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The War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile between the supporters of Juana la Beltraneja, daughter of the late monarch Henry IV of Castile, and those of Henry's half sister, Isabella, who was ultimately successful.

The war had a marked international character, as Isabella was married to Ferdinand, heir to the Crown of Aragon, while Juana was married to King Afonso V of Portugal. France also intervened, supporting Portugal in order to threaten the victory of Aragon in Italy.

Despite a few initial successes by the supporters of Juana, the scarce military aggressiveness of Afonso V and the Portuguese defeat in the battle of Toro (1476) led to the disintegration of Juana's alliance between 1476 and 1477. Thereafter the conflict consisted essentially of a war between Castile and Portugal. The naval war in the Atlantic grew in importance, where the Portuguese fleets overpowered the Castilians in the struggle for the maritime access to the wealth of Guinea.

The war concluded in 1479 with the signing of the Treaty of Alcáçovas, which recognized Isabella and Ferdinand as kings of Castile and granted Portugal hegemony in the Atlantic, with the exception of the Canary Islandsmarker. Juana lost her right to the throne of Castile and remained in Portugal till her death.

This conflict has also been called the Second Castilian Civil War, but this name may lead to confusion with the other civil wars that have involved Castile in the 14th and 15th centuries. Some authors refer to it as the War of Portugal; however, this term clearly represents a Castilian point of view and may dismiss the legitimacy of the alliance in favour of Juana. At other times the term Peninsular War has been used, easily confused with the Peninsular War (1808–1814), part of the Napoleonic Wars. Lastly, some authors prefer the neutral expression War of 1475–1479.


The problem with the succession to the Crown of Castile

Juana, born in 1462, the first and only daughter of King Henry IV of Castile, was immediately named Princess of Asturias. However, pressure from parts of the nobility forced the King to depose her of the title and, in her place, name his half-brother Alfonso as heir in 1464. Since then, a rumour spread to the effect that princess Juana was not actually the daughter of King Henry, but rather of Beltrán de la Cueva, for which she was nicknamed "la Beltraneja" as a mocking reference to her assumed father.

In 1465 a sector of the the nobility, assembled in Ávilamarker, overthrew King Henry and named Alfonso king. This led to a war that ended in 1468 with the death of the then already 14 years old new "King" Alfonso , legally speaking under age, in any case, no recognized legal tutors to act as such as always done, and so on, as required and done over centuries in Castile,.

Henry IV regained the throne, and the title of heir became disputed between Juana and Isabella, uterine sister of Alfonso, both half siblings of the legal king Henry IV of Castile, who had at the time of his death in December 1474 one daughter aged 12 years old, supposedly the ruling Queen inheritor of the throne, in true and documented terms, rather than the other female, step sister of the ruling King Henry IV, Isabella then married after eloping, since the age of 17, (1469), without taking political advice of anyone with enough authority within the Kingdom including her own Lord and King, her step brother.

Later historical pronouncements as stating that the King step sister was "the next in line of succession" do not seem then serious enough, neither are substained by scientific approaches to this, apparently never ending centuries old debate.

For instance it could be argued that future Queen Isabella I of Castile Portuguese mother, also named Isabella, 19 years old, was indeed only three years younger than her stepson Henry, King Henry IV since 1452, and that she had been married to widower King John II of Castile, through a morganatic marriage with King Henry IV widower father, by then aged 42.

Also, Henry IV himself, a ruling Castilian King by his own rights of succession since 1452 and everyone official blessings, had indeed married a Royal Portuguese Princess rather than his widower father did, with the daughter of a Portuguese Infant and moreover, with a mother coming from a Royal Portuguese bastard and consequently, that it is quite clear today that Henry IV daughter had every right to inherit the throne from her father Henry IV in the absence of direct male inheritors, or perhaps, trying to be gender minded, by male half siblings, (as could be the case of "imposed King Alfonso" when he was only 11 years of age and the ruling legal step brother King Henry IV was aged 40 and of a sound mind to say the less).

Contrary to the wishes of Henry IV, step sister Isabella, "aunt" of the Kingdom of Castile expected inheritor, Princess Joan, later called Princess Juana la Beltraneja, the fruit of a promiscuous Portuguese Queen Consort of homosexual and impotent King Henry IV according to what is described still today as "grateful bellies" later chroniclers, fled, aged 17 and no official consents while under age, too, in order to marry her cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon, heir to the Crown of Aragon, in Valladolidmarker on 19 October 1469.

Gradually the couple gained a larger number of supporters, obtaining a papal bull sanctioning their marriage from Pope Alexander VI in 1472 and gaining the support of the powerful Mendoza family in 1473.

When Henry IV died in December 1474, however, each of the two candidates for the throne were proclaimed Queen of Castile by their respective supporters. Juana's supporters, aware of their position of weakness against Isabella's supporters, backed by her ambitious husband later to be a King, God willing, proposed that, 43 years old in 1475, no an "old man" as frequently stated since , able bodied King Afonso V of Portugal, a widover for some 20 years, born in 1432, and uncle of Juana, marry her, his niece, in order to become King Consort of Castile.

Let us note, for the sake of precissions on this "old man", King Afonso V of Portugal assesments, that:

1) The widower father of King Henry IV of Castile, who married Isabella (deceased in 1496 and mad for many years as was also one of her married great daughters, Queen Juana I "The Mad" of Castile), the mother of Isabella, later Queen Isabella I of Castile, was aged 42 while she was a rather Portuguese born second rate noblewoman, aged 19. She was, if anything, as she was not a Royal Princess by birth, barely 3 years younger than her step son Henry, the future King of Castile.

2) The widower father of the later Ferdinand II of Aragon, the husband of the later Queen of Castile Isabel I , widower King John II of Aragon, (1397 - 1479), married in 1444, aged 47, a 19 year old Castilian lady named usually later as Juana Enriquez, i.e. the daughter of a line of Royal bastards and converted Jews, going back to XIV Century King Alfonso XI of Castile.

Neither Castilian Juana Enriquez, neither, too, as in the Portuguese Isabella case, were any sort of Royal Princesses as could be expected in both cases had their Royal husbands wished to do so.

Further, this Castilian - Aragonese Prince John, future King Consort of Navarre, John I of Navarre, John II of Aragon, the father of Prince Ferdinand by his second marriage later, had no hesitated before, to marry an older widower Queen, Blanche I of Navarre, to gain social status as required by his burning Court ambitions.

Moreover, when analyzing Afonso V of Portugal coutship "behavior", usually, "marrying" a 12 years old girl meant in those times a marriage compromise with all sorts of official documents with sexual relations beginning only after a clearly identified menstruation, perhaps 14, 15, 16... the "fiancée", being carefully kept meanwhile in some sort of famous religious institution, her tutor being perhaps an Abbess from a well endowed Great Monastery, perhaps a Royal Princess Abbess, for example.

Afonso V accepted then, the father of a Saint Princess by the Catholic Church, besides being the father of his son and successor King John II of Portugal, a delayed issue on marrying his niece, no necessarily "consumating", sexually speaking, the union with his very young niece, as often misunderstood today, by which the strength of both sides leveled out and war began to present itself as the only method of resolving the conflict.

International alliances

Western Europe in 1470.
The Kingdom of France and the Crown of Aragon maintained a long-held rivalry for the control of Roussillon and, more recently, for hegemony in Italy. In June 1474, French troops invaded Roussillon and the Aragonese were forced to retreat. Ferdinand, King only after 1479, intervened before his father John II so that he would not declare war of France, enabling him to concentrate his attention on Castilian affairs. In any case, on the possibility that the heir to the throne of Aragon would also become King of Castile, Louis XI of France officially positioned himself on the side of Juana and Portugal on September 1475.

France was simultaneously at war with the Duchy of Burgundy. This made Burgundy into theoretical allies of Isabella's supporters, but in practice continued the war on their own account without coordinating their actions with the Isabella alliance.

England was also briefly at war with France with the disembarkation of King Edward IV in Calaismarker on June 1475, but through a quick diplomatic response, Louis negotiated peace with Edward and signed the Treaty of Picquigny on August. The King of England accepted a truce of nine years in exchange for a significant economic compensation and returned to England.

The Kingdom of Navarre was experiencing an intermittent civil war, a conflict superposed over which the French and Aragonese attempts to control the Kingdom.

Lastly, the Muslim Kingdom of Granada remained neutral, despite the Portuguese efforts to draw them into the war.

Rivalry between Castile and Portugal in the Atlantic

Throughout the 15th century, merchants, explorers and fishermen of Portugal and Castile had been penetrating further into the Atlantic Ocean. The possession of the Canary Islandsmarker was from its beginning a point of contention between the two Crowns. Later on, the control of commerce between the territories of Guinea and Elminamarker, rich in gold and slaves, grew to a dispute of even greater importance.

During the first half of the century Castile staged the conquest of a few of the Canary Islands Lanzarotemarker, Fuerteventuramarker, Hierromarker and Gomera) through feudal pacts, first with Norman knights and later with Castilian nobles. Portugal maintained its opposition to Castilian authority in the islands and on its part continued advancing the exploration of Guineamarker, obtaining significant commercial benefits.

Beginning in 1452 Pope Nicholas V and his successor Calixtus III modified the previous policy of neutrality of the Holy See and issued a series of bulls favourable to Portugal, giving the Kingdom commercial control and ample religious authority in the area "until all of Guinea" and "further beyond". The Holy See did not arbitrate the question of the Canaries, whose conquest had been left relatively suspended. The King of Portugal adopted a freer commercial policy, allowing foreign subjects to trade on the African coasts in exchange for the corresponding taxes. Thus, the only one negatively affected was the King of Castile.

On August 1475, after the start of the war, Isabella demanded that "the parts of Africa and Guinea" belonged to Castile by right and incited Castilian merchants to sail to them, thus initiating the naval war in the Atlantic.

The conflict

Sides of the War in 1475

In favour of Juana:

In favour of Isabella:

The Duchy of Burgundy and the Kingdom of England were at war with France in 1475, but did not coordinate their actions with the supporters of Isabella and are thus not normally considered part of the Isabella alliance.

The fight for the throne (May 1475 – September 1476)

Afonso V enters Castile

A Portuguese army entered the territory of the Crown of Castile under the command of Afonso V on May 10, 1475, and advanced to Plasenciamarker, where Juana was expecting him. In that city Juana and Afonso were proclaimed Kings of Castile on May 25 and were married, although the marriage was left expecting a Papal dispensation, which they obtained a few months later. From there they marched on to Arévalomarker, with the intention of heading towards Burgosmarker.

The castle of Burgos and the cities of Plasencia and Arévalo were controlled by the Estúñiga family, supporters of Juana, although the actual city of Burgos, namely, the Fernandez de Velasco family backed Isabella. From there Afonso hoped to be able to unite with any troops sent by his ally Louis XI of France.

However, Afonso found in Castile less supporters than he expected and changed his plans, preferring to instead consolidate his control in the area closest to Portugal, in particular Toromarker, a city that received him favourably even though the garrison of the castle proclaimed itself loyal to Isabella. Zamora and other Leonesemarker villages of the lower Douromarker also accepted the Portuguese King.

In la Mancha, Rodrigo Tellez-Giron, the Master of the Order of Calatrava, supporter of Juana, conquered Ciudad Realmarker, but the treasurer of that same Order and the Master of the Order of Santiago (Rodrigo Manrique) reconquered the city for the Isabella side.

Prince Ferdinand concentrated an army in Tordesillasmarker, and on July 15 ordered it to march to seek an encounter with Afonso. Four days later he arrived at Toro where the Portuguese King avoided a direct combat and Prince Ferdinand, lacking the necessary resources for a prolonged siege, was forced to return to Tordesillas and disband his army. The castle of Toro surrendered to Afonso V, who nevertheless, did not take the advantage to march on Burgos but instead returned to Arévalo to wait for the expected French intervention.

The Count of Benavente (Rodrigo Alfonso Pimentel), supporter of Isabella, situated himself with a small force in Baltanásmarker to monitor the Portuguese. He was attacked on November 18, 1475, was defeated and imprisoned after an intense resistance. Even though this victory opened the way to Burgos, Afonso V decided once again to withdraw to Zamora. The lack of aggressiveness of the Portuguese King debilitated the Juana alliance in Castile, which began to disintegrate.

Isabellian counter-attack

Supporters of Isabella counter-attacked by taking Trujillo and gaining control of the lands of the Order of Alcantara, a significant portion of those of the Order of Calatrava and of the Marquisate of Villena. On December 4, a part of the garrison in Zamora rebelled against King Afonso, who was forced to flee to Toro. The Portuguese garrison maintained control of the castle, but the city received Prince Ferdinand the following day.

On January 1476 the castle of Burgos surrendered to Isabella through a pact that avoided reprisals against the defeated.

The Battle of Toro

Castle of Zamora.

On February 1476, the Portuguese army, reinforced by troops brought by Prince John, son of Afonso V, left its base in Toro and surrounded Ferdinand in Zamora. However, the siege took a harder toll on the Portuguese than on those under siege due to the Castilian winter, and thus on March 1 Afonso V withdrew back towards Toro. Ferdinand's troops launched themselves in their pursuit and caught up to them one league (approximately 5 kilometres) of the aforementioned city, forcing him into combat.

After three hours of fighting, interrupted by the rain and nightfall, the Portuguese King withdrew to Castronuñomarker with part of his troops while his son John, later King , John II of Portugal, from 1481 to 1496, remained near Toro, retreating with his army in an organized fashion towards the city walls and even taking a few enemy prisoners.

From a strictly military point of view the battle has been considered a tie or, at most, a marginal victory for the Isabella supporters. Publicists from both sides claimed victory. However, politically the battle was decisive because subsequently the bulk of the Portuguese troops retreated back to Portugal along with Juana, whose side was thus left almost totally abandoned in Castile.

War at sea

One of the objectives of Isabella and Ferdinand in the war was to challenge Portugal's monopoly on the rich Atlantic territories that it controlled. The gold and the slaves of Guinea furthermore constituted an important source of income with which to finance the war, for which expeditions to Guinea became a priority for both belligerent sides.

Since the start of the war Portuguese ships transversed the Andalucia coasts apprehending fishing and merchants ships. In order to put an end to this situation, Isabella and Ferdinand sent four galleys under the command of Álvaro de la Nava, who managed to stop the Portuguese incursions and was even able to plunder the Portuguese city of Alcoutimmarker, on the Guadianamarker river.

On their part, sailors from Palos launched themselves in the pillage of the coasts of Guinea. Alfonso de Palencia, official chronicler of Isabella, narrates an expedition in which two caravels of the aforementioned port captured 120 Africans and sold them as slaves. Despite the protests by the Kings, shortly after another fleet of three caravels brought with it an African King captive along with 140 nobles of his village.

On May 1476 Isabella ordered the liberation of the "King of Guinea" and of his entourage. Translated to English in (Blake 1941). The order was followed only partly, as the King was liberated and return to Guinea a few months after, but his companions were all sold as slaves.

In 1476 a Portuguese fleet of 20 ships commanded by Fernão Gomes set sail towards Guinea to regain its control. The Kings of Castile ordered the preparation of a fleet to apprehend the Portuguese and appointed Carlos de Valera in command. He has numerous problems in preparing the expedition, and according to Palencia because of his opposition to the Marquis of Cádiz, the Duque of Medina Sidonia and the Estuñiga family.

The preparations were also delayed by a naval battle that occurred when the Castilians got knowledge that one or two Portuguese ships with a rich load had left the Mediterranean headed for Portugal and were waiting for the pirate Alvar Méndez, who was coming to escort them.According to De Palencia, they consisted of "two galleys" while the mayor of El Puerto de Santa Maríamarker, Diego de Valera, affirms that it was only one ship. Letter from Diego de Valera to Queen Isabella. Epístolas de Mosén Diego de Valera (ed. J. A. de Balenchana; 1878), pp.70–4. Translated to English in (Blake 1941). A fleet captained by Carlos de Valera and Andrés Sonier and composed by five galleys and five caravels intercepted them in Sanlucar de Barramedamarker, obtaining a victory after a hard-fought battle.

When Valera managed to join 3 Basque ships and 9 Andalusian caravels (25 caravels according to Palencia), all heavily armed, he no longer had any possibility of intercepting the Portuguese fleet, and decided, after stopping at Porto Santo Islandmarker, to head towards the Island of António Noli, Cape Verdemarker archipelago, near the coast of Guinea. They plundered the island and captured António Noli,Antonio da Noli, who at the time held his territory in feudal contract with the King of Portugal.

Subsequently they set sail towards the coast of Africa, where they captured two caravels owned by the Marquis of Cádiz, containing a shipment of 500 slaves. Following this, the sailors from Palos separated themselves from the expedition, which forced Valera to return to Andalucia as they were the most knowledgeable in the maritime navigation of Guineamarker.

This expedition obtained few economic benefits, as a significant portion of the slaves was returned to the Marquis of Cádiz and because Valera was forced to indemnify the Duke of Medina Sidonia for the damages caused on the Island of Noli, which the Duke claimed as his.

French intervention

On September 23 of 1475 Louis XI of France signed a treaty of alliance with Afonso V of Portugal.

Between March and June of 1476 French troops captained by Alain I of Albret forcefully tried to pass through the strategic frontier locality of Fuenterrabíamarker but were repelled. Ferdinand took advantage of the situation to secure his position in the unsettled Kingdom of Navarre. In August negotiations began in Tudela which culminated in the signing of an accord by which the belligerent parties of the Navarrese Civil War put an end to the conflict and Ferdinand obtained for Castile the control of Vianamarker, Puente la Reina and other strongholds, as well as the right to maintain a garrison of 150 lances in Pamplonamarker.

In this way Castile strengthened itself militarily against a possible French penetration into Navarre.

On August 1476 Afonso V of Portugal departed towards France after signing a truce with Isabella and Ferdinand. There he tried to convince Louis XI to implicate France to a greater extent in the war, but he refused this proposal on the grounds that he was focused on defeating his main enemy, Charles the Bold, Duque of Burgundy.

Battle of Cabo São Vicente

The King of France had sent the fleet of Norman pirate Guillaume Coullon as aid to Portugal. When on August 1476 King Afonso departed towards France, he simultaneously sent two Portuguese galleys loaded with soldiers along with the 11 ships of Coullon to come in the aid of the castle of Ceutamarker. On the way, on August 7, this fleet encountered five armed merchant ships from Cádiz heading for England: three Genovese carracks, a galley and a Flemish vessel. Coullon attempted to capture the merchants through a ploy, but failed and was forced to engage in an intense combat in which the Franco-Portuguese side emerged victorious. However, due to the use of incendiary weapons on the French part, a fire that erupted razed two Genovese ships and the Flemish vessel but also burned down two Portuguese galleys and two of Coullon's ships. According to Palencia, some 2,500 French and Portuguese died in the event.

Consolidation of Isabella and Ferdinand (September 1476 – January 1479)

After their strategic victory at the battle of Toro, the repulsion of the French attack and the solicited truce by Afonso V, Isabella and Ferdinand were left in a powerful position for the throne of Castile. The nobles of the Juana alliance were forced to accept the circumstances and gradually pledged allegiance to Isabella and Ferdinand. The war was reduced to skirmishes along the Portuguese border and, above all, the continuation of the naval war for the control of the Atlantic commerce.

Submission of the Juana alliance to Isabella and Ferdinand

Throughout 1476 the main supporters of Juana from the nobility gradually submitted to the Monarchs, in particular those from the Pacheco-Girón lineage: Juan Téllez Girón and his brother Rodrigo, Luis de Portocarrero and, in September, the Marquis of Villena.

On November 1476 Isabella's troops captured the castle of Toro. In the following months the couple took control of the last bordering localities controlled by the Portuguese and dealt with their adversaries in Extremaduramarker.

On July 1477 Isabella arrived at Sevillemarker, the most populous city of Castile, with the objective of assenting her power over the nobility of Andalusiamarker.

On April 1476 the Monarchs gave their first exculpation to the Marquis of Cádiz, who had been regaining power while his rival, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, initially the main Isabella supporter in Andalusia, had been falling into dishonour to the Monarchs. Through skilful negotiations, the Queen managed to take control of the main strongholds of Sevillemarker occupied likewise by the Marquis and the Duke and, instead of returning them to their legitimate owners, named as their heads persons of her trust.

She also prohibited the entrance to the city of Seville for both nobles, under the pretext that their simultaneous presence there would risk violent conflicts. In this way the political dominance that the Duke had exercised over Seville disappeared, and the city passed on to be firmly controlled by the Crown.

One of the few nobles that refused to submit to the Monarchs was Marshall Fernán Arias de Saavedra. His Utreramarker fortress underwent an extended siege by Isabella's troops and was conquered by assault on March 1478. The defeated suffered harsh repressions.

The first male son of the Monarchs, Juan of Aragon and Castile, was born in Sevile on June 30 1478, opening new perspectives on the dynastic stability of the Isabellian side.

Return of Afonso V

After his diplomatic failure in Francemarker, Afonso V decided to return to Portugal. On his arrival on October 1477 he found that his son, John, had proclaimed himself King. However, John happily received the return of his father and returned the Crown to him immediately.

Expeditions to Guinea and the Canary Islands of 1478

In 1477 a fleet headed for Guinea departed from Andalusia, although the facts about such fleet are scarce.

At the beginning of 1478 the Monarchs prepared in the port of Sanlúcar de Barramedamarker two new expeditions, one directed towards Elminamarker and the other directed towards the conquest of the island of Gran Canariamarker, with a total of at least 35 ships.

Prince John of Portugal, aware of the Castilian plans, prepared an armada superior in numbers to surprise his enemies in the Canary Islandsmarker. The majority of the Castilian fleet of Gran Canaria had not yet disembarked most of its troops when the notice that a Portuguese squadron was approaching arrived. The Castilian fleet immediately set sail, leaving only 300 Castilian soldiers on land, which despite their reduced number managed to prevent a Portuguese disembarkation. However, this detachment was insufficient to conquer the island and was left inactive until Castilian reinforcements arrived on the island the year after.

The other Castilian fleet arrived at Elminamarker and obtained sizeable quantities of gold. However, under the orders of the commercial representative of the Crown, the fleet remained stationed there for a few months, giving time for the Portuguese fleet to arrive. The Castilians were attacked by surprise, and were subsequently defeated and taken as prisoners to Lisbonmarker. According to Hernando del Pulgar, the income thereby obtained for King Afonso allowed him to relaunch the war by land against Castile. Portuguese sources affirm that both the prisoners and a significant portion of the captured gold were returned to Castile after the signing of peace in 1479.

Peace between Castile and France

Towards the end of 1478, before the notice of the defeat at Elminamarker arrived to Castile, an embassy from King Louis XI of France presented itself at the court of the Monarchs, offering a peace treaty. The accord was signed in Guadalupemarker and included the following clauses:
  • Louis XI recognized Isabella and Ferdinand as Monarchs of Castile and León.

  • Ferdinand agrees to break his alliance with Maximilian I, Duke of Burgundy.

  • Both parties agree to arbitration to the affairs relative to Roussillon.

Final phases (January – September 1479)

Towards the end of 1478 some of the main members of the nobility supportive of Juana had again revolted in Extremaduramarker, La Mancha (Marquis of Villena) and Galiciamarker. The Portuguese, reinforced by the naval victory at Guineamarker, once again intervened in Castile in aid of their allies.

Portuguese offensive

Aragonese helmet circa 1470.
On February 1479 a Portuguese army commanded by Garcia de Meneses, Bishop of Évora, penetrated in Extremadura. His objective was to occupy and reinforce the strongholds of Méridamarker and Medellínmarker, controlled by Beatriz Pacheco, Countess of Medellin and supporter of Afonso V. According to Palencia, the Portuguese army was composed of about 1000 Knights (among which 250 Castilians were included) plus the infantry. 180 Knights of the Order of Santiago marched alongside him, commanded by their treasurer Alfonso de Monroy.

On February 24 near the hill of Albueramarker, the aforementioned army was challenged by Isabellian forces commanded by Alonso de Cárdenas, Master of the Order of Santiago: some 500 Knights of the Order, 400 Knights of the Hermandad (mainly from Seville) and some 100 infantrymen. The battle was heavily contested. The Isabellian infantry suffered a severe blow by the Juanist cavalry and disorganized itself, but the intervention of the Master of Santiago aided the panicked infantry and, at the end, the Portuguese were forced to retreat, leaving significant spoils of war on the battlefield, as well as around 85 dead Knights. Only 15 Isabellian Knights were killed.

Despite Isabella's victory at Albueramarker, the bulk of the Portuguese army was able to take refuge in Mérida and from there continue its march to Medellínmarker, which they occupied, by which the Portuguese managed to achieve their two main objectives in their offensive. Supporters of King Ferdinand, on their part, placed both Medellín and Mérida under siege.

The Pope switches sides

The nuncio Jacobo Rondón de Seseña arrived at Castile with the notice that Pope Sixtus IV had rectified and had annulled the dispensation previously awarded to Afonso V for his marriage with his niece Juana. This gravely debilitated the legitimacy of the Juanist side and the pretension of the Portuguese King to the throne of Castile.

Last Castilian initiatives at sea

Despite the naval defeat of 1478 at Guineamarker, on February 1479 the Monarchs tried to organize a new fleet of about 20 caravels to expel the Portuguese from Elminamarker. However, they were unable to gather the ships necessary and since, no expeditions of importance were launched up until the peace agreement with Portugal.

Peace conversations

On April 1479 King Ferdinand arrived at Alcántaramarker to participate in peace conversations promoted by Pricess Beatriz, daughter of Afonso V and aunt of Isabella of Castile. The negotiations lasted 50 days and finally no agreement was reached.

The two sides continued the conflict, trying to better their respective positions in anticipation of a new peace negotiation. Isabella and Ferdinand launced an offensive against Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña, Archbishop of Toledo, who was forced to surrender, and which allowed the Monarchs to challenge the Marquis of Villena. Meanwhile, the Portuguese garrisons in Extremadura successfully resisted the Castilian siege.

Peace negotiations were restarted in the summer and an agreement was reached.

The Peace Treaty

Treaty of Alcáçovas.
The treaty that put an end to the war was signed in the Portuguese city of Alcáçovas on September 4, 1479. The agreement was ratified by the King of Portugal on September 8, 1479 and by the Kings of Castile and Aragon in Toledomarker on March 6, 1480, for which the treaty is also known as the Treaty of Alcáçovas-Toledo.

By this agreement, Afonso V renounced his aspirations to the throne of Castile while Isabella and Ferdinand in turn renounced any aspirations to the Portuguese throne. The two Crowns divided their areas of influence in the Atlanticmarker: Portugal gained control of most of the territories, with the exception of the Canary Islands (of which the islands of Gran Canariamarker, La Palmamarker and Tenerifemarker were yet to be conquered).

Likewise two other accords were signed that resolved the question of Castilian succession. By them, Juana la Beltraneja renounced to all her Castilian titles, and was given the option of either marrying the heir of Isabella and Ferdinand, Prince John, or retiring to a convent. Juana chose to follow the latter, although she remained active in politics until her death.

Secondly, the marriage of Princess Isabella, daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, with the heir of the Portuguese throne, Afonso, nephew was arranged, as well as the payment by the parents of the bride, a very high dowry that in practice represented the war compensation obtained by Portugal.



  1. According to Ciudad Ruiz, "Rodrigo Ponce de León was the principal member of the opposition to the Kings in Andalucia along with Alfonso de Aguilar," but did not want to openly rebel, although he did maintain "his personal war against the Duque of Medina Sidonia."
  2. " the heat of the civil war for the succession of the castilian throne, the commander [Spanish: comendador mayor], the treasurer and other knights of the Order take the side of Queen Isabella against their Grandmaster, supporter at that time of doña Juana."
  3. (Sainz 2004)
  4. (Ruiz 2000)
  5. (Palenzuela)
  6. Letter from King Ferdinand to the city of Baeza, March 2, 1476. Colección de documentos inéditos para la Historia de España, t. XIII, p.396
  7. (Navarro Sainz 2004)
  8. Alfonso de Palencia, Década III, Book 25, Chapter 4.
  9. Alfonso de Palencia, Década III, Book 25, Chapter 5.
  10. Letter from King Ferdinand to the city of Baeza, March 2, 1476. Colección de documentos inéditos para la Historia de España, t. XIII, p.396
  11. Alfonso de Palencia, Década III, Book 26, Chapter 6.
  12. Alfonso de Palencia, Década III, Book 26, Chapter 5.
  13. Alfonso de Palencia, Década III, Book 27, Chapter 5.
  14. Ruy de PINA, Chronica..., Chapter 203
  15. Alfonso de Palencia, Década IV, Book 32, Chapter 3
  16. Hernando del Pulgar, Crónica..., parte 2, cap. 88.
  17. Rui de Pina, Chronica..., Chapter 208
  18. Alfonso de PALENCIA, Década IV, Book 33, Chapter 9
  19. Alfonso de Palencia, Década IV, Book 34, Chapter 2
  20. Order of the Monarchs given at Trujillo on February 17, 1479, quoted in the reference "Archivo de Sevilla, Book 1, f. 370" in


  • Alfonso de Palencia. Gesta Hispaniensia ex annalibus suorum diebus colligentis (the three first Décadas edited as Cronica del rey Enrique IV by Antonio Paz y Meliá in 1904 and the forth edicated as Cuarta Década by José Lopez de Toro in 1970)

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