History of Europe

Mauregato and the Tribute of the hundred maidens

Fernando VII earned the title felon king for his dalliances with the French and his betrayal of the liberal cause after the triennium that began with his famous «let's all march together , and I the first, by the constitutional path». But we are not here to talk about Ferdinand VII.

If there is a king of the Asturian monarchy to whom the bad press he has been generating makes it possible to apply the description of felon king, that is without a doubt Mauregato. What happens is that in reality there is no historical basis to justify this bad reputation of the sixth king of the Asturian monarchy.

Mauregato succeeded King Silo to the throne in 783. The Alfonsine Chronicles they accuse him of having usurped, with the help of a group of nobles, the throne that corresponded to the future Alfonso II (son of Fruela I and the Basque Doña Munia), whom Silo's widow, Adosinda, had managed to have another king proclaimed group of kingdom tycoons. This forced Alfonso to seek refuge in the Alava lands from which his mother came.

Mauregato was the natural son of the third king of the Asturian monarchy, Alfonso I, and of a woman named Sisalda, to whom the chronicles attribute the condition of a Muslim slave. This semi-Arab condition of the king is what cemented the black legend that accompanies him from such a late moment and with such little reliable historical basis as the 13th century. The stigma that stains the name of Mauregato is his supposed participation in the episode known as "the tribute of the hundred maidens", according to which the Asturian king agreed to give the emir of Córdoba this number of virgin women every year, in exchange for keep peace in his kingdom. According to these accounts, of the one hundred women, fifty would be nobles while the remaining fifty would be from the common people. Both were destined either to marry a prominent member of the emirate or to the harems of the court of Córdoba.

This story, which made its fortune in later centuries with authors such as Lope de Vega, however lacks the slightest historical basis. No Muslim source mentions it and neither do the Alfonsine Chronicles. As we have pointed out, the first reference to the tribute of the hundred maidens corresponds to a work from the 13th century.

Around the year 1230, in his work Chronicon Mundi , Bishop Lucas de Tuy is the first to mention the tribute of the hundred maidens. Very close in time (1242) Archbishop Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada collects the story in his Rebus Hispaniae , as does the General Chronicle of Alfonso X el Sabio. From then on, the legend of the tribute of the hundred maidens, its connection with Mauregato and the stain on his name are consolidated. Father Carvallo (already in the 16th century, so his story has more of a picturesque contribution than historical reliability) details:«for having peace with the king of Córdoba himself, who at that time was Abderramán, first of that name, he made the most insolent and colossal party to him, and offered him the most infamous and clumsy jurisdiction that ever intervened in the dealings of kings, and it was that for this aid and help, and for perpetual peace, Mauregato, and his successors in the kingdom, He was to give Abderramán and those who succeeded him after him in the kingdom of Córdoba, each year, as a fiefdom and in perpetuity, a hundred Christian maidens, fifty nobles and fifty common people».

These sources differ on who was the king who ended the ignominious tribute; some point to Alfonso II and others to Ramiro I. There are also those who point to King Aurelio as responsible for setting the tribute, but most point to Mauregato.

However, as already noted, none of the closest sources in time, Christian or Muslim, make any reference to the tribute or link any such treatment to the reign of Mauregato, which causes more than reasonable doubts about the veracity of the story. This is how Sánchez Albornoz expresses it:“Abd-al-Rahman also had too much to do in his states to think of bending Mauregato and humiliating him by forcing him to hand over a hundred Christian virgins. Probably, when the fable of the ominous tribute was invented in the 13th century on the occasion of the falsification of the legendary Vow of Santiago, Mauregato, a usurper and bastard, with whom none of the kings of León had any genealogical contact, was chosen as the scapegoat. and Castile contemporaries of the great trickery ».

Despite this, the figure of Mauregato made a fortune in literature and even in opera. Lope de Vega refers to him in The Maidens of Simancas and in The Meadows of León . The work The pilgrimage to Santiago with two versions attributed to Tirso De Molina and Vélez de Guevara respectively, it also deals with the subject, although here it is Ordoño I who ends the tribute. Of the rest of the works that speak of Mauregato, an opera by Schubert, Alfonso y Estrella stands out for its curiosity. , which does not leave the Asturian king in a very good place.

Jose Ignacio Gracia Noriega. Don Pelayo, the king of the mountains . The Sphere of Books. 1st edition. Madrid 2007.

Juan Carlos Cadiz Alvarez. Prehistory. ancient Asturias. The Kingdom of Asturias. Its consolidation. Nobel Editions.