Today is the Feast of the King of Castile and Leon, St. Ferdinand III. This patron saint on Engineers brings to mind a great period of the Reconquista in Spain -- the 13th century saw the beginning of the permanent decline of Islamic power in Andalusia.
The united arms of Castile & Leon.
Spain during this period had several great kings – Alfonso IX “the slobberer” of Leon (reigned 1188-1230) ended his reign with a successful campaign, and left his realm to his son, St. Ferdinand III (reigned Castile, 1217-1252; Leon, 1230-1252), who was already king of Castile, having replaced his young uncle, Henry I (1214-1217), an eleven year-old boy and son of Alfonso VIII, the victor at Las Navas de Tolosa [Henry got hit in the head with a stone while playing, and died. Little Henry's sisters were the mothers of Ferdinand III (Berengaria) and also St. Louis IX of France (Blanche) and the wife of James I of Aragon (Eleanor)]. This forever linked the kingdoms of Castile and Leon. It was a rough union at first.
With the death of al-Mustansir of the Almohads in 1224, they collapsed. Alfonso IX seized
The Emirate of Granada. This is all that remained of Islamic Spain after Las Navas de Tolosa and the campaigns of Ferdinand III and James I.
Ferdinand, it is worth noting, founded the University of Salamanca, and was also a Third Order Franciscan.
St. Ferdinand III died in 1252, succeeded as King of Castile and Leon by his son Alfonso X (1252-1284). His daughter, Eleanor, would be the wife of Edward I "the Longshanks" of England.
Pierre Dancart altarpiece in Seville Cathedral.
It was in the Cathedral of Seville that St. Ferdinand III would be buried (along with Christopher Columbus!). Here is a link to the website of that Cathedral: http://www.catedraldesevilla.es/
For more on King St. Ferdinand III:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ferdinand III
Patron Saints Index: St. Ferdinand III