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Alonso II de Fonseca usurper of the chair of the archbishopric of Seville

“Who went to Seville, lost his chair”: The dispute of the Archbishop of Compostela

The saying “Who went to Seville, lost his chair” is popularly known throughout Spain. However, few know the origin of this phrase, and it is closely linked to the history of Santiago de Compostela.

This phrase is used to refer to the loss of privileges or possessions. In terms of historical origin, its correct enunciation is “Who left Seville, lost his chair” and is based on a 15th-century conflict.

During the reign of Henry IV of Castile (1425-1474), a confrontation arose between the archbishops Alonso I de Fonseca the Elder and Alonso II de Fonseca the Younger, uncle and nephew, gave rise to this saying.

The story behind the saying

In 1460, the nephew of Alonso de Fonseca, Archbishop of Seville, was appointed Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela. At this time, the kingdom of Galicia was in several revolts, and the young man asked his uncle for help in taking his position.

The two agreed on a temporary exchange of headquarters to pacify the area. While Alonso de Fonseca the Younger stayed in Seville, his uncle travelled to Santiago to try to establish peace.

This agreement was maintained during the two years it took to resolve the conflict. Once this was achieved, he returned to the city of which he was archbishop but found that his nephew refused to return him his charge.

In the face of this refusal, an injunction from Pope Pius II and the intervention of King Henry IV had to be used to resolve the conflict. In addition, several followers of Alonso II de Fonseca the Younger were condemned to hang.

Finally, in 1469, Alonso II de Fonseca was forced to leave for Santiago de Compostela and return the archbishopric of Seville to his uncle. He held the post until 1507, when he ceded the archbishopric of Compostela to his son, Alonso III de Fonseca.

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