History of Portugal

History of Portugal

segunda-feira, 29 de março de 2010

The house of avis (1385 - 1580)


When Fernando died in 1383, he left no male heir to the throne. His only daughter, Beatriz, was married to Juan I, king of Castile. The marriage writ stipulated that their offspring would inherit the Portuguese crown if Fernando left no male heir and that, until any children were born, Portugal would be ruled by a regency of Fernando's widow, Leonor Teles. When Fernando died, Leonor assumed the regency in accordance with the marriage writ. The assumption of the regency by the queen was badly received in many Portuguese cities because Leonor was a Castilian and considered an interloper who intended to usurp the Portuguese crown for Castile and end Portugal's independence.

Leonor's principal rival for control of the throne was João, the master of the Order of Avis and illegitimate son of Fernando's father, Pedro I (r.1357-67). On December 6, 1383, João broke into the royal palace and murdered Count Andeiro, a Galician who had been Fernando's chancellor. Leonor Teles fled to the town of Alenquer, the property of the queens of Portugal. She appealed to Juan I for help, and he invaded Portugal in January 1384. Leonor abdicated as regent. In Lisbon the people proclaimed João to be the governor and defender of the realm. João immediately began to prepare an army and sent a mission to England to recruit soldiers for his cause.

Wars with Castile

The bourgeoisie of Lisbon, enriched by commerce, decided to support João and donated substantial sums for war expenses. Money also arrived from the bourgeoisie in Porto, Coimbra, and Évora.

The majority of the nobility, among whom national sentiment was not well developed and feudal customs based on oaths of vassalage were still obeyed, took the side of Juan of Castile, which gave him the support of fifty castles. A few nobles, however, including Álvaro Pais, João Afonso, and Nun'Álvares Pereira, were more attuned to national sentiment and sided with João.

King D. João I - (1385-1433) - "O de Boa Memória"

In March 1384, Juan marched on Lisbon, which he besieged by land and sea. In April, in the Alentejo, Nun'Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilians at the Battle of Atoleiros, a victory that resulted from the new military tactic of forming defensive squares from dismounted cavalry because the Portuguese had far fewer troops than the enemy. The siege of Lisbon was broken after seven months by an outbreak of the plague in the Castilian camp, and Juan retreated to Seville to prepare another invasion the following year.

The retreat of the Castilians gave João an opportunity to legitimate his claim to the throne. In March 1385, a cortes was summoned to resolve the succession. João's case was argued by João das Regras, who attacked the claims of the various pretenders to the throne. On April 6, the opposition ended and João was proclaimed king as João I (r. 1385-1433). The new king named Nun'Álvares Pereira constable of Portugal. At the same time, a contingent of English longbowmen began to arrive.

Nun'Álvares Pereira marched north in order to obtain the submission of Braga, Guimarães, and other places loyal to Juan, who responded by sending an army to attack Viseu. The Portuguese routed this Castilian force at Rancoso using the same new military tactic that brought them victory at Atoleiros. Juan, nonetheless, was still intent on besieging Lisbon and led his army southward.

João I and Nun'Álvares Pereira decided to engage Juan's army before it arrived in the capital. The two armies met on the plain of Aljubarrota about sixty kilometers north of Lisbon on August 14, 1385. Using the same tactic of defensive squares of dismounted cavalry that had brought them success in previous battles, a force of 7,000 Portuguese annihilated and scattered a Castilian army of 32,000 in little more than thirty minutes of combat. Although additional battles were fought and final peace was not made with Castile until October 1411, the Battle of Aljubarrota secured the independence of Portugal for almost two centuries.

Battle of Aljubarrota

Social Revolution

The crisis of 1383-85 that brought João I to the throne was not only a dynastic revolution; it was a social one, as well. João I distrusted the old aristocracy that had opposed his rise to power and promoted the growth of a new generation of nobility by confiscating the titles and properties of the old and distributing them to the new, thus forming a new nobility based on service to the king.

João rewarded the urban bourgeoisie that had supported his cause by giving it positions and influence and by allowing it to send representatives to the king's royal council. Artisans grouped themselves according to professions into guilds and were permitted to send delegates to the governing chamber of Lisbon, where they were actively involved in the administration of the capital and other cities.

The king also surrounded himself with skilled legalists who professionalized royal administration and extended royal jurisdiction at the expense of the old aristocracy. This new class of bureaucrats, having studied Roman law at the university, defended the Caesarist principle that the will of the king had the force of law. This belief encouraged the later development of absolutism in Portugal and pitted the king against the landed nobility, especially the old aristocracy that wished to regain its lost power and privilege.

Intradynastic Struggle

The future of the House of Avis seemed assured by the presence of João's five legitimate sons, but the king also provided for his illegitimate children as he had been provided for by his father. João conferred on his bastard son Afonso the hereditary title of duke of Bragança and endowed him with lands and properties that amounted to the creation of a state within a state supported by a huge reserve of armed retainers.

The House of Bragança accumulated wealth to rival that of the crown and eventually assumed the leadership of the old aristocracy in opposition to Avis

D. Duarte I " O Eloquente"(1433- 1438)

When João I died in 1433, the crown was assumed by his eldest son, Duarte, who died five years later of the plague. Before his death, Duarte convoked a cortes in order to legitimate the compilation of Portuguese royal law, but the work was not completed until the reign of his son, Afonso, and is, therefore, named the Afonsine Ordinances.

He also declared that the grants of land so lavishly awarded by his father to his supporters would have to be confirmed, as was the custom at the start of each reign.

D. Afonso V ( 1438 -1481 ) - "O Africano"

Afonso was six years old when his father died and his mother, Queen Leonor of Aragon, assumed the regency. There was opposition to the assumption of all authority by a woman, and Leonor agreed that Duarte's brother, Pedro, should become regent.
This was opposed by Afonso, duke of Bragança, the eldest illegitimate son of João I. Both men aspired to gain influence over the young king by marrying him to their daughters. The populace of Lisbon strongly favored Pedro and acknowledged him as regent.

Pedro received confirmation for his regency by summoning the cortes at Évora and paved the way for his continuance in power by arranging the marriage of his daughter Isabel to the young king, who, when he reached his majority in 1446, agreed to the match and asked his uncle to continue the regency

The duke of Bragança reasserted his ambitions and was able to influence the young king to dismiss Pedro by convincing him that his uncle was plotting to seize the throne. Pedro was banished to his estates. When rumors of a plot against him surfaced, he decided to resist and marched on Lisbon, where he had the support of the populace.

Pedro was met by the troops of the king and the duke of Bragança at the Battle of Alfarrobeira on May 24, 1449, where he was killed and his army defeated. This battle resulted in the enlargement of the property and wealth of the illegitimate line of the House of Avis, which allowed it to enjoy enormous influence over the pliable Afonso V until his death in 1481.

Assertion of Royal Supremacy

D. João II (1481-1495)- "O Príncipe Perfeito"

When Afonso's son and heir, João II (r.1481-95), assumed the throne, the power of the Braganças and their supporters had reached its height. The new king, who was more resolute than his father, convoked a cortes at Évora, where he imposed a new written oath by which nobles swore upon their knees to give up to the king any castle or town they held from the crown.

At Évora commoners complained about the abuses of the nobility and asked for the abolition of private justice and the correction of abuses in the collection of taxes. The king ordered that all nobles present their titles of privilege and that his constables be admitted to their estates in order to investigate complaints concerning administration.

These measures provoked a reaction by the nobility led by the powerful Fernando, duke of Bragança, who conspired against the king with the help of the king of Castile. Upon learning of the intrigues of Fernando, the king accused the duke of treason and tried him at a special court in Évora. He was sentenced to death and beheaded in the main square on June 29, 1484.

The king confiscated his properties and those of his accomplices, some of whom were also killed, while others fled Portugal. A second conspiracy was hatched by the duke of Viseu, but it, too, was discovered, and the duke was killed, perhaps by the king himself, in Setúbal. These events established the supremacy of the crown over the nobility once and for all

The maritime expansion of Portugal was the result of the threat to Mediterranean commerce that had developed very rapidly after the crusades, especially the trade in spices. Spices traveled by various overland routes from Asia to the Levant, where they were loaded aboard Genoese and Venetian ships and brought to Europe. Gradually, this trade became threatened by pirates and the Turks, who closed off most of the overland routes and subjected the spices to heavy taxes. Europeans sought alternative routes to Asia in order to circumvent these difficulties.
The Portuguese led the way in this quest for a number of reasons.

First, Portugal's location on the southwesternmost edge of the European landmass placed the country at the maritime crossroads between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Second, Portugal was by the fifteenth century a compact, unified kingdom led by an energetic, military aristocracy, which, having no more territory on the peninsula to conquer, sought new fields of action overseas.

Third, Portuguese kings were motivated by a deeply held belief that their role in history was as the standard-bearers of Christianity against the Muslims.

Fourth, Portugal's kings had, since the founding of the monarchy, encouraged maritime activities. Dinis founded the Portuguese navy, and Fernando encouraged the construction of larger ships and founded a system of maritime insurance.

Finally, Portugal led the world in nautical science, having perfected the astrolabe and quadrant and developed the lantine-rigged caravel, all of which made navigating and sailing the high seas possible.

Prince Henry the Navigator

Portugal's maritime expansion began in 1415 when João I seized Ceuta in Morocco, the western depot for the spice trade. The military campaign against Ceuta was launched for several reasons. First, war in Morocco was seen as a new crusade against the Muslims that would stand Portugal well with the church. Second, there was a need to suppress Moroccan pirates who were threatening Portuguese ships.
Third, the Portuguese wanted the economic benefit that controlling Ceuta's vast market would bring to the crown. Finally, the campaign against Ceuta was seen as preparatory to an attack on Muslims still holding Granada. The possession of Ceuta allowed the Portuguese to dominate the Straits of Gibraltar.

After the conquest of Ceuta, Prince Henry the Navigator, who had participated in the campaign as an armed knight, settled at Sagres on the extreme end of Cape St. Vincent, where in 1418 he founded a naval school. He continued to direct Portugal's early maritime activity. As the master of the Order of Christ,

Prince Henry was able to draw on the vast resources of this group to equip ships and pay the expenses of the early maritime expeditions. Prince Henry was motivated by scientific curiosity and religious fervor, seeing the voyages as a continuation of the crusades against the Muslims and the conversion of new peoples to Christianity, as well as by the desire to open a sea route to India.

Shortly after establishing his school, two of Prince Henry's captains discovered the island of Porto Santo, and the following year the Madeira Islands were discovered. In 1427 Diogo de Silves, sailing west, discovered the Azores archipelago, also uninhabited. Both Madeira and Porto Santo were colonized immediately and divided into captaincies. These were distributed to Prince Henry's captains, who in turn had the power to distribute land to settlers according to the Law of the Sesmarias.

Prince Henry's plan required the circumnavigation of Africa. His early voyages stayed close to the African coast. After repeated attempts, Gil Eanes finally rounded Cape Bojador on the west coast of Africa in present-day Western Sahara in 1434, a psychological, as well as physical, barrier that was thought to be the outer boundary of the knowable world. After passing Cape Bojador, the exploration of the coast southward proceeded very rapidly. In 1436 Gil Eanes and Afonso Baldaia arrived at the Senegal River, which they called the River of Gold when two Africans they had captured were ransomed with gold dust. In 1443 Nuno Tristão arrived at the Bay of Arguin off the coast of present-day Mauritania.

These voyages returned African slaves to Portugal, which sparked an interest in the commercial value of the explorations, and a factory was established at Arguin as an entrepôt for human cargo. In 1444 Dinis Dias discovered the Cape Verde Islands, then heavily forested, and Nuno Tristão explored the mouth of the Senegal River. In 1445 Cape Verde was rounded, and in 1456 Portuguese arrived at the coast of present-day Guinea. The following year, they reached present-day Sierra Leone. Thus, when Prince Henry died in 1460, the Portuguese had explored the coast of Africa down to Sierra Leone and discovered the archipelagoes of Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands.

During the reign of João II, the crown once again took an active role in the search for a sea route to India. In 1481 the king ordered a fort constructed at Mina de Ouro to protect this potential source of wealth. Diogo Cão sailed further down the African coast in the period 1482-84. In 1487 a new expedition led by Bartolomeu Dias sailed south beyond the tip of Africa and, after having lost sight of land for a month, turned north and made landfall on a northeast-running coastline, which was named Terra dos Vaqueiros after the native herders and cows that were seen on shore. Dias had rounded the Cape of Good Hope without seeing it and proved that the Atlantic connected to the Indian Ocean.
In the meantime, João sent Pêro da Covilhã and Afonso de Paiva, who were versed in warfare, diplomacy, and Arabic, on a mission in search of the mythical Christian kingdom of Prester John. Departing from Santarém, they traveled to Barcelona, Naples, and the island of Rhodes, and, disguised as merchants, entered Alexandria. Passing through Cairo, they made their way to Aden, where they separated and agreed to meet later in Cairo at a certain date.

Afonso de Paiva went to Ethiopia, and Pêro da Covilhã headed for Calicut and Goa in India by way of Ormuz, returning to Cairo via Sofala in Mozambique on the east coast of Africa. In Cairo he learned from two emissaries sent by João II that Afonso de Paiva had died. One of the emissaries returned to Portugal with a letter containing the information Pêro da Covilhã had collected on his travels. Da Covilhã then left for Ethiopia where he was received by the emperor but not allowed to leave.

He settled in Ethiopia, married, and raised a family. The information provided in his letter complemented the information from the expedition of Bartolomeu Dias and convinced João II that it was possible to reach India by sailing around the southern end of Africa. He died during preparations for this voyage in 1494.

D. Manuel I (1495-1521) "O Afortunado"

Manuel I assumed the throne in 1495 and completed the preparations for the voyage to India. On July 8, 1497, a fleet of four ships commanded by Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém on the outskirts of Lisbon. The expedition was very carefully organized, each ship having the best captains and pilots, as well as handpicked crews.
They carried the most up-to-date nautical charts and navigational instruments. Vasco da Gama's fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope on November 27, 1497, and made landfall at Natal in present-day South Africa on December 25.

Vasco da Gama

The fleet then proceeded along the east coast of Africa and landed at Quelimane in present-day Mozambique in January 1498, followed by Mombasa in present-day Kenya. An Arab pilot directed the fleet to India.

After sailing for a month, the fleet reached Calicut on the Malabar coast in southwest India. In August, after sailing to Goa, the fleet left for Portugal, arriving in September 1499, two years and two days after the departure

In 1500 Manuel organized a large fleet of thirteen ships for a second voyage to India. This fleet was commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral and included Bartolomeu Dias, various nobles, priests, and some 1,200 men. The fleet sailed southwest for a month, and on April 22 sighted land, the coast of present-day Brazil. Cabral sent a ship back to Lisbon to report to Manuel his discovery, which he called Vera Cruz.
The fleet recrossed the Atlantic and sailed to India around Africa where it arrived on September 13, 1500. After four months in India, Cabral sailed for Lisbon in January 1501, having left a contingent of Portuguese to maintain a factory at Cochin on the Malabar coast.

Colonization of Brazil

The growth of Portuguese interests in the Americas was slow, the king being absorbed with establishing Portuguese hegemony in Asia. In addition, the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, arranged by Pope Alexander VI, divided the unexplored world between Spain and Portugal and forbade Portugal from exploring beyond a meridian drawn 1,600 kilometers miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. In 1502 Fernão Noronha was given a three-year commercial monopoly on dyewood in return for exploring 300 leagues (about 1,500 kilometers) of the Brazilian coast each year.

During the last years of Manuel I's reign, the first colonists were sent to Brazil to establish a sugar industry. Additional colonists were sent during the reign of João III, and, in 1530, Martim Afonso de Sousa was named major captain of Brazil and invested with the power to distribute land among captains or donatários, much as had been done in Madeira when it was colonized a century before. These captaincies were large strips of land that extended from the coast into the interior. The captains settled colonists in their respective captaincies and were required to provide them protection and justice.

As the captaincies were independent of one another, they were unable to defend themselves from foreign pirates. Consequently, João III appointed a governor general with authority over the captaincies. The first governor general, Tomé de Sousa, was appointed in 1549 and established his capital at São Salvador da Baía. He defeated French pirates in a naval engagement in the bay of Rio de Janeiro. Intensified colonization under de Sousa began in the form of coastal settlements and spread to the interior. The colonists cultivated indigenous crops, especially manioc, and introduced new ones such as wheat, rice, grapes, oranges, and sugarcane from Madeira and São Tomé. Sugar soon became Brazil's most important export.

Empire in Asia

Having discovered the sea route to India, Manuel organized successive fleets to that region in order to establish Portuguese commercial hegemony. In 1505 Francisco de Almeida left Lisbon with a fleet of 22 ships and 2,500 men, 1,500 of whom were soldiers. Invested with the title of viceroy of India, Almeida was instructed to conclude alliances with Indian rulers, set up factories, and build forts on the east coast of Africa, which he did at Mombasa and at Kilwa in present-day Tanzania before arriving in India.

After his arrival, he fortified the island of Angediva and Cochin. He imposed a system of licenses on trading vessels that threatened to ruin the Muslim traders, who reacted by seeking spices in Malacca in present-day Malaysia and the Sunda Islands in the Malay Archipelago and sailing directly to the Persian Gulf, bypassing India.

Almeida sought to suppress this trade and secure Portuguese commercial hegemony. He was joined in this effort by two more fleets sent from Lisbon, one under the command of Tristão da Cunha and the other under Afonso de Albuquerque, who had been appointed Almeida's successor as viceroy. Cunha explored Madagascar and the coast of east Africa, occupied the island of Socotra (now part of Yemen), and built a fort at the mouth of the Red Sea, before sailing to India. Albuquerque ravaged the Oman coast and attacked Ormuz, the great entrepôt at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where he began constructing a fort.

The great sea battle of Diu

The activities of the Portuguese motivated the Muslims to take military action. The sultan of Egypt, allied with the Venetians and Turks, organized a large armada that crossed the Indian Ocean to Diu, where it was engaged by a Portuguese fleet. On February 2, 1509, a great sea battle was fought and the sultan's armada destroyed. This victory assured Portuguese commercial and military hegemony over India and allowed Portugal to extend its empire to the Far East.

Afonso de Albuquerque "The Great"

Albuquerque established his capital at Goa, which he attacked and occupied in 1510. In 1511 he departed for the conquest of Malacca, the emporium for the spice trade and trade with China, which he accomplished in August of that year.
After returning to Goa, Albuquerque made plans to occupy strategic positions in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

On his first expedition, he failed to take Aden and returned to Goa. His second expedition, which was to be his last, attempted to reduce Ormuz and Aden, as well as conquer Mecca.

During this expedition, Albuquerque fell ill and returned to Goa, where he died in 1515.

Ferdinand Magellan

(Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães, (Spring 1480 – April 27, 1521, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines) was a Portuguese maritime explorer who, while in the service of the Spanish Crown, tried to find a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. He thereby became the first person to lead an expedition across the Pacific Ocean. This was also the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the Earth in history. Although he did not complete the entire voyage (he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines), Magellan had earlier traveled eastward to the Spice Inslands, so he became one of the first individuals to cross all of the meridians of the Globe.

Magellan was the first European to enter the Pacific from the eponymous Strait of Magellan, which he discovered. He was also the first European to reach the archipelago of what is now known as the Philippines, which was unknown to the western world before his landing. Arab traders had established commerce within the archipelago centuries earlier.

Of the 237 men who set out on five ships to circumnavigate the earth in 1519, only 18completed the circumnavigation of the globe and managed to return to Spain in 1522. They were led by the Basque navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano, who took over command of the expedition after Magellan's death. Seventeen other men arrived later in Spain, twelve men captured by the Portuguese in Cape Verde some weeks earlier, and between 1525 and 1527 five survivors of the Trinidad.

Counter-Reformation and Overseas Evangelization

The eruption of the Protestant Reformation in the first decades of the sixteenth century brought forth a Roman Catholic response, the Counter-Reformation, a determined campaign to strengthen the Roman Catholic Church and restore religious unity to Europe. One of Rome's key instruments to purify doctrine and root out heresy was the Inquisition. The Counter-Reformation soon reached Portugal and Joao III was granted permission to establish the Court of Inquisition in 1536.

The court did not began its work until 1539 when the first inquisitor general was replaced by a religious zealot, the archbishop of Évora, who stood for public confession and immediate execution. As elsewhere, the Inquisition in Portugal dealt with all forms of heresy, corruption, and disbelief, but its main victims were the so-called New Christians, Jews who had converted to Christianity after Manuel I had ordered in 1497 the expulsion from Portugal of all Jews who refused to accept the Christian faith.

Many Portuguese believed that the New Christians secretly practiced Judaism at home and the Inquisition was used to stop such an "abomination." Courts of the Inquisition functioned in larger settlements around Portugal. The first auto-da-fé, or public burning of a heretic, took place in 1540 in Lisbon. In the next 150 years, an estimated 1,400 people perished in this manner in Portugal.

Another of Rome's strongest weapons in the CounterReformation was the Society of Jesus, a religious order founded by Ignatius de Loyola in 1539. The order was dedicated to furthering the cause of Catholicism and propagating its teachings in missions among nonbelievers. In 1540 three of Loyola's followers, Simão Rodrigues, who was Portuguese; Paulo Camerte, who was Italian; and Francisco Xavier, who was Spanish; arrived in Portugal. Simão Rodrigues became the tutor of the king's son and later founded Jesuit schools at Coimbra and Évora. By 1555 the Jesuits had control of all secondary education in the realm and by 1558 had established a university in Évora.

João III invited the Jesuits to carry out their apostolic mission in the lands of Portugal's overseas empire. Francisco Xavier left Portugal in 1541 for India as a result of the king's request. He arrived in Goa in 1542 and immediately began prosletyizing among the indigenous inhabitants, converting many thousands. From Goa he went to Cochin and Ceylon; in 1545 he traveled to Malacca, and in 1549, to Japan, where he stayed for two years. After returning to Goa, in 1552 he went to China, where he died.

Evangelization began in Brazil in 1549 with the arrival of six Jesuits led by Father Manuel de Nóbrega, who accompanied Tomé de Sousa, the first governor general. They built a church at São Salvador da Baía, as well as schools at Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. They evangelized northern and southern Brazil. In the south, Father José Anchieta opened a school for Indians and authored the first grammar in a native language, Tupí-Guaraní. The Jesuits built churches, schools, and seminaries. They settled the indigenous inhabitants in villages and defended them against attempts to enslave them.

D. João III - (1521- 1557)

When Manuel I died in 1521, his son and heir, João III, sent expeditions to the islands of Celebes, Borneo, Java, and Timor, all part of the Malay Archipelago.

Relations were established with Japan after the visits of Francisco Xavier and Fernão Mendes Pinto in 1549. Portuguese captains founded factories in China and took possession of Macau in 1557


Portugal's empire in Asia made its monarchy the richest in Europe and made Lisbon the commercial capital of the world. This prosperity was more apparent than real, however, because the newfound wealth did not transform the social structure, nor was it used to lay the basis for further economic development. The country's industry was weakened because the profits from Asian monopolies were used to import manufactured goods.

As the empire in Asia was a state-run enterprise, no middle class or commercial sector independent of the crown of any consequence emerged as it had in other parts of Europe. Moreover, the persecution of the Jews, who possessed vital technical skills, robbed the country of an important force for modernity and reinforced feudal elements. Adding to the drain on the economy was the large amount of money spent on sumptuous palaces and churches.

Because the wealth from the discoveries did not produce a middle class of competent, trained individuals to whom the affairs of state gradually fell, leadership in Portugal remained in the hands of the king and the military aristocracy. Moreover, the imperial system had intensified the already centralized system of government, which meant that the quality of national policy was closely tied to the abilities of the top leadership, especially the king himself. Unfortunately, the House of Avis did not produce a king of great merit after João II, and Portugal entered a long period of imperial decline.

Dynastic Crisis

When João III died in 1557, the only surviving heir to the throne was his three-year-old son, Sebastião, who took over the government at the age of fourteen. Sickly and poorly educated, Sebastião proved to be mentally unstable, and as he grew to young manhood he developed a fanatical obsession with launching a great crusade against the Muslims in North Africa, thus reviving the Moroccan policy of Afonso V.

In 1578, when he was twenty-four years old, Sebastião organized an army of 24,000 and assembled a large fleet that left Portugal on August 4 for Alcázarquivir. Sebastião's army, poorly equipped and incompetently led, was defeated, and the king, presumed killed in battle, was never seen again. A large number of the nobility were captured and held for ransom.

This defeat, the most disastrous in Portuguese military history, swept away the flower of the aristocratic leadership and drained the coffers of the treasury in order to pay ransoms. Worse, it resulted in the death of a king who had no descendants, plunging Portugal into a period of confusion and intrigue over the succession.

With Sebastião's death, the crown fell to his uncle, Henrique, the last surviving son of Manuel I. This solved the succession crisis only temporarily because Henrique was an infirm and aged cardinal who was unable to obtain dispensation from the pope to marry. There were several pretenders to the throne, one of whom was Philip II of Spain, nephew of João III.

When Henrique died in 1580, a powerful Spanish army commanded by the duke of Alba invaded Portugal and marched on Lisbon. This force routed the army of rival contender, António, prior of Crato and the illegitimate son of João III's son Luís. Portugal was annexed by Spain, and Philip II was declared Filipe I of Portugal.

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