Sebastian I Aviz

Sebastian Aviz (1554 - 1578)

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Dom Sebastian (Sebastian I) "King of Portugal" Aviz
Born in Ribeira Palace, Lisbon, Portugalmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Alcácer-Quibir, Marrocosmap
Profile last modified | Created 26 Sep 2018
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"Dom Sebastian I (Portuguese: Sebastião I; 20 January 1554 – 4 August 1578) was King of Portugal and the Algarves from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578 and the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz.

He was the son of João Manuel, Prince of Portugal, and his wife, Joanna of Austria. He was the grandson of King John III of Portugal and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He disappeared (presumably killed in action) in the battle of Alcácer Quibir.

Sebastian I is often referred to as The Desired (Portuguese: o Desejado), as the Portuguese people longed for his return to end the decline of Portugal that began after his death.

Sebastian was born heir-apparent to the throne of Portugal, since his birth occurred two weeks after the death of his father. He succeeded to the throne at the age of three, on the death of King John III, his paternal grandfather.

Soon after his birth, his mother Joanna of Spain left her infant son to serve as regent of Spain for her father, Emperor Charles V. After his abdication in 1556, she served in the same capacity for her brother Philip II of Spain. Joanna remained in Spain until her death in 1573, never to see her son again.

Sebastian died young and did not marry. However, he was involved in several proposed marriage alliances. In particular, the Queen dowager of France, Catherine de' Medici, nurtured a plan for a long time to marry her youngest daughter, Margaret of Valois, to Sebastian, a plan which was supported by Sebastian's maternal uncle, King Philip II of Spain, on occasion.

During Sebastian's short personal reign, he strengthened ties with the Holy Roman Empire, England and France through diplomatic efforts.

He also restructured much of the administrative, judicial and military life in his kingdom. In 1568, Sebastian created scholarships to assist students who wished to study medicine or pharmacy at the University of Coimbra.

That same year he rewarded Indians in Brazil who helped in the fight against the French. The chief of the Temiminós Indians, Araribóia, was given lands near the Bay of Guanabara.

In 1569, Sebastian ordered Duarte Nunes de Leão to compile all the laws and legal documents of the kingdom in a collection of Leis Extravagantes known as the Código Sebastiânico (Sebastian's code).

After attaining his majority in 1568, Sebastian dreamed of a great crusade against the kingdom of Morocco, where over the preceding generation several Portuguese way stations on the route to India had been lost.

A Moroccan succession struggle gave him the opportunity, when Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi lost his throne in 1576 and fled to Portugal. After arriving, he asked for King Sebastian's assistance in defeating his Turkish-backed uncle and rival, Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi.

During the Christmastide of 1577, Sebastian met with his uncle King Philip II of Spain at Guadalupe. Philip refused to be party to the crusade as he was negotiating a truce with the Ottoman Empire, though he promised a contingent of Spanish volunteers.

Despite his lack of a son and heir, King Sebastian embarked on his crusade in 1578. The Portuguese army of 17,000 men, including a significant number of foreign mercenaries hired from the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, Spain, and the Italian States, and almost all of the country's nobility, sailed at the beginning of June from Lisbon. They visited Cádiz, where they expected to find Spanish volunteers who failed to appear, then crossed into Morocco.

Death in battle

At Arzila, Sebastian joined his ally Abu Abdullah Mohammed II, who had around 6,000 Moorish soldiers and, against the advice of his commanders, marched into the interior.

At the Battle of Alcácer Quibir (Battle of the Three Kings), the Portuguese army was routed by Abd Al-Malik at the head of more than 60,000 men.

Sebastian was almost certainly killed in battle. He was last seen riding headlong into the enemy lines. Whether his body was ever found is uncertain, but Philip II of Spain claimed to have received his remains from Morocco and buried them in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon, after he ascended to the Portuguese throne in 1580.

The body could not be identified as Sebastian's, however, which left some people unconvinced of his death.

Sebastian was succeeded as king by his great-uncle Henry, brother of his grandfather, King John III" (wikipedia excerpt).


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Images: 1
D. Sebastião I, King of Portugal, by Alonso Sánchez Coello, 1575
D. Sebastião I, King of Portugal, by Alonso Sánchez Coello, 1575


Sebastian I is 27 degrees from Rosa Parks, 22 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 12 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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