In the middle ages, Christian-held Spain were split into different kingdoms and realms. Before the eventual unification by the "Catholic Monarchs" (Ferdinand II and Isabela I), other kings have unified multiple kingdoms, but the kingdoms split again between children. For example:

  • Ferdinand I unified Leon and Castile but "by his will, [he] divided his kingdom among his three sons: the eldest, Sancho, received Castile; the second, Alfonso, León; and from the latter the region of Galicia was carved off to create a separate state for García." (Wikipedia)
  • Alfonso VII inherited the unified kingdoms from his mother, but after his death the throne split between his sons Sancho III of Castile and Ferdinand II of León.
  • Alfonso III also unified the kingdom which later split, but at least the reason for the split was explained because his children rebelled, forced him to abdicate and split the kingdom between them.

What was the reason for these recurring split? From geopolitical point of view, this prevented consolidation of the realms in the fight against the Muslims, and caused infightings because the successors were prone to claim each other's thrones.

  • 1
    Rank Speculation: Because they loved their children, and didn't want all but one of them to be destitute (or murdering each other)? – T.E.D. Jan 10 '17 at 14:38
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    If we've learned anything from Kievan Rus, it's that splitting your lands between your children is the best way to get them to murder each other. – SPavel Jan 10 '17 at 15:53
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    I have a vague recollection that it's due to the influence of Gothic law. It seems like an overall Germanic thing, actually, since the Merovingians and Carolingians practiced something similar at times. I don't know off-hand of any sources to support this (thus a comment instead of an answer), except maybe Roger Collins' Visigothic Spain or Early Medieval Spain. – Patrick Wynne Jan 10 '17 at 17:40
  • The inheritance law of these days was written in the "Lex Salica" where all wealth was shared between the male heirs. Presumably this law was the base for the "Germanic Teilungsprinzip". see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salic_law see: books.google.de/… "Die Entstehung der 'potestas regia' im Westfrankenreich" – wawa Jan 16 '17 at 12:25

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