Afonso I of Portugal

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Afonso I
D. Afonso Henriques - The Portuguese Genealogy (Genealogia dos Reis de Portugal).png
King Afonso in António de Holanda's Portuguese Genealogy (c. 1530–1534)
King of Portugal
Reign26 July 1139 6 December 1185
Acclamation26 July 1139
Successor Sancho I
Count of Portugal
Reign24 June 1128 25 July 1139
Predecessor Teresa
BornDisputed: 1106, 1109 or 1111
Disputed: Coimbra, Guimarães or Viseu, Portugal; Tierra de Campos or Sahagún, León
Died6 December 1185 (aged 73–79)
Coimbra, Portugal
Spouse Mafalda of Savoy
among others ...
(illeg.) Fernando Afonso
Urraca, Queen of León
Teresa of Flanders
Sancho I
House Portuguese House of Burgundy
Father Henry, Count of Portugal
Mother Teresa, Countess of Portugal
Religion Catholic

Afonso I [lower-alpha 1] (European Portuguese:  [ɐˈfõsu] ; 1106 / 25 July 1109 / August 1109 / 1111 6 December 1185), nicknamed the Conqueror (Portuguese : O Conquistador), the Founder (O Fundador) or the Great (O Grande) by the Portuguese, and El-Bortukali [in Arabic البرتقالي] ("the Portuguese") and Ibn-Arrink or Ibn Arrik [in Arabic ابن الرَّنك or ابن الرَنْق] ("son of Henry", "Henriques") by the Moors whom he fought, 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.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Portuguese people ethnic group

Portuguese people are a Romance ethnic group indigenous to Portugal that share a common Portuguese culture and speak Portuguese. Their predominant religion is Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism, though vast segments of the population, especially the younger generations, have no religious affiliation. Historically, the Portuguese people's heritage largely includes the pre-Celts and Celts, who became culturally Romanized during the conquest of the region by the ancient Romans. A number of Portuguese also can trace descent from Germanic tribes who arrived after the Roman period as ruling elites, including the Suebi and Visigoths in northern Portugal and central Portugal. Finally, also limited converted Jewish and Berbers as a result of the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the Algarve region of southern Portugal.

Moors Medieval Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta

The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers. The name was later also applied to Arabs.



Afonso was the son of Henry of Burgundy and Teresa, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso VI of León and Castile. According to Fernão Lopes' Crónica de Portugal de 1419, the future Portuguese king was born in Guimarães, which was at the time the most important political center of his parents. This was accepted by most Portuguese scholarship until in 1990 Torquato de Sousa Soares proposed Coimbra, the center of the county of Coimbra and another political center of Afonso's progenitors, as his birthplace, which caused outrage in Guimarães and a polemic between this historian and José Hermano Saraiva. Almeida Fernandes later proposed Viseu as the birthplace of Afonso basing himself on the Chronica Gothorum , which states Afonso was born in 1109, a position followed by José Mattoso in his biography of the king. [1] Abel Estefânio has suggested a different date and thesis, proposing 1106 as the birth date and the region of Tierra de Campos or even Sahagún as likely birth places based on the known itineraries of counts Henry and Teresa. [2] [3]

Henry, Count of Portugal Count of Portucale

Henry, Count of Portugal, was the first member of the Capetian House of Burgundy to rule Portugal and the father of the country's first king, Afonso Henriques.

Alfonso VI of León and Castile 1040-1109, King of Leon, King of Castile, King of Galicia

Alfonso VI, nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was king of León (1065–72) and of Galicia, and then king of the reunited Castile and León.

Fernão Lopes Portuguese chronicler

Fernão Lopes was a Portuguese chronicler appointed by King Edward of Portugal. Fernão Lopes wrote the history of Portugal, but only a part of his work remained.

Henry and Teresa reigned jointly as count and countess of Portugal until his death on 22 May 1112 during the siege of Astorga, [4] after which Teresa ruled Portugal alone. [5] She would proclaim herself queen (a claim recognised by Pope Paschal II in 1116) but was captured and forced to reaffirm her vassalage to her half-sister, Urraca of Léon. [5]

Astorga, Spain Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Astorga is a municipality and city of Spain located in the central area of the province of León, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, 43 kilometres (27 mi) southwest of the provincial capital. It is located in the transit between the Páramo Leonés and the mountains of León and acts as the backbone of the shires of Maragatería, La Cepeda and the Ribera del Órbigo. The city is the head of one of the most extensive and oldest dioceses of Spain, whose jurisdiction covers half of the province of León and part of Ourense and Zamora. It is also head of the judicial party number 5 of the province of León.

Pope Paschal II pope

Pope Paschal II, born Ranierius, was pope from 13 August 1099 to his death in 1118.

It is not known who was the tutor of Afonso. Later traditions, probably started with João Soares Coelho (a bastard descendant of Egas Moniz through a female line) in the mid-13th century and ampliated by later chronicles such as the Crónica de Portugal de 1419, asserted he had been Egas Moniz de Ribadouro, possibly with the help of oral memories that associated the tutor to the house of Ribadouro. Yet, contemporary documents, namely from the chancery of Afonso in his early years as count of Portucale, indicate according to José Mattoso that the most likely tutor of Afonso Henriques was Egas Moniz's oldest brother, Ermígio Moniz, who, besides being the senior brother within the family of Ribadouro, became the "dapifer" and "majordomus" of Afonso I from 1128 until his death in 1135, which indicates his closer proximity to the prince. [6] [7]

Egas Moniz o Aio Portuguese noble

Egas Moniz de Riba Douro, also known as o Aio (1080-1146) was a Portuguese nobleman, who served in the Portuguese Crown as the tutor of Afonso Henriques.

Under the Merovingian dynasty, the mayor of the palace or majordomo was the manager of the household of the Frankish king. The office existed from the sixth century, and during the seventh it evolved into the "power behind the throne" in the northeastern kingdom of Austrasia. In 751, the mayor of the palace, Pepin the Short, orchestrated the deposition of the king, Childeric III, and was crowned in his place.

In an effort to pursue a larger share in the Leonese inheritance, his mother Teresa joined forces with Fernando Pérez de Trava, the most powerful count in Galicia. [5] The Portuguese nobility disliked the alliance between Galicia and Portugal and rallied around 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. In symmetry with his cousin he made himself a knight on his own account in the Cathedral of Zamora in 1125, with the permission of his mother. After the military campaign of Alfonso VII against his mother in 1127, Afonso revolted against her and proceeded to take control of the county from its queen.

Kingdom of Galicia kingdom in Iberia

The Kingdom of Galicia was a political entity located in southwestern Europe, which at its territorial zenith occupied the entire northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Founded by Suebic king Hermeric in 409, the Galician capital was established in Braga, being the first kingdom which adopted Catholicism officially and minted its own currency. It was part of the Kingdom of the Spanish Visigothic monarchs from 585 to 711. In the 8th century Galicia became a part of the newly founded Christian kingdoms of the Northwest of the peninsula, Asturias and León, while occasionally achieving independence under the authority of its own kings. Compostela became capital of Galicia in the 11th century, while the independence of Portugal (1128) determined its southern boundary. The accession of Castilian King Ferdinand III to the Leonese kingdom in 1230 brought Galicia under the control of the Crown of Castile, the kingdom of Galicia becoming a political division within the larger realm.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Braga Roman Catholic archdiocese in Portugal

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Braga is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in Portugal.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela archdiocese

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Compostela, is the senior of the five districts in which the Catholic Church divides Galicia in North-western Spain.

Sole count

In 1128, near Guimarães at the Battle of São Mamede, Afonso and his supporters overcame troops under both his mother and her lover, Count Fernando Peres de Trava of Galicia. Afonso exiled his mother to Galicia, and took over rule of the County of Portucale. [5] Thus the possibility of re-incorporating Portucale into a Kingdom of Portugal and Galicia as before was eliminated and Afonso became sole ruler following demands for greater independence from the county's church and nobles. The battle was mostly ignored by the Leonese suzerain who was occupied at the time with a revolt in Castille. He was also, most likely, waiting for the reaction of the Galician families. After Teresa's death in 1131, Afonso VII of León and Castille proceeded to demand vassalage from his cousin. On 6 April 1129, Afonso Henriques dictated the writ in which he proclaimed himself Prince of Portugal or Prince of the Portuguese, an act informally allowed by Afonso VII, as it was thought to be Afonso Henriques's right by blood, as one of two grandsons of the Emperor of Hispania.

Guimarães Municipality in Norte, Portugal

Guimarães is a city and municipality located in northern Portugal, in the district of Braga. Its historic town centre is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, in recognition for being an "exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town" in Europe.

Battle of São Mamede

The Battle of São Mamede took place on 24 June 1128 near Guimarães and is considered the seminal event for the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal and the battle that ensured Portugal's Independence. Portuguese forces led by Afonso Henriques defeated forces led by his mother Teresa of Portugal and her lover Fernão Peres de Trava. Following São Mamede, the future king styled himself "Prince of Portugal". He would be called "King of Portugal" in 1139 and was recognised as such by neighbouring kingdoms in 1143.

Alfonso VII of León and Castile Castilian monarch

Alfonso VII, called the Emperor, became the King of Galicia in 1111 and King of León and Castile in 1126. Alfonso, born Alfonso Raimúndez, first used the title Emperor of All Spain, alongside his mother Urraca, once she vested him with the direct rule of Toledo in 1116. Alfonso later held another investiture in 1135 in a grand ceremony reasserting his claims to the imperial title. He was the son of Urraca of León and Raymond of Burgundy, the first of the House of Ivrea to rule in the Iberian peninsula.

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 (possibly unanimously) proclaimed King of the Portuguese by his soldiers, establishing his equality in rank to the other realms of the Peninsula, although the first reference to his royal title dates from 1140. The first assembly of the Portuguese Cortes 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.


19th-century depiction of King Afonso I Henriques of Portugal, on the ceiling of the Kings' Room, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal. D. Afonso Henriques (Quinta da Regaleira).png
19th-century depiction of King Afonso I Henriques of Portugal, on the ceiling of the Kings' Room, Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal.

Complete 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 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.

King Afonso I at the Siege of Lisbon (Oil on Canvas by Joaquim Rodrigues Braga) Siege of Lisbon - Muslim surrender.jpg
King Afonso I at the Siege of Lisbon (Oil on Canvas by Joaquim Rodrigues Braga)

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 (see Conquest of Santarém) and Lisbon in 1147 (see Siege of Lisbon). [8] 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 possibly disabled in an engagement near Badajoz by a fall from his horse, and made prisoner by the soldiers of the king of León Fernando II also his son-in-law. From this time onward, the Portuguese king never rode a horse again, but it is not certain this was because of the disability: according to the later Portuguese chronistic tradition, this happened because Afonso would have to surrender himself again to Fernando II of León or risk war between the two kingdoms if he rode a horse. 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. [8]

Afonso at the Battle of Ourique witnessing the Miracle of the Cross (dated 1793 by Domigos Sequeira) BatalhaOurique.jpg
Afonso at the Battle of Ourique witnessing the Miracle of the Cross (dated 1793 by Domigos Sequeira)

In 1179 the privileges and favours given to the Catholic Church were compensated. With consistent effort by several parties, such as the Primate Archpishop of Braga Paio Mendes, in the papal court, the papal bull Manifestis Probatum was promulgated accepting the new king as vassal to the pope exclusively. In it Pope Alexander III also 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, the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf rallied a great Almohad force to retaliate against the Portuguese raids done since the end of a five-year truce in 1178 and besieged Santarém, which was defended by the heir Sancho. The Almohad siege failed when news arrived the archbishop of Compostela had come to the defense of the city and Fernando II of León himself with his army. The Almohads ended the siege and their retreat turned into a rout due to panic in their camp, with the Almohad caliph being injured in the process (according to one version, because of a crossbow bolt) and dying on the way back to Seville. Afonso died shortly after, probably out of a sudden cause of death, 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. [8] 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. It is also told, despite his honourable character, that he had a temper. Several chronicles give the example of a papal legate that brought a message from the Pope Paschal II refusing to acknowledge Afonso's claim as King: either after committing or saying a small offense against him or after being simply read the letter, Afonso almost killed, in his rage, the papal representative, taking several portucalense nobles and soldiers to physically restrain the young would-be king.

Scientific research

Tomb of Afonso Henriques in the Santa Cruz Monastery in Coimbra. AfonsoHenriques-Tomb.jpg
Tomb of Afonso Henriques in the Santa Cruz Monastery in Coimbra.

In July 2006, the tomb of the king (which is located in the Santa Cruz Monastery in Coimbra) was to be opened for scientific purposes by researchers from the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and the University of Granada (Spain). The opening of the tomb provoked considerable concern among some sectors of Portuguese society and Portuguese State Agency for Architectural Patrimony (Instituto Português do Património ArquitectónicoIPPAR) halted the opening, requesting more protocols from the scientific team because of the importance of the king in the nation's heart and public thought. [9] [10]


In 1146, [lower-alpha 2] Afonso married Mafalda, daughter of Amadeus III, Count of Savoy and Mahaut of Albon, both appearing together for the first time in May of that year confirming royal charters. [11] They had the following issue: [12]

Before his marriage to Mafalda, King Afonso fathered his first son with Chamoa Gómez, [14] daughter of Count Gómez Núñez and Elvira Pérez, sister of Fernando and Bermudo Pérez de Traba: [24] [25]

The extramarital offspring by Elvira Gálter were:

King Afonso was also the father of:


See also


  1. Or also Affonso (Archaic Portuguese-Galician) or Alphonso (Portuguese-Galician) or Alphonsus (Latin version), sometimes rendered in English as Alphonzo or Alphonse, depending on the Spanish or French influence.
  2. Although the Annales D. Alfonsi Portugallensium Regis, record that the wedding of Alfonso and Mafalda was celebrated in 1145, it was not until a year later, in May 1146, when they both appear in royal charters. Historian José Mattoso refers to another source, Noticia sobre a Conquista de Santarém (News on the Conquest of Santarém), which states that the city was taken on 15 May 1147, less than a year after their marriage. Since at that time no wedding ceremony could be performed during Lent, Mattoso suggests that the marriage could have taken place in March or April 1146, possibly on Easter Sunday which fell on 31 March of that year. [11]

Related Research Articles

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  1. Mattoso 2014, pp. 26–27.
  2. Estefânio, Abel (July 2010). "A data de nascimento de Afonso I". Medievalista (in Portuguese). 8.
  3. Estefânio, Abel (January 2016). "De novo a data e o local de nascimento de Afonso I". Medievalista (in Portuguese). 19.
  4. Mattoso 2014, p. 34.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Gerli, E. Michael. Medieval Iberia, Routledge, 2013 ISBN   9781136771613
  6. Mattoso, José (1985). João Soares Coelho e a gesta de Egas Moniz. In Portugal Medieval: Novas Interpretações. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda. pp. 409–435.
  7. Mattoso, José (2007). D. Afonso Henriques. Lisboa: Temas e Debates. pp. 35–38. ISBN   978-972-759-911-0.
  8. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Hannay, David (1911). "Alphonso s.v. Alphonso I.". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 733.
  9. IPPAR: direcção nacional diz que não foi consultada sobre abertura do túmulo de D. Afonso Henriques Archived 10 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine , Público, 6 July 2006. Retrieved December 2006 (in Portuguese)
  10. n:Portuguese Culture Ministry suspends opening of Afonso I's tomb
  11. 1 2 Mattoso 2014, p. 220.
  12. Mattoso 2014, pp. 226–227.
  13. 1 2 3 Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 60.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 71.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Mattoso 2014, p. 226.
  16. 1 2 Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 79.
  17. Arco y Garay 1954, p. 168.
  18. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 80.
  19. Mattoso 2014, pp. 372–373.
  20. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 78.
  21. Mattoso 2014, pp. 287–288, 290.
  22. Mattoso 2014, p. 227.
  23. Mattoso 2014, pp. 227, 383.
  24. Calderón Medina 2008, p. 42, n. 11.
  25. Mattoso 2014, pp. 98, 228, 320.
  26. Mattoso 2014, p. 228.
  27. Mattoso 2014, pp. 227–229.
  28. Calderón Medina 2008, pp. 42–43, and notes.
  29. Caetano de Souza 1735, pp. 28, 64.
  30. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 64.
  31. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1997, p. 457, n. 9 and 10, Vol. I.
  32. Caetano de Souza 1735, pp. 28, 63.
  33. 1 2 Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 63.
  34. Mattoso 2014, pp. 103, 229, 388.
  35. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 28.


Afonso I of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Capet
Born: 1106, 1109 or 1111 Died: 6 December 1185
Regnal titles
New title
Independence from León
King of Portugal
Succeeded by
Sancho I
Titles of nobility
Preceded by
Henry and Teresa
Count of Portugal
with Teresa (1112–1126)