Character Spotlight: Martí “L’Humà” d’Aragó

First, let me remind my readers that I write historical fiction, so most every mention of feelings & thoughts relates solely to Martí from The Trastámara Series.  Please do NOT use this as an actual reference.  I’ll link my references below, so you can see where I got my information – check out those sources.

Of course, there be spoilers ahead.  Read at your own risk! 😉


Alright, so, I’ve had a lot of interest in character backgrounds and “After the Books”; as such, I thought I would do a post on one of the most important peripheral characters in the series: Martí, Alionor’s older brother.

Now, I do think that Martí and Alionor were probably close in real life.  Alionor was the youngest, born in late 1358, and her mother’s only daughter, while Martí was about two years older and the second son.  Their elder brother, Joan, was not only the heir but six to eight years older than both of them, having been born in 1350, and their elder half-sisters from their father’s first marriage were already old enough to be married by the time the were born, so it’s easy to assume that the two siblings would play together as children.  I also believe that Marti was probably not as healthy or athletic as his brother during their childhoods, meaning he’d be more likely to spend time with his mother and sister than his brother, although he later grew out of his childhood illnesses.

What were they like as children?  Well, to be completely honest, Alionor was rather spoiled and sheltered.  She was the youngest, the only girl from her father and mother’s marriage, and her mother’s namesake.  I could see her being the quintessential “baby of the family”, so to speak.  On the other hand, Martí definitely saw himself as her protector, her knight in shining armor, and I really think he loved her the most because she idolized him.  She didn’t see him as sickly, or as “the second son” – to her, he was her big brother, and she adored him.  Martí was almost angry by Alionor growing up, and afraid that she would no longer love him quite as much, so he tried incredibly hard to keep her from accepting outside influences.  Martí was a very jealous little boy, Alionor was a very trusting little girl, and they were happy as long as they were fulfilling their specific roles.  This also explains why Alionor is so eager to please, and why Martí is so upset when Alionor doesn’t agree to give him custody over both of her sons.  I think it’s fair, then, to understand why Alionor and Martí were so openly familiar with one another during their visit, and why Alionor was so heartbroken by her brother’s actions in San Martí Sarroca, to the point where she considered breaking decorum.

Now, as the heir to the throne, Joan married outside of Aragón to assure a political alliance, first to Martha of Armagnac, then to Yolande de Bar, both of what we would now consider French origin, and though his wives gave birth to twelve children total, not one of his six boys outlived him, and only one daughter from each marriage survived to adulthood.  Since Aragón followed Salic law, no women could inherit the crown, and so it passed to Martí in 1396.

Of course, it would be much too simple for Martí to have an unchallenged reign, and his brother Joan’s two daughters (or, perhaps, their husbands) both attempted to take the throne.  Also, Martin had been dealing with a revolt in Sicily, whose Queen Maria was his daughter-in-law, married to his heir, Martí el Jove (“the Younger”).  Yes, the two Martís were each married to a Maria, though the wife of our subject was not a foreign ruler, but a member of a very powerful and influential Aragonese bloodline, the de Luna family.  This could get confusing, though, so I will call Martí’s heir “el Jove”, should I need to refer to him again.

For all of his military experience (he was a lieutenant of the Valencian army from 1378 to 1384, and his coronation delayed until 1399 due to his expeditions in Sicily), Marti appears to have been quite the scholar as well, keeping a well-stocked library, and he appeared to have quite an interest in religious matters, since he petitioned Benedict XIII, the Avignon antipope, fellow Aragonese, and distant relative-in-law (as the antipope had been born Pedro de Luna) for the Aragonese monastery of Montserrat to receive an independent status (instead of being overseen by an outside force, such as an bishop).  Martí also openly supported and answered to the Avignon pope, instead of partaking in the general neutrality of his predecessors.

After the near-fiasco he caused in LA REYNA by taking and attempting to keep Alionor’s younger son, Fernando, Martí did not tend to venture into foreign politics.  It seems as though he learned his lesson, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he received more than one lecture about the dangers of upsetting a powerful neighbor.  Marti did, however, have an interest in Sicily thanks to his son’s marriage to the Queen in the early 1390s, and when she died in 1401, el Jove became the ruler of Sicily, as they did not have any surviving sons.  El Jove would marry again in 1398, but there be no surviving male offspring from that marriage, either.

Martí had to have been simultaneously devastated and terrified when, in 1409, el Jove died while in Sicily.  El Jove was the last of Marti’s surviving children, the only one who had survived to adulthood, and the only one who had produced a child (possibly two).  Unfortunately for Martí, his grandson, Frederic (who used the surnames de Luna, or d’Arago I de Sicilia), was a bastard, and the house of Barcelona had never given the throne to a bastard.  This did not stop Marti from attempting to legitimize his grandson, and indeed, he had the agreement of the Avignon pope, and the legitimization was supposed to go through on June 1, 1410.

Marti must have felt such a relief at the thought of his grandson bring able to take the rone.  The boy would rule Sicily for a few years, as had been customary amongst the Catala-Sicilian monarchs in previous times, and it would help Frederic to sharpen his skills with regards to ruling.  More importantly, the throne of the Kingdom of Aragon, and all her related crowns, would be safe in the hands of a male-line descendant for at least one more generation.

On May 31, just one day before Frederic was supposed to be made legitimate and therefore able to inherit, Marti died.  The apocryphal tale of his death concludes that he passed away due to his fool, Buffo, making him laugh incredibly hard, but other sources say that Marti had been ill for some time.  Whatever the case, Marti’s death halted the planned legitimization of Frederic, as Benedict had no desire to continue without the monarch’s support, and caused a two year interregnum due to the sheer amount of claimants.  Included among the ranks of the hopefuls were, of course, Frederic, as well as the husbands of Marti’s half-sisters & nieces, and the children of his sister, Alionor.  Ultimately, the matter was settled in the 1412 Compromise of Caspe, and the throne went to Alionor’s son, Fernando (Ferran de Antequera), beginning the Trastámara line of Aragonese kings, whose line would produce Fernando “el Católico”, future husband of Queen Isabel de Castilla and father to Katherine of Aragon and Juana “la Loca”, among others.


Sources:

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