Castilian royal government of the Kingdom of Toledo, 1085-1252

Theresa M Vann, Fordham University


The Kingdom of Toledo, located in the Tagus River Valley in New Castile, was an important frontier between Christian and Muslim Spain between 1085 and 1212, but it has lacked monographs focusing on the problems of its government. This thesis examines the types of administrative and legal structures the monarchs of Castile-Leon enacted in the kingdom between 1085 and 1252 to determine how medieval government functioned on the frontier. Chapter One discusses the types of charters, chronicles, and municipal law codes available for the study. Chapter Two describes the geographical features of the Kingdom of Toledo, its agricultural and pastoral economy, and the ethnic and religious groups that populated it. Chapter Three relates Alfonso VI's reconquest of the Taifa kingdom of Toledo in 1085 and subsequent Muslims attempts to recapture it. During this period the Castilian monarchy repopulated and defended the region by establishing dioceses as centers for repopulation and by using municipal militias to defend the frontier. Chapter Four describes Alfonso VIII's military campaigns that secured the Tagus frontier and his placement of the military religious orders of Santiago and Calatrava to protect the kingdom. Alfonso VIII personally administered the kingdom of Toledo and arbitrated its growing number of property disputes, but his successor, Fernando III, was unable to do so because of the geographical increase in size of his dominions. Chapter Five explains the foral development of the kingdom, which occurred as the monarchs issued municipal law codes to encourage settlement, preserve the customs of the different ethnic groups, and resolve jurisdictional disputes among the church, the towns, and the military orders. Chapter Six discusses the towns of the kingdom as administrative units directly responsible to the king, and the difficulties caused when various stages of settlement created overlapping or disputed jurisdictions. Chapter Seven describes the royal and municipal officials of the Kingdom of Toledo, their functions, their social standing, and their increasing responsibilities as the kingdom became more settled. In conclusion, frontier government relied highly upon the personal intervention of the monarch. As the kingdom of Castile grew larger and royal government increased in size, the monarch came to rely more upon his officials. By 1252 the administration of the kingdom was almost indistinguishable from that of the rest of Castile. However, the differing layers of settlement, the power of the military religious orders and the dioceses, and the legal preservation of the customs of the different ethnic and religious groups made later attempts to centralize administration extremely difficult.

Subject Area

Middle Ages|European history

Recommended Citation

Vann, Theresa M, "Castilian royal government of the Kingdom of Toledo, 1085-1252" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9313772.