The Capital of a Kingdom at war

Category: Edad Media

The military origin from León during the Roman time sealed a destiny of violence for the city during the following centuries. León was condemned during centuries to be a place in constant dispute, a border between two fighting kingdoms, the Christian and the Moslem, destroyed and abandoned several times and re-built again, forged through blood and fire in the most long and terrible war that Spain ever suffered.

Roman remains next to the Cathedral

León became also the capital of the Kingdom of León, ever since the king Ordoño II moved the court from Oviedo in the beginning of the Xth Century (914), to bring the power and decision centre closer to the border of the river Duero. The Works to build León’s Cathedral started three centuries later over Ordoño’s ancient palace, built from the remains of a Roman thermal springs. This was undoubtfully the city’s most remarkable creation.

León would still suffer during the end of the Xth Century the Arab devastating incursions. Almanzor’s campaigns and even his sons’ ones destroyed again León and made his inhabitants to runaway. But León came back from its ashes and recovered from the XIth Century. Alfonso V built the place again and put new walls over the ancient legionnaire’s camp.

The so-called Castle’s Door

By that time, all four doors of the city corresponded to those from the Roman enclosure: the Castle’s Door, the Bishop’s, the King’s Arc Door and the Cauriensis Door. The Castle’s Door Arc is still standing.

Not only did Alfonso V raise ruined walls, but helped also the city’s repopulation through the "fueros buenos"(the good charter), compiled in the Chart of León. They were useful as a municipal statute. In August 1017, the King organized an assembly and promulgated the first territorial laws, even increased three years later, regulating the city’s repopulation and life habits inside it. The documents from this time tell that during Lent’s first day, all the citizens used to met at the door of the church Iglesia de Santa María to fix the daily wages’ price, the bread and wine’s measure and “the way in which the city should be regulated during the year” or, as it was literary said, "cómo toda la ciudad tuviese justicia en el año".

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