Categories: Second Crusade.
||Afonso I (Portugal) de Portugal was a member of aristocracy in Europe.|
Join: European Royals and Aristocrats Project
Afonso I, was the first King of Portugal. He achieved the independence of the southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia, the County of Portugal, from Galicia's overlord, the King of León, in 1139, establishing a new kingdom and doubling its area with the Reconquista, an objective that he pursued until his death, in 1185, after forty-six years of wars against the Moors.
Afonso I was the son of Henry of Burgundy and Theresa, the natural born daughter of King Alfonso VI of León and Castile. The pair reigned jointly as Count and Countess of Portugal until Henry's death, after which Theresa reigned alone. Afonso was about three years old when his father Count Henry, died on 12 May 1112 during the siege of Astorga. In an effort to pursue a larger share in the Leonese inheritance, his mother Theresa married Fernando Pérez, Count of Trava, the most powerful count in Galicia.
The Portuguese nobility disliked the alliance between Galicia and Portugal and rallied around the infant Afonso. The Archbishop of Braga was also concerned with the dominance of Galicia, apprehensive of the ecclesiastical pretensions of his new rival the Galician Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Diego Gelmírez, who had claimed an alleged discovery of relics of Saint James in his town, as a way to gain power and riches over the other cathedrals in the Iberian Peninsula. In 1122, Afonso turned fourteen, the adult age in the 12th century. He made himself a knight on his own account in the Cathedral of Zamora, raised an army, and proceeded to take control of his mother's lands.
In 1128, near Guimarães, at the Battle of São Mamede Afonso and his supporters overcame troops under his stepfather Count Fernando Peres de Trava of Galicia. Afonso exiled his mother to Galicia, and took over rule of the County of Portugal. Thus the possibility of re-incorporating Portugal (up to then known as Southern Galicia) into a Kingdom of Portugal and Galicia as before was eliminated and Afonso became sole ruler following demands for independence from the county's church and nobles. He also vanquished his mother's nephew, Alfonso VII of León, who came to her rescue, and thus freed the country from political dependence on the crown of his cousin of León. On 6 April 1129, Afonso Henriques dictated the writ in which he proclaimed himself Prince of Portugal.
Afonso then turned his arms against the persistent problem of the Moors in the south. His campaigns were successful and, on 25 July 1139, he obtained an overwhelming victory in the Battle of Ourique, and straight after was unanimously proclaimed King of the Portuguese by his soldiers, establishing his equality in rank to the other realms of the Peninsula. The first assembly of the estates-general convened at Lamego (wherein he would have been given the crown from the Archbishop of Braga, to confirm his independence) is a 17th-century embellishment of Portuguese history.
Independence from Alfonso VII of León's suzerainty, however, was not a thing he just could achieve militarily. The County of Portugal still had to be acknowledged diplomatically by the neighboring lands as a kingdom and, most importantly, by the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. Afonso wed Mafalda of Savoy, daughter of Amadeus III, Count of Savoy, and sent ambassadors to Rome to negotiate with the Pope. He succeeded in renouncing the suzerainty of his cousin, Alfonso VII of León, becoming instead a vassal of the papacy, as the kings of Sicily and Aragon had done before him. In 1179 the bull Manifestis Probatum accepted the new king as vassal to the pope exclusively.
In Portugal he built several monasteries and convents and bestowed important privileges to religious orders. He is notably the builder of Alcobaça Monastery, to which he called the Cistercian Order of his uncle Bernard of Clairvaux of Burgundy. In 1143, he wrote to Pope Innocent II to declare himself and the kingdom servants of the church, swearing to pursue driving the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula. Bypassing any king of León, Afonso declared himself the direct liege man of the papacy. Afonso continued to distinguish himself by his exploits against the Moors, from whom he wrested Santarém and Lisbon in 1147. He also conquered an important part of the land south of the Tagus River, although this was lost again to the Moors in the following years.
Meanwhile, King Alfonso VII of León (Afonso's cousin) regarded the independent ruler of Portugal as nothing but a rebel. Conflict between the two was constant and bitter in the following years. Afonso became involved in a war, taking the side of the Aragonese king, an enemy of Castile. To ensure the alliance, his son Sancho was engaged to Dulce, sister of the Count of Barcelona and Infanta of Aragon. Finally after winning the Battle of Valdevez, the Treaty of Zamora (1143) established peace between the cousins and the recognition by the Kingdom of León that Portugal was a sovereign kingdom.
In 1169 the now old Dom Afonso was disabled in an engagement near Badajoz by a fall from his horse, and made prisoner by the soldiers of the king of León Ferdinand II also his son-in-law. Portugal was obliged to surrender as his ransom almost all the conquests Afonso had made in Galicia (north of the Minho River) in the previous years.
In 1179 the privileges and favours given to the Roman Catholic Church were compensated. In the papal bull Manifestis Probatum, Pope Alexander III acknowledged Afonso as king and Portugal as an independent crown with the right to conquer lands from the Moors. With this papal blessing, Portugal was at last secured as a kingdom.
In 1184, in spite of his great age, he still had sufficient energy to relieve his son Sancho, who was besieged in Santarém by the Moors. Afonso died shortly after, on 6 December 1185. The Portuguese revere him as a hero, both on account of his personal character and as the founder of their nation. There are mythical stories that it took 10 men to carry his sword, and that Afonso wanted to engage other monarchs in personal combat, but no one would dare accept his challenge.
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Afonso I is 32 degrees from Rosa Parks, 29 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 19 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.