History of Portugal - H. Morse Stephens - ebook

THE  The Story of Portugal possesses a peculiar interest from the fact that it is to its history alone that the country owes its existence as a separate nation Geographically, the little kingdom is an integral portion of the Iberian peninsula, with no natural boundaries to distinguish it from that larger portion of the peninsula called Spain; its inhabitants spring from the same stock as the Spaniards, and their language differs but slightly from the Spanish. Its early history is merged in that of the rest of the peninsula, and but for two great men, Affonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, and John I., the founder of the house of Aviz, Portugal would not at the present day rank among the independent nations of Europe. The first of these monarchs created his dominions into a kingdom like Leon, Castile, and Aragon, and the latter encouraged the maritime explorations which gave the little country an individuality and national existence, of which it was justly proud. When Philip II. annexed Portugal in 1580, it was at least a century too late for the Portuguese to coalesce with the Spaniards. They had then produced Vasco da Gama and Alboquerque and other great captains and explorers, who had shown Europe the way to India by sea; and their tongue had been developed by the genius of Camoens and Sá de Miranda, from a Romance dialect, similar to those used in Gallicia, Castile, or Aragon, into a great literary language. Conscious of its national history, Portugal broke away again from Spain in 1640, and under the protection of England maintained its separate existence during the eighteenth century…

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H. Morse Stephens


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THE STORY OF PORTUGAL POSSESSES a peculiar interest from the fact that it is to its history alone that the country owes its existence as a separate nation Geographically, the little kingdom is an integral portion of the Iberian peninsula, with no natural boundaries to distinguish it from that larger portion of the peninsula called Spain; its inhabitants spring from the same stock as the Spaniards, and their language differs but slightly from the Spanish. Its early history is merged in that of the rest of the peninsula, and but for two great men, Affonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, and John I., the founder of the house of Aviz, Portugal would not at the present day rank among the independent nations of Europe. The first of these monarchs created his dominions into a kingdom like Leon, Castile, and Aragon, and the latter encouraged the maritime explorations which gave the little country an individuality and national existence, of which it was justly proud. When Philip II. annexed Portugal in 1580, it was at least a century too late for the Portuguese to coalesce with the Spaniards. They had then produced Vasco da Gama and Alboquerque and other great captains and explorers, who had shown Europe the way to India by sea; and their tongue had been developed by the genius of Camoens and Sá de Miranda, from a Romance dialect, similar to those used in Gallicia, Castile, or Aragon, into a great literary language. Conscious of its national history, Portugal broke away again from Spain in 1640, and under the protection of England maintained its separate existence during the eighteenth century. There was some probability of a union with Spain at the beginning of the present century, when, after the conclusion of the Peninsular War against Napoleon, certain statesmen began to point out the anomaly of the Iberian peninsula being divided into two separate kingdoms, but a generation of great historians and poets soon arose, who reminded the people of the days of Portuguese greatness and of the glories of the past, and made it impossible for the modern Portuguese to lose the consciousness of their individuality as a nation.

But, though the history of Portugal possesses its peculiar interest as showing how one small portion of the Iberian peninsula maintained a separate existence, it presents also many features of romantic incident, especially during the epoch when it was for a time the leading nation of Europe. The extraordinary vigour shown by the inhabitants of this small corner of Europe during the latter half of the fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth centuries is most remarkable. Not only were Portuguese navigators the first to creep down the west coast of Africa in small boats, in which modern sailors would hardly like to cross the English Channel, but they dared to double the Cape of Good Hope, and to sail across the Indian Ocean to India and Ceylon. Thence they ventured round the point of Singapore, and established themselves at Macao, from which centre they explored the coasts of China and Japan. In the other direction, to the west, they crossed the Atlantic and discovered and colonized Brazil. Lisbon became the storehouse and centre of distribution for the products of the East, and attained to a height of wealth and luxury unrivalled since the days of ancient Rome. The history of the Portuguese “conquistadores” in India for the first hundred years after the discovery of the route round the Cape of Good Hope is one long romance; the vastness of their designs, the grandeur of their exploits, and the nobility of character of their great captains, combine to make a story of surpassing interest. And when it is remembered that the soldiers and sailors of these great discoverers and conquerors were inhabitants of the smallest country in Europe, their success seems the more extraordinary, and the interest in the story of the nation which trained the Portuguese heroes becomes the more absorbing. As invariably happens during the heroic age of a nation’s history, literature and the arts flourished at a time distinguished by military and naval prowess, and as Spenser and Shakespeare illustrated the Elizabethan age in England as much as Drake and Raleigh, the age of Vasco da Gama and Alboquerque in Portugal could boast also of Gil Vicente, Sá de Miranda and Camoens. The abrupt fall of Portugal from the greatness and wealth of its heroic period to an insignificant place among the nations is as full of the great lessons which history teaches as the story of its growth. Just as the chivalry induced by the constant fighting with the Moors, and the inspiration to great deeds fostered by freedom and the good government of worthy kings, produced a race of heroes, so not less surely did the growth of luxury and absolutism, assisted by the narrow-mindedness of a dynasty of bigots, lose for Portugal the lofty place which her heroes had won for her. These are things well worth pondering upon and lessons well worth learning, for the great value of the study of history is in teaching such truths as these—truths which are eternal, while nations wax and wane.

The early history of the country, which took the name of Portugal from the county which formed the nucleus of the future kingdom, is identical with that of the rest of the Iberian peninsula, but deserves some slight notice because of an old misconception, immortalized in the title of the famous epic of Camoens, and not yet entirely eradicated even from modern ideas. Portugal, like the rest of the peninsula, was originally inhabited by men of the prehistoric ages, whose implements are frequently dug up at the present day, and remains of the cave-dwellers have been found all over the province of the Alemtejo, and more especially in the great cave near Alter do Chão. The most famous prehistoric monument is, however, the beautiful “Anta de Guimaraens,” about the exact date of which Portuguese archæologists are much exercised. These prehistoric people were conquered and exterminated by the first waves of the great Aryan race which has spread all over Europe. There seems to be no doubt that the Celts, the first Aryan immigrants, were preceded by a non-Aryan race, which is called by different writers the Iberian or the Euskaldunac nation, but this earlier race speedily amalgamated with the Celts, and out of the two together were formed the five tribes inhabiting the Iberian peninsula, which Strabo names as the Cantabrians, the Vasconians, the Asturians, the Gallicians, and the Lusitanians. It is Strabo, also, who mentions the existence of Greek colonies at the mouths of the Tagus, Douro, and Minho, and it is curious to note that the old name of Lisbon, Olisipo, was from the earliest times identified with that of the hero of the Odyssey, and was interpreted to mean the city of Ulysses. The Celtic Iberians certainly possessed the elements of civilization, and from a very early period they had learnt to write, and it is a remarkable fact that the formation of the letters of their alphabet is traceable rather to Greek than Phœnician characters. This is the more remarkable, when it is remembered that the Phœnicians, and not the Greeks, are always mentioned in history as monopolizing the trade of Iberia. The Carthaginians, though they had colonies all over the peninsula, established their rule mainly over the south and east of it, having their capital at Carthagena or Nova Carthago, and seem to have neglected the more barbarous northern and western provinces.

It was for this reason that the Romans found far more difficulty in subduing these latter provinces than they had in taking possession of the former, which the Carthaginians had already conquered. The Romans were at first satisfied with these provinces, which were ceded to them after the conclusion of the second Punic war, but eventually they began to spread over the hitherto neglected districts; and in 189 B.C. Lucius Æmilius Paullus defeated the Lusitanians, and in 185 B.C. Gaius Calpurnius forced his way across the Tagus. There is no need here to discuss the gradual conquest by the Romans of that part of the peninsula which includes the modern kingdom of Portugal, but it is necessary to speak of the gallant shepherd Viriathus, who sustained a stubborn war against the Romans from 149 B.C. until he was assassinated in 139 B.C. because he has been generally claimed as the first national hero of Portugal. This claim has been based upon the assumed identification of the modern Portugal with the ancient Lusitania, an identification which has spread its roots deep into Portuguese literature, and has until recently been generally accepted.

The first Portuguese writer who assumed the identity of Portugal with Lusitania was Dom Garcia de Meneses, Bishop of Evora, who wrote in the reign of John II. at the close of the fifteenth century, though the two terms had been used distinctively by early chroniclers, such as Lucas de Tuy in his “Chronicon Mundi,” and Matthew de Pisano in his “Guerra de Ceuta.” The mistaken notion was further developed in the days of the Renaissance and of the Revival of Learning, and became generally accepted by the close of the sixteenth century, and exaggerated by the very title of such books as the “Monarchia Lusitana” of Bernardo de Brito and the “De Antiquitatibus Lusitaniæ” of the great antiquary Andrea de Resende. In fact, the Portuguese writers of that epoch delighted in calling Portugal by the classical name of Lusitania, and Camoens, the very greatest of them all, has, by the title of his famous epic, “Os Lusiadas” or “The Lusiads,” stamped the mistake permanently on Portuguese literature.

This false identification has had important historical consequences. Modern writers have on this supposition spoken of the Portuguese as a distinct branch of the Celtic population of the Iberian peninsula identical with the tribe of Lusitanians spoken of by Strabo. They have further identified them with the Lusitanians who struggled so gallantly against the Roman Republic under the leadership of Punicus and Viriathus; they have found passages in the Latin historians describing the Lusitanians, and have moralized upon the manner in which the characteristics of the ancient Lusitanians re-appear in the modern Portuguese. The identity of two nations must consist in proving their perfect succession in either race or territory, and in neither respect can the identity be shown in the present instance. The Celtic tribe of Lusitanians dwelt, according to Strabo, in the districts north of the Tagus, while the Lusitania of the Latin historians of the Republic undoubtedly lay to the south of that river though it was not used as the name of a province until the time of Augustus, when the old division of the peninsula into Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior was superseded by the division into Betica, Tarraconensis, and Lusitania. Neither in this division, nor in the division of the peninsula into the five provinces of Tarraconensis, Carthaginensis, Betica, Lusitania, and Gallicia, under Hadrian, was the province called Lusitania coterminous with the modern kingdom of Portugal. Under each division the name was given to a district south of the Tagus, and therefore not embracing the modern provinces of the Entre Minho e Douro, Trasos-Montes, and Beira.

It is important to grasp the results of this misconception, for it emphasizes the fact that the history of Portugal for many centuries is merged in that of the rest of the Iberian peninsula, and explains why it is unnecessary to study the wars of the Lusitanians with the Roman Republic, as is often done in histories of Portugal. Like the rest of the peninsula Portugal was thoroughly Latinized in the days of the Roman Empire; Roman coloniæ and municipia were established in places suited for trade, such as Lisbon and Oporto, and commanding high-roads, such as Lamego and Viseu; Roman institutions were generally adopted, and the Latin language superseded the old Celtic dialects. The chief Portuguese towns, like those in the rest of the peninsula, were granted the “Jus Latinum” by Vespasian, and all the inhabitants became Roman citizens under the famous decree of Caracalla. The influence of the mighty sway of Rome has left its traces all over the peninsula, and to as great degree in Portugal as in Spain. Portuguese law is based on the old Roman law, as well as the Portuguese language upon Latin; and many Portuguese institutions show the direct influence of Roman government. Notably is this the case with regard to municipal institutions; many Portuguese cities can boast of distinct existence ever since the Roman Empire, and the duumviri and boni homines of those days have their counterparts in the municipal government of the present day. During these days of peace and prosperity Portugal also received the Christian religion, and welcomed it as cordially as France and Spain, and bishoprics were founded which still exist. In more material things the dominion of Rome has left its traces in the roads and bridges made by that race of engineers, in the beautiful remains at Leiria, and in the aqueduct and the ruins of the temple of Diana at Evora.

Peaceful existence under the sway of Rome continued until the beginning of the fifth century, when the Goths first forced their way across the Pyrenees. During the first barbarian occupation, the Suevi seized Gallicia and Tarraconensis, the Alans Lusitania and Carthaginensis, and the Vandals Betica or Andalusia. The irruption of the Visigoths changed this settlement; the Alans and the Vandals crossed to Africa, and the Suevi occupied Betica and Lusitania. The Visigothic Empire left but slight traces in Portugal, slighter even than in Spain, and the Portuguese nobility do not, like the Spanish, invariably lay claim to Gothic descent. Ethnologically the Gothic element is very slight in Portugal, though the country passed under the rule of the Visigoths during the reign of Ataulphus, who married the sister of the Roman Emperor Honorius, and remained part of their dominion for three centuries. While the Roman rule left so many traces of its existence, and entirely modelled the language and civilization alike of Spain and Portugal, that of the Visigoths, which lasted nearly as long, left hardly any traces at all. The cause is to be found in the natural assimilation of a race in a low state of civilization to the status of a higher race. The number of Romans who actually settled in the peninsula must have been very small, yet the Celts adopted their language and civilization, while the conquering Visigoths, on the other hand, adopted the religion and civilization of the people they had conquered. The Visigothic power reached its zenith in the reign of Euric at the end of the fifth century, and afterwards steadily declined, being torn by internal dissensions, and especially by the great struggle between the nobility and the rulers of the Christian Church. It was the leaders of the latter party, Count Julian and Archbishop Oppus, who invited the Mohammedans from Africa into Spain, and in fighting against them, Roderick, the last Visigothic king, was killed near Xeres, at the battle of the Guadelete, in 711.

The history of the Mohammedans in the Iberian peninsula has been treated in another volume of this Series, and it is only necessary to note here that under the wise and tolerant rule of the Ommeyad sultans, the rich plains alike of Spain and Portugal maintained the prosperity which they had enjoyed under the Roman emperors and the Visigothic kings, and that the old Roman coloniæ and municipia retained their Roman self-government, and Lisbon and Oporto increased in wealth and commercial importance. Though the Arabs were fanatical conquerors, the Ommeyads were enlightened rulers, and the Christian religion was protected, though not encouraged, as long as the Christian bishops refrained from active exertions against the Mohammedans. In Portugal also, owing to its distance from Cordova, the duties of government were granted almost entirely to the Mosarabs, as the numerous native converts to Islam were called, men who felt the importance of keeping the adherents of the two prevailing religions from coming to blows.

But this peaceful state of things was not to last; the Iberian peninsula, which had remained prosperous under Romans, Visigoths, and Mohammedans, was to suffer centuries of fierce war, war which was to devastate its fields and destroy its cities, but from which its people were to develop into a race of hardy and chivalrous warriors. The people of the peninsula under the rule of foreign sovereigns had become soft and weak, occupied only in accumulating wealth, in which to live in comfort and luxury. Architectural remains of the first thousand years of the Christian era show to what a pitch of comfort the people had attained, but the easy conquests of the Visigoths and the Moors prove that they had become enervated by luxury. During the next five hundred years a different state of things was to appear. The land and the cities alike of Spain and Portugal were to be ravaged and destroyed in terrible wars, and a race of soldiers, bred in all the laws and customs of chivalry, was to arise—a race which, after finding no further exercise for its energies at home, was to extend its power to India and to the New World, as yet unknown, across the Atlantic. Whether it were better to spend lives of luxurious ease or to become warriors was a question not asked of the people of the Iberian peninsula; they had no choice in the matter; but it must not be forgotten in watching the gradual development of this race of warriors in one part of the peninsula, in Portugal, that it was, when formed, to do great things for Europe and for the advancement of a higher civilization than that of the stormy centuries in which it arose.

Towards the close of the tenth century as the Ommeyad caliphate grew weaker, the Christian princes of Visigothic descent, who dwelt in the mountains of the Asturias, began to grow more bold in their attacks on the declining power; and in 997 Bermudo II., king of Gallicia, won back the first portion of modern Portugal from the Moors by seizing Oporto and occupying the province now known as the Entre Minho e Douro. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the great Moorish caliphate finally broke up, and independent Mohammedan emīrs established themselves in every large city, against whom the Christian princes waged incessant and successful wars. In these wars the Celtic inhabitants of the peninsula took but little part; the Moorish armies consisted of Mohammedans, the descendants of the fierce soldiers of Abder-Rahmān and a few Mosarabs, while the Christian armies consisted only of the feudal chivalry of the northern mountains.

In each army different customs prevailed; the strength of the Moors lay in their perfect military discipline and absolute obedience to their generals; that of the Christians in the new impulse to valour given to each individual knight by the laws of chivalry. On neither side was personal ambition without an incentive; Moorish generals hoped to become emīrs, Christian knights, feudal counts. The finest soldiers of both armies were foreigners to the peninsula, being on the one side Africans, on the other either of Gothic descent or else the flower of the chivalry of northern Europe, which went to win its spurs in the wars against the unbelievers, and especially admired and followed the Cid, Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. Between these two contending bands of warriors the unfortunate Celtic inhabitants of the middle zone of the peninsula were crushed; those of the mountains of the north were by feudal custom obliged to take up arms to follow their lords, and after a century or two those of the centre by the force of necessity became warriors also, and proceeded to drive the Moors back to Africa.

The eleventh century was at first marked by great Christian successes, especially in the west of the peninsula. In 1055 Ferdinand “the Great,” king of Leon, Castile, and Gallicia, invaded the Beira; in 1057 he took Lamego and Viseu; and in 1064 Coimbra, where he died in the following year. He arranged for the government of his conquests in the only way possible under the feudal system, by forming them into a county, extending to the Mondego, with Coimbra as its capital. The first count of Coimbra was Sesnando, a recreant Arab vizir, who had advised Ferdinand to invade his district and had assisted in its easy conquest. He had married a Christian, and was ready to defend his new religion and the dominions he held under the Christian king with all the more vigour from the knowledge that the Moorish emīrs and wālis to the south regarded him as an apostate. But though Sesnando’s county of Coimbra was the great frontier county of Gallicia, and the most important conquest of Ferdinand “the Great,” it was not thence that the kingdom which was to develop out of his dominions was to take its name. Among the counties of Gallicia was one called the “comitatus Portucalensis,” because it contained within its boundaries the famous city at the mouth of the Douro, known in Roman and Greek times as the Portus Cale, and in modern days as Oporto, or “The Port.” This county of Oporto or Portugal was the one destined to give its name to the future kingdom, and was held at the time of Ferdinand’s death by Nuno Mendes, the founder of one of the most famous families in Portuguese history.

Ferdinand “the Great” was succeeded in his three kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Gallicia, by his three sons, Sancho, Alfonso, and Garcia, the last of whom received the two counties of Coimbra and Oporto as fiefs of Gallicia, and maintained Nuno Mendes and Sesnando as his feudatories. Under them were many feudal barons, who held their lands on condition of military service. It is fortunately not necessary to enter into the history of the wars between the sons of Ferdinand; it is enough to say that the second of them, Alfonso of Leon, eventually united all his father’s kingdoms in 1073, as Alfonso VI. The successes of the Christians aroused the stubborn resistance of the Moors; a fresh wave of fanaticism passed over the Mohammedans of Africa and of the peninsula, and a new dynasty, that of the Almoravides arose, which subdued the various emīrs and wālis who had usurped the government of various portions of the old Ommeyad caliphate, and once more united the Moorish power. The new dynasty collected great Moslem armies, and in 1086 Yūsuf Ibn Teshfīn routed Alfonso utterly at the battle of Zalaca, and reconquered the peninsula up to the Ebro. In this battle all the chivalry of the Moors and Christians was engaged, and among the latter was Sesnando, Count of Coimbra, followed by his knights. Alfonso tried to compensate for this defeat and his loss of territory in the east of his dominions by conquests in the west, and in 1093 he advanced to the Tagus and took Santarem and Lisbon, and made Sueiro Mendes count of the new district. But these conquests he did not hold for long; the Almoravides were in the full flush of success, and their armies were made almost irresistible by the fresh fanaticism inspired into them. Their conquests in the east of the peninsula after the battle of Zalaca were followed by rapid successes in the west. In 1093 Seyr, the general of the Almoravide caliph Yūsuf, took Evora from the Emīr of Badajoz; in 1094 he took Badajoz itself, and killed the emīr; and retaking Lisbon and Santarem forced his way up to the Mondego. To resist this revival of the Mohammedan power, Alfonso summoned the chivalry of Christendom to his aid. Among the knights who joined his army eager to win their spurs, and win dominions for themselves were Count Raymond of Toulouse and Count Henry of Burgundy. To the former, Alfonso gave his legitimate daughter Urraca and Gallicia; to the latter, his illegitimate daughter Theresa, and the counties of Oporto and Coimbra, with the title of Count of Portugal.

The history of Portugal now becomes distinct from that of the rest of the peninsula, and it is from the year 1095 that the history of Portugal commences. The son of Henry of Burgundy was the great monarch Affonso Henriques, the hero of his country and the founder of a great dynasty. Up to this time it has been impossible to separate the history of Portugal from that of Spain, but it has been necessary to point out the fact that the history of the two countries had been hitherto identical, in order to dissipate the common error that the Spaniards and Portuguese belong to distinct races. The fact that the history of Portugal does not begin until such a comparatively recent date teaches another important lesson, that the nations of modern Europe must not be looked upon as having been complete entities from the earliest times, but in some instances owe their distinct nationality at the present day to fortuitous circumstances.

In 1095 a powerful county of Portugal was formed: its growth to a kingdom and the extension of its dominions by conquests from the Moors will now have to be studied, as well as its difficulty in maintaining its independence among the other nations of the peninsula, before it can be seen as the leading nation of the world, in the van of the march of European civilization.



COUNT HENRY OF BURGUNDY, HIS wife Theresa, and his son Affonso Henriques, were the three founders of Portugal, and they were all of them individuals of marked personality. They were typical figures of their epoch, possessing the curious mixture of virtues and vices which characterized the age of chivalry.

Count Henry was the second son of Henry, who was the third son of Robert, first Duke of Burgundy, and he was like his father and grandfather, a knight of the old French school, combining a passionate love for adventure and for war with an ambitious and self-seeking temperament. He had come to Spain to the assistance of the Christians, as much with the purpose of founding a dynasty as for the love of war, and from the first he turned his thoughts more to the hope of succeeding his father-in-law, Alfonso VI., in one at least of his kingdoms, than to carving a kingdom for himself out of the dominions of the Arab caliphs. He received his county of Portugal, the dowry of his wife, Theresa, illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI., as a direct fief of the crown of Gallicia, one of the three kingdoms of his father-in-law. This kingdom Alfonso had granted, as a fief, not as a kingdom, to Count Raymond of Toulouse, who had married his legitimate daughter, Urraca, and Count Henry highly disapproved of being in some sort a feudatory of his fellow-adventurer. At first the jealousy between Henry and Raymond did not show itself; for Count Henry had to fight hard to defend his southern frontiers against the incursions of the Mohammedan general Seyr. To his help he summoned the chivalry of France, and the knights of his native country flocked to his assistance, and were promoted to high military positions and to feudal dignities by him. Battle succeeded battle without either side gaining any decisive victory, until after seven years’ hard fighting both Christians and Moors decided to rest awhile to recover from their exhaustion.

Count Henry was, however, too much the restless knight of the Middle Ages to remain quiet long. Since his Portuguese warriors were weary, and the battle-ground for miles on each bank of the Tagus was laid utterly waste, he could fight no longer in his own country against the unbelievers, and so hurried off in 1103 with Maurice, Bishop of Coimbra, to fight them in Palestine. For two years he served in the expedition known as the Second Crusade, and when he returned he was still ready for more fighting at home. His restlessness was typical of his epoch. The knights of the Crusades were always knights-errant, always in search of adventure, and never satiated with war. This spirit was encouraged by the Church, and while the Almoravide caliph Yūsuf was organizing his military forces for a fresh assault on the Christians, Count Henry, on the other hand, went off in search of adventure abroad, leaving his county under the government of his wife, Theresa.

Fortunately for Portugal, Theresa was a singularly able woman. Beautiful and accomplished, the idol of poets and musicians, and capable of inspiring the deepest devotion, she threw herself heart and soul into the task which her restless husband abandoned, and spent the years of his absence in training the Portuguese for fresh struggles. She too possessed all the faults and virtues of her epoch; passionate to a degree in every sense, she became the adored divinity of her nobles, and prepared herself during this brief regency for the longer regency of her widowhood. Her great aim at this time, as it was throughout her stormy life, was to make the Portuguese nobles regard themselves as Portuguese, and not as Gallicians, and thus prepare them to make their country independent. But though her chief endeavour was to heighten and animate the spirit of her nobles, she did not neglect other classes of her subjects; she encouraged the citizens of her cities in their ideas of municipal independence, and urged them to keep their fortifications in good repair, and to be ready to go forth to war under captains of their own choice, instead of under hereditary leaders from among the nobility. The result of this policy was that, in the next generation, the military retainers of the great nobles, who resided in their castles, went forth to fight side by side with the free citizens under their elected leaders, and that her son was able to lead two distinct classes of soldiers under his banners, who vied with each other in prowess against foreign foes, while they were a check upon each other at home, and could be played off against one another in case either class became dangerous to their suzerain.

When Count Henry returned from Palestine in 1105, he became united with his former brother-in-arms, Count Raymond of Gallicia, by a common feeling of jealousy. Both looked forward to inheriting portions of King Alfonso’s dominions, and were extremely suspicious lest the old monarch should favour his natural son, Sancho, whose mother was a Moorish princess, Zaida, daughter of Ibn Abbad, Emīr of Seville. In their dislike for Sancho they were encouraged by the priests, to whom Alfonso’s affection for a Moorish woman was abhorrent, and an agreement was made between the brothers-in-law by an ambitious French monk, named Hugh of Cluny, afterwards Bishop of Oporto, to oust the son of the infidel. This peaceful arrangement had no result, owing to the death of Count Raymond in 1107, followed by that of young Sancho at the battle of Uclés with the Moors in 1108, and finally by the death of Alfonso VI. himself in 1109.

The king’s death brought about the catastrophe. He left all his dominions to his legitimate daughter, Urraca, with the result that there was five years of fierce fighting between Henry of Burgundy, Alfonso Raimundes, the son of Count Raymond, Alfonso I., of Aragon, and Queen Urraca, during which the Almoravides quietly consolidated their power and prepared for a fresh attack upon the Christians. Nothing proves more certainly that the crusading spirit was often only a cloak for personal ambition than this terrible internecine war, in which princes and nobles changed sides and broke their plighted words with a recklessness supposed to be distinctive of a most abandoned age. While they fought with each other, the Mohammedans advanced. The Almoravide Ali, who had succeeded his father, Yūsuf, in Spain and Morocco, reconquered Talavera and Madrid, and laid siege to Toledo, while his famous general, Seyr Ibn Abi-Bekr, reconquered the Moorish emīrs of the western towns, who had revolted, and in 1112 besieged Santarem, which then formed the southernmost outpost of the county of Portugal. Before he took it however, Seyr died, and Count Henry, who had been forced to come south in order to meet the invaders, once more returned to continue his wars with the Christian princes. Only one incident in Count Henry’s march against the Mohammedans deserves record, and that is the refusal of the citizens of Coimbra to admit their count into their city, or to follow him to the front, unless he confirmed the privileges granted to them by Donna Theresa, and granted them certain fresh concessions. Henry was forced to grant them, and on the death of Seyr, he again advanced into Spain, and joined in further intrigues. These did not last long, for on May 1, 1114, Count Henry died at Astorga, not without a suspicion that he had been poisoned by Queen Urraca, leaving his wife Theresa as regent during the minority of his son, Affonso Henriques, who was but three years old.

Theresa, who made the ancient city of Guimaraens her capital, devoted all her energies to building up her son’s dominions into an independent state; and under her rule, while the Christian states of Spain were torn by internecine war, the Portuguese began to recognize Portugal as their country, and to cease from calling themselves Gallicians. This distinction between Portugal and Gallicia was the first step towards the formation of a national spirit, which grew into a desire for national independence. The people were the same in origin, and spoke the same language. The province of Gallicia had both in Roman and Gothic times spread as far south as the Tagus, and no distinction had been made between the Gallicians of the north and south until Alfonso VI. had given Count Henry his large domain. It was Donna Theresa who first tried to make the distinction more marked. Count Henry had looked upon his county as a step to the succession to the kingdom of Gallicia, if not to the two kingdoms of Leon and Gallicia. Donna Theresa, on the other hand, looked upon Portugal as an independent country, and desired rather to extend her frontiers at the expense of Gallicia than to succeed to the throne of that kingdom.

In her efforts to promote the unity of Portugal and its independence of Gallicia, Donna Theresa was warmly seconded by her people, and especially by the inhabitants of the cities whom she favoured, while among the ruling classes she had the support of the clergy and the opposition of the greater part of the nobility. Most of her nobles owned great estates in both Gallicia and Portugal, for the feudal grants of land conquered by the Christian kings from the Mohammedans were generally made to noblemen, who had led large contingents to their help. These nobles were naturally opposed to a separation between Portugal and Gallicia, which would make them feudatories to two different lords, and often oblige them in case of disputes between their suzerains to sacrifice one of their properties. On the other hand, the Portuguese bishops were suffragans of the reconstructed archbishopric of Braga, and owed no obedience to any Gallician bishop; indeed, they were especially hostile to the wealthiest of them, the powerful bishop of the great pilgrim city of Santiago da Campostella. It has been said that many of the Christian bishoprics continued to exist during the Moorish occupation, and had a continuous history from the first conversion of the people to Christianity, but some had lapsed owing to the poverty of their sees. The advance of the Christian princes, which was due as much to religious as to political motives, brought about the re-establishment of the bishoprics which had lapsed, and the increased endowment of those which had continued to exist. The new bishops held a very different position from their predecessors. They were not the poor shepherds of poor flocks, in a land ruled by infidels, but powerful barons, holding great estates on military tenure, who united the influence of their sacred rank to their temporal power. The metropolitan of these Portuguese bishops was the Archbishop of Braga, and it was naturally his policy to support the independence of the county of Portugal, for it was better for him to be the head of the Church of an important county than to be merely one of the archbishops of the kingdom of Gallicia. This was the attitude taken up by the first great Archbishop of Braga, Mauricio Burdino, a Frenchman, and the companion in Palestine of Count Henry, who had promoted him from the bishopric of Coimbra to the metropolitan see. In it he was supported by Hugh, Bishop of Oporto, the most wealthy of his suffragans, and the history of the ensuing century gives many instances of the patriotism of the Portuguese bishops, and of their efforts to promote and maintain the independence of the new state.

The regency of Donna Theresa was marked by many struggles, the history of which it is now difficult to trace, but throughout them all, the growing unity of Portugal can be perceived. She took a keen interest in the politics of Gallicia, for she hoped to extend her frontiers to the north, and in 1116 she led her forces in person to the assistance of Diogo Gelmires, Bishop of Santiago da Campostella, and the Count de Trava, who had headed a rising, intended to depose Queen Urraca, and to place her young son Alfonso Raimundes at once upon the throne of Gallicia. In this war Theresa took the towns of Tuy and Orense, and the warrior countess met, in the course of it for the first time, the young hidalgo, Don Fernando Peres de Trava, with whom she fell passionately in love, and whose history was for the future to be linked with hers. In 1117 the Moors, under their caliph Ali in person, invaded her dominions, and besieged her in Coimbra, but she succeeded in beating them off, and spent the following years in peace and quiet, in the constant company of her lover, whom she made governor of Coimbra and Oporto, and Count of Trastamare; while to his elder brother, Bermudo Peres de Trava, she gave the hand of her second daughter by Count Henry, the Donna Urraca, and the governorship of Viseu.

But this quiet enjoyment of peace and love was not long allowed to the beautiful ruler of Portugal. Her half-sister Urraca, the Queen of Castile, Leon, and Gallicia, had been hitherto too much engaged in fighting with her second husband, Alfonso I. of Aragon, to pay any attention to her; but she too was a warrior princess, and in 1121 she ordered Theresa to surrender the city of Tuy. Theresa refused, and Urraca led an army against her, which defeated the Portuguese at Tuy, and eventually the queen took the Countess of Portugal prisoner after a long siege of the castle of Lanhoso. It seemed as if the nascent independence of Portugal was about to be crushed, but Bishop Gelmires came to the assistance of Theresa, who had done so much for his friends and relatives, the De Travas, and threatened to attack Urraca unless she made peace with her half-sister. Urraca was forced to comply, and the treaty of peace which was then signed marks another stage in the growth of the independence of Portugal, for in it Donna Theresa is styled Infanta, and treated as the equal of Queen Urraca, who further promised to cede to her the cities and districts of Toro, Zamora, and Salamanca.

For the next few years the careers of the half-sisters were singularly similar. Queen Urraca showered favours on her lover, Don Pedro de Lara, until her young son, Alfonso Raimundes, assisted by Bishop Gelmires, revolted against her; while Donna Theresa, with equal blindness, devoted herself to her love for Don Fernando Peres de Trava, and thus aroused the hatred of her boy-son Affonso Henriques and of Paio Mendes, who in 1121 had succeeded Mauricio Burdino as Archbishop of Braga. Her quarrel with Paio Mendes commenced in the year after he became archbishop, and well illustrates the attitude of the Portuguese bishops. As long as Theresa had remained the living symbol of Portuguese unity and independence the bishops had followed her, but as soon as she showed her love for a Gallician nobleman they turned against her. Paio Mendes was quite ready to lead the malcontents, for he was the brother of Count Sueiro Mendes of Oporto, surnamed the Great, who was the head of the purely Portuguese, as opposed to the mixed Portuguese and Gallician, nobility. In 1122 Archbishop Paio protested against the gift of so many important posts to Don Fernando, and the proud countess immediately cast him into prison. She was obliged in a few days to release him, for fear of a papal interdict; but she had made a bitter enemy, who was soon to have an opportunity for revenge.

The discontent with Theresa did not show itself openly until 1127, when Alfonso Raimundes, who had succeeded his mother Urraca in the preceding year, and taken the title of Alfonso VII., King of Castile, Leon, and Gallicia, invaded Portugal and forced Theresa to recognize him as suzerain, and to surrender her claims to Tuy and Orense. The citizens of Guimaraens, the capital of the county, at once declared Affonso Henriques of age, and competent to reign; but Alfonso VII. marched against the city, and Egas Moniz, the former tutor of the young count, who was its governor, in order to make peace, promised on behalf of his former pupil that he would ratify Theresa’s submission. Affonso Henriques, however, though only a boy of seventeen, absolutely refused to recognize the submission made by his mother and his tutor, and in 1128 he raised an army with the declared intention of expelling Donna Theresa and her lover from the country. In this movement the boy was encouraged by Archbishop Paio and his brother Sueiro Mendes, by one of his brothers-in-law, Sancho Nunes, by his half-brother, Pedro Affonso, an illegitimate son of Count Henry, by Emigio Moniz, and by Garcia Soares. Donna Theresa also collected an army, consisting chiefly of Gallicians, but she was defeated by her son at the battle of S. Mamede, near Guimaraens, and taken prisoner, and was shortly afterwards expelled, with Don Fernando, from the county she had ruled so long.

Thus ended the regency of Donna Theresa. She had not added a single town to her son’s dominions, for her early conquests had been recaptured by Queen Urraca and Alfonso VII. But she had done more for Portugal than making conquests. She had asserted its independence, and though she seldom called herself Queen, she never took any title less than that of Infanta. She had also prepared for the extension of Portugal towards the south at the end of her regency by encouraging the settlement of the orders of religious knights there. To the Knights Templars she had granted, in 1128, the frontier town of Soure; to the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre S. Payo de Gouvea, Lodeiro, and Paços de Penalva; and to the Knights of the Hospital, the town of Leça. From these beginnings great results were to arise during the reign of her son.

The last years of Theresa’s life were quite out of keeping with the brilliancy of her regency. After her expulsion she wandered about in the mountains of Gallicia with her lover until her death, in poverty, on November 1, 1130. Her body was taken to Portugal, and buried beside that of Count Henry, her husband, in the Cathedral of Braga, and both of them are reverenced by modern Portuguese as the founders of the independence of their country. Her history is a strange one. To political instincts and a capability for government which rank her among the most remarkable women of the whole period of the Middle Ages; to a manly courage, which inspired her to lead her soldiers in person to the fight and enabled her to withstand a Moorish siege, she joined the most feminine of qualities—that of entire devotion to the man she loved. Her love for Fernando Peres may have made her deviate from the path she should have followed as regent of Portugal, but it does not make her a less interesting character in the eyes of posterity. If she loved too greatly, she was greatly punished, and her death in exile more than atoned for the favour she bestowed on her lover. The task commenced by Count Henry and Donna Theresa was destined to be accomplished by one greater than either of them, by the hero of early Portuguese history, Affonso Henriques, who united his father’s restless and chivalrous valour with the political ability of his mother.



AFFONSO HENRIQUES, THE ONLY SON of Count Henry and Donna Theresa, who at the age of seventeen, after the battle of S. Mamede, began his long and prosperous reign, was one of the heroes of the Middle Ages. He succeeded to the government of Portugal when it was still regarded generally, in spite of Theresa’s claims, as a county of Gallicia, and after nearly sixty years of incessant fighting he bequeathed to his son a powerful little kingdom, whose independence was unquestioned, and whose fame was spread abroad throughout Christendom by the victories of its first monarch over the Moors. The story of his early years abounds in miraculous legends and tales, like those told of the youth of Arthur and Charlemagne, which, if not credible in themselves, are interesting as showing the feelings of the Portuguese chroniclers and poets towards him. His boyish exploits in the mountains around Guimaraens, in which he is said to have fought wolves as he afterwards fought the Moors, and the tale of the fire which played about his cradle without hurting or even terrifying the youthful hero, savour of the marvellous and were evidently invented in after years. But in telling the tale of his education and bringing up his biographers were on firmer ground. His father had died when he was but an infant, and his mother was too much occupied with her lover and with the cares of government to pay much attention to him. He was handed over entirely to the charge of a gallant Portuguese nobleman, Egas Moniz, the governor of Guimaraens. The young count showed himself an adept in all knightly exercises; he became a skilful horseman and a fearless hunter; and added to these accomplishments, a knowledge of reading and writing rarely acquired in those times by any but ecclesiastics. His disposition was that of knight of the Middle Ages; with the greatest personal bravery, he possessed a love for poetry and romance, and delighted in the tales of chivalry which were sung before him; and he was moreover a typical Christian of the period, uniting a belief in superstitions, which made him a fanatic, with a looseness of life, when love for women or romantic adventure was in question, which directly belied his religious professions.

His initiation into public life began at the age of fourteen, when he was taken by his tutor and guardian to Zamora to receive the honour of knighthood, in the cathedral from his cousin, Alfonso VII. It was at the feast of Pentecost, in 1125, that he thus devoted his life to chivalry, and he made his vows and watched his arms throughout the night in the cathedral with all the ardour of his age and temperament. He was to fight in many a war with the cousin who then made him a knight; but neither of them, though failing to lead moral lives, ever failed to acquit himself as a chivalrous knight. Affonso returned to Guimaraens with Egas Moniz, and many of the Portuguese nobility at once proposed that he should assume the government of his county in person and deprive his mother of the regency. He was trained to this idea by Archbishop Paio Mendes and his party, and when Donna Theresa and Egas Moniz promised for him that he would submit to Alfonso VII. he refused to ratify their promises, and declared himself of age in 1128. He speedily defeated his mother at the battle of S. Mamede, and then became the real ruler of his county. In his conduct after this behaviour of his ward and pupil, old Egas Moniz showed how fit he was to have been the tutor of a hero. When the old nobleman understood that Affonso would not make the submission to the King of Castile, Leon, and Gallicia, which he had promised in the young count’s name, he went to Toledo with his wife and children, and, surrendered himself to Alfonso VII. The young king honoured the old man’s loyalty to his word, and, instead of punishing him, pointed him out to his courtiers as a model to be imitated, and said aloud, “What great things will not the pupil of such a noble knight be able to perform!”

The reign of Affonso Henriques may be divided into four clearly marked periods—the regency of Donna Theresa; the wars of dismemberment, by which the independence of Portugal was established; the wars of acquisition against the Moors, by which the southern frontier of the country was extended; and the period of partial decline after the defeat and imprisonment of the king in 1166. Of these four periods the first has been described, but each of the others deserves a close examination, for each of them possesses a distinct importance in Portuguese history.

The four wars of Affonso Henriques with Alfonso VII. ended in the recognition of the Portuguese hero as king, and in the abandonment by him of all interference in Gallicia. The first Gallician war consisted of an incursion by Affonso Henriques into Gallicia, in 1130, the year of his mother’s death, which was caused by the desire of the Count to punish Fernando Peres, who was preparing on his side an invasion of Portugal. From this incursion Affonso was recalled by the news that Fernando’s brother, Bermudo Peres, who had married Affonso’s sister, and was governor of Viseu, was in open insurrection. Affonso instantly returned, took Bermudo’s castle of Seia, confiscated his estates, and forced him to become a monk; and the Gallician party in Portugal received a blow from which it never recovered. In 1135 Affonso made a second incursion into Gallicia, took the town of Limia, and built the great castle of Celmes. Alfonso VII., who had in this year been elected Emperor, and whose supremacy was acknowledged not only all over Spain, but in Provence as well, was not likely to brook this insolence on the part of the Count of Portugal, and speedily sent an army, which captured Celmes and then withdrew. Affonso did not feel grateful for the leniency with which he had been treated, but in 1137 made a third incursion into Gallicia, at the invitation of Gomes Nunes of Tuy, and Rodrigo Peres of Limia, and utterly defeated the counts true to Alfonso VII., headed by his old enemy Fernando Peres, and by Rodrigo Vela, in the hard-fought battle of Cerneja. This defeat at last roused the Emperor Alfonso, who came in person with a powerful army to punish the count, or as he now termed himself, the Infante of Portugal. Fortunately for Affonso the two armies did not come to blows; the ecclesiastics on both sides argued that it was monstrous for two Christian princes to fight with each other instead of with the Moors, and by the mediation of the Archbishop of Braga and the Bishop of Oporto, on behalf of Affonso, and of the Bishops of Tuy, Segovia, and Orense for the Emperor, the Peace of Tuy was signed on July 4, 1137. By this peace Affonso Henriques promised to abandon all interference with Gallician affairs, and to submit himself as a vassal to the Emperor, and both princes swore to turn their arms against the Mohammedans. But the Portuguese prince did not abide by the terms of the Peace of Tuy, in so far as it made him a vassal; and after winning his famous victory over the Moors at Ourique, in 1139, he again invaded Gallicia, and in 1140 the last battle between the sons of the two brothers-in-arms, the French counts, Raymond and Henry, was fought. Affonso Henriques was wounded, and it was agreed, in consonance with the ideas of the times, to refer the great question of Portuguese independence to a chivalrous contest. In a great tournament, known as the “Tourney of Valdevez,” the Portuguese knights were entirely successful over those of Castile, and in consequence of their victory Affonso Henriques assumed the title of King of Portugal.

This is the turning-point of Portuguese history, and it is a curious fact that the independence of Portugal from Gallicia was achieved by victory in a tournament and not in war. Up to 1136 Affonso Henriques had styled himself Infante, in imitation of the title borne by his mother; from 1136 to 1140 he styled himself Principe, and in 1140 he first took the title of King. There is no document extant in which the Emperor acknowledged his cousin as a sovereign as early as this date, and, indeed, the agreement is only known as the “Truce of Valdevez,” but he obviously acquiesced in it, on condition that Affonso Henriques gave up all idea of interfering in Gallician politics or of extending his frontiers towards the north. But a more important consent than that of the Emperor had to be obtained before the Portuguese prince could obtain admission into the sacred circle of Christian kings, and this was the consent of the Pope. The head of the Church at this period was Innocent II., who was earnestly desirous of promoting the crusading spirit, and was especially grieved at the very existence of the Moors in Spain. He despatched Cardinal Guy de Vico to establish union amongst the Christian princes there, and the cardinal in 1143 drew up a regular peace and treaty between the Emperor and Affonso Henriques at Zamora. By this treaty the latter was recognized as sovereign monarch of Portugal, and the Emperor also granted to him the lordship of Astorga as a fief, in order that he might thus exercise some control over the Portuguese king. In reward for the mediation of the cardinal, Affonso Henriques further declared himself by letter to be a vassal of the Pope, and promised to pay four ounces of gold a year, by which measure he placed himself under the protection of the Spiritual Head of Christendom, and secured a guarantee for the perpetuation of his dynasty.

Portugal was now an independent kingdom. The wars of dismemberment were over; the wars of extension and establishment were now to take their place. The next twenty-five years of the reign of Affonso Henriques were spent in one long crusade against the Moors, and were full of incident and adventure.

But before entering upon a summary description of these wars, which spread the fame of the Portuguese and of their monarch throughout Europe, something must be said of the Moorish wars, which were carried on simultaneously with the wars of dismemberment. These Gallician wars have been described first and by themselves, because of the common mistake made that it was by his successes against the Moors that Affonso Henriques won his crown. This mistake is of old standing; the early Portuguese chroniclers always ascribed the independence of their country as due to the successes of their first king over the infidels, and it was not until the modern school of historians arose in Portugal, which examined documents and did not take the statements of their predecessors on trust, that it was clearly pointed out that Affonso Henriques won his crown by his long struggle with his Christian cousin, and not by his exploits against the Moors. This fact is such an important one that it ranks amongst the most startling discoveries made by the modern scientific school of historians, and to bring it into clearer prominence the early years of war with the Moors have been purposely passed over until now; although there can be no doubt that the exploits of the great Portuguese crusader made the Emperor more ready to recognize him as an independent sovereign, and the Pope more anxious to comply with his desire to be admitted among the sovereigns of Europe. As a proof of his admission it may be noted here that Affonso Henriques married in 1146 the daughter of a European prince, Matilda of Savoy, daughter of Amadeus II., Count of Savoy, Maurrienne, and Piedmont.

The condition of the Moorish power in Spain had been particularly favourable to his early enterprises in Gallicia, for it had left him comparatively free from the fear of invasion from the south, and given him opportunities for winning signal victories. The wave of Mohammedan fanaticism, which had established the Almoravid dynasty in Spain and Morocco, and defeated the Christian chivalry at the battle of Zalaca, had lost its power, and the Almoravides had degenerated. Independent Mohammedan dynasties had again established themselves in the different provinces of Spain, while in Africa, the successor of the Mahdi, Abd-el-Mumin, was destroying the power of the Almoravides with a fresh fanatical movement. The three independent emīrs with whom the Portuguese had to deal were those of the Alfaghar or Algarves, of Al-kasr Ibn Abi Danes, which comprised Badajoz, Elvas, and Evora, and of the Belatha, which included the Mohammedan possessions to the north of the Tagus with the important cities of Lisbon, Santarem, and Cintra. Under these emīrs were numerous “wālis” of districts, “vezīrs” of cities, and “kāids” of castles, who were semi-independent; and as not only the emīrs, but their subordinates were constantly at war with each other, and could expect but little help from the Almoravide caliph, the incursions of the Portuguese were generally crowned with success.