Online Encyclopedia

PETER II

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 292 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PETER II., king of Aragon (1174-1213), son of Alphonso II. and his wife Sancia, daughter of Alphonso VIII. of Castile, was born in 1174. He had a very marked and curious personal character. As sovereign of lands on both sides of the Pyrenees, he was affected by very different influences. In his character of Spanish prince he was a crusader, and he took a distinguished part in the great victory over the Almohades at the Navas de Tolosa in 1212. But his lands to the north of the Pyrenees brought him into close relations with the Albigenses. He was a favourer of the troubadours, and in his ways of life he indulged in the laxity of Provencal morals to the fullest extent. We are told in the chronicle written by Desclot soon after his time, that Peter was only trapped into cohabiting with his wife by the device which is familiar to readers of Measure for Measure. In the year after the battle of the Navas de Tolosa he took up arms against the crusaders of Simon of Montfort, moved not by sympathy with the Albigenses, but by the natural political hostility of the southern princes to the conquering intervention of the north under pretence of religious zeal. His son records the way in which he spent the night before the battle of Muret with a crudity of language which defies translation, and tells us that his father was too exhausted in the morning to stand at Mass, and had to be lifted into the saddle by his squires. Peter none the less showed the greatest personal valour, and his body, recognizable by his lofty stature and personal beauty, was found on the field after the rout (Sept. 12, 1213). See Chronicle of James I. of Aragon, translated by J. Forster (London, 1883) ; and Life and Times of James the First the Conqueror, by F. Darwin Swift (Oxford, 1894).
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