Pocket Profiles · Spain

Pocket Profiles – Adosinda, First Queen of Asturias (Part Two)

Missed Part One? It’s going to matter a lot, so read it first here.

Alfonso II, First Rule

Adosinda’s husband Silo died in 783 and was buried in Santianes de Pravia, the monastery his wife founded. It still stands and is the parish church of the village. Alfonso II was crowned at aged 19. The chronicles literally say that his aunt put him on the throne helped by loyal nobles. And this is amazing because it means that a woman of an impeccable lineage was powerful enough to name the next king, something that had never happened before in my country.


Unfortunately, only two years later, Mauregato usurped the throne. He was an illegitimate son of Alfonso I, which made him Adosinda’s half-brother and young Alfonso’s uncle, but again he was not a direct descendent of Pelagius. He was another in-law. Young Alfonso managed to escape the court and sought refuge with his mother’s family, but Adosinda was left in a delicate situation.

Adosinda wasn’t young anymore and didn’t have a wealthy husband to protect her, but she was queen dowager with a lot of support among nobles. She also had the most royal blood running through her veins.

Beatus of Liébana, who betrayed his old mistress and became an ardent supporter of the new king, found the solution to the “problem” of Adosinda. An old Visigoth law proclaimed widowed queens should enter a convent. On November 26, 785 they literally forced Adosinda to take vows in the same monastery she founded and where her husband was buried. Beatus wrote a letter to a friend telling him about the ceremony and was really proud because he found the right solution to the queen’s situation.

Bermudo I

Unfortunately for Beatus, things will change soon. Five years later, Mauregato died and Bermudo I seized the throne. He was Aurelio’s brother and another of Adosinda’s cousins from the in-law’s family. He didn’t rule for long. He lost an important battle against the Muslim army two years later and gave up the throne to Alfonso II, the queen’s beloved nephew.

Alfonso II, Second Rule

It was 791. The first thing Alfonso II did was to send Beatus back to his monastery of Liébana, in the Cantabrian mountains, telling him that he should focus on writing his Commentary instead of trying to get back to the court and plot. The second thing was to attend his coronation ceremony in Oviedo, the city where he was born and his father founded because he was in love with his mother.

Sadly, Adosinda wasn’t there. No chronicle mentions her, which probably means she died when she was around 70 years old. The granddaughter and daughter of kings, sister of a king, the woman who raised and educated a king, and a key figure of her time was not present the day she finally succeeded in securing the throne for her nephew.

Alfonso II reigned for 40 years and they were the most prosperous of the Asturias kingdom. He was friends with Charlemagne, built amazing churches and palaces, commissioned the most beautiful jewels that are still displayed in his father’s old chapel, won dozens of battles, found the tomb of St. James, and created the first route of the Camino.

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To this day, Alfonso II is considered one of the best kings of my country. He owed his education, his succession, and his life itself to his aunt, Queen Adosinda.