The tears of a king for Valencia

Since the mid-fourteenth century, the Valencian Community celebrates its day every October 9. It is a day of marked importance in a history that began when its conquest was decided and ended with a monarch kissing the soil of the capital to make it his own. This story that combines battles, sorrows and Templars serves today as a celebration of the common. To celebrate this territory that one day made a king cry.

A bit of context


James I of Aragon, conquest of Valencia. | Basilio, Wikimedia

This king is James I of Aragon, the Conqueror, who was born in 1208 and grew up among Templars. The history of the Order of the Temple with the Crown of Aragon, of which we have already spoken in depth above, is very rich and has largely determined the history of the country. To give an example that competes, perhaps without this religious and military education that James I received, the Valencian Community would not be what it is.

Because James always had a fighting and expansive character that took him far. Specifically, to these lands in the south of Aragon that his predecessors had only dreamed of. After the conquest of Mallorca and the other islands of the Balearic archipelago, James set his sights on Valencia. It did not take him long to launch his conquest.

A slow-cooked conquest

The conquest of Valencian lands was not an easy undertaking. All the details that characterized it are mentioned here, so it is not necessary to go into them. It is enough to know that it lasted long months and that the spirits of the armies of James I slackened practically from the beginning. It was not even enough encouragement for the king to distribute beforehand the territories he had not yet conquered.

His strategy was always one: to besiege the most important towns, fortresses and castles to push their inhabitants to the limit and achieve their surrender. It had an effect and all the Valencian corners were, little by little, yielding.

Also Valencia, once James I surrounded the capital, offered its surrender with conditions. By then, King Zayyan dominated the city and seemed to expect James I’s benevolence. The latter rejected his proposal without contemplation and at the end of April 1238, after a long time inciting troops from various places to join his war, he encircled Valencia.

Kissing the ground of Valencia


Old town of Valencia. | Shutterstock

It was not until late summer when the Muslim kingdom submitted to the victory of James I. There were, at this time, no major battles, only pressure and resistance. Finally, on September 29, 1238, after signing an agreement to end the conflict, Valencia capitulated. Ten days later, on this date, James I entered the city.

It was he himself who left testimony of what he felt when this happened. In his chronicles Llibre dels Feyts he wrote about the excitement of conquering an extremely desired territory. He desired it so much that once the gates opened for him, he got off his horse and, with tears in his eyes, kissed that land that already belonged to him. October 9th is a very special day for the Valencians, as the day of their community is celebrated.

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