Once a Kingdom…!

Stories of Portuguese History – 1

Yes, Portugal was a Monarchy from its foundation in 1143 until the beginning of the last century, 1910. D. Afonso Henriques, Afonso I, was the first king of the Kingdom of Portugal.

I intend to publish some excerpts, testimonials, and short episodes about the long history of my country. Today, I will post the first one here.

Hope you like it!

Note: I will be numbering these for an easier search.


There we see the king walking from land to land, speaking personally with his people, dancing among them, getting informed about the intimate life not only of his advisers but also of this or that fellow citizen. We see the people crowding the street, in heaps, “as they used to” to comment on events; or gather en masse and armed, in front of the royal palace. They go to their king and talk about his own wedding, saying they didn’t want to lose such a good king as D. Fernando for an evil woman like Leonor Teles. We see him refusing the heir queen’s order of acclamation and forcing the high dignitaries who carried out the ceremony to flee. The king and the people, the court and the “villa” (the urban part of the villages), have a rural familiarity as if the protocol partition did not exist.

King D. Pedro appears as the personification of this kind of relationship. Simultaneously, he emphasizes the pathological features – the stutter, the intemperate justice, the abnormal love he would have had for a squire who ordered castrated – Fernão Lopes seems to portray an ideal showing D. Pedro in his nocturnal dances with the city’s bourgeois.

(…) The secrets of the court are exposed by the common sense of the street. There are no untouchable creatures, no matters reserved for the palatial elite, no need for euphemisms for people to explain themselves, except in those matters that concern individual modesty. If the king is a man, how can his officials and the nobles around him not be? Language is free, and general common sense is the criterion of judgment applied either to the neighbor’s behavior or to the king and his court.

(…) Now this state of affairs corresponded to a certain balance of forces, which was, by its nature, unstable. In the fourteenth century and for part of the fifteenth century, sometimes the king acts as a referee between those forces that do not dominate each other quite well.


In As Crónicas de Fernão Lopes, by Fernão Lopes, selected and translated into modern Portuguese, by António José Saraiva, 1996.

King D. Pedro I (1320 – 1367), called the Just (o Justo) or the Cruel (o Cruel), was the King of Portugal from 1357 until his death. He was the son of King Afonso IV and his wife, Beatrice of Castille. 

He was known for his attention to justice and for his madness by Inês de Castro.

King D. Fernando I (1345 – 1383), nicknamed the Handsome (o Formoso) or occasionally the Inconstant (o Inconstante), was the ninth King of Portugal and the last of the first dynasty, having reigned from 1367 until he died in 1383. His death led to the 1383–85 Crisis, also known as the Portuguese Interregnum.

Fernão Lopes (c. 1380/90? – 1460) was a Portuguese chronicler of King D. Duarte and the main guard of Torre do Tombo. Fernão Lopes wrote the History of Portugal, but of his several works, only the chronicles of D. Pedro, D. Fernando and D. João remain.

António José Baptista Saraiva (Leiria, 31 December 1917 – Lisbon, 17 March 1993) was an ‘Emeritus’ Professor and Historian of Portuguese Literature. He had published an extensive and crucial work considered a reference in the fields of Portuguese Literature and Cultural History, matured both in the edition of several books, and in the study of individual authors (Camões, Correia Garção, Cristóvão Falcão, Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano, Fernão Lopes, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Gil Vicente, Eça de Queirós, Oliveira Martins), either through the publication of great works such as the History of Culture in Portugal or, in partnership with Óscar Lopes, the History of Portuguese Literature.


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