Alonso Pérez de Guzmán

Alonso Pérez de Guzmán
Statue of Guzman El Bueno in Tarifa
Born 1256
León, Spain
Died 1309
Allegiance Kingdom of Castile
Battles/wars First Siege of Gibraltar

Alonso Pérez de Guzmán (12561309), known as Guzmán el Bueno ("Guzmán the Good"), was a Spanish nobleman and hero of Spain during the medieval period, the founder of the line from which the dukes of Medina Sidonia descend.


According to Spanish tradition, Guzmán was born in Morocco.[1] Historians have since speculated that he was a Muslim.[2] In a permit to export wheat signed in 1288, Guzmán was given permission to export the crop to where "he is from," very likely in Morocco. A document from 1297 signed by the Spanish king refers to Guzmán as "a vassal," i.e. a non-Spaniard.[3] The document is owned by the Duchess of Medina Sidonia. A direct descendent of Guzmán, she has said that she believes his history might have been "cleaned up" in the sixteenth century to alter his origins. She thought that would have made the hero more palatable to Spain's Christian society.[3]

In 1294 Guzmán was granted tuna fishing rights by King Sancho IV of Castile in reward for his heroic defence of Tarifa. He built the Castle of Zahara de los Atunes and Palace of Jadraza as a defensive castle, which incorporated a seasonal residential palace and tuna processing facility.

In 1296 Alonso de Guzmán defended the town of Tarifa on behalf of Sancho IV of Castile. Guzmán had been given charge of Tarifa, recently captured from the Moors, despite having fought for Alfonso X against the rebellion of his son Sancho IV. Guzmán held Tarifa's castle against the siege of the Moors and the Infante Don Juan, Sancho's rebellious brother. Guzmán's son had been placed under the care of Don Juan, who threatened to kill the captive unless Guzmán surrendered the city.

According to legend, Guzmán rebuffed the demand with dramatic words. According to one rendition,

"I did not beget a son to be made use of against my country, but that he should serve her against her foes. Should Don Juan put him to death, he will but confer honour on me, true life on my son, and on himself eternal shame in this world and everlasting wrath after death."

Guzman reportedly threw down his knife for the besiegers to use in killing his son.[4]

He was rewarded for his defense of the castle with large grants of Crown land. In 1309 Guzmán helped Ferdinand IV of Castile capture Gibraltar from the Moors, who had held it for nearly 600 years since 711.

The ducal title was conferred by John II in 1445 on one of his descendents, Juan Alonzo de Guzmán, count of Niebla. The addition "El Bueno" to the family name of Guzmán was used by several of his descendents, who have included statesmen, generals and colonial viceroys.


  • Guzmán and his life have been explored by numerous Spanish playwrights, including Antonio Gil y Zárate in his Guzmán el bueno. Drama en Cuatro Actos, 1840s.[1]
  • Luis Velez de Guevara (1570-1644), Más pesa el Rey que la Sangre[1]
  • Moratín, Sr. (1737-1780), play dated 1777 [1]
  • The Guzmán el Bueno metro stop in Madrid is named in his honor
Preceded by
Title Created

Señor de Sanlúcar

Succeeded by
Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán y Coronel

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Antonio Gil y Zárate, Guzmán el Bueno. Drama en Cuatro Actos, 1901/1916 revised edition by Ginn and Company, annotated and edited by Sylvester Primer, with introduction in English, available online at Internet Archive of the Library of Congress
  2. "When the Moors Ruled Europe". BBC. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 The Ancient World with Bettany Hughes - When the Moors Ruled in Europe, 2005, Channel Four.
  4. "Alonso Pérez de Guzmán", Digital Library, University of Pennsylvania


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