Have you ever wondered why King D. Pedro was known as “the cruel”? This King, who became famous in the History of Portugal for having the heart ripped out of the men who murdered his lover Inês de Castro (see my blog: post of 10 August 2020) and for demanding that they kiss her corpse while she was sitting on the throne, used to make justice by your own hands, all over the country.
D. Pedro I traveled frequently in Portugal and liked to hear the stories and complaints of those who had been wronged and, instead of going to court, he was the one who handed down the sentences and often practiced them. There are several stories of justice attributed to him.
In Santarém lived a rich farmer with whom the king got along. One day, being in that city and as he did not see the man, he asked about him and found that his son had stabbed him, leaving a scar on his face. The king then ordered him to be called and asked him to tell how things had gone.
The farmer narrated the discussion he had with his son and the aggression he had been the victim, in the presence of the woman. “Send your wife and your son to me here,” ordered the monarch. When the woman arrived, she asked him: “Listen, whose son is it?” She stammered, “My husband’s and mine, sir.” The king stroked his beard. “Hum !, I don’t believe it. If your husband had been the real father, he wouldn’t have shot you that way. ”
The farmer eventually admitted that the boy was the son of a confessing friar who would have raped her. The next day, D. Pedro went to hear mass in the church where the violation had occurred. The ceremony concluded, he looked for the religious.
After a short exchange of words, the king ordered the rapist to be boxed and sawed in half. As the king was not an illusionist of those who were women without being pinched, the bastard died a horrible death.
The episode of the Bishop of Porto is still well remembered. D. Pedro was told, without evidence, that the prelate had intimate relations with a married woman. It was enough for him to enter the episcopal palace and, taking the whip, punish him. Another time, when he learned that a woman was cheating on her husband, he sentenced her to death. And the deceived begged on his knees for the forgiveness of his wife, whom he certainly loved.
But there is a less known aspect of D. Pedro I’s life. Chronicler Fernão Lopes narrates that the sovereign had an overwhelming passion … for his squire Afonso Madeira, whom he “loved more than one should say here”.
As he had an affair with one Catarina Tosse, the king, furious, “ordered him to cut off those members that the men in greatest esteem have, so that there was no flesh left to the bone that everything was not cut”. Poor Afonso, according to Lopes, was treated, “he healed, he thickened his legs and body and lived a few years with a face and no beard and died after his natural death”.
Manuel I Rei de Portugal, known as the Fortunate, o Blessed or the Lucky. He was born in Alcochete, a town near Lisbon in 1469 and died in Lisbon in the year 1521. Ninth son of Infantes D. Fernando, 2nd Duke of Viseu and D. Beatriz, married D. Isabel, daughter of the Catholic Kings.
With the Queen’s death due to childbirth, he married second wife the Infanta D. Maria de Castela, sister of D. Isabel, with whom he had ten children, in addition to the first child with his previous wife. Again a widower, he married Infanta D. Leonor, having two more children.
With the death of D. Afonso, legitimate successor to the throne of his priest King D. João II, D. Manuel I was acclaimed as his legatee to the throne in 1495.
King Manuel I’s policy was a continuation line of the previous governments. He continued with the Portuguese overseas exploration campaigns, expeditions that were decisive for the expansion of the empire and that led to the discoveries of Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, of the way to India by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and of the Moluccas by Admiral D. Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511.
Likewise, he received from his predecessor a powerful and centralized government with a strong tendency towards absolutism. D. Manuel dedicated himself to tax, legislative and administrative reforms. These reforms were fundamental to configure the Kingdom of Portugal as a modern state.
But the history of this king, which meant so much to the history of Portugal, is also a part worthy of the best soap operas.
Princess D. Leonor was destined for the wife of Prince D. João, heir to the crown of Portugal, and they were both still very young. King Manuel, however, who was widowed for the second time, seeing the portrait of the young princess, who was only nineteen, and says the tradition is of rare beauty, was so pleased with her charms that he decided to choose her for his wife, ignoring the pretensions of the prince his son, thus making his third nuptials.
Carlos V had been acclaimed as emperor of Germany, and had come from Flanders to Zaragoza, where he had met the court, and D. Manuel, on the pretext of congratulating him on having girded the imperial crown, sent Zaragoza as his ambassador, and Major Álvaro da Costa, but the main purpose of this embassy was to deal with the wedding, very secretly, given the circumstances that were taking place.
Álvaro da Costa carried out his mission with great diligence and diplomacy, the proposal was well accepted by the court of Castile, and the negotiations were quickly concluded.
The marriages took place in the same city of Zaragoza on 16 July 1518, with prosecutors being appointed to deal with Ambassador Álvaro da Costa, Cardinal Florent, Bishop of Tortosa, who later was Pope Adriano VI, Guilherme de Croy, duke of Sora; and João le Sauvage, lord of Strambeque.
This marriage of D. Manuel caused a certain astonishment in Portugal, because the monarch had been inconsolable by the death of his second wife, saying that he abdicated the crown on his son, and retired to the Penha Longa convent.
The prince felt great disgust, because he had also fallen in love with the portrait of his future wife, who had now become a stepmother.
After the marriage contracts were concluded, the new queen D. Leonor left Zaragoza, and entered Portugal through Castelo de Vide with the accompaniment of nobles.
The monarch was waiting for her at Crato, and on November 24th there were pompous parties. As there was plague in Lisbon, the royal spouses left with the entire court for Almeirim, where they stayed until the following summer, then passing to Évora, returning to Lisbon only when the epidemic was completely extinguished
D. Manuel I died in December 1521, leaving two more children with his third marriage. It is said, after widowing, D. Leonor recovered his destiny. The 23-year-old woman had a secret relationship with her stepson, D. João III. The secret love for her ex-fiance was a way to recover the lines of destiny that had been broken by D. Manuel I.
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.
He is the King known for his splendour, the Baroque era, for the construction of the wonderful palace and convent of Mafra, but also for his extramarital relations. And what is strange about a king who has lovers? In appearance nothing, aside from the fact that D João V had a preference for nuns …
Of all the lovers, the most famous was Mother Paula Silva, a young brunette, a nun at the Convent of Odivelas, for whom D. João V had built sumptuous rooms, with gilded ceilings, where she was served by nine servants. According to the book “Amantes dos Reis de Portugal”, the beds were made of canopy, covered with silver foil and surrounded by red and gold velvets, and the jars in which she urinated were made of silver.
Over the 10 years that this relationship lasted, the King gave her an annual income of 1708 $ 000 réis, but he could only go to Odivelas to have relations with the nun when the palace doctor authorized him.
In 1720, when Mother Paula was 19 years old, she gave birth to José, who was already the fourth bastard son of the Monarch.
The first had been born already after the marriage with D. Maria Ana of Austria and was son of his first girlfriend, D. Filipa de Noronha, sister of the marquis of Cascais, seduced when D. João was only 15 years old and she 22. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg, mother of the fiery prince. To conquer her, D. João used madly foolish means, including a promise of marriage. Wooing and jewellery offering strengthened the lady’s love, who cherished the excusable illusion of becoming queen of Portugal. One can understand her frustration when she learned of the negotiations for the union with Princess Maria Ana of Austria.
There followed the three bastards who became known as the Meninos de Palhavã (for having lived in a palace in this area of Lisbon). Before Mother Paula, on his first visits to the Odivelas Convent, the King was intime with a French nun, who gave birth to D. António, and another Portuguese nun, mother of D. Gaspar, who became archbishop of Braga. The King recognized these three of his illegitimate children in a declaration signed in 1742.
When he got tired of his visits to Paula, D. João V started going to a 17th century palace that still exists in Lisbon, on the corner of the streets of Poço dos Negros and São Bento. D. Jorge de Menezes, owner of properties in the Algarve, lived there, but the king chose to go there on the days (or nights) when he knew he was not there. With whom he was going to meet – furtively – it was with D. Luísa Clara de Portugal, the wife of D. Jorge.
But, while visiting Luísa Clara, D. João V also gallant a servant of hers. And he even appointed as diplomat to the Holy See, in Rome, a brother of the girl, a shoemaker!
And the predictable happened: Luísa Clara became pregnant during one of her husband’s absences. Dejected, D. Jorge retired to a farm in Sintra, where he would die. As for the queen, she tried – in vain – to prevent her rival from entering the parties at the Palace. The fruit of these loves was a girl, sent to the Convent of Santos.
Free from her children and her husband, Luísa Clara had time for everything, including being the lover of a half-brother of the king, bastard son of Pedro II. Furious, D. João V thought of having the bold relative castrated, and only the confessor managed to appease his wrath, evoking the pains of hell.
D. João V also got involved with a gypsy woman, Margarida do Monte, but sent her to a convent, so that she would no longer receive other lovers.
The last lover of D. João V, when he doubled the cape of the 50, would be the Italian opera singer Petronilla Basilli. To keep up with the required lyrical performance, the king started taking aphrodisiacs. And when, two years later, he turned his back on Basilli, he began to whisper that it was over. The truth is that, in the final decade of his life, the Magnânimo dedicated himself mainly to the charitable gestures that justified his epithet.
D. Afonso Henriques was the son of the counts D. Henrique – second son of Henrique, Duke of Burgundy – and D. Teresa, the illegitimate daughter of the king of León and Castile, Afonso VI. He was born in 1109, probably in Viseu, as it is in this city of Beira that, at that time, the presence of his mother, the Infanta D. Teresa, can be historically determined, taking into account the reconstruction of her itinerary based on the documentary sources of the time. The future king was educated in Entre Douro e Minho, in his master’s lands, possibly D. Egas Moniz de Ribadouro. Orphaned by father in 1112, so at the age of 3, he certainly could not keep any other memories than the memories reported by his educators. The mother’s subsequent marriage to the Galician noble Fernão Peres de Trava, and the attempt by the new court of D. Teresa to attract Portuguese territory back to Galician orbit, are factors that would certainly have contributed to remove Afonso Henriques from his mother’s conviviality.
D. Afonso Henriques defeated the anti-patriotic forces led by his mother’s lover, Fernão Peres de Trava at the battle of São Mamede, in 1128, inaugurating the first of four dynasties of kings in Portugal, symbols of the nation until the beginning of 20th century. Interestingly, it is known today that the nationalist propaganda of the 20th century turned her husband into a lover to diminish the figure of the Galician count.
On the 25th of July 1139, he won against Islam the most emblematic of his victories, in the battle of Ourique, mythified by the later historiography in an elaborate legend.
In 1144, Pope Eugénio III called for a new crusade for the Iberian Peninsula. The armada arrived in the city of Porto on June 16, being convinced by the bishop of Porto, Pedro II Pitões, to take part in this military operation. After the conquest of Santarém (1147), knowing the availability of the Crusaders to help, D. Afonso Henriques’ forces continued southwards, over Lisbon.
The Siege of Lisbon began on July 1, 1147 and lasted until October 21, culminating in the conquest of this city from the Moors with the help of the Crusaders who were heading for the Middle East, more specifically for the Holy Land. It was the only success of the Second Crusade.The Portuguese forces advanced by land, those of the Crusaders by sea, penetrating the mouth of the Tagus River; in June of that same year, both forces were reunited, the first skirmishes were wounded on the outskirts west of the hill on which the city of then, today called Baixa, stood. After violent fighting, both this area and the east were dominated by Christians, thus imposing a siege on the opulent mercantile city.
Well defended, the city walls proved impregnable. The weeks passed in sorties of the besieged ones, while the besiegers’ war machines launched all sorts of projectiles at the defenders, the number of dead and wounded increasing from side to side.
In early October they opened a breach where the besiegers launched themselves. On the verge of a Christian assault on two fronts, Muslims, weakened by skirmishes, hunger and disease, capitulated on 20 October.
But as often happens, in this part of history, a legend took the place of reality: the legend says that D. Afonso Henriques had laid siege to the city of Lisbon, helped by the many crusaders who passed through there on the way to the Holy Land.
In one of the attempts to assault one of the city gates, a knight from his army, Martim Moniz, faced the Moors and managed to keep the door open. His body was crossed between the two doors and allowed the Christians to enter the city.
Severely wounded, Martim Moniz entered the city with his companions and also made some victims among his enemies, before falling dead.
D. Afonso Henriques wanted to honor his courage and sacrifice, so he ordered that entrance to be named Martim Moniz.
D. Dinis is one of the greatest figures in Portuguese history. He was, at his time, one of the most respected Kings in the world. Known as the “King Poet” (because he wrote 173 poems in Galician-Portuguese) or the “Farmer King”, D. Dinis was the 6th monarch of Portugal and reigned for 46 years. He is described as cultured, just, sometimes cruel, pious, determined and intelligent. Son of D. Afonso III and Beatriz de Castela, he was born on the day of S. Dinis, on October 9, 1261, in Lisbon. In 1279, at the age of 17, D. Dinis came to the throne of a country that was living in unstable times. Between 1280-1287, in order to establish peace in Portugal, he negotiated with the Holy See. The relationship with the church was deteriorated for many years, reaching the point, for example, that King Afonso III was excommunicated. Early in his reign, in 1280, D. Dinis thought of marriage and possibly political issues. He found his ideal wife in Isabel de Aragon, popularly known today as the “Holy Queen”. The marriage would be made 2 years later, in Barcelona, by proxy. Queen Isabel was … 10 years old! Upon arriving in Portugal, the ceremony was held in Trancoso. And then they settled in Coimbra. From this marriage they had two children: D. Constança and D. Afonso, future D. Afonso IV. However, D. Dinis had several extramarital relationships, of which he had children, who were educated by the Holy Queen! D. Dinis took several measures, such as: he created a system of laws, he created fairs, he bet on fishing and other maritime activities, he gave land to cultivate to those who had no means.
In Entre Douro e Minho he divided the land into couples, each couple later coming to give rise to a settlement. In Trás-os-Montes the king adopted a collectivist regime: the lands were handed over to a group that shared the charges, certain services and buildings were communal, such as the bread oven, the mill and the guard of the flock. In 1290, he founded the first university in the country, which was located in Lisbon and later moved to Coimbra.
He established Portuguese as an official language in the drafting of documents and made an alliance with Aragon. Between 1319 and 1324 he was at war with his son D. Afonso. They ended up making peace. However, the chronicles say that, because of this conflict, the relations with his wife, the Holy Queen, was never healthy again. In 1290, after the Portuguese reconquest was over, King Dinis I of Portugal decreed that the “vulgar language” (Galician-Portuguese spoken) be used instead of Latin at court, and named “Portuguese”. The troubadour king had adopted his own language for the kingdom, just as his grandfather had done with Castilian. In 1296 Portuguese was adapted by the royal chancellery and started to be used not only in poetry, but also in the drafting of laws and by notaries. 7th January 1325, with 63 years (really old for the time) D Dinis passed away in Santarém. He was buried in the Odivelas Monastery, a building that he created. Analyses made to his tomb indicate that the “King Poet” was very healthy (he incredibly died with all his teeth), allowing to conclude that he measured 1.65 meters and had red hair and beard.