It is believed that he ascended to power by leading a faction of the Asturian nobility with whose help he was able to expel the legitimate King Alfonso II from the throne of Oviedo. To save his life he must have taken refuge in the lands of Álava.
Mauregato agreed, establishing the humiliating tradition of the tribute of the hundred maidens.
The balance of forces between Muslims and Christians changed, reinforcing the precarious situation of those Goths refugees in the mountains of Asturias. In 795 the army of the Asturians caused a devastating defeat to the Muslims in the gorge of Muds, near the Asturian town of Lodares. As a consequence, King Alfonso II el Casto annulled the payment of the tribute of the hundred maidens. But a few decades later, the turnings became the intermittent struggle of the Christian and Muslim kingdoms.
The regidores of a town of Valladolid decided to fulfill the terrible obligation that was imposed on them, but also they decided to demonstrate to their king and the emir of Cordova their enormous disgust and the decision that the powerful could not take full advantage of them. So they sent the seven maids assigned to them … but with their left hand cut off. That terrible gesture of defiance made the locals famous, and in time it would give name to the town of origin of these seven maidens: Simancas. Upon receiving that mutilated lot, the emir Abderramán became indignant, rejected the maidens, and demanded the surrender of seven others. In the face of the new situation, and the spreading of the courageous gesture of the inhabitants of Simancas, King Ramiro I understood the gesture of his vassals and reacted, refusing to accept that demand. He then called his men to defend his kingdom from the probable Muslim invasion. Predictably, the Muslim army headed north to subdue the Christians and force them to comply with the agreed tribute. Both armies were found in the fields of Clavijo – near Logroño – 23 of May of the year 844.
After a disastrous first encounter, the Christians were in a very difficult situation. But they had the ability to withdraw without ever suffering a final defeat. During the night, King Ramiro had a vision of the Apostle James; In this the apheterus promised the monarch his help when he resumed the fight. The next day, when the fighting resumed, the Christian knights saw an impetuous warrior – riding a white horse – join the vanguard of the Leonese troops, leading them to an unexpected and forceful victory. At the end of the fighting the white knight disappeared without being recognized or thanked for his intervention. King Ramiro immediately thought that this knight was James the Apostle.
Very grateful for the help, Ramiro I established the Vote of Santiago. This consisted in the accomplishment of an oath by which from then the king’s army would reserve to the apostle a part of the booty that was obtained from the Moors in all the battles that were celebrated. This meant considering Santiago as another gentleman. In addition to symbolizing the gratitude for the help received in the Battle of Clavijo, the Voting could be understood as a kind of precedent of the current bonuses that are given to the executives of company for having obtained certain level of benefits; For when he was included in the distribution of the booty, further appearances of the Saint were promoted in the warlike stages. The establishment of such a singular Voto motivated that -as it is logical in every noble person, even more so if it is “saint- Santiago became fond of Castilian-Leonese, to the point of lavishing his saving apparitions from then on. The apostle lent his providential arm in other battles against unbelievers.It is believed that Santiago was the unknown knight who surprisingly helped the Christians during the sieges of the Muslim cities of Coimbra (Portugal) and Mérida. A white knight who had a brilliant performance during the battle of Simancas, although on that occasion he was accompanied by another unknown knight, who by some signs identified with his namesake “Castilian”: San Millán.
To renew the agreement of military assistance, the fulfillment of the vote has been carried out until our days every 25 of July – day of Santiago – in a solemn ceremony. In the following centuries the Spanish armies conquered America and great territories of Asia and Africa, dominating European battlefields during centuries XV, XVI and good part of century XVII; This success caused Santiago to be expanded patronage, naming him patron saint of Spain.
Subsequently, with the intention of extending the Apostle’s aid to all kinds of needs and stabilizing it, it was decided to replace the part of the warrior booty with an additional tithing of the cereal harvest. This tithe was also a variable expense; Because it depended on the meteorology on which the Saint should influence. The patron Santiago provided the security of an annual periodicity, regardless of whether there were wars and possible booties. The new tax was added to the first fruits (the delivery of the first fruits) that already corresponded to the consecrated temples of each circumscription. Given that the Vow was collected in the parishes between Galicia and La Rioja, an enormous amount of cereal enriched for centuries the compostela diocese, contributing to finance the architectural and ornamental wonders that are enjoyed in the city of Santiago de Compostela (La Coruña).
The Vow lasted until 1812; When the Cortes of Cadiz abolished this and other privileges of the Old Regime. Even so, Santiago remains currently as Patron of Spain and every year a solemn ceremony is celebrated in the cathedral dedicated to him in the city of Santiago. This is the tribute of the hundred maidens and the apostle.
Text by Isabel Tejera-Sindell and illustrations by Ximena Maier