Alfonso Enríquez, Count of Gijón and Noreña

Alfonso Enríquez (Gijón, 1355 – Marans or Portugal, c. 1400),[1] Count of Noreña and of Gijón and lord of several places, was the eldest son of King Henry II of Castile and Elvira Íñiguez born before the king's marriage.[2][a] As one of the most powerful feudal lords in Asturias, where he owned many properties, he attempted to declare the independence of this region from his brother King John I and then from his nephew, King Henry III of Castile. He and his Portuguese wife, Isabel of Portugal, a natural daughter of King Ferdinand I, are the ancestors of the Noronha lineage in Portugal.

Early yearsEdit

Alfonso was raised close to his father during his youth. A year before his reign as king of Castile and León, Henry II gave Alfonso the lordship of Noreña and as such he appears confirming a charter in November 1368. He was knighted by his father in Santiago de Compostela in the spring of 1372 and it was probably at that time that he received the titles of Count of Noreña and of Gijón.[6][b] He also received the properties that his father had inherited from his godfather and tutor, Rodrigo Álvarez, in León.[9] In Asturias, these included the strategic counties of Noreña and Gijón plus Ribadesella, Villaviciosa, Nava, Laviana, Cudillero, Luarca, and Pravia. In León, he also owned the two Babias and Argüellos, both territories on the border with Asturias thanks to which he was able to move from one region to another without having to abandon his domains.

His first military experience was during the second Fernandine war in 1372 – 1373 where he succeeded in quashing the rebellions in Viana do Bolo and Cascais. The war came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Santarém on 19 March 1373. One of the stipulations of the treaty was the marriage of Alfonso Enríquez with Isabel of Portugal,[10] a natural daughter of King Ferdinand I, who at that time was about nine years old.

Uprisings against his brother John I and nephew Henry III of CastileEdit

Alfonso's father, King Henry II, died in May 1379 and was succeeded by his first-born son who reigned as John I of Castile. In the spring of 1381, King John I was preparing to go to war with Portugal. His half-brother, Alfonso Enríquez, knowing that all the soldiers from Asturias were away from the region, offered England, an ally of Portugal, the harbor of Gijón. Upon hearing this, King John I imprisoned his brother and confiscated his properties. Alfonso was only able to recover his territories in Asturias and León, including the County of Noreña, thanks to the intervention of the Bishop of Oviedo and after paying homage to his brother in Oviedo Cathedral.[11][12]

The Count of Noreña, however, prepared a new uprising. His brother, King John, entrusted him with a diplomatic mission for negotiations with Portugal and, in early 1382, Alfonso, with his brother's permission, went to Braganza but, instead of defending Castile, he hid his intentions and tried to secure England's support for Portugal.[13] The Castilian monarch in reprisal confiscated Alfonso's properties in Asturias and in the mountains of León.

In 1383, King John I discovered that his brother Alfonso had entered into new agreements with the King of Portugal. The king rushed to Asturias and subdued the entire region except for the port city of Gijón where his rebellious brother had sought refuge. At the end, the King forgave his brother on 18 July 1383 after having imprisoned him in La Puebla de Montalban under the custody of Pedro Tenorio, the archbishop of Toledo.[14]

In September of that year, after the Courts of Segovia, the King donated all of Count Alfonso's properties in Asturias to Gutierre de Toledo, bishop of Oviedo, including the county of Noreña.[15][16][17] As compensation, King John I granted Alfonso the title of Count of Valencia de Don Juan, a territory that was more accessible and controllable. The King also granted his son Henry the title of Prince of Asturias, with all the lordships thereby linking this difficult to reach territory — the ideal setting for conspiracies and uprisings due to its isolation and terrain — to the crown.

Shortly afterwards, following the death of King Ferdinand I in October 1383, King John I decided to imprison Alfonso in the castle of Almonacid since, having married a daughter of the deceased king, albeit illegitimate, Alfonso was a rival and could undermine his rights to the crown of Portugal as the husband of Beatrice, the late king's daughter with Leonor Teles. In July 1386, John I confiscated all of Alfonso's properties.[18] His imprisonment lasted eight years and only after the death of King John I in 1390 was it possible for Alfonso to regain his freedom and his possessions.[19]

During the reign of his nephew, Henry III of Castile, Alfonso continued to rebel against the crown. In 1394 the King laid siege to the city of Gijón. Isabel defended the city but finally surrendered. The King returned her son Henry who had been held hostage and ordered her to leave the kingdom and join her husband, Count Alfonso, who was in France at that time.[20]

Final yearsEdit

Little is known about his final years except that he was made prisoner by order of the King in Saint-Jean-de-Luz but released shortly afterwards. It was rumored that in 1397 he was involved in a conspiracy with the King of Portugal against Henry III although this was never proven. He died around 1400[1] probably in Portugal or in Marans.[21]

Marriage and issueEdit

His marriage with Isabel of Portugal was one of the stipulations of the Treaty of Santarém.[10] Isabel, a natural daughter of King Ferdinand I, was about nine years in 1373 when the treaty was signed. The betrothal was celebrated a month later in Santarém.[22] Unhappy with the arrangement, Alfonso fled to Avignon to try to convince Pope Gregory XI to intercede on his behalf and to cancel the wedding plans.[23] He had to desist, however, when his father the king threatened to confiscate all his properties. The marriage finally took place in 1377.[24] Although he obtained a divorce after his father's death, it was not effective since the marriage was consummated and the following children were born:[25]

From his affair with Inés de Soto de los Infantes of the Asturian lineage of the Miranda, he was the father of:

  • Juana Enríquez, also known as Juana de Lodeña or Lidueña, abbess at the convent of Saint Clarie in Toledo.[c]

He was also the father of the following children out of wedlock:

  • Juan Enríquez of Noreña (born in 1390), married to Beatrice, Lady of Mirabel.
  • Beatrice of Noreña (born in 1395), the wife of Rui Vaz Pereira.[34]
  • Diego Enríquez of Noreña, married to María Beatriz de Guzmán, the daughter (possibly illegitimate) of Enrique Pérez de Guzmán, second Count of Niebla.


  1. ^ Chronicler de Rades y Andrada in his Crónica de las tres Órdenes y Cauallerias de Sanctiago, Calatraua y Alcántara (Chronicle of the Three Military Orders of Santiago, Calatrava and Alcántara) calls her Inés Díaz de la Vega, daughter of Diego Lasso de la Vega and Elvira de Salcedo.[3] In his last will, executed on 29 May 1374, King Henry calles her Elvira Íñiguez[4] She appears with this name on 22 February 1375 in a charter relating to a claim by "Elvira Íñiguez de la Vega, mother of Alfonso, Count of Gijón, bastard son of the king".[5]
  2. ^ According to the 18th century Portuguese genealogist Antonio Caetano de Sousa, this was in 1373[7] Nevertheless, in a charter from the Monastery of San Vicente de Oviedo dated 1372, Alfonso was already signing as Count of Noreña.[8]
  3. ^ In 1489 the convent transferred to Diego de Miranda properties in Soto de los Infantes, Miranda, Salas, Grado, Navia, Cangas, Tineo, Allande and Babia, belonging to Juana. Author Margarita Cuartas Rivero quotes a document from the Archive of Valdecarzana dated 16 May 1489. Historian Balbina Martínez Caviró mistakenly asserted that Juana was the daughter of Alonso Enríquez and his wife Juana de Mendoza.[31] Margarita Cuartas Rivero and J.A. González Calle, however, have proven that the abbess was, in fact, the daughter of the count of Noreña,[32] a filiation also confirmed by historian Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués who pointed out that the coat-of-arms engraved on Juana's tomb is identical to that of her father, Alfonso Enríquez, Count of Noreña.[33]


  1. ^ a b Menéndez Pidal de Navascués 1982, p. 168.
  2. ^ Uría Maqua 1975, p. 179.
  3. ^ Rades y Andrada 1572, p. 31.
  4. ^ López de Ayala 1572, pp. 106-121.
  5. ^ Blanco García 1971, p. 743.
  6. ^ Uría Maqua 1975, p. 182.
  7. ^ Sousa 1755, p. 182.
  8. ^ Uría Maqua 1975, pp. 182–183.
  9. ^ Uría Maqua 1975, p. 178-179.
  10. ^ a b Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 322.
  11. ^ Fernández Conde 1978, p. 114-115.
  12. ^ Carvallo 1988, p. 407.
  13. ^ Fernández Conde 1978, p. 115.
  14. ^ Fernández Conde 1978, p. 122, n. 103.
  15. ^ Fernández Conde 1978, pp. 114–115.
  16. ^ Lopes 1897, pp. 155–156, Vol. I, Cap. LIII.
  17. ^ Carvallo 1988, p. 408.
  18. ^ Fernández Conde 1978, p. 124.
  19. ^ Carvallo 1988, p. 421.
  20. ^ Carvallo 1988, p. 424.
  21. ^ López de Ayala 1780, pp. 106-121, Vol. II.
  22. ^ Lopes & 1895-1896, Vol. II, chapters LXXXIII and LXXXIV.
  23. ^ Braamcamp Freire 1921, p. 47.
  24. ^ Menéndez Pidal de Navascués 1982, p. 170.
  25. ^ Braamcamp Freire 1921, pp. 47-48.
  26. ^ a b Menéndez Pidal de Navascués 1982, p. 169.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Braamcamp Freire 1921, p. 48.
  28. ^ Sousa 1755, p. 84.
  29. ^ Sousa 1755, p. 98.
  30. ^ Sousa 1755, p. 656.
  31. ^ Martínez Caviró 1980, pp. 316-317 and 334.
  32. ^ González Calle 2011, pp. 143-144.
  33. ^ Menéndez Pidal de Navascués 1983, p. 313.
  34. ^ Sousa 1755, p. 586.


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