D. Afonso VI (1643-1683) «The Victorious» or… «the Impotent»?

By : December 7th, 2020 Kings and Queens 0 Comments


D. Afonso VI is one of the Portuguese representatives of the scandals that involve the monarchy.

D. Afonso VI was consecrated as “the Victorious” in the History of the Portuguese Monarchy, because it was during his reign that the decisive battles took place during the restoration war that ended in 1668 with the independence of Portugal from the Spanish kingdom.

But if on the one side he wielded his sword well on the battlefield, with women he did not have the same talent.

But let’s go in order.

D Afonso was the son of D. João IV and D. Luísa de Gusmão. Attacked in childhood by an unidentified disease, he is mentally and physically diminished. With the death of his brother D. Teodósio and his father, he ascends the throne at the age of thirteen, so the regency was left to his mother. The king grew up, rebellious to all the educational action, leading an unruly life and manifesting himself perfectly incapable of assuming the responsibilities of the government.

One of his companions, António Conti, insinuated himself in such a way that he soon lived in the royal palace, at the invitation of D. Afonso VI and having an influence on the business of the kingdom government. The scandal increased to the point that D. Luísa de Gusmão let the Infante D. Pedro, D Afonso’s younger brother, swear as future king and António Conti was arrested.

Meanwhile, the count of Castelo Melhor, advisor of the king and prime minister, carried out a coup d’état, compelling D. Luísa, to hand over the government to D. Afonso VI and forcing her to retire to a convent.

In the good graces of the king, he launched his brilliant political career in his short film, ending victoriously with the War of Restoration and managing to marry D. Afonso with Maria Francisca Isabel de Saboia who very quickly came into conflict with the count, and helped the brother-in-law D Pedro to remove his own husband from the government.

To achieve this, he asked to annul the marriage, accusing the king of impotence. During the process, 14 women participated as witnesses.

D. Afonso VI then experienced the humiliation of having these fourteen women witness his disability in bed!

In the time frame marked between January 9 and February 23 of the year 1668, public hearings took place that aimed to assess a possible sexual incapacity of King D. Afonso VI. The historic moment took place in the archbishop’s palace in Lisbon. 55 witnesses were called to testify, distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, always in the afternoon.

The queen took refuge in the Convento da Esperança, having appointed the Duke of Cadaval as prosecutor in the process.

There was no lack of exquisite details that are present in a manuscript at Torre do Tombo that was published by António Baião, in 1925. Titled Cause of nullity of marriage between Queen D. Maria Francisca Isabel de Saboya and King D. Afonso VI, this document revealed the testimonies of its 14 partners.

None of the women defended D. Afonso VI.

In fact, no one appeared at the hearings to defend D. Afonso, who was later deposed by decision of the Council of State.

With a new conspiracy in the palace, the abdication of D. Afonso VI resulted. D. Pedro took the power, married his sister-in-law, after the annulment of her marriage with D. Afonso and Afonso was exiled to Angra do Heroísmo in 1669, from where he returned in 1674, being then closed in the Palace of Sintra, where you can still visit his prison room, until his death.

D. Pedro II was crowned King, and fulfilled his role well with D. Maria Francisca. 9 months later a princess was born, Isabel Luísa.


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