García Ordóñez: Wikis


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García Ordóñez de Nájera or de Cabra (died 29 May 1108) was a Castilian magnate who ruled the Rioja from Nájera from 1080 until his death. He is famous in literature as the rival of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid, whose high position at court he took over after the Cid's exile in 1080. He was one of the most important military leaders and territorial governors under Alfonso VI, and was entrusted with military tutorship of the king's heir, Sancho Alfónsez, with whom he died on the field of battle at Uclés.


Family and marriages

García was the son of a count Ordoño Ordóñez whose identity is disputed. An Ordoño Ordóñez, grandson of kings Ramiro III and Bermudo II of León, has been suggested as being this count, but his geographical base was in León, whereas García's was in Castile. Further, there is debate as to whether this Leonese Ordoño Ordóñez even existed. More recently it has been suggested that the Castilian count Ordoño Ordóñez, García's father, was son of count Ordoño Fafílaz of the Banu Gómez clan.[1] This Ordoño Ordóñez can be show from surviving documents to have served as alférez to Ferdinand I of León and Castile between 19 April 1042 and 1 July 1047. García's mother was named Enderquina, but her origins are unknown.[2]

Sometime before 1081 García married the infanta Urraca Garcés, a daughter of García Sánchez III of Navarre and sister of Sancho Garcés IV. The earliest reference to the marriage dates from 18 April that year, when the couple witnessed a donation of her brother Ramiro Garcés. Urraca gave García three children, two daughters (Eva and Mayor) and a son (Fernando). A charter issued by Mayor in 1145 traces her royal ancestry.[2]

Sometime after the death of his first wife (after 1095), García married again, this time to a certain Eva, long identified with Eva Pérez, daughter of Pedro Fróilaz de Traba. More probably she was from southern France, being the daughter of Almanricus, viscount of Rochechouart and one of those French barons who had answered Alfonso VI's international call for aid against the Almoravids following the Battle of Sagrajas (1086).[3] Eva had one son by García: García Garcés de Aza, ancestor of the House of Aza, whose christening took place in 1106 according to the cartulary of the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla. After García's death, Eva married count Pedro González de Lara. By neither of his wives García also had a son named Fernando Pellica.[2] Two of his sons are both referred to as Fernando Garcés, one of whom has been speculated to be identical to Fernando García de Hita, progenitor of the House of Castro.[4]

Early career (1062–74)

García's public career began late in the reign of Ferdinand I, when he subscribed a charter of 10 May 1062, now in the cartulary of the monastery of Arlanza. During the reign of Ferdinand's successor in Castile, Sancho II, García was a figure on the rise. He subscribed three of the ten surviving royal charters of Sancho's reign, while his father confirmed five.[5] During this time he was associated with Pancorvo in the northeast of the Bureba, along the Way of Saint James leading from Miranda del Ebro.

In 1072 Sancho II was assassinated, and his brother Alfonso VI succeeded him. On 8 December Alfonso granted a charter to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña in Castile. Among the confirmants is García Ordóñez, who was thus among the first to reconcile himself to the new king.[6] In 1074 García was appointed the king's alférez by 20 February, a post he continued in down to 24 June at least. Thereafter he disappears from court records until 1080.[7]

Outside of royal service (1074–80)

There is a false documented dated 1075 by which Alfonso VI purportedly made a grant of privileges to Burgos, which lists García as a confirmant.[8]

In 1079, García led an army against the taifa of Seville. Among the other leaders on this campaign were two Navarrese magnates, Fortún Sánchez and Lop Sánchez, who had formerly been leaders in Navarre and in Castile under Sancho II. This expedition appears to have been independent of any royal authority, since it was opposed by Alfonso VI.[8] At the time of the attack, the Cid was leading an embassy to the court of al-Mutamid, rule of Seville, and he repulsed the Christian attackers at the Battle of Cabra.[9] Bernard Reilly has read the circumstances as implying that García was then an exile who had taken refuge in the south of the peninsula.

By 1080 the positions of García and his rival the Cid in the eyes of Alfonso had been reversed. García was dispatched to Granada to collect the parias owed by that taifa to León–Castile.[10] By May (or at least by 6 December 1081[2]) Alfonso had placed the territory of La Rioja in his hands, with his chief seat at Nájera.[8] To that same month is dated the last charter recording the presence of the Cid at Alfonso's court.

Count of Nájera (1080–1108)

Sometime shortly after his return to court, García was raised to the rank of count (Latin: comes), the highest recognised in the kingdom. The precise date of his promotion is unclear. The earliest dated reference to his carrying this title is the carta de arras of the Cid, but it is mis-dated to 10/19 July 1074, whereas it must date from between July 1078 and July 1081.[11] In the charter, redacted weeks after the last known reference to García as alférez records Rodrigo González as alférez, although he is only known to have held that post between January 1078 and June 1081. There is a royal charter dated 1077 that refers to "García, count of Nájera" (Garsias comes de Nazara), but he is not known to have received the lordship of Nájera until 1081.[2] The count being referred to is possibly García Jiménez de Oca.[8] Another royal charter dated 8 May 1080 lists nineteen counts, among them García Ordóñez, but the list appears to be anachronistic, as Fernando Díaz, not count until 1091, appears as Fernandus Didaz commes. Finally, there is a dubious royal charter from 3 December 1080 which was confirmed by one "Count García". The earliest secure reference to García as count is from 18 April 1081, also the first reference to his first wife, Urraca.[2] Historian Ramón Menéndez Pidal argued that García was appointed count of Nájera in 1076, a contention not generally accepted today.[2][8]

At the same time as his return to court, García thus received a vast fief comprising the erstwhile southern provinces of Navarre, promition to the highest aristocratic title (that of count) in the realm, and the hand in marriage of a Navarrese princess, presumably through Alfonso's actions, since the Navarrese royal family had fallen under his protection after the assassination of Sancho IV of Navarre in 1076. Also at this time, García's chief rival, the Cid, was forced into exile, and, by July 1081, García's brother, Rodrigo, had been appointed alférez to the king. It may be that the Lope Íñiguez who by 1081 had been granted all three of the Basque señoríos of Álava, Biscay, and Guipúzcoa was the same person as the Lop Jiménez who co-led the 1079 expedition against Seville. If so, then he is another ally of García Ordóñez who benefited from the latter's rise after his return to Castile.[8]

In August 1084 García made a donation to the Benedictine monastery of San Adrián de Palma. By 20 November 1085, according to a document in the cartulary of San Millán, García's lordship was extended south to include Calahorra, an episcopal seat. By 1089 it was also included Grañón and by 1092 Madriz.[2] García transferred the political and military weight of Nájera to Logroño, an old town located next to the bridge over the Ebro, which connected La Rioja to the Way of Saint James. On 1 February 1095 García and Urraca granted a fuero to the town of Fresnillo de las Dueñas.[2] In 1106 García made a donation to San Millán.

Tutorship of Sancho Alfónsez (1108)

According to the De rebus Hispaniae, Alfonso VI named García tutor for his only son, Sancho Alfónsez.[2] On 28/9 May 1108, he took part in the Battle of Uclés, where he died defending the life of the young Sancho, who would die in the same battle shortly after. His death is recorded in the De rebus Hispaniae, the Chronicon mundi, and the Chronica naierensis, where the battle is dated to 24 June.


  • Barton, Simon F. The Aristocracy in Twelfth-Century León and Castile. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Bishko, Charles J. "Fernando I and the Origins of the Leonese-Castilian Alliance With Cluny." Studies in Medieval Spanish Frontier History. London: Variorum Reprints, 1980. Originally published in Cuadernos de Historia de España, 47:31–135 (1968), and 48:30–116 (1969). Online
  • Canal Sánchez-Pagín, J. M. "El conde García Ordóñez, rival del Cid Campeador: su familia, sus servicios a Alfonso VI." Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 27:749–73 (1997).
  • Chaytor, Henry J. A History of Aragon and Catalonia. London: Methuan, 1933. Online
  • Reilly, Bernard F. The Kingdom of León-Castilla under Queen Urraca, 1109–1126. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Online
  • Reilly, Bernard F. The Kingdom of León-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, 1065–1109. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Online
  • Salazar Acha, Jaime de. "El linaje castellano de Castro en el siglo XII: consideraciones e hipótesis sobre su origin." Anales de la Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía, 1:33–68 (1991).
  • Torres Sevilla-Quiñones de León, M. C. "Cruzados y peregrinos leoneses y castellanos en Tierra Santa (ss. XI–XII)." Medievalismo, 9:63–82 (1999).
  • Torres Sevilla-Quiñones de León, M. C. Linajes nobiliarios en el Reino de León: parentesco, poder y mentalidad (siglos IX–XIII). Universidad de León, 1999.


  1. ^ Salazar Acha, 56–57.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Barton, 249–50.
  3. ^ Barton, 229; Torres, "Cruzados y peregrinos", 70–71.
  4. ^ Barton, 33; Salazar Acha, 33–68.
  5. ^ Reilly, Alfonso VI, 36–37.
  6. ^ Reilly, Alfonso VI, 70–71.
  7. ^ Barton, 249; Reilly, Alfonso VI, 76–77.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Reilly, Alfonso VI, 131–33.
  9. ^ Chaytor, 39–40.
  10. ^ Bishko, 40.
  11. ^ Barton, 249; Reilly, Alfonso VI, 83.

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