Ambition in a World of Turmoil: Count Henry (1096–1112) and Infanta Teresa (1112–1128)



The marriage of Count Henry of Burgundy and Infanta Teresa was a politically motivated union of two distinct facets of eleventh-century Spanish society. Count Henry was the embodiment of Latin aristocratic culture; Infanta Teresa was the illegitimate daughter of an ancient Iberian royal house. Yet far from being an effort to reconcile two diverse strands of Spanish political life, the marriage seems in fact to have been an attempt by Alfonso of León-Castile to divide the Burgundian court faction against itself. The inherent tensions this created for the couple’s authority in Portugal were evident almost from the outset, and grew even more acute as the complex tides of Latin cultural influence that had carried them to power gradually began to turn. In order to survive and prosper in a changing world, Count Henry and later Infanta Teresa were increasingly obliged to rely on local resources. Flexibility and a seemingly boundless energy served Count Henry well. He succeeded in adjusting to the new political currents and, in a relatively short period, was able to consolidate his local authority to a remarkable degree. But the fast-developing world beyond the Pyrenees could not be safely ignored. When the unexpected death of her husband brought Infanta Teresa to power in 1112, she was to find to her cost that the maintenance of effective relations with the institutions of Latin Christendom could on occasion prove decisive.


Official Document Papal Legate Eleventh Century Local Church Portuguese Coast 
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© Stephen Lay 2009

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