Gonzalo of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza

Gonzalo Sánchez (c. 1020 – 26 June 1043) was ruler of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, two small Pyrenean counties. He was the son of King Sancho III of Pamplona and his wife, Muniadona of Castile. Before 1035, Sancho decreed that Gonzalo should rule Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. He succeeded to these domains after his father's death in that year and ruled them as vassal of his brother García Sánchez III until his death.[1] Gonzalo is thought to have been ineffectual and unpopular, with vassals defecting to his brother, Ramiro I of Aragon, during his own life, and one failing to name him in a list of rulers of Ribagorza written within a decade of his death.

The Historia silense (c. 1115) does not mention Gonzalo in its version of the division of Sancho III's realm. It even records that Ramiro was given the "remote" region of Aragon on account of his illegitimacy, despite that Gonzalo's division was more remote and his legitimacy unquestioned. The anonymous Chronica naierensis (c. 1200), basing its account entirely on the Silense, likewise knows nothing of Gonzalo and blames Ramiro's position on his bastardy.[2] An independent source, though influenced by popular legends and ballads, the Liber regum (c. 1200) shows no awareness of Gonzalo.[3]

According to a document of 14 April 1035 preserved in San Juan de la Peña recording Sancho's grant of Aragon to Ramiro, the castle of Loarre and monastery of San Emeterio with their dependent villages were detached from that province and given to Gonzalo.[4] Gonzalo subsequently confirms many charters alongside his brother and they often appear together in dating clauses.[5] With the title of king, Gonzalo appears beside all his brothers and his brother-in-law, "emperor" Vermudo III of León, in the carta de arras of Ramiro (22 August 1036). In 1037 Gonzalo was reunited with his brothers García and Ramiro—and the churchmen Sancho, Bishop of Pamplona; Paterno, a Cluniac reformer; and Abbot Blasco of San Juan de la Peña—to confirm a donation of Jimeno Garcés, Ramiro's godfather, to the monastery of Leire. In this document García uses the title princeps (prince) to indicate his superiority, but Ramiro and Gonzalo use the title regulus (petty king) and are referred to as in Aragone ([ruling] in Aragon). This meeting probably took place either in Pamplona or in Leire, but neither the day or month is preserved in the records. The use of a royal title in the presence of his elder brother García is evidence that Gonzalo did not usurp it.[6] The three brothers and Ferdinand were all at Anzánigo (Andizaniku) in 1037 or perhaps 1043, after Ferdinand had succeeded to the Kingdom of León.

A late source, the Chronicle of San Juan de la Peña, reports his assassination by one of his own knights, Ramonat de Uasconya (possibly a Gascon named Ramonet), who threw him from the bridge over the Esera at Montclús, near Lascorz.[7] He was interred at San Victorián.[8] On his death, García awarded his counties to Ramiro, which initiated several centuries of Aragonese expansion.

Gonzalo's death on 26 June appears in the necrology of San Victorián, but the year has been subject to much debate. Among the early modern historians, Zurita places it in 1035 and José de Moret in 1042 or 1043. The Chronicle places it in 1037, but there is disputed charter of September 1039 confirmed by Gonzalo.[9] As Ramiro confirmed the rights of Bishops of Urgell in Ribagorza in September 1040, it would appear that Gonzalo was dead by then. Pérez de Urbel thus places it between December 1039 and September 1040 and casts doubt on the dates of several documents mentioning Gonzalo after 1040 (a donation of Blasquita from 1041, a charter of Ramiro's from 1042, and a donation of Ramiro to Atón Garcés in 1043). Accepting these, Ubieto Arteta places Gonzalo's assassination in 1046. Nelson gives reason to believe that it was 1043.[10]



  1. In contemporary documents, sometimes both counties are named—domino Gondesalbo in Suprabi et in Ripacorza—other times one is singled out and the other ignored.
  2. Pérez de Urbel, pp. 4–5.
  3. Pérez de Urbel, pp. 6–7.
  4. Pérez de Urbel, pp. 14–16.
  5. On 25 May 1036 he confirms the donation of a lady Blasquita of the village of Ballarán to San Juan de la Peña with the dating clause regnante rex domino Ranimiri in Aragone et frater ejus Gondesalbus in Superarbi ("the lord king Ramiro reigning in Aragon and his brother Gonzalo in Sobrarbe"), cited in Pérez de Urbel, p. 18.
  6. Cf. Pérez de Urbel, p. 19–20.
  7. Pérez de Urbel, p. 21.
  8. Nelson, pp. 228–29.
  9. Pérez de Urbel, p. 22. This is a concession of Aznar Atón, lord of Tena, to Abbot Aldhelmo of Alaon, witnessed by Ramiro, his queen, and Raymond III of Pallars Jussà. Its authenticity was denied by Ubieto Arteta.
  10. Nelson, pp. 230–31.


  • Nelson, Lynn H. "The Aragonese Acquisition of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza." Estudios en Homenaje a Don Claudio Sánchez Albornoz en sus 90 Años, 2 (1982):227–36.
  • Pérez de Urbel, Justo. "La división del reino por Sancho el Mayor." Hispania, 14, 54 (1954):3–26.
  • Ubieto Arteta, Antonio. "Gonzalo, rey de Sobrarbe y Ribagorza." Pirineos, 8 (1952): 299–325.
  • Zurita, Gerónimo. Anales de la Corona de Aragón I. Edited by Antonio Ubieto Arteta and María Desamparados Pérez Soler. Valencia: 1967.
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