|King Alfonso the Noble|
|Faction||Kingdom of Castille|
By year 1200, Alfonso is 45 years old.
Alfonso VIII of Castille was born in Soria in 1155. His father Sancho III of Castille died when he was only three, and a dispute over his guardianship between the House of Lara and the House of Castro soon transcended the boundaries of a simple court intrigue and led to an open civil war, leaving the kingdom severely weakened.
It wasn't long until Castille's neighbours started to take advantage of that clear weakness: in 1159 Logroño and several areas in La Rioja were taken by King Sancho the Wise of Navarre, while Fernando II of Leon also made a claim on the tutelage of his nephew Alfonso; when denied, the leonese king invaded Castille and occupied Segovia and Toledo. The young Alfonso was put into custody of loyal villas in northern Castille, being remarkable Ávila's resistance to submit him despite the demands of his uncle Fernando.
In 1170 Alfonso reached adulthood and was crowned King of Castille in the parliament held at Burgos, and married Eleanor of Plantagenet (daughter of Henry II of England) soon after, receiving the County of Gascogne as dowry. He quickly allied with Alfonso II the Chaste of Aragón to assault Navarre, succesfully retrieving the territories lost ten years ago. After that, he took advantage of Ferdinand's problems with the Almohads to attack Leon, but the dispute would take another ten years to be resolved. After Ferdinand's demise in 1188, a new clash broke out with his son Alfonso IX, which was finally settled in the Treaty of Tordehumos (1194) but the rivalry created between the two kings would endure over years.
Indeed, it was that strong rivalry with Leon what prevented Alfonso from establishing a solid alliance between the christian hispanic monarchs, which lead to a heavy castillian defeat in Alarcos (1195) against the Almohads. The following years would be difficult for Castille, with frequent saracen raids through the Tagus valley, but at least Toledo managed to resist those attacks. By 1200, Alfonso is trying to consolidate his position as the leading figure in the war against the Almohads in order to get back on the offensive.