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Mallorca Through the Ages - The 13th Century

The Start of Christian Rule: 1229 to 1300

King Peter II of Aragon planned to conquer Mallorca until troubles on his own lands stopped him. A religious sect known as the Cathars had taken root in the area north of the Pyrenees and a Papal Crusade led by Simon de Montfort threatened to take them from him. Peter promised his baby son, Jaime, would marry de Montfort's daughter and handed him over to stop the Crusade.

The truce ended when Pope Innocent III reminded de Montfort who he was working for and the Crusade resumed. Peter was killed fighting Simon de Montfort's troops at the battle of Muret (south of Toulouse) in September 1213. His death left his six year old son in his enemy's hands and it took time and Papal assistance to get him back in his Kingdom.

mallorca in the 13th centuryJaime I the Conqueror (1213-1276)

The early death of Peter II of Aragon and the depleted royal coffers left the young Jaime in a weak position. He was placed under the guardianship of the Knights Templar in Monzón Castle, emerging to meet his people at the tender age of nine. Not everyone was pleased to meet their new king and Jaime faced civil unrest, intrigue and kidnapping attempts for several years.

Jaime's first crusade against the Moors in 1226 failed to capture Peniscola castle and he was anxious for another campaign to reinforce his credibility. In December 1228 the decision was taken to capture Mallorca, and he used a long running dispute with the island's Emir as an excuse. After obtaining the Pope's blessing 150 ships gathered at Salou and Tarragona and on 5 September 1229 they set sail aiming for Pollença Bay.

Storms forced the fleet off course and it gathered in the sheltered waters of St Elm. Check out the St Elm webpage to learn about the rough crossing. Part of Jaime's army landed at Santa Ponça on 10 September, skirmishing with the Moors before setting up camp near the beach. Check out the Santa Ponça webpage to read about the landings. The rest of the army landed at Magaluf and moved inland to meet Jaime. Meanwhile, the Emir's army had left Palma and deployed around what is now Bendinat. The King's army attacked and defeated the Moors in a fierce battle; visit the Na Burgesa webpage to read about the battle.

mallorca in the 13th centuryThe Emir's army fell back into Medina Mayûrqa while Jaime's set up camp north of the city. For the next three months, the King's troops used siege engines to batter away at the north gate of the city while miners tunnelled beneath the walls. Read the Puigpunyent webpage to discover how King Jaime attacked and conquered Medina Mayûrqa on New Year's Eve 1229.

For the next nine months the King's troops secured the rest of the island while many of the surviving Moors hid in the Tramuntana Mountains or the castles of Alaró, Santueri and Pollença. The King left Mallorca in October 1230, leaving Bernat de Santa Eugenia, head of the island's Knights Templar in charge; he also left his accountants to evaluate value of properties and land. Jaime returned the following May to negotiate the final surrender of the Moors. He also made a settlement with the Emir of Menorca, tricking him into paying taxes while granting him autonomy. See the Capdepera webpage to find out King Jaime fooled the Menorcan Moors.

Jaime returned to Mallorca in 1232 when he heard that the King of Tunis planned to invade. The attack never came but the island was divided up during his stay. The King's half of the island was shared between the Templars and other supporters. The remaining half of the island was split between the Count of Roussillon, the Bishop of Barcelona, the Count of Ampurias and the Viscount of Béarn. They in turn handed their properties and lands to their supporters while they returned home. Many Moors remained on the Island and while the rich ones paid for their freedom, the poor remained as slaves.

Having gone to so much trouble to capture Mallorca, Jaime gave Peter of Portugal lifetime rights over the island in exchange for the County of Urgell, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Mallorca thrived under his rule and the combination of a liberal government, low taxes (except for the Moors) turned the City of Mallorca (Palma's new name) into a thriving merchant community at the hub of the Mediterranean ports. However, Peter of Portugal did nothing except take money from the island and Jaime confiscated it from him between 1244 until 1254. Mallorca returned to King Jaime when Peter died in 1258.

mallorca in the 13th centuryIn 1256 Jaime confirmed that his kingdom would be split on his death and while his eldest son Peter would be King of Aragon, Jaime would be King of Mallorca. Jaime became Governor of the Balearic Islands when he turned 18 in 1260. A member of young Jaime's court became well known around this time after spending many years living as a hermit. Check out the Randa Hill webpage to find out about Ramon Lull religious philosophies.

Jamie II (1276-1286)

On 27 July 1276, Jamie I died and his kingdom was divided between King Peter III of Aragon and King Jaime II of Mallorca. The split did not sit happily with the brothers and Peter sent his son, Alfonso, to capture the Balearics for the Crown of Aragon. Many Mallorcans preferred Peter, having suffered under Jaime's rule, and Palma opened its gates soon when his army landed on Magaluf beach with Prince Alfonso at its head. Jaime hid in Pollença castle until he was rescued, leaving Alaró Castle as the final stronghold on the island. Visit the Alaró Castle webpage to find out what Alfonso did to the garrison leaders Guillem Basset and Guillem Cabrit.

mallorca in the 13th centuryThe exiled Jaime II sided with his brother in law, the Count of Foix, in a war with Peter but they were defeated and Mallorca was forced to pay homage to the Crown of Aragon. However, the war between the brothers was not over. In 1282 Sicily invited Peter to be their King, to the annoyance of Pope Martin IV. Peter was excommunicated, starting the 20 year long War of the Sicilian Vespers.

While Peter was distracted, Philip III of France began a papal crusade against Aragon in 1285 and Jaime joined him. While Peter's fleet ruled the seas, Philip's army had the upper hand on land. That is until plague decimated the French army and killed their King, leaving Jaime with no support.

Alfonso III 'the Liberal' of Aragon (1286-1291)

Peter died in 1286 and his son Alfonso III became king of the combined kingdoms. He immediately ordered the invasion of Menorca, ransoming or enslaving the Muslim population. He died aged only 27 in 1291 and although he wanted to return Mallorca to Jaime II, his brother and successor, Jaime II of Aragon disagreed; the island was still a vassal.

Jaime II (1295-1311)

The Balearic Islands were returned to Jaime II under the Treaty of Anagni, a series of agreements to settle numerous differences across the Mediterranean.

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