THE LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE
A History of Spain and Portugal
Volume 1
Stanley G. Payne

Chapter Six
The Emergence of Portugal

[113] The question of the roots of Portuguese individuality and the formation of a separate monarchy in the southwest has provoked considerable discussion. The two great Portuguese historians of the nineteenth century, Alexandre Herculano and Oliveira Martins, considered Portuguese independence somewhat accidental, the consequence of fortuitous political developments in the twelfth century. Spanish historians have stated such views even more emphatically. On the other hand, some twentieth-century Portuguese historians have stressed the distinctiveness of their region and what they interpret to be an underlying cultural identity and continuity that reaches well back into the Middle Ages.
 
The Roman province of Lusitania was not coterminous with modern Portugal, for it did not include part of the north but did embrace a portion of what was later southwestern Spain. The peninsula's southwest developed an economy with a special geographic basis oriented toward the Atlantic coast, but drew comparatively little attention because of the lack of mineral or other natural wealth.
 
The first separate polity organized in the western part of the peninsula in historic times was the independent kingdom established by the Suevi, a small Germanic tribe that invaded the region in 411. The Suevi settled primarily in the northwest, in Galicia and to the south of it. Their economic orientation was more agricultural than that of the [114]Visigoths, and they have been given credit for introducing the central European quadrangular plow into the peninsula. The moist northwest had a more fundamentally agrarian economy than the predominantly pastoral dry central region of the peninsula, and after the collapse of Roman power, cultivation of the land returned to smaller family units, replacing much of the latifundia system. In later centuries, more agrarian terms would be found in Galician than in any other Hispanic language. By the sixth century, the best-developed agriculture in the northwest seems not to have been in Galicia proper but in the Minho district just to the south. The role of the Suevi, however, probably lay more in adapting to these conditions than fostering them. There is little evidence of direct Suevic cultural and social influence on the population of the northwest, and Portuguese has fewer German words in it than any other peninsular language.
 
During the sixth century, the northwestern kingdom of the Suevi was incorporated by the Visigothic monarchy, with subsequent fusion of Visigothic and northwestern aristocracies, and there is no clear indication of any separate political or ethnic identification by the eighth century. During the first generation of the Muslim occupation, there was little effort to establish Muslim colonists in the northwest. Above the Mondego valley no more than a few small garrisons were to be found. Almost all of Galicia was rewon in the Asturian advance of the 740s, and between 751 and 754 all the Minho district down to the mouth of the lower Douro (in Castilian, Duero) was temporarily occupied. The Christian society of Asturias-Galicia lacked the strength and resources to repopulate the northern part of the Minho district until well into the ninth century, while the lower stretches of the Douro valley constituted part of the no-man's-land whose inhospitable wastes sheltered the north from Muslim attack. Though raids might carry as far south as the Muslim centers of Coimbra and Lisbon, effective Christian occupation during the ninth century scarcely extended beyond the Minho River, the southern limit of Galicia proper.
 
There was a large Mozarab population in the Muslim towns of the southwest, as in other parts of the peninsula, and a significant emigration from the Muslim districts toward the north occurred in the second half of the ninth century. Apparently Mozarab emigrants from the south were primarily responsible for settling the city of Porto in 868.
 
The difficulty of peopling the Minho-Douro region with Galicians from the north, and the influx of Mozarabs from the Coimbra-Mon-dego region to the south, were evidently two factors of some importance in creating a separate regional identity for the area below the Minho. At least as early as 841, the region was referred to as the Provincia Portucalense, taking its name from the port of Cale (site of [115] the subsequent city of Porto), the main transit point between the settled region of Galicia to the north and historic Lusitania to the south. Hence Portugal or portucalense originally referred merely to an intermediate geographic district, not to a distinct cultural, political, or social entity. Toward the end of the ninth century this frontier district below the Minho River was established as a separate administrative territory by the Asturian monarchy, with a governor (later called dux) appointed for life by the crown, in much the same way as with the county of Castile. Territorium portugalense (changing c to g in ordinary usage) was the term used to refer to the entire area from the Minho to the Douro, and the succinct word Portugal can first be traced from a document of 883.
 
During the tenth century, the post of dux of the Portugalense was held by a powerful local aristocratic family which governed on an hereditary basis for a hundred years. The Viking raids and Muslim assaults of the tenth and early eleventh centuries, together with the contemporary decline of the Leonese monarchy, encouraged local identity and self-reliance. The center of the Portugalense tended toward its southern region, in the Douro valley, for the northern district below the Minho had apparently not been fully resettled even by the end of the tenth century.
 
Particularism in the Portugalense was reinforced by the mountain barriers and watershed--the region of Tras-os-Montes--that separated it from Leon to the northeast. Save for the Douro, none of the rivers that flowed through the Portugalense originated east of the mountains. There was distinct geographic separation and orientation toward the southwest and the Atlantic. Greater geographic and cultural continuity existed toward the north, for it appears that in addition to the climatic and agrarian similarities, a separate western dialect of vernacular Latin had been spoken in that part of the peninsula since late Roman times. This formed the basis for the modern language of Galician-Portuguese. Differences between Galicia and the Portugalense were not the result of dialect or important geographic barriers, but stemmed from political division, the sparseness of population below the Minho, and the frontier quality of the Portugalense. Galicia was a settled and sheltered society, oriented toward greater Leon and western Europe. Its spiritual center, Santiago, drew pilgrims from all over the western part of the continent. The Portugalense developed as a more exposed and peripheral area. Though it did not suffer from tenth-century Muslim attacks as much as did León proper, it was placed under heavier pressure than Galicia.
 
The Navarrese-Castilian hegemony of the early eleventh century shifted the power base in the kingdom farther toward the east, resulting in discontent among the local aristocracy of both Galicia and the [116] Portugalense. The ricos homens of Galicia and old León lost influence at the new Castilo-Leonese court, and in Galicia and the Portugalense their roles were increasingly taken by lesser nobles or royal appointees. By the middle of the eleventh century the office of dux of Portugal was no longer being filled; the Castilian-Leonese crown simply appointed local meirinhos (royal administrators) to supplant the influence of the local aristocracy. The Coimbra-Mondego region to the south was retaken in 1064 and established as a new territory of Coimbra, administratively separate from the Portugalense. It was inhabited by a large and relatively cultured and prosperous population of Mozarabs and mudéjares, whose incorporation added a sophisticated element to the population of the southwest.
 
After the death of Fernando I and his division of Castile-León, the barons of the Portugalense rebelled against the domination of the new "king of Galicia," Fernando's younger son Garcia (1071). This hostility was exacerbated by the powerful archdiocese of Santiago, which opposed independent authority for Braga, ecclesiastical center of the Portugalense, whose bishopric had been restored in 1070. The ephemeral kingdom of Galicia came to an end in 1073 when it was incorporated by Castile-León, and Galicia remained close to the interests of the kingdom, to which it had geographic access through Asturias. Coimbra and the Portugalense, however, continued to be relatively isolated by the rugged barrier of the Tras-os-Montes district and increasingly at odds with their cultural cousins to the north, who were under antagonistic political and ecclesiastical leadership.
 
New leadership was given the southwest in 1096, when Alfonso VI of Castile bestowed the hereditary government of Portugal and Coimbra on the Burgundian aristocrat and crusader Henri (Port. Henri-que), husband of Alfonso's bastard daughter and personal favorite, Teresa. Though the administrative appointment was not necessarily hereditary, Henri and Teresa were given the hereditary seigneury of all royal domain in the region. As leader of the entire Hispano-Christian southwest, Henri established a capital at the town of Guimarais in northern Portugal. He and his wife participated actively in the quarrels over division of Alfonso VI's patrimony that followed the old king's death. When Henri died in 1112, Teresa was left as governess of all Portuguese territory. Her rule and that of her lover, a Galician noble named Fernando Peres, provoked resentment among the local aristocracy and town leaders, and they turned for hope to Afonso Henriques, the heir of Henri and Teresa, who had been about seven years old at his father's death. Overthrowing her in 1128, Afonso Henriques took authority as head of Portugal.
 
In young Afonso's view he had inherited full hereditary authority over all Portugal and Coimbra, and the Portuguese barons encouraged [117] him to resist further political domination from Castile, León, or Galicia. In 1135, he refused to join other north Spanish princes in homage to Alfonso VII of Castile-León. He moved his seat of government southward to Coimbra and for eleven years used the title Prince of Portugal, Afonso was an aggressive military leader and won a notable victory in 1139 that reduced the Muslims of the Santarem district to tributary status. He took the title of King of Portugal on the basis of his autonomous authority, his conquests, and his descent from the Hispanic "emperor" Alfonso VI. The independence of his territory was further enhanced by establishment of the ecclesiastical independence of the archdiocese of Braga, giving the kingdom its own church hierarchy. For protection, Afonso subsequently swore fealty to the papacy and paid tribute to it, but the papacy did not officially recognize King of Portugal as a title and institution until 1179.


Rulers of Portugal
House of Burgundy
Afonso I 1128-1185 Cardinal Henrique 1578-1580
Sancho I 1185-1211 Felipe I 1580-1598
Afonso II 1211-1223 Felipe II 1598-1621
Sancho II 1223-1246 Felipe III 1621-1640
Afonso III 1246-1279 Joâo IV 1640-1656
Dinis 1279-1325 Afonso VI 1656-1668
Afonso IV 1325-1357 Pedro II 1668/1683-1706
Pedro I 1357-1367 Joâo V 1706-1750
Fernando 1367-1383 Jose I 1750-1777
Maria I 1777-1799
House of Aviz Joâo VI 1799/1816-1826
Joâo I 1384-1433 Pedro IV 1826-1834
Duarte 1433-1438 Miguel 1828-1834
Afonso V 1438-1481 Maria II 1834-1853
Joâo II 1481-1495 Pedro V 1853-1861
Manuel I 1495-1521 Luis 1861-1889
Joâo III 1521-1557 Carlos 1889-1908
Sebastiao 1557-1578 Manuel II 1908-1910



 
The establishment of the independent kingdom of Portugal coincided with a period of severe internal stress for Castile-León, as well as of renewed military challenges to it from the Almoravids and Almohads. This combination of pressures left Castile-León with little strength or energy for the reincorporation of Portugal. Afonso I's long reign of fifty-seven years ended with his death in 1185. During [119] the middle years of his rule, the Portuguese border was extended well into the south. Though the strength of the kingdom, with its modest population of half a million, was comparatively slight, a passing force of English, French, and Flemish crusaders was enlisted to conquer the key Muslim city of Lisbon at the mouth of the Tejo (in Spanish, Tajo). Other foreign forces were recruited to aid in the occupation of much of the Alemtejo region to the southeast. The Knights Templars and four other orders of crusading knights, several of which were established expressly for the Portuguese reconquest, played a major role. Given their limited resources, Afonso I and his successors must be accounted among the most dynamic dynasts of their time.
 
The expansion of Portugal depended upon royal leadership, and the new state was fortunate in that all but one of its early rulers were adequate, and several were unusual. Basing the authority of the crown on strong royalist institutions patterned after those of Leon, and aided by the territorial compactness of its state, the Portuguese monarchy soon achieved greater internal political consistency than did most medieval kingdoms. Like Leon and Aragon, Portugal developed a largely seigneurial society, with most of its districts under the domain of church or aristocracy, but like León and Castile, its political organization was not strictly feudal. From the very beginning, the overriding sovereignty of the crown was clearly understood, and the monarchy also played a role in social and economic affairs, sometimes fostering the interests and representation of the third estate.
 
Afonso's son and heir, Sancho I (1185-1211), continued the military struggle, but devoted himself especially to institutional development, repopulation and the founding of towns, and the patronage of letters. The third king, Afonso II (1211-1223), was less concerned with military affairs. His principal achievement was the first systematic compilation of Portuguese law, clarifying property and personal rights and guaranteeing the overarching sovereignty of the crown. Afonso II's heir, Sancho II (1223-1246), was less successful. Dominated by a powerful aristocratic faction, his reign led to considerable internal conflict, and he was eventually deposed by his younger brother Afonso III (1246-1279), who was supported by the church, the crusading orders, the petty nobility, and the towns. Nevertheless, a major phase of Portuguese expansion was accomplished under Sancho II, and the reconquest was finally completed under Afonso III, who occupied the Algarve district along the southern coast, giving Portugal the approximate boundaries that it has had since. Altogether, between 1225 and 1250, the occupation of the Alemtejo and the Algarve increased the size of Portugal from 55,000 to 90,000 square kilometers. Afonso III was a notably successful administrator, [120] promoting resettlement and summoning the first meeting of a three-estate Portuguese Cortes at Leiria in 1254.
 
The last ruler of the thirteenth century, Dinis o Lavrador, "the Farmer" (1279-1325), was in many ways the most impressive. He gained his nickname from efforts to promote agriculture, and it is especially because of his work that the period of the Burgundian dynasty in Portuguese history is often, and somewhat misleadingly, referred to as that of the "agrarian monarchy." Dinis devoted particular attention to the repopulation of the Alemtejo. He broke up a number of large domains in various regions to distribute among the peasants and discouraged the tendency of nobles to leave a part of their lands uncultivated. He reformed the terms of peasant land tenure in the north, stimulated food production and commerce, undertook the draining of swamps and the planting of the Leiria forest, and helped to develop fairs. His personal interest, however, lay in women and poetry. Dinis fostered Portuguese culture, and it was during his reign that the vernacular, rather than Latin, became the official language. His last years were troubled by a bloody civil revolt led by his legitimate heir and provoked by the honors Dinis had bestowed on the eldest of his nine bastards.

Medieval Portuguese Society

There was a notable increase in wealth during the main phase of the Portuguese reconquest, and for the next hundred years food production and commerce continued to expand, making it possible for the population of the kingdom to double between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Estimates of population in the Middle Ages are usually vague approximations, but it is generally believed that the number of Portuguese increased approximately as follows:

twelfth century 500,000-600,000
thirteenth century 800,000-900,000
fourteenth century 1,000,000-1,200,000

Unlike Castile, Aragon, and Valencia, Portugal contained no sizable Muslim minorities. Only in the Alemtejo and Algarve did small groups of Muslim peasants remain on the land after completion of the Portuguese reconquest.
 
Linguistically unified, the Portuguese people were socially and culturally more homogeneous than the population of Castile and Aragon. The small kingdom contained no ethnic subgroup of any importance save for a very slight Jewish population, and by the [121] middle of the thirteenth century had become the first nation-state in Europe.
 
The structure of Portuguese society was originally quite similar to that of Galicia and Leon, though as it expanded southward it was more nearly like the frontier pattern of new Leon than the feudal pattern typical of Galicia. The dominant class in Portugal, as elsewhere, was the military aristocracy, rewarded by the crown with recognition of seigneurial domain and special grants of land or income as honras. Aristocratic seigneuries dominated the Minho and Douro regions of the northwest but were less common in central and southern Portugal. Moreover, Portuguese seigneuries were normally quite small in comparison with those of Castile. There were perhaps a half dozen truly powerful and influential aristocratic families, most of them related by blood to the ruling dynasty.
 
Most aristocrats did not have large incomes from their own domains, but depended for their wealth on subassignments of royal income known as quantias. The quantias assigned to nobles amounted, at certain times, to between 25 and 50 percent of the crown's revenue. One economic historian has calculated that the quantias were several times the total income from the nobility's seigneurial domain. The policy of assigning part of the royal income to the nobility was common in most late-medieval monarchies, and was a normal way of maintaining the social and economic preeminence of the aristocracy.
 
Below the nobility there existed, as in Castile, a class of cavaleiros vilaos, commoner knights, drawn from the middle or lower classes to supplement the military elite during the twelfth- and thirteenth-century reconquest. They held assignments of land or income sufficient to defray military expenses and occupied an intermediate social status, though their exemption from most taxes was a privilege that gave them near-aristocratic rank.
 
In the original terra portucalense north of the Douro, most of the peasantry, by the twelfth century, lived under terms of cartas de incomuniaçao or pactos de benfeitoria roughly similar to the encomendación or benefactoria of León. Though direct allodial possession was quite uncommon, so too was complete serfdom. Much of the peasantry was tied to the land under varying restrictions, but between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries such conditions of adscription largely died out.
 
The agrarian reforms of Dinis o Lavrador encouraged a tendency in the most heavily populated area of the kingdom, the Minho, toward family farms or casais. Dinis guaranteed the right of emphyteusis (hereditary transmission of cultivation rights) to peasant renters [122] on most aristocratic and church domains in the northwest. The majority of Portuguese peasants operated petty farms either as hereditary emphyteutical renters or as sharecroppers, the terms exacted from the latter usually being considerably more rigorous than from the former. Below the sharecroppers or parceiros (roughly equivalent to the Castilian aparceros), there were the peasants who carried out various duties on aristocratic or ecclesiastical domains and sometimes had partial land-use rights of their own. In central and southern Portugal by the fourteenth century, with the growth in population and emigration from the north, there had also developed a class of completely landless rural laborers similar to the jornaleros of the southern districts of Castile.
 
In general, more of Portuguese society than of Castilian was devoted to agriculture. Grazing was not as important as in the neighboring kingdom, but sheep and cattle were of major significance in two of the newer, somewhat flatter regions of southcentral Portugal, Beira Baixa and the Alto Alemtejo. A greater communal access to land stimulated livestock production there.
 
The granting of special rights (foros) and charters (cartas) to small rural communities and municipalities soon became as widespread in Portugal as in Castile-León. In the mountainous northeast (Tras-os-Montes) that separated Portugal from Leon, the soil was poor and population sparse, encouraging communal social and economic organization. In that region, foros were sometimes granted by the crown to communal subgroups of no more than twenty households, recognizing local privileges, regularizing taxes and obligations, and specifying rights of self-government. The collectivist terms of much of the cultivation in the Tras-os-Montes region were ratified by the agrarian reforms of Dinis.
 
The most important semi-autonomous units were not small rural groups but the larger towns, like Porto and Coimbra, along the main rivers and coast, and the larger concelhos established mainly in the north-central region (Beira) and in west-central Estremadura (not to be confused with Leonese Extremadura). Concelho rights varied considerably in their terms, but the most common were similar to those of Leonese concejos such as Salamanca, though their privileges and organization were not as broad and strong as those of Castile. Towns formed by royal charter in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries received significant rights of autonomy, and some of the older towns broadened their prerogatives, as for example after a successful revolt for wider municipal rights at Coimbra in 1111.
 
In the broad plains of the southern Alemtejo, incorporated after 1238, much of the land was taken over by the church and the Portuguese [123] crusading orders, just as in the southern districts of Castile after the great reconquest of San Fernando. There, as in southern Castile, autonomous communities were proportionately less common.

Portuguese Catholicism

Religion played a role in defining and sustaining Portuguese life rather similar to its role in Castile-León, though Portuguese religiosity did not become as intense as that of Castile. The crusade was officially introduced in 1100 with a papal bull calling all Hispanic monarchies to concerted action against the Muslims. Proclamation of the crusade was frequent in the Portuguese reconquest of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The complex of holy war was encouraged by the nominal vassalage of Portugal to the Holy See during much of that period, and the aura of holy war came to be bestowed on a variety of military enterprises, including the struggle against Castile during the late fourteenth century, when the Portuguese and Castilian crowns supported opposing sides in the Great Schism of the papacy. Thus the idea of crusade became as firmly entrenched in Portugal as in Castile, and was intrinsic in the motivations of the subsequent overseas expansion, contributing to the ultimate doom of the monarchy in Morocco in 1578.
 
The earliest inhabitants of Portuguese territory, whether Mozarabs under Muslim rule or Galician immigrants, practiced the ancient Hispanic or Mozarabic rite, but by the time Portugal emerged as an independent kingdom, the entire Hispanic church had become Romanized in liturgy and organization. The establishment of the Portuguese monarchy coincided with the rise of papal political influence in the peninsula, and there was never any doubt of Portuguese religious orthodoxy, just as there was never any doubt of Castilian. As much as the Castilians, the medieval Portuguese defined their identity facing southward, against Islam, and found it almost impossible to conceive of heresy.
 
On the other hand, Portugal was more remote than Castile from the centers of European culture. Though stimulated militarily by European crusaders, the kingdom was less affected by medieval religious and cultural movements than was Castile, and there was less interest in transmitting or absorbing the achievements of Muslim intellectual life than in Castile or Catalonia. Portugal remained something of a cultural and spiritual backwater throughout the Middle Ages. The first major center of poetry in galego-Português was not in Portugal, but was the thirteenth-century Castilian court of San Fernando and Alfonso el Sabio. The Visigothic script persisted in Galicia and Portugal [124] until the middle of the twelfth century, even longer than in Castile. A Portuguese vernacular prose literature emerged somewhat late, in the fourteenth century.
 
Even among the clergy, educational standards were low, and compared with other areas in the peninsula and beyond, remained low during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The only Portuguese university was founded at Lisbon in 1290 and later moved to Coimbra. It never became a major center of learning, and during the Middle Ages never employed more than some twenty-five professors. The three principal Portuguese religious thinkers and philosophers-- Santo Antonio de Lisboa, Pope John XXI, and Pedro Juliao--all developed their careers outside of Portugal. The only dissenting philosopher of any note, the rationalist and Averroist Tomaz Escoto of the early fourteenth century (apparently not of Portuguese parentage) was eventually put to death.
 
Despite the orthodoxy and lack of dissent in Portuguese religion, thirteenth-century Portugal was wracked by conflict between the church and crown (the latter usually supported by the municipalities and concelhos) over church properties and jurisdictions. The church had gained greater political influence in Portugal than in Castile, because of the ecclesiastical support needed to assure Portuguese independence and because of the crown's tributary vassalage to the papacy in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The crown was frequently unable to control the election of bishops. During the reconquest, the Portuguese church amassed a great deal of land, especially in the center and south, and it has been estimated that during the thirteenth century its income was greater than that of the crown. The monarchy, which encountered great difficulty in taxing church property, viewed the influence and wealth of the ecclesiastical hierarchy as a danger. Church wealth and domains were resented by the autonomous municipalities and the concelhos and were coveted by the nobility.
 
The first measures to restrict or reexamine church acquisitions were taken by Afonso II, who in 1218 began a series of inquiriçoes (inquiries) into the legal titles of church properties. Relations with the hierarchy and papacy remained highly strained throughout the reigns of Afonso II, Sancho II, and Afonso III. The latter revived inquiriçoes into economic and juridical abuses by both the church and aristocracy, restoring a certain amount of church land to the royal domain. Four generations of conflict were finally brought to a close by Dinis, who instituted new inquiriçoes, recovered more property, and finally settled the longstanding dispute with the papacy and church hierarchy through a compromise concordat that was signed in 1290.
 
[125] These political and economic clashes never involved issues of religion or the spirit, and the place of religion in daily life was little affected by them. There was always, however, a certain amount of anticlericalism in Portuguese society, encouraged by wealth, corruption, and ignorance among the clergy. During the fourteenth century, the relaxation of morals in Portugal was as marked as in the rest of Europe. Concubinage among the clergy was common, paralleling the licentious behavior of the aristocracy.
 
Portuguese culture progressed during the fourteenth century, with the growth of vernacular literature and the foundation of new religious schools. Though Portuguese achievements in architecture remained modest compared with the main regions of western Europe or with Castile, a number of impressive castles and Gothic churches and monasteries were constructed. Influences from France and England were probably more important in these developments than were those from Castile.

Maritime and Commercial Affairs

There may have been more usable small harbors along the Portuguese coast in the Middle Ages than in the twentieth century, and Portuguese maritime activity antedated independence. Before 1100, Portuguese merchants were already established in small numbers in the main ports of France and Flanders. The coastal and river towns joined the concelhos of south-central Protugal in the movement toward greater representation for the third estate in the thirteenth century and in the protest against overweening church wealth.
 
Urban handicraft never passed very modest proportions, and aside from some linens in the fourteenth century, Portuguese exports consisted of foodstuffs and raw materials: wine, oil, dried fish, hides, salt from Setubal, cork, and figs, raisins, and almonds from the south.
 
Growth of the Portuguese navy, taking advantage of the kingdom's unique geographic position, was slow but fairly steady, and by the fourteenth century it had become a minor force that could not be ignored in the Atlantic. In 1336 a Portuguese fleet ventured out into the Atlantic as far as the Canary Islands, establishing a claim that remained in contention for more than one hundred and fifty years until finally relinquished in favor of Castile. Maritime affairs, nevertheless, involved a smaller proportion of the Portuguese population than of the principal coastal regions of western Europe, and Portuguese strength could not be compared with that of the five or six principal naval powers. What compensated to some extent for the small size of the Portuguese fleet and the weakness of the domestic [126] economy was the kingdom's strategic position at the outlet from the west Mediterranean to the Atlantic, central axis of the sea lanes from Italy to Flanders. The second half of the fourteenth century was a time of modestly growing prosperity for Portugal, and larger shipping companies were formed to pool capital and share risks. The crown played a crucial role in this development by providing protection and incentives. A royal decree of 1377 established shipbuilding subsidies, and another in 1380 set up a kind of compulsory maritime insurance. Neither in Lisbon nor in any other Portuguese port were there merchants or shipowners with the great resources of those in Venice, Genoa, Barcelona, or Bruges, but a basis for future expansion was being established.

The Sesmarias

Medieval Portugal was poor, even for its day. No more than a third of its soil was suited for agriculture, either because it was hilly, rocky, or infertile, and the rainfall, although heavier than Castile's, was unreliable. Despite such handicaps, Portuguese agriculture made some progress between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries and in the process adopted slightly improved techniques and was largely able to meet the needs of an expanding population. There were recurrent problems in provisioning Lisbon, but these arose because of the size of the capital, the inevitably bad medieval transportation, and the unavoidable bad harvests. Portugal suffered less from the Black Death of the early fourteenth century than other regions of Europe, but it did suffer a temporary decline in population, accompanied by a shortage of laborers and a drop in cultivation in certain areas. In the southern half of the kingdom, there was a growing tendency to take land out of cultivation and put it into the raising of livestock, which required less labor and drew higher market prices. By the second half of the fourteenth century, many of the coastal towns were importing grain, and there were exaggerated complaints over the "decay" of Portuguese agriculture.
 
Government intervention to regulate the cost of agricultural labor and production was common in mid-fourteenth-century Europe. The main Portuguese variant of this trend was the "Sesmarias" decree by the crown in 1375, taken from the term used to denote the dividing up of strips of land in the earlier resettlement of Portugal. It followed the tradition of royal encouragement of peasant agriculture, providing that two judges be named for each local district of Portugal to make sure that all arable land was being put to use. Lands of nobles or church foundations that were not being cultivated were to be confiscated, [127] and all landless or unemployed peasants were to receive land on reasonable terms. At the same time, all peasants already working the land were required to remain there. Livestock raising, theoretically, was to be restricted to large properties only. The Sesmarias were not fully enforced and were largely under the control of the homens bons, or local oligarchies, of the concelhos and municipalities. The decrees were aimed particularly at latifundium districts of central and south-central Portugal, and did result in a certain amount of redistribution of land for peasant agriculture. They had some effect in raising food production and building Portuguese economic strength for the period of expansion in the fifteenth century.

The Monarchy in the Fourteenth Century

The long reign of Afonso IV (1325-1357) involved disputes and war with Castile, but this did not prevent the appearance of a large Portuguese contingent beside the Castilians at the battle of Salado (1340), in which the last invasion from Morocco was decisively defeated. Afonso IV's most famous act was his execution of Ines de Castro, Castilian mistress of his heir Pedro, for involving the Portuguese throne in the internal conflicts of Castile. Her execution brought Pedro into rebellion against his father, but the brief struggle was resolved by devolving upon Pedro certain functions of government, including that of dispensing justice throughout the kingdom. During Pedro's ten years as ruler in his own right (1357-1367), as Pedro I, he earned the nickname O Justiceiro (the Justicer) for his rigorous if capricious punishment of wrongdoing among all classes. The Justicer was in fact a merry and sometimes irresponsible monarch who loved to dance and sing with his subjects and devoted much energy to the hunt. However, he kept Portugal out of war and became perhaps the most popular of all medieval Portuguese kings.
 
The last king of the Burgundian dynasty, D. Fernando (1367-1383), was the least successful and the most unpopular, a ruler whose personality, policies, and reign were all contradictory. He instituted a number of constructive measures: the Sesmarias decree of 1375, regulations promoting shipping and commerce, and efforts to limit artistocratic jurisdiction on seigneurial domain. On the other hand, his foreign policy was disastrous. His government became involved on the Anglo-Aragonese side against Castile in the contemporary phase of the Hundred Years' War, and his forces were three times defeated, forcing him to sign three successive unfavorable treaties of peace. A great deal of Portuguese shipping was lost and a heavy economic strain was placed on the kingdom, leaving much of the [ 128] population in growing misery by the 1380s. His queen, Leonor Teles, who had been legally wed to a nobleman, was extremely unpopular, identifying the throne with aristocratic and foreign intrigues. Moreover, Fernando increased the granting of honras to favored nobles at a time when the kingdom could least afford it. When he died in 1383, the towns and some of the aristocracy were seething with discontent.

The Succession Crisis of 1383-1385

Fernando left no male heir, and his only daughter, Beatriz, was married to Juan I of Castile with the provision that their offspring would inherit the Portuguese crown, introducing the danger of Castilian domination. Until such issue, however, the Portuguese crown remained under the regency of Fernando's widow, the hated Leonor Teles. The government of the queen regent and her new Galician lover was particularly detested by the townspeople and some of the lesser nobility. The queen regent's main rival was a bastard of Pedro I, D. Joâo, grand master of the Order of Aviz (the Portuguese section of the Knights of Calatrava). An Aviz revolt drove Teles from Lisbon, but was immediately faced with an invading force from Castile.

The result was both a civil war and an international war between the Portuguese rebels and the crown of Castile. In general, the south and west rallied behind the Aviz banner. The coastal and urban areas, particularly, opposed the Castilian king, for they feared the imposition of a Castilian-style government which would favor the countryside and the aristocracy. On the other hand, the more traditional and aristocratic north and east rallied to Juan I. During 1383-1384 the Aviz forces were on the defensive but managed to hold fast in the central area around Lisbon, and early in 1385 the Portuguese Cortes at Coimbra officially recognized D. Joâo as king. The struggle reached its climax in the summer of 1385, after the Castilian forces had been weakened by long campaigning. The battle of Aljubarrota, north of Lisbon, resulted in decisive defeat for the Castilian crown when the cavalry of Juan I failed to break the outnumbered ranks of dismounted knights, crossbowmen, and English archers led by D. Joâo's brilliant military chief, Nun'Alvares Pereira.

  Portugal's first alliance with England had been signed by Fernando, and it was renewed in a formal agreement of 1386, bringing nearly 5,000 English troops into the country. John of Gaunt, uncle to the English Richard II, had married a daughter of the former Castilian king, Pedro the Cruel, and pressed his own claim to the Castilian throne in opposition to the new Trastamara dynasty. Anglo-Portuguese forces temporarily occupied much of Spanish Galicia before the [129] Castilian crown paid off the English to get them out of the peninsula. Desultory hostilities between Castile and Portugal continued for years, especially at sea, until a definitive peace was finally signed in 1411.

Joâo I (1384-1433)

The first ruler of the new Aviz dynasty enjoyed a long reign of half a century, during which the basis was laid for the expansion of the fifteenth century. He introduced nothing radical, but consolidated the institutions of the kingdom and continued most of the positive policies of his predecessors. The advent of Joâo I did not mark the triumph of the middle classes over the aristocracy, as is sometimes stated, but a reorganization of the nobility and an elevation of new elements from the petty aristocracy (infançoes) and middle classes. Indeed, it was during his reign that the Portuguese aristocracy began to be officially ranked by the categories and titles typical of the French and English nobility. Like most ambitious rulers, however, Joâo I distrusted the high aristocrats and favored the lesser nobility.
 
The new reign brought with it an increase in the power and authority of the crown. Joâo I's officials, like those of his predecessors, actively expanded the royal authority over seigneurial privilege and local custom. A Royal Council, with specific membership and functions, was established. Following the progressive c I's English queen, Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John the Gaunt, was a most exemplary princess, both as a wife and a queen. Their five sons were the most talented and imaginative generation of heirs in Portuguese history.

Since the middle of the fourteenth century, the monarchy had intervened increasingly in the government of Portuguese towns through the appointment of royal administrators and inspectors (corregedores, regedores, and vedores) to oversee affairs. Joâo I continued this trend but at the same time broadened certain aspects of autonomy and representation. He rewarded town leaders who had backed [130] his cause by granting them broader local property jurisdiction. This increased the influence of the homens bons, the middle-class oligarchs, who for more than a century had been gaining control in the larger towns and concelhos austom of the later Middle Ages, middle-class jurists rather than aristocratic lieutenants were employed in royal administration.

Joâo I was fortunate in possessing the qualities of a successful prince and in having ministers and a family of the highest quality. He was himself a cultured and learned man, prudent almost to a fault, and astute in his political dealings. Joâo das Regras, the jurist who served as chancellor for many years, was perhaps the most effective administrator to assist the medieval Portuguese throne. His military lieutenant, Nun'Alvares Pereira, was a great leader and a model of knightly virtue. Joâo I the expense of the lower classes. Artisans never had much influence in Portuguese municipal government, but Joâo I did open the government of Lisbon to representatives of the guilds (mesteres) in 1384, and during the fifteenth century the practice was extended to most other large towns.

Joâo I was quite respectful of the Portuguese Cortes and summoned it almost biennially. The need to marshal national resources for large enterprises and enlist the support of the towns made the fifteenth century the golden age of the traditional Portuguese Cortes. Yet Joâo I strove to avoid becoming altogether dependent on the Cortes for financial assistance, and for a period of ten years (1418-1427) he did not convene the Cortes at all. His government sought to expand both the royal domain and the royal revenues, incorporating a few sources of ecclesiastical income and restricting several perquisites of the nobility. Taxation became less unequal after the Cortes in 1387 voted general excises to be paid on certain goods by all social classes. These excises provided a significant share of the royal revenue during Joâo I's reign.

The new dynasty assisted peasant agriculture less than its predecessor. Though peasant renters in the north benefitted from the inflation and devaluation that marked Joâo's reign, landless peasants in the south were hurt. Social tension increased in the Alemtejo, whence a flight from the land was already evident by the fifteenth century. Moreover, the new nobility created under Joâo I was often rapacious, and the homens bons of the towns too sometimes seized concelho land from the peasants.

The Aviz policy of strong royal government merely reaffirmed the tradition of the Portuguese monarchy, which had been to a large extent responsible for creating a Portuguese nation. Royal patronage of commerce and incentives for maritime development had already become traditional long before Joâo I. What was new in Portugal by the beginning of the fifteenth century was not these trends of royal policy, but that the small kingdom had, after three hundred years, finally come of age. Though its population was no more than one and a half million, it had achieved strongly institutionalized government, a sense of national unity, a basis for modest economic development, commercial and maritime forces eager for a more expansive role in the world, a reorganized military aristocracy seeking new fields of adventure, and firm, calculating leadership able to guide the energies of its followers into major enterprises abroad.
 



 
Bibliography for Chapter 6
 
 

[338] The best succinct account of Portuguese history is A. H. de Oliveira Marques, History of Portugal, 2 vols. (New York, 1972-73). The principal multivolume histories are Damiao Peres, ed., História monumental de Portugal, 8 vols. (Barcelos, 1928-35); Fortunato de Almeida, História de Portugal, 6 vols. (Coimbra, 1922-29); and Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho, História de Portugal desde o começo da monarchia até o fim do reinado de Afonso III, 8 vols. (Lisbon, n.d.); rev. ed., by L. Gonzaga de Azevedo and D. M. Gomes dos Santos, 6 vols. (Lisbon, 1940-44). There are several one-volume narratives in English: Harold Livermore, A History of Portugal (Cambridge, 1947) and A New History of Portugal (Cambridge, 1966), and Charles E. Nowell, A History of Portugal (Princeton, 1958). The principal history of the Catholic Church in Portugal is Almeida's História da Igreja em Portugal, 4 vols. (Coimbra, 1910-22). The classic work on medieval administrative system is H. de Gama Barros, História da administraçâo pública em Portugal nos séculos XII a XIV, 3 vols. (Lisbon, 1895-1914).

 On the origins of Portugal, see Dan Stanislawski, The Individuality of Portugal (Austin, 1959); T. de Sousa Soares, Reflexoes sobre a origem e fundacâo de Portugal (Coimbra, 1962) and Contribuiçâo para o estudo das origens do poyo portugués (Sa da Bandiera, 1970); A. A. Mundes Correa, Raizes de Portugal (Lisbon, 1944); and, for a political interpretation, Damiño Peres, Como nasceu Portugal (Porto, 1942). M. Blócker-Walter, Alfons I von Portugal (Zurich, 1966), is a recent study of the first Portuguese king. A useful recent economic history is Armando Castro, A evoluçâo económica de Portugal dos séculos XII a XV, 4 vols. (Porto, 1964). A.H. de Oliveira Marques, A sociedade medieval portuguesa (Lisbon, 1964; Eng. tr., Madison, Wis., 1970) is a topical analysis. On the grain question and agriculture, see Oliveira Marques's A questâo cerealífera durante a Idade Media (Lisbon, [339] 1962), and Virgínia Rau, Sesmarias medievais portuguesas (Lisbon, 1946). The Minho region is the principal focus of Alberto Sampaio's Estudos históricos e económicos, 2 vols. (Porto, 1923). See also Pierre David, Etudes historiques sur la Galice et Portugal (Coimbra, 1947).

The basic cultural histories of Portugal are J. P. de Oliveira Martins, A History of Iberian Civilization (New York, 1930), and Antonio José Saraiva, História da cultura em Portugal, 3 vols. (Lisbon, 1950). Hernâni Cidade and Carlos Selvagem are preparing a projected eight-volume history of Cultura portuguesa (Lisbon, 1969). On the idea of the crusade in Portugal, see Carl Erdmann, "Der Kreuzzugsgedanke in Portugal," Historische Zeitschrift 141, no. 1 (1929), pp. 23-53, translated as A idea de cruzada em Portugal (Coimbra, 1940).

Important aspects of political and social development are treated in "Os factores democráticos na formaçâo do Portugal," in the first volume of Jaime Cortesao's Obras completas, 6 vols. (Lisbon, 1964); Edgar Prestage, Royal Power and the Cortes in Portugal (Watford, 1927); and two somewhat differing accounts of the 1383 revolt, Joel Serrao, O carácter social da revoluçio de 1383 (Lisbon, 1946), and António Borges Coelho, A revoluçâo de 1383 (Lisbon, 1965).

Bailey Diffie's Prelude to Empire: Portugal Overseas Before Henry the Navegator (Lincoln, 1960), presents a brief synthesis of the medieval foundations of Portuguese maritime expansion. Other useful studies include Antonio Sergio, En torno da designaçâo de "monarquia agrária" dada á primeira época da nossa história (Lisbon, 1941); Marcelo Caetano, A administraçio municipal de Lisboa durante a primeira dinastia, 1179-1383 (Lisbon, 1951), and Subsédios para a história das Cortes medievais (Lisbon, 1963); Salvador Dias Arnaut, A crise nacional, I: A sucessâo de D. Fernando (Coimbra, 1960); Virginia Rau, A exploraçâo do sal de Setúbal (Lisbon, 1951); and Oliveira Marques, Hansa e Portugal na Idade Média (Lisbon, 1959).

A very useful tool for Portuguese history is Joel Serrâo, ed., Dicionário de História de Portugal, 4 vols. (Lisbon, 1963-1970). Joaquim V. Serrao's História breve da historiografia portuguesa (Lisbon, 1962), provides an account of pre-twentieth-century Portuguese historiography. For those especially interested in medieval Portugal, Oliveira Marques, Guia do estudante de história medieval portuguesa (Lisbon, 1964), is an important aid.