Gonzalo Salvadórez

Gonzalo Salvadórez (or Salvadores) (died 6 January 1083), "called Cuatro Manos (‘four hands’) on account of his great valour",[1] was one of the most powerful Castilian noblemen of his era, a kinsman of the Lara family, and by tradition, descendant of the Counts of Castile. He was a son of Salvador González and brother of Álvaro Salvadórez, with whom he often figures in contemporary documentation. His family's area of influence was Bureba.

Castle at Rueda de Jalón where Gonzalo and many other nobles lost their lives.

Gonzalo is first recorded as an adult when he witnessed a charter with his father and uncle, Munio (Muño) González, in 1056, at the court of Ferdinand I. In the next reign, he was a frequent subscriber to the charters of—and attendee at the court of—Sancho II. He was ruling Lara in 1072, when Sancho granted the citizens of Lara the right to pilgrimage to San Millán de Cogolla.[2] He witnessed donations to San Millán in 1070 and 1082 (twice).[3] He and his uncle Munio were one of the first Castilian magnates to support Alfonso VI after the death of Sancho (1072), and Gonzalo attained the rank of count (comes) in 1074. Gonzalo, Munio, and Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) were the only Castilian magnates to figure prominently in royal actions outside of Castile.[4] In total, Gonzalo confirmed some nine charters of Sancho II[5] and eleven by Alfonso.[6] Gonzalo negotiated with King Sancho IV of Navarre the safe passage of the pilgrims of Lara to the shrine of San Millán in 1073, while Sancho and Alfonso were at war.[7]

In December 1082 Albofalac, the governor of Rueda de Jalón,[8] made a pronunciamiento in a favour of Yusuf al-Muzaffar, the imprisoned brother of al-Muqtadir, recently deceased ruler of Zaragoza, and rebelled against al-Mu'tamin, al-Muqtadir's son and successor. At the same time Ibn al-Royolo, who had brought Denia to al-Muqtadir in 1076, was now suspected of intriguing with Alfonso VI against al-Mu'tamin. Further, a recently failed embassy led by Sisnando Davidiz to the court of Zaragoza may have warmed Alfonso to the invitation of Albofalac to take part in his revolt, which he eventually requested.[9][10] Alfonso sent an army under Gonzalo and Ramiro Garcés, the younger brother of Sancho IV of Navarre. Gonzalo and Ramiro held talks with Yusuf, now free (Albofalac had been his jailer), who may have urged them to request the king's presence. Alfonso did appear, but only for a short while.[9][11]

After his departure, Yusuf suddenly died. Albofalac then invited Alfonso to take possession of his castle of Rueda, and the king sent Gonzalo and Ramiro under a safe conduct. Immediately before setting out on his final expedition, Gonzalo made a donation to the monastery long patronised by his family, San Salvador de Oña. The act of donation—which reads almost like a will—is a "vivid statement of the aristocratic piety of the eleventh century":[9][12]

I Count Gonzalo, in readiness for battle against the Moors with my lord, grant and concede to God and to the monastery of Oña where my forebears rest, in order that I may be remembered there for evermore . . . [a list of properties and churches] . . . If I should meet with death among the Moors, may my soul be with Christ; and let my body be borne to Oña and buried there with my kinsfolk, together with [the gifts of] 1600 gold pieces [metcales], and three of my noble horses and two mules, and from my wardrobe two silken robes and three of shot-silk taffeta, and two vessels of silver . . . And if my vassals and retainers do not so bear me [to Oña] in the event of my death, they are nothing worth, like the traitor who kills his lord, because I made them rich and powerful.

When they and their men entered the castle, they were massacred by the garrison, who pelted them with stones.[13] The Annales Compostellani place the death of Gundisalvus comes … apud Rodam (Count Gonzalo … by Rueda) in 1084. The disaster is also placed in 1084 by the Chronicon Iriense, Chronicon Burgense, and Annales Complutenses. The date of the Historia Roderici, however is confirmed by the Chronica Naierensis and has the support of Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Antonio Ubieto Arteta, R. A. Fletcher, and B. F. Reilly.[14]

Coat of arms on the lid of the sepulchre of Count Gonzalo and his brother Munio at the monastery of San Salvador de Oña

Gonzalo was buried at Oña as he had requested, and where his ancestors continued to be buried.[15]

Gonzalo's first wife was Elvira Díaz, daughter of Diego Álvarez and sister of Ticlo, wife of Íñigo López, who bore him six children:[16] Goto, Toda, Munia, Dueña, García, and Gustio. His second wife, Sancha Sánchez, daughter of Sancho Macerátiz, bore him two: count Gómez González, Gonzalo's eventual heir and the premier noble and one-time suitor of queen Urraca of León, and Fernando. Goto married Fernando Díaz and was dead by July 1087, when, as the executor of her will, he made a donation to San Salvador de Oña of some land in Hermosilla that she had inherited from her father and uncle Álvaro Salvadórez.[17]


  1. ^ Pattison 1933, p. 27.
  2. ^ This charter refers to comes Gonzalvo Salvatorez (count Gonzalo Salvadórez) as qui Laram dominabatur ([he] who dominates Lara).
  3. ^ Gonzalo is referred to as "count" in the 1082 charters: comite Gonzalvo Salvatoriz and, confusingly, comite Gundissalvo et frater eius Gonzalvo Salvatoris. In the 1070 charter he is only Gonzalvo Salvadorez.
  4. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 77. Gonzalo and Munio confirmed six extra-Castilian diplomas each, Rodrigo five.
  5. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 37.
  6. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 139.
  7. ^ Escalona Monge 2004, p. 122 n. 48.
  8. ^ Fletcher 1989, p. 137. He is known only from the Historia Roderici.
  9. ^ a b c Fletcher 1989, pp. 137–38.
  10. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 165, points out that Alfonso "had been campaigning on the western and southwestern approaches to Zaragoza" in the spring and summer, though he was at Castrojeriz in the autumn..
  11. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 165, believes that Alfonso did not appear until later, after Yusuf had died and the castle itself was offered, and that only then did he send Gonzalo and Ramiro..
  12. ^ Barton 1997, p. 87.
  13. ^ Fletcher 1989, p. 138, says "Albofalac seems to have panicked".
  14. ^ Reilly 1988, p. 165 note 16. The precise date is found in a document of Sahagún from 18 January 1083, which states, In anno quando occiderunt illos comites in Rota et fuit illa occisione in die Aparicionis Domini ("In the year when those counts were killed in Rueda and this killing was on the day of the appearance of the Lord [Theophany]"). The Annales del reyno de Navarra of José Moret Mendi cites a document of Ramiro from 27 May 1083, but that document survives independently and is dated to 1063, so Moret must be taken with caution.
  15. ^ Barton 1997, p. 45.
  16. ^ Perhaps only five since Munia and Dueña, as mentioned in a charter in Valvanera, could have been only one person, Muniadona, or Mayor, who Canal Sánchez-Pagín 2003 believes was the wife of Pelayo Peláez and mother of count Gonzalo Peláez. Ticlo, jointly with Diego González, Gonzalo Salvadórez, doña Elvira and children (Goto, Tota, Moma, Duenna, Garsea, and Gudesteus) donated to the Monastery of Valvanera on 25 July 1074 the third part of their threshing land in Herreruela.
  17. ^ Escalona Monge 2004, p. 121 n. 45: Álvaro was married to Juliana Fortúniz, daughter of Fortún Álvarez and niece of Nuño Álvarez de Carazo, by 1080; he was dead by 1094.


  • Barton, Simon (1997). The Aristocracy in Twelfth-Century León and Castile. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Escalona Monge, Julio (2004). "Misericordia regia, es decir, negociemos: Alfonso VII y los Lara en la Chronica Adefonsi imperatoris". In Isabel Alfonso Antón; Julio Escalona Monge; Georges Martin (eds.). Lucha política: condena y legitimación en la España medieval. Annexes des Cahiers de Linguistique et de Civilisation Hispaniques Médiévales. Vol. 16. Lyon: ENS Éditions. pp. 101–52. ISBN 2-84788-072-0.
  • Fletcher, Richard A. (1989). The Quest for El Cid. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-57447-8.
  • Pattison, Walter T. (1933). "The Background of Peire D'Alvernhe's 'Chantarai D'Aquest Trobadors'". Modern Philology. 31 (1): 19–34. doi:10.1086/388069. S2CID 162208516.
  • Reilly, Bernard F. (1988). The Kingdom of León-Castilla Under King Alfonso VI, 1065–1109. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Canal Sánchez-Pagín, José María (2003). "El conde Gómez González de Candespina: su historia y su familia". Anuario de Estudios Medievales. 33 (1): 37–68. doi:10.3989/aem.2003.v33.i1.197.

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