The Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located approximately 1.5 km west of the city of Burgos in Spain. The word huelgas, which usually refers to "labor strikes" in modern Spanish, refers in this case to land which had been left fallow. Historically, the monastery has been the site of many weddings of royal families, both foreign and Spanish, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile in 1254, for example. The defensive tower of the Abbey is also the birthplace of King Peter I of Castile.
The abbey was founded in 1187 by Alfonso VIII of Castile, at the behest of his wife, Eleanor of England, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Until the 16th century, it enjoyed many royal privileges granted to it by the king, including exemption from taxes, the lordship of many villages and territories , and the possession of many of the royal families' valued personal items, most of them religious. It is even claimed that, until the Council of Trent, the abbess was able to hear confession and give absolution, like a priest.
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