Church-state relations during the reign of Fernando IV of Castile-Leon (1295-1312)

Paulette Lynn Pepin, Fordham University


The Castilian Church, after years of acquiescence to royal domination, reasserted possession of its libertas ecclesiastica in the reign of Fernando IV, a rather obscure and inconspicuous historical figure. This dissertation investigates the following questions pertinent to the relationship between the church and the state in the Kingdom of Castile-Leon during the reign of Fernando IV. First why was the relationship between the church-state so intimate until the mid-thirteenth century; secondly, what precipitated the straining of the relationship; and finally, what were the circumstances which caused the Castilian Church openly and forcefully to demand its prerogatives, almost to the point that Fernando IV would accuse the bishops of sedition? Chapter I contains an analysis of the growth and development of the close and dependent relationship between the Castilian Church and the monarchy, and the reasons why these relations became strained during the reigns of Alfonso X and Sancho IV. In Chapter II Fernando IV's first cortes in August 1295 and the eventual ejection of both clergy and nobility from its deliberations, as well as the alliance which was effected between the monarchy and the townsmen is discussed. Chapter III evaluates the Church's vacilating attitude toward the king as the bishops first accepted his negligence and later demanded that he respect their rights. Eventually the Castilian clergy found it necessary to defend their rights in the Council of Penafiel in 1302. The Church's relationship with the king after 1302, and the clergy's contradictory behavior is the focus of Chapter IV. The continual political difficulties during Fernando IV's reign had weakened his rule considerably and gave the prelates the opportunity to call four additional church councils in order to protect their rights, privileges and immunities. Sources employed include the vernacular chronicles, Fernando IV's diplomatic correspondence, diocesan and municipal histories, papal registers, and the cuadernos of the cortes, as well as secondary work concerning the ecclesiastical estate in Castile, the papacy, the cortes and the studies of royal reigns. The author concludes that the debilitated state of the monarchy during the reign of Fernando IV was indeed a crucial factor in enabling the Castilian prelates to reassert possession of their libertas ecclesiastica.

Subject Area

Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Pepin, Paulette Lynn, "Church-state relations during the reign of Fernando IV of Castile-Leon (1295-1312)" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818473.