The complete history of Don Pelayo –

Between the years 718 AD and 722 AD there was a battle (or skirmish) led by an almost mythological character, since he is half real, half imaginary, who is known historically as Don Pelayo and the battle we are talking about is the of Covadonga (since historically it has been located in that cave). You want to know The complete story of Don Pelayo? We tell you.

Both the character and the battle represent historical milestones linked to the unity of the Iberian Peninsula and resistance to the Muslim invasion to the Iberian Peninsula, likewise, supposes a also religious fightbetween Christians (Visigoths) and Muslims (Arabs and North African peoples).

Who was Don Pelayo?

However, about the Battle of Covadonga There are many doubts about its characteristics and, above all, its consequences, that is, historians are still unclear about how and where it developed? or the impact it had on the reality of the moment.

The historiographical panorama is, more or less, as follows:

  • It is not known when (exactly) it occurred, although tradition places it close to 722, previously it is said that Pelayo was named king of the Asturian-Cantabrian people.
  • We do not know, specifically, against whom it was fought.
  • We do not know the characteristics of the Muslims, whether it was a garrison or a large army.

How did it develop? That rebellion or battle is immediately regarded as a symbol or triumph of the local rebellion against Islambut we don’t know if it really had any practical relevance at the time or if it was an afterthought based on a more or less documented smaller-scale event.

But, perhaps, more important is the question: who was Pelayo? for our purposes, given that, as we commented in the introduction to this article, very little is known about the figure of this character. Tradition, in the chronicles of Alfonso III, states that Don Pelayo was named king of that society (which we will know as Astur) that had taken refuge in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, which is strange, since someone who is foreign to that society was appointed king of that place, why is it known that he is foreign? ? The name Pelayo is Latin, not proper (Hispanic-Visigothic). It is also important to remember the Visigoth hermeticism to access the crown (he had to be a “true” Visigoth).

From this evidence, it is believed that Don Pelayo was part of the Hispano-Roman aristocracy, which was in constant dispute with the Visigoths, which makes it more rare that an “enemy” is chosen as king. Regardless of whether or not the battle or skirmish is true (we are not sure of the dimensions) we know that it was extolled by the Christians, but the Muslims wrote too much about it (it seems to have no meaning).

We do know that the battle of Covadonga and, therefore, the work of Don Pelayo, had a practical effect, since that victory allowed the Visigoths fleeing the Islamic invasion to arrive in the Asturias-Cantabria area.
It should be noted that among these Visigothic refugees is Duke Pedro himself, the father of the first Asturian monarch (Alfonso I).

Thanks to Pedro and Alfonso, it is likely that Visigoth customs and ideas came (and survived) to a territory that had been sparsely occupied, given that it was little Romanized and was never occupied (de facto) by the Visigoths.
Don Pelayo is the maximum representative and trigger of the Reconquestseizing power (in Asturias-Cantabria) to reconquer or reform the old Visigothic kingdom.

More story:

Don Pelayo and Asturias

To understand the link between Pelayo and Asturias you have to know what was written in the chronicles of Alfonso III.
As we commented before, in the chronicles of King Alfonso III, it is stated that Don Pelayo had been named Asturian king (the first), from where all the Pelayo’s mythCovadonga and, in turn, the progressive construction of the concept of Hispania and its union.

Was Don Pelayo a myth created in the time of Alfonso to mobilize forces against the Muslims in the process of retaking or reconquering lost territories? It is one of the options being considered. There is also a historical link, which is based on the fact that Favila (son of Don Pelayo) had a sister who married Alfonso I (the first Asturian king), a member of the Visigothic nobility.

More about Visigothic Spain:

Don Pelayo and the Virgin of Covadonga

The Virgin of Covadonga, an invocation of the Virgin Mary, takes its name from the homonymous cave and, according to several historians, it is likely that it has one of these two origins that we are going to see below.

It is believed that Don Pelayo met a hermit who worshiped the Virgin Mary while he was chasing a criminal. Pelayo prayed that the Virgin would forgive the malefactor, who took refuge in her (the Virgin) protection. Later, he would take refuge in her when they took refuge in that cave in the battle against the Muslims, after what happened, that is, her victory, they took her image there.

Another version is that the Virgin had a miraculous (and decisive) performance in the fate of the battle, once they took refuge in that cave in the battle against the Muslims, since it provided them with protection (repelled the attacks) and food (honey ).

In short, the entire legend of Don Pelayo has a close relationship with two very important elements (later) in Castilian culture: the idea of ​​the Reconquest and consolidation of a single kingdom of Hispania and Christianityvalues ​​assumed as belonging to the Iberian land.

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Image gallery The complete story of Don Pelayo