemporary documents. Alfonso governed jointly with Urraca: "Adefonsus Serenissimus rex, una cum consensu sororis mee Urraka". Alfonso refers to her with the conventional but certainly true formulation "dilectissima adque amantissima sóror mea".3 The earliest known written allegation ofUrraca and Alfonso's incest appears in a work by the mid twelfth century Granadine historiographer Abu Bakr ibn al-Sayrafi (d. 1161) al-Anwar al-Yaliyya (c. 1130), as is reported by Muhammad Ibn Idari al-Marrakusi in hisAl-Bayan al-mugrib (1306). The accusation is found in a chapter entitled "Algunas noticias de Alfonso, rey de Castilla": Tenían Sancho y Alfonso una hermana llamada Urraca, que prefería a su hermano Alfonso, y comprometió a uno de los hombres de Sancho para matarlo. . . Cuando se acercó a Sancho, lo hirió y lo mató, y se pasó con su montura al castillo de Zamora, donde estaba la hermana de ambos, Urraca, y se refugió.... Se refiere que Alfonso cometió adulterio con su hermana Urraca, uniendo el cristianismo al paganismo; luego pidió a los sacerdotes de su religión el perdón de lo que había cometido y lo llevaron a una de sus iglesias nobles y adoradas. (Ambrosio Huici Miranda 120-21) Evariste Lévi-Provençal's study ofthe relationship ofUrraca and Alfonso also cites this extract. His translation reads: 3 "Most serene highness King .Alfonso, together with the consent ofmy sister, Urraca" (from diplomas dated 1 7 and 1 9...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 39-67
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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