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Peter I (Portuguese: Pedro, pronounced [ˈpedɾu]) ( Coimbra, February 23, 1187 - Balearic Islands, June 2, 1258) was the second son of King Sancho I of Portugal and his wife Dulce, infanta of Aragon, and would eventually become Count of Urgell and Lord of the Balearic Islands.

After the death of his father, Peter took the side of his sisters Mafalda, Sancha and Teresa, in their quarrel with his elder brother, now King Afonso II, over inheritance of the castles of Seia, Alenquer and Montemor-o-Novo, Peter got the protection of his sister Teresa, then Queen of Leon , from whose territory he launched several inconclusive attacks on the Portuguese border province of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, but eventually had to concede defeat and perpetual exile from Portugal.

Peter then left Leon to become a mercenary in the service of Yusuf II, the Almohad Caliph of Morocco, commanding a troop of Christian exiles and adventurers. As such, he was in 1220 involved with the arrival in Morocco of Berard of Carbio and four other Franciscan missionaries. Prior to setting out to the Muslim lands, the Franciscans had met with Peter's sister, who told them that she had "a little piece of Morocco in her heart" and asked them to give Peter her love [1]. Once arrived, the Franciscans started preaching in Marrakesh and strongly denouncing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The Caliph declared them "mad" and charged Peter and his Christian soldiers with escorting them out of his kingdom. However, the Franciscans managed to avoid Peter and his men, and repeated their act, highly sacrilegious in Muslim terms, in the market-place of Marrakesh - leading to their being decapitated by the Caliph personally.

Subsequently, Peter moved to Aragon, his mother's homeland, where he became involved in the schemes and campaigns of his relative [2], the young and ambitious King James I, . In 1229 Peter - continuing his family tradition of seeking a bride in Catalunia - married Countess Aurembiaix of Urgell, who had long been exiled from Urgell by the ururper Guerau IV de Cabrera , and who had been James I's mistress. With Peter as her consort, James helped Aurembiaix regain Urgell under the Aragonese overlordship - after she and Peter agreed to hand over to the King the city of Lleida (see James I of Aragon#Acquisition of Urgell).

In 1230, Peter helped the Bishop of Tarragona to conquer the Balearic island of Ibiza from the Moors.

Following Aurembiaix's death in 1231 Peter continued as Count of Urgell in a titular capacity, but this position was disputed by his overlord James I.

In 1236 they came to an agreement by which Peter gave up Urgell, which was given over to the rule of the House of Cabrera and was eventually annexed to Aragon. In exchange, Peter got the newly-conquered Balearic islands of Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera, as well as the castles of Pollença, and Alaró (also in the Baleares) and of Almudaina (in Alicante).

Peter ruled these Balearic possessions until his death, in 1258. As he left no legitimate issue, they then reverted to the Aragonese Crown, later becoming the core of Kingdom of Majorca ruled by a minor branch of the Aragonese Royal Family.

Peter left two illegitimate sons, Rodrigo and Fernando.

References

  1. ^ Father Gwenole Jeusset, OFM, "Francis and His Friars Face Islam", in Holy Land Review, New Series, Vol. 2, Nu.3, Summer 2009
  2. ^ Petronila of Aragon, Peter's grandmother, had been James's great-grandmother.
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