Ordono II

Ordono II

King of Leon
Country: Spain

Biography of Ordoño II

Ordoño II was a king of Leon and Galicia in the 10th century. He was born in 910 and ruled from 910 to 914 as the king of Leon, and from 914 to 924 as the king of Leon and Galicia. He was the second son of King Alfonso III the Great of Asturias and Jimena of Pamplona, and belonged to the Peres dynasty. Ordoño II was known for his active participation in the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims.

At the age of 8, Ordoño was sent by his father to be educated by Muhammad ibn Lubb, the leader of the Banu Qasi clan, in Saragossa. This was done to strengthen the recently formed alliance between Asturias and the Muslim rulers who opposed the emirs of Cordova. Ordoño received an excellent education that blended both Christian and Muslim cultures. However, when tensions between Banu Qasi and Asturias worsened in the late 880s, the heir to the Asturian throne returned home.

In 892, Ordoño married Elvira Menendez, the daughter of the first Count of Coimbra, Bermudo Gutierrez. This marriage allowed him to gain the support of the Galician nobility, who remained loyal to him until his death. During his father's lifetime, Ordoño governed Galicia as his regent. Around 908, he personally led a campaign against Seville, during which he destroyed a significant portion of its trading suburb, Reguel, and captured many prisoners and valuable loot.

It is unknown whether Ordoño supported his brother Garcia's rebellion, which led to their father's abdication. In June 910, a council of Galician nobility and clergy, led by Bishop Recaredo of Lugo, invited Ordoño to take the throne of Galicia. Ordoño agreed and in a charter issued by him and Bishop Recaredo, it was stated that he and all the Galician nobility recognized King Garcia I of Leon as their supreme ruler. Thus, during his reign in Galicia, Ordoño was a vassal ruler under the king of Leon.

As king, Ordoño continued the war against the Moors. In August 913, he led an army of 30,000 people, consisting of residents of the county of Portugal, to capture the city of Evora. They stormed the city and killed its ruler, Marwan Abd al-Malik, along with 700 Muslim warriors. They also captured 4,000 inhabitants and brought them to Galicia as captives. In 914, Ordoño conducted another campaign, taking the fortress of Alhanche and forcing the ruler of Badajoz to pay tribute.

After the death of his older brother Garcia I in January 914, Ordoño II was invited by the Leonese nobility to take the throne of Leon. However, Ordoño fell ill with a severe fever during his recent campaign and did not immediately accept the vacant throne. But as soon as he recovered, he agreed to become the king of Leon. In December, Ordoño II arrived in Santiago de Compostela, where he held a council attended by all the notable secular and ecclesiastical figures of both kingdoms. On December 12, 914, he was crowned as the king of Leon.

During his reign, Ordoño appointed counts to govern Galicia, with the first being the Count of Coimbra. To secure the support of his younger brother, King Fruela II of Asturias, Ordoño handed over some lands of Leon to him. Ordoño made the city of Leon the capital of his kingdom. In 915 and 916, he launched military campaigns against the Muslim city of Merida, capturing several surrounding towns.

In 915, Ordoño formed an alliance with Sancho I Garcés, the king of Navarre, and together they conducted a joint campaign against Tudela. In 916, Ordoño led another successful raid on Merida, captured its suburbs, and defeated the Muslim forces sent by the Cordovan emir in retaliation. However, in 917, the Muslims launched a counteroffensive, resulting in a major defeat for Ordoño's forces at the Battle of Valdehuncar. This battle was one of the most significant defeats for the Christians in the Reconquista.

Ordoño blamed the Castilian counts for the defeat and stripped Fernando Ansúrez of his title as the Count of Castile. In response, the Castilian counts gathered in Burgos and prepared for a rebellion. Ordoño invited them for negotiations in Tehares, where they were arrested. According to legend, Abolmondar Albo and his son were executed, but a charter issued by them in 924 proves they were pardoned by the king. Fernando Ansúrez was imprisoned in Leon but was eventually released.

Ordoño II died in Samora between January and mid-June 924 after ruling for 9 years and 6 months. He was buried in the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Leon, and his body was temporarily moved for safety during the threat of invasion by Al-Mansur. After the danger passed, he was ceremonially reburied in the same cathedral. Ordoño II was married three times, but he only had children from his first marriage.