Luis de la Cerda

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Luis de la Cerda
Prince of Fortuna
Count of Clermont
Prince of Fortuna
ReignNovember 1344 – 5 July 1348
SuccessorLuis de la Cerda y Guzmán
SpouseLeonor de Guzmán
Issue
Luis de la Cerda y Guzmán
Juan de la Cerda y Guzmán
Isabel de la Cerda
HouseHouse de la Cerda
FatherAlfonso de la Cerda
MotherMatilde of Narbonne
BornLuis de la Cerda
France
DiedJuly 5, 1348
Lamotte-du-Rhône
ReligionRoman Catholic
 
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Luis de la Cerda
Prince of Fortuna
Count of Clermont
Prince of Fortuna
ReignNovember 1344 – 5 July 1348
SuccessorLuis de la Cerda y Guzmán
SpouseLeonor de Guzmán
Issue
Luis de la Cerda y Guzmán
Juan de la Cerda y Guzmán
Isabel de la Cerda
HouseHouse de la Cerda
FatherAlfonso de la Cerda
MotherMatilde of Narbonne
BornLuis de la Cerda
France
DiedJuly 5, 1348
Lamotte-du-Rhône
ReligionRoman Catholic

Luis de La Cerda, also called Louis of Spain (France, 1291 - Lamotte-du-Rhône, July 5, 1348) was an expatriate royal prince of the Crown of Castile, who lived and served in the Kingdom of France. Among his titles, Luis de la Cerda was the count of Talmont, count of Clermont and an admiral of France. He was also made the first 'Prince of Fortuna' (sovereign ruler of the Canary Islands) by Pope Clement VI in 1344, although he never actually set foot on the islands.

Contents

Biography

Luis de la Cerda was the second son of Alfonso de la Cerda, the disinherited and Matilde of Brienne-Eu (daughter of John II of Brienne). Alfonso had been chosen to inherit the Kingdom of León from his grandfather King Alfonso X of Castile-León, but was deposed and driven into exile in 1284 by his uncle, Sancho IV. As a result, most of Alfonso's children, including Luis de la Cerda, were born and raised abroad.

Luis de la Cerda spent almost all of his life in the Kingdom of France, in the service of the French crown, and fought in the Hundred Years' War on behalf of his adopted country. King Philip VI of France invested Luis de la Cerda as Count of Clermont and the first Count of Talmont in 1338/39. He was appointed Admiral of France in 1340.

Prince of the Fortunate Islands

Although known since classical antiquity, there had been practically no European contact with the Canary islands (known then as the Fortunate Islands) until the early 14th C, when Genoese captain Lanceloto Malocello stumbled on the island of Lanzarote. European interest in the islands accelerated quickly following a 1341 mapping expedition sponsored by Afonso IV of Portugal, which supplied detailed descriptions of the 'Guanches', the primeval aboriginal inhabitants of the islands. The prospect of new and easy slave-raiding grounds whet the appetites of European merchants. Majorcan expeditions, organized by private commercial consortiums, set out immediately for the Canary islands, with the objective of capturing natives to sell them as slaves in European markets.

Luis de la Cerda, then serving as a French ambassador to the papal court in Avignon, submitted a proposal to Pope Clement VI that offered the Catholic Church, discomforted by the slave-raiders, the more palatable vision of conquering the islands and converting the native Guanches to Christianity.

On 15 November 1344, Pope Clement VI issued the bull Tu devonitis sinceritas granting the Canary islands in perpetuity Luis de la Cerda and his heirs, granting him the sovereign title of "Prince of Fortuna", with attendant rights to mint coinage and other royal privileges.[1] In return, Cerda promised to convert the natives and render the papacy an annual tribute of 400 gold florins, due yearly on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29).[2] Eleven islands were cited in the bull by the ancient (and fantastical) names given by Pliny: Canaria, Ningaria, Plumaria, Capraria, Junonia, Embronea, Atlantica, Hesperida, Cernae, Gorgona and Galeta.[3] Upon receiving the crown and sceptre from the hands of the pope, a cavalcade was sent around the streets of Avignon, announcing Luis de la Cerda as the newly-created king of the islands.[4] Luis de la Cerda quickly acquired the popular appellation of Infante de la Fortuna.

Pope Clement VI followed this up with another bull, Prouenit ex tue in January 1345, giving the Cerda conquest the character of a crusade, granting indulgences to any who participated.[5] Papal letters were dispatched to the rulers of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, France, Sicily, Vienne and Genoa, demanding recognition of Cerda's title and urging them to provide material assistance to Cerda's upcoming expedition (projected within three years). The Portuguese king Afonso IV immediately lodged a protest, claiming priority of discovery, but conceded to the authority of the pope.[6] Alfonso XI of Castile also protested, using the ancient Visigothic dioceses and prior reconquista treaties to claim the islands fell within Castilian jurisdiction and 'sphere of conquest', but nonetheless recognized Cerda's title.[7]

Despite their formal recognitions, preparations were stalled by the opposition of the Iberian monarchs. With the assistance of the Archbishop of Neopatria, Luis de la Cerda managed to secure a commitment from Peter IV of Aragon to put some galleys at his disposal, but the others were far less forthcoming, if not outright hostile.[8] The renewed outbreak of the Hundred Years War in 1346 put the project on hold, as Luis de la Cerda resumed military service for the French crown. As a result, no expedition was mounted before Cerda's untimely death on July 5, 1348.

Tradition holds that the Aragonese galleys prepared for Luis de La Cerda, either tired of the delays (or immediately after his death), decided to set out on their own for the Canaries and attempted a landing on La Gomera, but were quickly repulsed by the natives.[9] As there is no documentary evidence for this expedition, some historians have been eager to identify it with a known ill-fated Aragonese expedition of 1360, but it is improbable that Cerda's galleys would have remained available that late.[10]

Luis de la Cerda was buried in the Abbey of Saint-Gilles in Languedoc, France. His titles of Talmont and Prince of Fortuna were inherited by his eldest living son Luis de la Cerda y Guzmán. But after the male lines died without issue, the titles passed through Luis de la Cerda's daughter Isabel de la Cerda Pérez de Guzmán into the house of the Counts (and later Dukes) of Medinacelli. Although it is reported that the papal-conferred title of Prince of Fortuna automatically expired after five years with no expedition, the De la Cerda-Medinacelli family continued to press their claim for the lordship of the islands.[11]

Descendants

In 1306, Luis de la Cerda married Leonor de Guzmán, daughter of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán and Maria Alfonso Coronel. Offspring from this marriage:

After his first wife's death, Luis de la Cerda married Guiote D'Uzès, daughter of Robert I, Viscount of Uzès. There was no issue from this marriage.

Outside of marriage, Luis de la Cerda also had a bastard son Juan de España, born in France in 1347, and recognized in his father's will.

References

  1. ^ A copy of Pope Clement VI's bull Tu devonitis sinceritas (15 Nov 1344) granting the Canaries to Luis de la Cerda is found in Monumenta Henricina vol. 1 (p.207). See also Viera y Clavijo, p.268
  2. ^ Jiménez de la Romera, p.22
  3. ^ MH, vol.1 p.208-09
  4. ^ Viera y Clavijo, p.271; Jiménez de la Romera, p.22
  5. ^ Pope Clement VI's bull Prouenit ex tue of indulgences (Jan 1345) is found MH, v.1, p.228
  6. ^ For Alfonso IV's protest (Feb 1345), see MH, v. 1,(p.231)
  7. ^ For the reply of Alfonso XI (Mar 1345) see MH, vol. 1 p.234. See also Meliá (p.45).
  8. ^ Viera y Clavijo, p.272; Jiménez de la Romera, p.22
  9. ^ Jiménez de la Romera, p.36
  10. ^ Jiménez de la Romera, p.36
  11. ^ Viera y Clavijo, p.273n

Sources