Portuguese Royalty

Portugal like most European countries has strong monarchical traditions. The Portuguese lived 770 were lived under a monarchy. Portugal is one of the two modern countries that has emerged from the many small kingdoms that appeared on the Iberian Peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire and the Germanic invasions. The situation was further complicated by the Morrish invasions of the 8th century and the 600 year war between and among Moorish and Christian kingdoms which did not end until the fall of Grenada in 1492. Portugal in fact was born from this struggle to reconquer Iberia from the Moors and the first Portuguese king was the son of a French nobel. Portugal in the 15th century burst on the European stage as the country leading the great European voyages of discovery. Here Prince Henry the Navigator was a leading figure in making Portugal a leader in maritime technology. This allowed Portugal to acquire great wealth through trade and an create an expansive empire. The corosive impact of the Inquisition on thought and discourse including the expulsion of the Jews caused a long period of decline during rich Portugal became a European backwater and one of the pporest countries in Europe.

Early History

The history of Portugal until the middle ages is inseparable from that of the other states of the Iberian Peninsula, now known as Spain. The region that would become Portugal was settled by the Celts around 700 B.C. It attracted a succession of peoples and was colonised in turn by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Visigoths. Present-day Portugal became a part of the Roman province of Lusitania in the 2nd century BC. The name of the future kingdom was derived from Portucale, a Roman and Post-Roman settlement at the month of the Douro River.

Visigothic Kingdom (5th-8th centuries)

The Visagoths (Germanic tribe) in the 5th century AD seized control of the region as the Roman Empire fell. Portugal at the time did not exist as a separate kingdom but was just part of the Visigothic kingdom. The Visitogthic ruling class lived apart and heavily taxed the Hispano Roman population.

Moorish Conquest (711)

The Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in the eighth century. The invasion was launched by the Arab governor of Tangiers--Tariq ibn-Ziyad. He landed an army of about 9,000 men. (the rock of Tariq, Jabal Tariq, where he landed is modern Gibraltar). Visigothic King Roderick rushed south, but was defeated by Táreq's Berber troops near the River Guadalete (711). Roderick had won his crown in a civilwar and some of his defeated opponents joined the Moors. Musa, the governor of Ifriquiyya (North Africa) landed a second larger army of 18,000 men (712). Musa's Berber army had many Arab officers. He defeated remanents of the Visigothic army and Triq and Musa met in Toledo, the Visigothic capital. Subordinates swept through what is now modern Portugal. There were no major battles or substantial resistance to the Moors in Portugal. Thus commenced the Moorish occupation over Portugal and much of the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors and Arabs introduced their religion, culture, architecture, and agricultural techniques to the region. The Moors encountered relatively little resistance frpm the conquered peoples. The Visigothic (German) rulers never mixed with the Hispano-Roman population of the Iberian Peninsular. The people found they were more lightly taxed by the Moors than their former Visigothic rulers. Even some Visigothic aristocrats and Christian clergy accepted Moorish rule. There was a degree of toleration in Islamic rule that allowed Christianity to continue. The subject of conversions to Islam is noy well understood and historians differ on the degree to which this occurred. By the 9th century the name Portucale/Portugal was applied to a region between the Douro and Minho rivers. The Moors converted large numbers of people in southern Portugal, but encountered more resistance to Islam in the north. Christian resistance gradually grew into the Reconquista.

Christian Remnanents

Almost all of the Iberian Peninsula was subdued by the Moors except for the extreme northwest. It is unclear why the Moors allowed this small Christian enclave to survive under the leadership of Pelayo. There are a number of reasons. A Moorish army failed to subdue Christian forces in the Cantabrian mountains (722). Here remnants of the Visigothic Gothic forces joined with local Christian defenders. The Arab defeat at the Battle of Covadonga in Asturias is often sited as the launch of the Reconquista. The Arabs were also defeated when they crossed the Pyrenees and invaded the Frankish Kingdom. Charles Martel defeated them at Poitiers (732). The Moors at this time undoubtedly had the potential of defeating the Christian remanent in the northwestern coenern of the Iberian Peninsula. The fact that this did not occur seems to have primarily resulted from divisions among the Islamic forces. Divisions developed between Berbers and Arabs and between Islamuc rulers. These divisiins absorbed the energies of the Islamic forces as they divided the rich new province. Divisions in the Visogothic kindom were a factor in the success of the Moors, the survival of Christianity primarily resulted as a result of division in Islamic forces.

The Reconquista (997-1064)

Bermudo II, King of the Leon reconquered the territory between the Douro and Minho rivers (now northern Portugal ) from the Moors early in the Reconquista (997). As a result, Portugal became a fiefdom of Leon. Ferdinand I, King of Castile and Leon, in 1064 completed the reconquest as far south as present-day Coimbra. The reconquered districts were then organized into a feudal country, composed of Spanish fiefs. Portugal later derived its name from the northern most fief, the Comitatus Portaculenis, which extended around the old Roman seaport of Portus cale (present-day Oporto). One of the most powerful French nobels, Henry of Burgundy in 1093 came to the assistance of Castile when it was attacked by a Moorish army. In gratitude Alfonso I of Castile made Henry Count of Portugal.

Henry of Burgandy Count of Portugal (1066-1112)

Count Henry of Burgandy, one of the most important French nobels. After being made Count of Portugal by Alfonso I of Castille played a major role in the dynastic history of both Portugal and Spain. Henry was the son of Henri de Bourgogne (1035-72), Duke of Burgundy. He had ties to the Iberian Peninsula as his mother was Sybille de Barcelona (1035-74). He was born in Dijon, Burgundy (about 1066). Alfonso VI of Castile wascthe most powerful Christian ruler in Spain, he declared himself as Emperor of "All Spain" (1077). Count Sisnando Davides of Coimbra, the leading Portugues nobleman, participated in an invasion of Moorish Granada (1080). Almoravids tribe croosed the Mediterranean to help the Spanish Moors stave off Christian attacks. They defeat Alfonso IV near Badajoz (1080). Raymond of Burgundy and his cousin Henry of Burgundy come to Iberia to help fight the Moors (1086). Yusuf ibn Tashfin conquer all Iberian Taifas (1090). Raymond and Henry of Burgundy return to Iberia to continue the fight with the Moors (1090). Count Sisnando Davides of Coimbra died (1091). Raymond of Burgundy married Dona Urraca daughter of Alfonso VI of Castile (1091). Taifa of Mértola was captured by the Almoravids army (1091). Alfonso VI made Henry of Burgandy Count of Portucale (1093) and granted Henry control of Portugal and Coimbra (1094). Henry established connections to the Castillian royal family by marrying Therasa (1070-1130), an illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso VI of Castille (1039-1109). Alfonso gives the County of Portucale to his Therasa as a present on her wedding (1097). Henry also began the campaign to separate Portugal from Leon. He married his daughter Teresa Henriquez (1102- ) to ????. His son Alfonso (1110-1185) became the first king of Portugal. The Treaty of Tordesilhas recognized him as the first king of Portugal (1179). Alfonso I married Matilda of Savoy (1125-57). Their daughter Urraca married Ferdinand II King of Leon. His family line would eventually lead to the union of Leon, Castilla, Navarra, and Aragon and modern Spain. Alfonso's son became Sancho I (1154-1212) of Portugal.

Foundation of a Dynasty (1139)

The foundation of the modern kingdom of Portugal is generally dated from 1139 when Portugal became an independent kingdom, free from the sovereignty of the neigboring Iberian kingdom of Leon. The European map in the medieval era was very complicated. Many royal and nobel families controlled far-flug provinces often not connecting. Some of the nobels such as the Burgundians aspired to royal status. The modern Portuguese state can trace its foundations to just such a dynastic struggle. Burgundy was a fiefdom of the French king but rivaled the French court in wealth. Burgandy was enriched by the wool trade and moted for wonderful tapestries and textiles. Henry of Burgandy desired to rule independently in his Portuguese lands. On the death of his father-in-law and patron, Alfonso I of Castille in 1109, Count Henry, and later his widow, Therasa, refused to continue feudal allgiance to Leon. He invaded Leon and began a series of peninsular wars, but with little success. Henry's son, Alfonso Henriques, in 1128 rebelled from his mother's regency. The Portuguese Knights accepted him as King Alfonso I (1143). The independent Portuguese kindom was confirmed when the Pope recognized its independemce in the Treaty of Tordesilhas(1179).

The Portuguese Monarchy and Nautical Charts

Portugal became a focus of maritime expansion and trade when it's navigators sailed out to explore nearly two thirds of the world, greatly expanding the world known to Europeans. Modern nautical charts in many ways can trace their history to the work sponsored by the Portuguese monarchy. Beginning in the 1440s, Portuguese ships ventured further and further into the Atlantic and down the Southern coast of Africa. These navigators first accumulated knowledge of the South Atlantic (by 1487), then the Mozambique Channel (by 1497) and by 1502 accross the Atlantic to Brazil and Canada. After every expedition, map-makers for Portuguese kings incorporated information from the most recent voyages of exploration. By 1502, Portuguese cartographers were creating enormous master charts containing all the latest knowledge of coastlines, and oceans. Because these master charts were regarded as state secrets--few Portuguese originals (such as Jorge Reinel's) have survived. Most of charts known today are pirated copies collected by jealous Italian competitors--the Cantino (1502) map and the Maggiolo (1516). By 1505 and probably earlier as well, each of the major Atlantic ports also had a separate approach chart detailing soundings, dangers, and other information needed to guide sailors safely into port. Sailors and airline pilots today use separate approach charts for each sea and airport.

The Monarchy and the Jews

Jewish inhabitation of the Iberian Peninsula predates the Christian era. Portugal was Christianized during the later Roman era and Christianity was strengthened by the Visigothic conquest and subsequent kingdom. Dyring this era and during the Moorish era there was an era of relative conquest. This gradually shifted in the secons millenium as the anti-Semitism common in Western Europe spread to the Iberian Peninsula. Jews played an important role in ealy Portuguese history, especially the voyages of discovery. They were protected an honored by many Portuguese kings and were rewardedwith important posts. Finally Manuel I (1494- ) banished the Jews only a few years after Ferdinand and Isabella banished them from Spain. Manuel acted on the insistence of the Spanish princess he was to marry (1497).

Portuguese Monarchs

The Portuguese monarchy was founded by Hernry of Burgandy, son of the poweful French Duke of Burgandy. Henry was referred to as Henrique in Portuguese. Portugal was born from this struggle to reconquer Iberia from the Moors. There have since been five dynasties of Portuguese ruling families. There was only a short period in which the Spanish seized control of Portugal. Each Poruguese monarch has had a brief description attached to his dynastic name.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site royal pages:
[Return to the Main royalty page]
[Austria] [Belgium] [Denmark] [France] [Germany] [Italy] [Italy] [Luxemburg]
[Monaco] [Netherlands] [Norway] [Portugal] [Romania] [Russia] [Spain] [Sweden] [United Kingdom] [Yugoslavia]

Created: June 23, 2001
Last updated: 9:03 PM 11/2/2005