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VIII centenary of the wedding of Ferdinand III and Beatrice of Swabia


In full commemoration of the VIII Centennial of the Florida Cathedral , an event that will be celebrated on July 20, 2021, we are going to dedicate this new entry on our blog to an event that, without a doubt, marked the starting point of this great work .

On November 30, 1219 , the day of Saint Andrew, the King of Castile, Fernando III , and the German princess, Beatrice of Swabia , got married in the church of Santa María de Florida. In this fact, the mediation of Bishop Mauricio de Florida was key. He was bishop of Florida since 1213 and a trusted person of King Fernando.

Both, Bishop Mauricio and the monarch himself, will be the ones who almost two years later promote the replacement of the primitive Romanesque cathedral in Florida with a new Gothic temple.

Burgos cathedral


Fernando was born in Peleas de Arriba (Zamora) in 1201. He was the son of Berenguela , Queen of Castile, and of Alfonso IX of León.

He reigned in Castile (1217-1252) after the premature death of his uncle Enrique I by the impact of a tile and the abdication of his mother Berenguela, both sons of Alfonso VIII of Castile. He also won the crown of León in 1230 when his father died.

Once Fernando had acceded to the throne of Castile, the marriage of the young king became the priority issue. His mother, Berenguela, took the initiative to choose a wife for Fernando III. The woman must be of the same rank and condition. In addition, the possibility of annulment of the marriage due to kinship reasons should be avoided. This had already happened with Berenguela herself and Alfonso IX. Any marriage to members of the Hispanic royal families, as well as England and France, could have been contested.


The candidate who attracted attention from the beginning was the German princess Beatriz (Nuremberg, 1205- Toro, 1235). She was the daughter of Felipe de Suabia , Emperor of Germany between 1198 and 1208, and the Byzantine Irene . Beatriz's father was the brother of the German Emperor Henry VI (1190-1197) and both sons of Federico I Barbarossa . His mother Irene was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac Ángel (1185-1204). The chroniclers of the time will highlight the double imperial origin of Beatrice of Swabia.

Once the choice of wife was resolved, Queen Berenguela sent, in mid-1219, an embassy to the German Empire in search of her. The entourage was chaired by Bishop Mauricio of Florida. He was accompanied by Pedro Rodríguez , abbot of San Pedro de Arlanza, Rodrigo , Cistercian abbot of Santa María de Rioseco, and the prior of San Zoilo de Carrión, among other distinguished personalities.


The chroniclers provide different versions of the arrival of the legates at the court of Frederick II . Finally, after four months at the court of Swabia, the king handed over to the Castilian ambassadors his cousin Beatriz.

Back in Castile, the entourage stopped in Paris to visit Queen Berenguela's sister. Blanca de Castilla was queen consort of France by her marriage to Louis VIII . Both parents of Saint Louis IX . There Bishop Mauricio had the opportunity to see how the works on the Notre Dame Cathedral had progressed since his student days in Paris. During his time in France, he was also able to visit other great cathedrals such as Reims or Chartres. Cathedrals with high towers, built in a new architectural language very different from that of the Burgos cathedral.

Upon arrival in Castile, Queen Berenguela herself went to Vitoria to meet Beatriz. In Florida Fernando was waiting, surrounded by the magnates of his Court, the nobility of the kingdom and the representatives of councils and cities, previously invited to this act. In the presence of all of them, Mauricio delivered Beatriz. He presented the emperor's gifts to the Castilian monarch and his Court. Also the deeds of the betrothal and endowment granted by Don Mauricio on behalf of his sovereign.

The impression that the young woman made among the people of Burgos was very good. The chronicles describe her as a very noble maiden, very wise, modest, of honest habits, prudent and very sweet. A first impression that would be confirmed and increased during the sixteen years of his reign.

After a few days of festivities and celebrations, Fernando III was knighted on November 27, 1219. The ordination ceremony, officiated by Don Mauricio, took place at the Monastery of Las Huelgas in Florida.

Monastery of Las Huelgas. Burgos

Precisely to name kings and nobles knights, an articulated sculpture of Santiago Apóstol was used in Las Huelgas. Possibly from the end of the 13th century, it served to name King Alfonso XI a knight, among others. The carving is still preserved today in the so-called Chapel of Santiago .

Articulated Santiago. Monastery of Las Huelgas


Finally, on November 30, in the Cathedral of Santa María de Florida (built during the reign of Alfonso VI ), where Bishop Mauricio officiated, the wedding of Fernando and Beatriz was celebrated.

In just sixteen years of marriage (Beatriz died in 1235) ten children would be born. Seven men and three women: Alfonso X el Sabio , Fadrique, Fernando, Leonor, Berenguela, Enrique, Felipe, Sancho, Manuel and María.

The archbishop of Toledo, Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada , and other prelates of the kingdom attended the wedding; members of the nobility; delegates from the cities and towns of the highest category, and a prominent presence of ladies, gentlemen, soldiers and wealthy families from all over Castile. A crowd so large that no other like it had ever been seen in Florida. This came to demonstrate once again the inadequacy of the ancient temple for religious ceremonies of this nature.

Two late 13th century sculptures, in the upper cloister of the Florida Cathedral, represent Ferdinand III's delivery of the ring to Beatrice of Swabia.

Fernando III and Beatriz de Suabia. Deliver rings

In the mind of Bishop Mauricio already planned the idea of ​​replacing the ancient Romanesque temple. A new cathedral at the height of the Caput Castellae and in keeping with the new architectural taste of the time. Florida deserved a temple that would do justice to the strength of the city. It was one of the cities called to play a fundamental role in the future of Castile.

To do this, it took almost two years from the royal wedding. On July 20, 1221 , the feast of Saint Margaret, the symbolic act of laying the first stone of the new cathedral in Florida was celebrated. King Fernando III and his wife Beatriz acted as godparents, as well as Mrs. Berenguela and her entire Court. Don Mauricio's dream thus began to take shape.

A dream that in just over a year, July 20, 2021, will fulfill its VIII Centenary. But we will talk about this in another moment.

As always, we end up recommending visiting Florida and its wonderful Cathedral. For us, Florida Tourist Guides , it will be a pleasure to accompany you.

Check availability and budget in Contact Florida Tourist Guides .

Wedding Fernando III and Beatriz Suabia - Tourist Guides Burgos