Portugal History – Political Intervention by the Bourgeoisie

Internal strugglesPolitical intervention by the bourgeoisie. – King Duarte, on his death (1438), had left the regency of the kingdom to his wife Eleonora d’Aragona during the minority of his son Alfonso V. This measure aroused the discontent of the infants, Duarte’s brothers, and that of the city bourgeoisie, in favor of the regency being entrusted to one of the infants. The party of the regent was headed by the count of Barcelos, bastard of John I; that of the infants recognized as its leader the infant John, a wise and very popular man. In Lisbon riots broke out to entrust the regency to Peter, Duke of Coimbra, and in this sense the Cortes resolved on 10 January 1440. Eleonora then, having taken refuge in the custody of the prior of the Hospitallers, in the castle of Crato (Alentejo), there was besieged by the infants John and Peter and, escaped the siege, she took refuge in Castile. The infants moved against the count of Barcelos, who had raised the nobility of the northern provinces in favor of the queen. Shortly after, however, thanks to the intervention of the infant Henry the Navigator, an agreement was reached.

Peter’s regency was skilful and peaceful. He was responsible for the publication of the first systematic collection of Portuguese laws, the Alfonsine Ordinances (from the name of the king). Alfonso V, having reached the age of majority, asked his uncle, whose daughter he had married, to continue to lead the government. But shortly after, especially for the intrigues of the Count of Barcelos, the young king expelled his uncle and father-in-law from the court, under the accusation of aspiring to the throne. Pietro retired to Coimbra; but rumors having spread of his attempts to bring down Alfonso V, the latter prepared to attack him. Pietro prevented him and moved against Lisbon, with his own strength, accompanied by his faithful companion and fellow soldier Alvaro Vaz de Almada, Count of Avranches. In a clash that took place near the capital, on the Alfarrobeira stream, Pietro and the Avranches met their death (May 1449).

Portugal and Castileprojects for the union of the two crowns. – Alfonso V, who had a son, the future John II by the daughter of Pietro, was widowed in 1445, and for a long time did not take back a wife, until Henry IV of Castile, in the midst of the civil war caused by the scandalous loves of the queen Giovanna, sister of the Portuguese king, with Don Beltrán de la Cueva, offered him in marriage her daughter Giovanna, nicknamed the Beltraneja by the enemies of the king, and cousin of Alfonso V himself (1473). After the death of Henry IV (1474) and the proclamation of Ferdinand and Isabella as king of Castile, Alfonso decided to immediately marry Beltraneja and invade the Castilian territory. This happened in May 1475; and at first Alfonso and Giovanna were accepted as legitimate sovereigns, although the marriage had not been consummated, due to the pontiff’s refusal to grant Alfonso the necessary dispensation. Alfonso settled in Toro and Zamora; and for some time the struggle with Ferdinand and Isabella remained undecided: in March 1476, there was a pitched battle near the Duero, between Toro and Zamora; Ferdinand’s army was beaten on the left wing, above all for the valor of Prince John; but the right and the center, where Alfonso himself fought, were defeated. Although the battle remained undecided, Ferdinand and Isabella benefited above all, because the Portuguese king was unable to reconstitute his army and the help promised him by Louis XI of France failed him. Alfonso V embarked for France, in order to solicit the help of Louis XI; but, having obtained nothing, he returned to his homeland, effectively abandoning the government in the hands of his son Giovanni. For Portugal 2007, please check extrareference.com.

AbsolutismThe lowering of the nobility. – John II (1481-1495), while he skilfully continued the work of maritime exploration of the infant Henry, was at the same time the great proponent of the increase of royal power. His father, the last knight king, can still be said to be a figure of the Middle Ages. A war leader, he lavished on the nobles, to ensure their loyalty in military expeditions, rewards and titles, donations of land and pensions. Two royal families, those of Braganza and Viseu, had enormously increased their dominions. The new king, as soon as he ascended the throne, took an attitude strongly opposed to the nobility, and after that in the Cortes of Évora (1481-1482) the popular representatives had presented numerous complaints against the abuses and violence of the nobles, the king ordered that the magistrates did a ‘ investigation in the noble lands, reporting the abuses of the administration of justice, and in the appropriation of the royal lands. He also wanted the nobles to pay him solemn homage in the ancient way. The Duke of Viseu, the king’s brother-in-law, and Fernando Duke of Braganza, the richest of the Portuguese lords, tried to protest, but had to give in to the king’s firmness. These humiliations aroused the resistance of the nobles: a conspiracy was discovered and the Duke of Braganza and his brothers, accused of connivance with the kings of Castile to depose and perhaps even kill the king, were judged and sentenced to death (1483). A second conspiracy, discovered the following year, was headed by the queen’s own brother, Duke of Viseu. The king, who was then in the palace of Setúbal, he called his brother-in-law to him and stabbed him with his hand; other nobles were executed or exiled. John II was a true Renaissance prince, greedy for personal power, violent in proceedings, surrounded by lawyers and loyal agents, recruited above all from the bourgeoisie. It had an organized espionage service, which operated both internally and in foreign courts. He gathered the Côrtes only once during his reign, at the beginning of it, and only to ensure his authority with the support of popular sympathies for his policy of lowering noble pride. mainly recruited from the bourgeoisie. It had an organized espionage service, which operated both internally and in foreign courts. He gathered the Côrtes only once during his reign, at the beginning of it, and only to ensure his authority with the support of popular sympathies for his policy of lowering noble pride. mainly recruited from the bourgeoisie. It had an organized espionage service, which operated both internally and in foreign courts. He gathered the Côrtes only once during his reign, at the beginning of it, and only to ensure his authority with the support of popular sympathies for his policy of lowering noble pride.

The absolutist regime strengthened under the following monarchs, Emanuele I (1495-1521) and Giovanni III (1521-1557). The Cortes, traditional obstacles to the free exercise of the personal power of sovereigns, met more and more rarely.

Portugal History - Political Intervention by the Bourgeoisie

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