García Ramírez of Navarre

García Ramírez of Navarre

García Ramírez, sometimes García IV,V, VI or VII (died 21 November 1150, Lorca), called the Restorer ( _es. el Restaurador), was Lord of Monzón and Logroño, and, from 1134, King of Navarre. He "restored" the independence of the Navarrese crown after 58 years of union with the Kingdom of Aragon.

Early years

García was born in the early twelfth century, the grandson of Rodrigo Díaz, better known as El Cid. His father was Ramiro Sánchez of Monzón, a son of Sancho Garcés, illegitimate son of García Sánchez III of Navarre and half-brother of Sancho IV. His mother was Cristina Rodríguez Díaz de Vivar, the Cid's daughter.

Rise to power

When Aragon, which had from 1076 been united to Navarre, lost its warrior king Alfonso the Battler and fell into a succession crisis in 1134, García managed to wrest Navarre from his Aragonese cousins. He was elected in Pamplona by the bishops and nobles of the realm against the will of Alfonso. That Alfonso, in drawing up a will, had ignored his distant relation (of an illegitimate line), is not unsurprising given the circumstances. Alfonso had nearer male kin in the form of his brother Ramiro. Besides that, since Alfonso seems to have disregarded Ramiro as well, the choice of an illegitimate descendant of Sancho the Great would undoubtedly have aroused the opposition of the Papacy to the succession. [Lourie, 642–643.]

Ramiro did succeed Alfonso in Aragon, because the nobles refused to enact the late king's unusual will. His accession did raise protest from Rome and was not uncontested within Aragon, much less in Navarre, where García was the chosen candidate once the testament of Alfonso was laid aside. Rome does not seem to have opposed him, but neither does he seem to have had much support within Aragon, while Ramiro strongly objected to his election in Navarre. In light of this, the Bishop of Pamplona granted García his church's treasure to fund his government against Ramiro's pretensions. [Ibid, 647.] Among Garcías other early supporters were Lop Ennechones, Martinus de Leit, and Count Latro, who carried out negotiations on the king's behalf with Ramiro. [Ibid, 649 n49.] Eventually, however, the two monarchs reached a mutual accord — the Pact of Vadoluongo — of "adoption" in January 1135: García was deemed the "son" and Ramiro the "father" in an attempt to maintain both the independence of each kingdom and the "de facto" supremacy of the Aragonese one.

In May 1135, García declared himself a vassal of Alfonso VII. This simultaneously put him under the protection and lordship of Castile and bought recognition of his royal status from Alfonso, who was a claimant to the Battler's succession. [Ibid, 650.] García's submission to Castile has been seen as an act of protection for Navarre which had the consequence of putting her in an offensive alliance against Aragon, which thus forced Ramiro to marry, to forge an alliance with Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona and to produce an heir, now that García, his adoptive son, was out of the question. [Grassotti, 60.] On the other hand, García may have been responding to Ramiro's marriage, which proved beyond a doubt that the king of Aragon was seeking another heir than his distant relative and adopted son. [Lourie, 650.]

Before September 1135, Alfonso VII granted García Zaragoza as a fief. [Ibid, 651.] Recently conquered from Aragon, this outpost of Castilian authority in the east was clearly beyond the military capacity of Alfonso to control and provided further reasons for recognition of García in Navarre in return for not only his homage, but his holding Zaragoza on behalf of Castile. In 1136, Alfons was forced to do homage for Zaragoza to Ramiro and to recognise him as King of Zaragoza. In 1137, Zaragoza was surrendered to Raymond Berengar, though Alfonso retained suzerainty over it. By then, García's reign in Zaragoza had closed.

García's heirs

Sometime after 1130, but before his succession, García married Marguerite de l'Aigle. She was to bear him a son and successor, Sancho VI, as well as two daughters who each married kings: the elder, Blanca, born after 1133, married Sancho III of Castile, while the younger, Margaret, named after her mother, married William I of Sicily. García's relationship with his first queen was, however, shaky. She took on many lovers and showed favouritism to her French relatives. She bore a second son named Rodrigo, whom her husband refused to recognise as his own. [Norwich, 258.] On 24 June 1144, in León, García married Urraca, called "La Asturiana" (the Asturian), illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VII by Guntroda Pérez, to strengthen his relationship with his overlord.

In 1136, García was obliged to surrender Rioja to Castile but, in 1137, he allied with Alfonso I of Portugal and confronted Alfonso VII. They confirmed a peace between 1139 and 1140. He was thereafter an ally of Castile in the Reconquista and was instrumental in the conquest of Almería in 1147. In 1146, he occupied Tauste, which belonged to Aragon, and Alfonso VII intervened to mediate a peace between the two kingdoms.

By his marriage to Urraca, García had also become a brother-in-law of Raymond Berengar IV, with whom he confirmed a peace treaty in 1149. The count was promised to García's daughter Blanca while already engaged to Petronilla of Aragon, but García died before the marriage could be carried out.

García died on 21 November 1150 in Lorca, near Estella, and was buried in the cathedral of Santa María in Pamplona. He was succeeded by his eldest son. He left one daughter by Urraca: Sancha, who married Gaston V of Béarn. He left a widow in the person of his third wife, Ganfreda López.

García left, as the primary monument of his reign, the monastery of Sant María de La Oliva in Carcastillo. It is a fine example of Romanesque architecture.


*Lourie, Elena. " [ The Will of Alfonso I, 'El Batallador,' King of Aragon and Navarre: A Reassessment.] " "Speculum", Vol. 50, No. 4. (Oct., 1975), pp 635–651.
*Grassotti, H. "Homenaje de García Ramírez a Alfonso VII." "Principe de Viana". 94–95 (1964).
*Norwich, John Julius. "The Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194". Longmans: London, 1970.


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