Apocrypha Majorca

Was James I the son of his father?

These are portraits made many years after his death, so do not try to look for similarities. However in the chronicle of Bernat Desclot (Catalan medieval historian) there is a detailed description of James I.

"James was the most beautiful man in the world, he was higher than another man a span, and he was very well formed and whole of all his limbs, he had a big, red and flamenco face, and his long and very straight nose, and big mouth and well made, and great teeth, and very white, which looked like pearls, and the black eyes, and the fair hair, like a golden thread, and great shoulders, and long, thin body, and thick, well-made arms, and beautiful hands , and long fingers, and thick and well-made thighs, and long legs, straight and thick for their measures, and long, well-made feet and delicately shod. "
Crónica de Bernat Desclot. Capítulo XII

The conception of James I is wrapped in the legend. His father, Peter II of Aragon, did not want to lie with his wife, Maria of Montpellier, which worried everyone about the lack of an heir. So that from Montpellier devised a stratagem to deceive the King and get him to lie with the Queen.

Peter II had a reputation for being impulsive, a drinker, and a womanizer. When the king was in Lattes, near Montpellier, to visit one of his lovers, he was convinced to move to another town where the Queen was, with the deception that his lover was waiting for him there.

Meanwhile the Queen and her vassals prepared the trap. Once the King was in the bedroom with his supposed lover, who would actually be the Queen. At the door of the bedroom they would stay, as Ramon Muntaner (historian and Catalan knight) says in his chronicle:

" Twelve consuls, and among knights and other citizens we will have another ten of the best of Montpellier and his barony, and there will be Queen Doña Maria, with twelve owners of the most honored of Montpellier and twelve maidens, and will go with us before the said King, and two notaries, the best of Montpellier, and the Bishop's officer, and two canonibos, and four good religious, will come with us, and each man and each owner or maid will bring a candle in his hand, which will light when the said Queen Doña María enters the chamber with the King, and at the door of the said chamber they will all be together until dawn. "
Diario ABC. Cultura.

They took the mistress to the king's chamber. One of the conditions put by the alleged lover was that there was no light to be seen by anyone. So when the king was in his room, and probably half drunk, the mistress entered in the gloom. And on this crazy night the future James I was sired.

At dawn all entered the chamber and asked the king to recognize the woman who slept beside him. The king's face must have been a poem, first when he saw all these people enter the room where he was with his lover, and then discover that his lover was actually the queen. If the queen had had a mobile phone, she could have made a 'selfie' of her and in the background the stupid face of the king. It would have been 'top trending' throughout the Crown of Aragon and the rest of Europe.

The king had no other option than to recognize the queen and beg because the purpose of the nobles, to have an heir, was fulfilled.
But the king's anger must have been enormous, that same day he took his horse and galloped out of the city. 9 months later his son was born, the future James I. Peter II did not see his son until he was 2 years old, and when he was 3 years old he sent him under the tutelage of Simon of Monfort, because James's marriage was agreed upon. the daughter of the Lord of Monfort, Amicia. For which he would be held in the Castle of Cascasona until he was 18 years old.
As you can see, the king did not seem to feel a special affection for his son, perhaps he suspected something?

As we have said before, Peter II of Aragón was a drunk and womanizer. Their drunkenness and raids through the bedrooms of different damsels were common. However, apart from James I, no other legitimate or illegitimate child is known. Quite the opposite of his supposed son James, who was leaving his little seed wherever he went.

Peter II of Aragon James I of Aragon

Legitimate children with:

Maria of Montpellier
- Sancha (1205 - 1205) not confirmed - James I de Aragón (1208 - 1276)

Illegitimate children
- None documented, or I have not found

Legitimate children with:

Eleanor of Castile
- Alfonso (1222 - 1260)

Violant of Hungary
- Violant (1236 - 1301)
- Constance (1238 - 1275)
- Peter III de Aragon (1240 - 1285)
- James II de Mallorca (1243 - 1311)
- Fernando (1245 - 1250)
- Sancha (1246 - 1275)
- Maria (1247 - 1267)
- Isabel (1248 - 1271)
- Sancho (1250 - 1275)

Illegitimate children with:

Teresa Gil de Vidauere
- Jaime de Jérica (? - 1285)
- Pedro de Ayerbe (? - 1318)

Elvira Sarroca
- Jaime Sarroca (? - 1289)
- Pedro del Rey (? - 1308)

Blanca de Antillón
- Fernán Sánchez (1240 - 1275)

Berenguela Fernández
- Pedro Fernández (1249 - 1299)

So we have Peter II, an inveterate womanizer, according to the words of his own son (he was a man of femme ). That in spite of his numerous sexual relations, he has no more son than James, begotten in a crazy night, in which probably the king was drunk.
The indifference he seems to feel towards his son is evident. He does not see James until he is 2 years old, and with only 3 years, he leaves him under the tutelage of Simón de Monfort.
2 years later, when James is 5 years old, Peter II of Aragon enters into war with Simon de Monfort, despite the fact that his son is in the possession of the Lord of Monfort.

On the morning of the Battle of Muret, Peter attends mass. The night before he spent a night with a damsel, and he is so drunk that they have to put a chair because he can not stand up.
In a moment of the battle, Peter sees how Simon de Monfort flees along with some of his knights. He climbs his horse and goes after him, but he has done so quickly that his knights can not follow him, when he reaches the Lord of Montfort and his knights, he is surrounded and killed. When they arrive their knights can only pick up their corpse.

"E lo rey que aço hac entes pres ses armes e munta a cavall, e comença a correr apres d'ells. E no foren pus de vint cavallers ab ell, quels altres no eren encara aconseguits ni aparellats tantost. El rey era molt bon cavaller e coratjos e era molt be encavalcat; si quels altres cavallers no podien tant correr com ell; si quel rey fo molt avançat de tota sa companya; e consegui aquells que fogien, si quels fo molt prop. E aquells regiraren se e conegueren que aquest era lo rey."
Crónica de Bernat Desclot, Capítulo VI.
There is at least another version of what happened, with a strange exchange of armor, where the king is killed in a direct confrontation with the knights of Simon de Montfort. The chronicle of Desclot is later, so he had to connect that version, however what he tells us is different, and perhaps closer to reality.

We can ask ourselves if this is the act of a desperate father, who knows that if Simon de Monfort manages to escape, his son's life will be in danger. Or is it the action of an impulsive fool?

As we have said, Peter II never seemed to feel a special affection for his son. He does not see it until he is 2 years old and a short time later he is secluded in the castle of the Lord of Montfort, with whom he will later enter the battle. And considering his repeated attempts to annul his marriage to Maria de Montpellier, something to which the Pope refused. Perhaps the fate of his son was something that mattered little to him, it could even be an obstacle for the Pope to finally grant him the annulment.

Knowing the womanizing character of Peter II and the only offspring of James, generated from the one-night stand. It seems more than doubtful that James I was the son of Peter II. His supposed father did not have much appreciation, and after the death of his father, his paternal uncles showed no affection for his nephew either, on the contrary. He had an assassination attempt while still a baby, and during his childhood he endured the contempt of his father's family, he was even kidnapped by his family.
In the middle ages, people were quite ignorant and easily manipulated, but they were not stupid. An inveterate womanizer, who is not known any more son, legitimate or illegitimate than James, and who is also conceived in the relationship of a single night. That the queen said that it was God's will, you can believe it or not, but I suspect that her father's family had more than reasonable doubts.

What his uncles were proposing was that James would remain with his mother's possessions in Montpellier, and that they would share the Crown of Aragon.

Fortunately his uncles did not achieve their purpose, and James I became one of the great kings of history.

The return of the King

In Bernat Desclot's chronicle there is a famous passage where Alí, a Majorcan native, talks to James I when he is on the Island of Pantaleu, in Sant Elm.

E quant fo exit de la mar, vench devant lo rey, e agenollas a ell, e saludal en son lati. El rey feu li donar vestidures, e puix demanali del feyt de la terra e del rey serray. El Serray dix li:
"Senyor, sapies per cert que aquesta terra es tua e a ton manament. Que ma mare me prega em dix que yo que y vengues e que t'ho digues; car ella es savia fembra e ha conegut en la sua art d'astronomia que aquesta terra deus tu conquerir."
Crónica de Bernat Desclot, Capítulo XXXV.

And when he came out of the sea, he came before the king, and knelt before him, and greeted him in his Latin. The king made him give clothing, and then asked him about the facts of the land and the Saracen king. The Saracen told him: "Sir, you know for certain that this land is yours and to your command, that my mother asks me to come and tell you, since she is a wise woman and has known in her art of astronomy ( today we would call it astrology, which is not the same), that this land you must conquer. "

Some historians describe this passage as an adornment that Desclot uses to imply that Jaume I was destined to conquer Majorca. Although the art of astronomy if it looks like a Bernat Desclot ornament, if we investigate more, if we study everything that surrounds the character, we will discover something very interesting.
Most historians have focused on the paternal inheritance of James I, but if we deepen in his maternal inheritance we will discover that Maria de Montpellier, mother of James, was the daughter of Eudokia Komnena, at that time it was mistakenly thought that Eudokia was a daughter of Manuel I Komnenos, Emperor of Byzantium, when in fact it was his niece.

However, for Ali's mother, Maria was heir to the Byzantine Empire , and her son James was his legitimate successor.
You will ask, and what does the Byzantine Empire have to do with this story?

When the Roman Empire fell, in the fifth century, the Iberian Peninsula became Visigothic Kingdom, while the Balearic Islands, first passed through a period of Vandals domination and from the sixth century was part of the Byzantine Empire, until the arrival of Muslims, in the tenth century. So that for the mother of Ali, the legitimate king of Majorca had returned, the arrival of James I in Majorca meant, the Return of the King.

Taking into account the very dubious paternity of Peter II, we could say that the legitimate King of the Balearic Islands rules over Aragon and Catalonia, and a few years later he will rule over Valencia.