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Manrique Pérez de Lara (died 1164) was a magnate of the Kingdom of Castile and its regent from 1158 until his death. He was one of the most important counsellors and generals of three successive Castilian monarchs: Alfonso VII (1126–57), Sancho III (1157–58) and Alfonso VIII (1158–1214). He was a leading figure of the House of Lara and the ancestor and namesake of the Manrique branch of the family.

Manrique's father was Pedro González de Lara (died 1130). Of Pedro's rule and Manrique's succession to his position of honour and leadership in the Reconquista, a contemporary writes:
He took after his father in everything that he did. His father was Count Pedro of Lara, who ruled his own land for many years. The son also follows in all his father's footsteps. Still in the flower of youth, but enriched with honour and respected by the Emperor as is his nature, he was the upholder of the law, the worst scourge of the Moors.Prose translation in Barton and Fletcher, 261. Their verse numbering differs from that Lipskey, 176, The Poem of Almería, vv. 315–19, whose translation is reproduced here for comparison:
He [Pedro] governed his own land for many years. His son followed in the steps of his father. For this reason he was enriched with honor in the flower of his youth and respected by the Emperor [Alfonso VII]. It was his rule to be witness to the law and to be an evil plague to the Moors.
Manrique's mother, Eva, has traditionally been called daughter of Pedro Fróilaz de Traba, but there is no contemporary evidence that this was the fact, and it has been speculated that she may have been French, as the name she gave her son was of French origin (from Latin Almanricus/Amalricus, French Amaury). She had previously been married to count García Ordóñez. The first mention of Manrique's parents' marriage dates from November 1127, and must have occurred after 1108. Manrique had three brothers: Álvaro, Nuño and Rodrigo. He had a younger full sister, Mayor, and three half-siblings, Elvira and Fernando, children of his father's liaison with Queen Urraca, and count García Garcés de Aza, son of his mother's first marriage.

Between 26 December 1134 and 2 June 1137 Manrique served as alférez, that is, head of the military household, of Alfonso VII. This post was usually reserved for young noblemen with promising career prospects. In 1143 Manrique was granted the tenencia (or honor, a fief governed on behalf of the crown) of Atienzamarker, and in 1144 he received those of Ávilamarker, Madridmarker and Toledomarker. Madrid he only governed until the next year (1145) and Ávila until 1150. On 21 August 1145 Manrique was made a count, the highest rank in the kingdom, by Alfonso VII in the ancient capital city of Leónmarker. A charter survives that reads: "Manrique the same day this charter was made was made a count". Althought it was common for aristocratic sons to accede to the titles of their fathers on the latters' deaths, Manrique had to wait fifteen years to receive the comital title from the king. While he continued to rule Atienza and Toledo, he also received the tenencias of Medinacelimarker in 1146. That year Alfonso sent him, Ponce Giraldo de Cabrera, Ermengol VI of Urgell, and Martín Fernández de Hita to help the king's Muslim ally Sayf al-Dawla regain the cities of Baezamarker, Jaénmarker and Úbedamarker. This they succeeded in doing, but they soon quarrelled with Sayf and fighting ensued, during which Sayf was defeated and his submission to Alfonso reenforced. In January 1147 Manrique played a key rôle in the capture of Calatrava, a fact the king acknowledged in a charter drawn up on 9 January. In August Manrique took part in the reconquest of Almeríamarker and its hinterland, which included the taking of Baeza, which he immediately received from the king as a tenencia. He is highly praised by the anonymous author of the Poema de Almería, who cites his splendour and generosity ahead of his wisdom and valour:
Count Manrique, a sincere friend of Christ, valiant in warfare, is placed in charge of all these towns [[[Andújar]], [[Baños]], [[Bayona]] and Baeza]. He was liked by all, just as he was liked by the Emperor, so that he shone among the Saracens and Christians alike. Illustrious in reputation and beloved by all, bountiful and generous, he was niggardly to no man. He was skilled in arms, he possessed the mind of a sage, he delighted in battle and was a master of the science of war.Prose translation in Barton and Fletcher, 261. Their verse numbering differs from that Lipskey, 176, [ The ''Poem of Almería''], vv. 305–14, whose translation is reproduced here for comparison:
Count Manrique de Lara is made governor of these cities. He is a celebrated warrior and a true friend of Christ. He is pleasing to all including the Emperor, so that he stands out among the Moors and the Christians. Illustrious in his fame, he is loved by all. Splendid and generous, he was mean with no one. He was distinguished in the art of war, and he had the mind of a sage. He rejoiced in battle and possessed a great knowledge of military affairs. He imitated his father, Count Pedro de Lara, in all that he did.
This emphasis was typical in the period, when generosity, munificence and prodigality were considered signs of greatness, and the rewarding of followers was essential to maintaining one's power.Barton, 91. In Baeza, Manrique's rule can be traced for a decade, until 1157. In 1148 he received the ''tenencia'' of [[Segovia]]. In November 1148 Manrique and others of his famiy donated some houses in Toledo, which he ruled at the time, to [[Gonzalo de Marañón]]. It is a sign of the diversity of his interests that he owned urban properties in the most important city in the kingdom. [[File:Catedral siguenza.jpg|thumb|The fortress-like [[Romanesque architecture|Romanesque]] cathedral of Sigüenza enjoyed the patronage of Manrique Pérez]] In 1149 Manrique was entrusted with the tutorship of the king's eldest son and heir, the future Sancho III, who was raised in his household.This charge can be dated from 1 March that year, cf. Barton, 264 n6. Some indication of the size of Manrique's household—court is perhaps the better word—is given by the fact that he employed at least two individuals, Gonzalo Peláez and García Díaz, in the post of ''alférez'' in 1153 and 1156 respectively.Barton, 59. Manrique is also known to have a employed a chaplain (''capellanus''). In 1153 this office was filled by a certain Sebastian, who was also acting as Manrique's scribe when needed. By November 1155 he had hired a clerk named Sancho who signed his documents as "[[chancellor]]". In February 1152 Manrique encouraged the settlement of [[Balaguera]] and [[Cedillo]] in the [[Extremadura]] by dividing his property there amongst some settlers.This act appears, edited, in its original Latin, in Barton, 313–14. Sometime before December 1153, Manrique married [[Ermessinde of Narbonne|Ermessinde]], daughter of [[Aimeric II of Narbonne]] and a cousin of [[Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona]]. She bore him eight children, four sons and four daughters: Aimerico, Ermengarda, Guillermo (William), [[Manrique (Bishop of León)|Manrique]], María, Mayor (Amilia), [[Pedro Manrique de Lara|Pedro]], Sancha and Elvira. Three of his daughters married among the highest nobility: María married [[Diego López II de Haro]], Mayor to [[Gómez González de Manzanedo]], and Elvira to [[Ermengol VIII of Urgell]], grandson of Ermengol VI, Manrique's fellow envoy of 1146 and the husband of his cousin Elvira Rodríguez.Barton, 305; Duggan, 93–95; Doubleday, 157. On 5 December 1153, in their first recorded action as husband and wife, Manrique and Ermessinde gave the village of [[Cobeta]] to the [[Benedictine]] monasteries of [[Arlanza]], [[San Salvador de Oña]] and [[Santo Domingo de Silos]],Barton names Silos on p. 264, but [[San Pedro de Cardeña]] on p. 60. and the cathedral of Santa María in [[Sigüenza]], at the time under construction according to a Benedictine plan. The charter of this donation was drawn up by Sebastian. It survives with tags which once attached a [[Seal (device)|seal]], now lost.Barton, 60–61. It is possible, though unlikely, that the seal was a later addition and did not emanate from Manrique's chancery. Manrique may have been the first member of the Castilian nobility to employ a seal to authenticate documents. The royal chancery had only been employing them from 1146, though episcopal chanceries had already adopted them under French influence (1140).Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, 103. Manrique's marital connexion with the rulers of Narbonne may have influenced his decision, and his seal was probably based on the type used in [[Languedoc]] at the time. In 1163, when the chancery of the young Alfonso VIII adopted a seal, it was probably based on Manrique's. The earliest surviving aristocratic seal from Castile is one of Manrique's son Pedro, from document of 1179 drawn up at [[Calatayud]].Barton, 60–61.Fletcher, 98 and 106 n92. A look at the earliest seals of Alfonso VIII and Pedro Manrique suggests that Manrique's own seal showed an armed, stylised, equestrian figure patterned after Anglo-French designs, but left-facing in the Mediterranean fashion.Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, 101–119. [[File:Lorvao2.jpg|thumb|left|Twelfth-century depiction of Iberian cavalry: a crowned man with a bow, two knights with swords and a standard-bearer carrying a cross into battle]] On 21 April 1154 Manrique and Ermessinde issued a sweeping ''[[fuero]]'' to the town of [[Molina de Aragón]].For the date, cf. Barton, 265 n27. The document survives only in a thirteenth-century copy, and it may have been amended in light of later twelfth-century ''fueros'', although much of its material has precedents in the early twelfth century. It lists the privileges of the inhabitants, the rents owed to Manrique, a list of officials who would serve on the municipal council and an extensive legal code.Barton, 102. A large portion of the law deals with the formation of the local militia. Knights (''caballeros'') who lived in the town with their families for a certain period of the year were exempted from taxes. A fifth of the booty taken by the local militia in war was to go to Manrique, and those who skipped out on their military obligations were fined. Unprecedentedly (and perhaps suspiciously), a maintenance was paid to those who captured Muslim leaders in battle and had to temporarily support them before they were handed over to the king. The ''fuero'' also mandated watchtower duty, a medical allowance for wounds received in war, the use of [[battle standard]]s, and standards of military equipment for both cavalry and infantry. Also without precedent is a law requiring all those with a certain amount of wealth to purchase a horse and serve in the militia as a knight. If the thirteenth-century copy is accurate to the original, the ''fuero'' of Molina marks a transition in the customary law martial law of the peninsula, especially of Castile and [[Kingdom of Aragon|Aragon]].Powers, 36. The semi-independent nature of the rule of Manrique and his successors at Molina has been likened to the rule of [[Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar]] at [[Valencia, Spain|Valencia]] two generations earlier and to the contemporary rule of [[Pedro Ruiz de Azagra]] in [[Albarracín]]. Manrique even used the formula ''Dei gratia comes'' ("count by the grace of God"), implying that his power did not derive from the king.Duggan, 94, citing [[Luis Salazar y Castro]]. When the lordship passed to the crown through the marriage of [[María de Molina]] and [[Sancho IV of Castile|Sancho IV]], Molina was retained as a subsidiary title until the time of [[Isabel II of Spain|Isabel II]].Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, 101–02. In November 1155 Manrique bought the [[vill]] of [[Alcolea]] from García Garcés de Aza for 1,000 ''[[maravedí]]s'', a sign of his wealth.The charter of this transaction was drawn up at [[Ayllón]] by Sancho (''Sancius cancellarius comite Almarich''). Sancho was still working for Manrique the next year (1156), cf. Barton, 60. It is a sign of his power influence that in 1156 he, as governor (''tenente'') of Baeza and its entire district, was, under exceptional circumstances, conceded by the king the right to make three grants of reconquered (and thus royal) land to his supporters in the region, as part of the programme of [[Repoblación|repopulation]]. The charters, which did not require the confirmation of any members of the royal court, were drawn up by Manrique's scribe and authenticated with Manrique's seal.The documents are edited in Sánchez Belda, 58–61. It is probable that the exceptional circumstances which led Alfonso to leave the function of the royal chancery in the hands of Manrique and his household staff was the pressing need to secure the region against the the threatening [[Almohads]].Sánchez Belda, 47–57. That same year (1156), Manrique was entrusted with the ''tenencia'' of [[Burgo de Osma]], which he [[subinfeudated]] to his vassal Diego Pérez as ''[[alcalde]]''.Barton, 92. Manrique was also governing the Mediterranean port city of Almería (near Alcolea) in January 1157. Later that year both Almería and Baeza were lost to the Almohads.Doubleday, 35. In August that year, Alfonso VII died. According to the ''[[De rebus Hispaniae]]'', written by a Navarrese cleric, [[Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada]], a century later, the division of Alfonso VII's empire between his heirs was a result of the evil counsel of Manrique Pérez de Lara and [[Fernando Pérez de Traba]] (possibly Manrique's maternal uncle), who together "aimed to sow the seed of discord".Barton, 18–19. There is evidence that the division was planned as early as 1143, two years before Manrique was raised to the rank of count. Alfonso's elder son, Sancho, succeeded in Castile and [[Kingdom of Toledo|Toledo]], while his second son, [[Ferdinand II of León|Ferdinand II]], succeeded in [[Kingdom of León|León]] and [[Kingdom of Galicia|Galicia]]. Sancho died on 31 August 1158 and Manrique became regent and guardian of the child king Alfonso VIII. At least one later account with a pro-Leonese bias, the ''Chronicon mundi'' of [[Lucas de Tuy]], asserts that Ferdinand II became regent and protector of Alfonso VIII, but this is a fabrication.Dyer, 150–51. In the dispute over Alfonso VIII's regency that followed Sancho's death, the Lara family forced the [[:es:Familia Castro|Castro family]] into exile, igniting a civil war. Rodrigo Jiménez, perhaps relying on a popular legend, states that Manrique had the body of [[Gutierre Fernández de Castro]] disinterred and held as a ransom. In January 1160 he took over the government of the Extremadura on behalf of the crown, all the while continuing to hold Atienza and Toledo. In March 1160 the exiled Castro leader, [[Fernando Rodríguez de Castro|Fernando Rodríguez]], returned to confront the Laras and their allies in the [[Battle of Lobregal]]. The Castros were victorious, and Manrique's brother Nuño was captured, but the Laras were not displaced.Barton, 154. By March 1161 the guardianship of the young Alfonso, initially held by Gutierre Fernández, followed by García Garcés de Aza, was being exercised by Manrique, who styled himself ''nutritius regis'' ("nurturer of the king").Barton, 264 n7. In 1162 Manrique lost the ''tenencias'' of Atienza and Toledo and was placed in [[San Esteban de Gormaz]]. [[File:EntradaAlMonasterioSantaMariaDeHuerta.jpg|thumb|Abbey of Huerta, where Manrique was buried.]] Manrique was killed by Fernando Rodríguez at the [[Battle of Huete]], a repeat of the disaster of Lobregal, in 1164, but the day of this battle is uncertain. The ''[[Anales toledanos primeros]]'' date it to 9 July and note Manrique's death: "They killed Count Manrique on the ninth day of the month of July in the [[Spanish era|Era]] 1202 [AD 1164]." There is a charter dated 21 June 1164, an earlier source than the Anales, that places the battle on 3 June:
. . .in the year this charter was written when Fernando Rodríguez with those of Toledo and of Huete fought with the count Don Manrique and this same count Don Manrique was killed, and many other Castilians [with him]. . . This charter was made on the fifth day of the week, the eleventh kalends of July [Thursday, 21 June]. Under the Era 1202 [AD 1164]. Fifteen and three days before this charter was made [3 June] Count Don Manrique and his knights were killed.Quoted in Barton, 264 n1: . . .in illo anno fuit ista carta scripta quando Fernando Rodriz con los de Toleto et de Uepte lidio con el comite don Marric et fuit mortuus ibi el comite don Marric, et alios castellanos multos. . . Facta carta notu die Va feria XI kalendas iulii. Sub Era MCCII. Quindecim et tres dies antea fuit ista carta facta quam mortuus fuisset Comite don Marric et suos milites.
Manrique was buried in the Cistercian abbey of Santa María de Huertamarker, founded by Alfonso VII in 1147 and destined to be heavily patronised by the Lara family. His widow, Ermessinde, was still alive as late as 1175, when she donated property in Molina de Aragón to her grandson García Pérez and to the Order of Calatrava. She also made many donations to Santa María de Huerta and to the Praemonstratensian monastery of Santa María de La Vid. Besides Calatrava, she patronised the Knights Hospitaller. She founded a Praemonstratensian convent at Brazacortamarker.


  1. Barton, 264–65, provides an overview of Manrique's immediate family, public career and important private acts with documentary source citations and a brief bibliography.
  2. Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, 102, who spells Manrique's name in Spanish Amalrico or Malric.
  3. Barton, 229 n2.
  4. Some authors consider Manrique the eldest son, but Barton, 264 and 305, places Manrique second after Álvaro.
  5. According to one historian he received Ávila in 1133, but the documentary sources to do not support this conclusion, Barton, 264 n10.
  6. Barton, 264 n4: Amalricus ipso die quo hec carta facta fuit factus comes.
  7. Chronica Adefonsi imperatoris, II, §191, in Lipskey 154–55.
  8. Barton, 175.
  9. His rule in Baeza had begun by 18 August, cf. Barton, 151 n13.
  10. In Flórez, 391: Mataron al Conde Manrich en IX. dias del mes de Julio Era MCCII.
  11. Barton, 201.


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