H. Morse (Henry Morse) Stephens.

Portugal online

. (page 7 of 29)
Online LibraryH. Morse (Henry Morse) StephensPortugal → online text (page 7 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

applying the maxims of their studies to the common
law of Portugal, which was largely founded on
Visigothic ideas, they began to build up a system
of Portuguese law, of which the importance became
visible later. Diniz did not venture to abolish the
feudal courts, though he checked their abuses, and
- among other reforms, he appointed royal " corregidors"
in every city and town belonging to the Crown in
• lordship, who were to act as judges of appeal from
the feudal and city courts, as well as to take charge of
the police. His wise encouragetnent of commerce
appears in his commercial treaty with England, and
by his establishment of a royal navy, commanded by
a new official, entitled the " Almirante Mor," or Lord
High Admiral, which office was first granted to a
distinguished Genoese sailor, Emmanuel Pessanha.

But the greatest qualification of Dom Diniz for the
sovereignty of a country, which had at last got time
to learn the arts of peace and to become civilized.


was his affection for literature and his encouragement
of education. It was Diniz, who, in 1300, founded the
first Portuguese university at Lisbon, which after
many changes between that city and Coimbra, found
its permanent home in the latter city, and became
the centre of literary influence in Portugal. The
king was also a poet of exquisite taste, and in the num-
ber, beauty, and variety of his songs he proved himself
the greatest poet of his Court. Educated by Aymeric
d'Ebrard of Cahors, whom he made Bishop of Coimbra,
he shows in his poems the influence of the troubadours,
and not of the trouveres who had thronged his father's
Court. He had inherited poetic feeling and power of
expression from his father, Affonso III., who was no
mean poet, and who is said to have written a powerful
"sirvente" against Alfonso X., but his father had
during his long residence at Paris been impressed with
the poetry of northern France, and had invited trou-
veres only to his Court. Dom Diniz, both by educa-
tion and feeling, belonged to a different school, and
preferred the softer themes and methods of the
troubadours. With the Courts of Love which he
introduced into Portugal came the substitution of the
Limousin decasyllabic for the national octosyllabic
metre, and the ancient forms were lost in the intricacies
of the " ritournelle." But the best service done by
Diniz and his poetic courtiers was in developing the
Portuguese dialect into a beautiful and flexible
literary language. The king went further ; as he
grew older, he threw off the trammels of Provencal
forms, and perceiving the beauty of his people's
lyrics, he wrote some quaint and graceful " pasto-


rellas " inspired by their influence, which are full of
poetic life and truth. The effects of the influence of
Dom Diniz, in the words of a recent writer on Por-
tuguese literature, "pervade the whole of Portuguese
poetry ; for not only was he in his ' pastorellas ' the
forerunner of the great pastoral school, but by
sanctifying to literary use the national storehouse of
song, he perpetuated among his people, even to the
present day, lyric forms of great beauty." ^ Literary
excellence and the growth of a national poetry form
the natural sequel of the attainment of national
independence; and it is interesting to observe that the
king, who peacefully consolidated the Portuguese
kingdom, was the founder of Portuguese literature.
Camoens happily hits off in a couple of stanzas the
characteristics of his reign.

" See, next that Diniz comes in whom is seen
the ' brave Afonso's ' offspring true and digne ;
whereby the mighty boast obscured been,
the vaunt of lib'eral Alexander's line :
Beneath his sceptre blooms the land serene
(already compast golden Peace divine)
With constitution, customs, laws and rights,
a tranquil country's best and brightest lights.

The first was he who made Coimbra own
Pallas- Minerva's gen'rous exercise ;
he called the Muses' choir from Helicon
to tread the lea that by Mondego lies :
Whate'er of good whilere hath Athens done,
here proud Apollo keepeth ev'ery prize :
Here gives he garlands wove with golden ray,
with perfumed Nard and ever-verdant Bay." "

^ "Encyclopaedia Britannica," 9th edition, Article " Portugal."

' Camoens, "Lusiads," canto iii. stanzas 96, 97, Burton's translation.


Personally dissolute, as the nature of much of his
poetry and his encouragement of the troubadours and
their Courts of Love show, the stories told of the Court
of Dom Diniz are far from edifying. Yet some of them
are full of romantic interest, and exhibit the more
constant love of the south instead of the airy fancies of
Provence. Of these stories, the most romantic of all
is perhaps that of Donna Branca or Blanche, the
sister of Diniz and the abbess of Lorvao and Huelgas,
who loved a humble carpenter Pedro Esteves, and
was the mother of a son, Joao Nunes do Prado, who
became Master of the Order of Calatrava, and was
beheaded by Pedro the Cruel of Castile. It is this
story which has furnished the plot of one of the most
striking of modern Portuguese dramas, Almeida-Gar-
rett's " Donna Branca." The king's favours to his
bastards, Joao Affonso and Affonso Sanches, whom
he successively made Mordomo Mor, and Pedro
Affonso, whom he made Alferes Mor and Count of
Barcellos, involved him towards the end of his reign
in bitter disputes with his only legitimate son, Affonso.
Open war at last broke out between Dom Diniz and
his heir-apparent, and a pitched battle was only
prevented by S. Isabel riding between the armies in
1323, and making a peace between her husband and
her son, which lasted until the death of the great
peace monarch, the " Re Lavrador " in 1325.

Immediately on his accession to the throne, Affonso
IV., the successor of Dom Diniz, gave full vent to his
rage against his half brothers, and with the consent
and assistance of the nobility of Portugal, he beheaded
Joao Affonso and confiscated all his lands, as well as


those of Affonso Sanches, who had escaped to
Castile. This act of revenge, or of justice, as he
called it, consummated, he settled down as a worthy
successor of his father, and fostered all the schemes
of Diniz for the development of Portugal. He also
continued his father's policy of peace with Castile, and
made a formal alliance with that country in 1327
when he married his daughter Donna Maria to
Alfonso XI. of Castile. This marriage did not
prove a happy one ; the king neglected his young
wife for Leonora de Guzman, and treated her so badly
that in 1336 Affonso IV. invaded Castile. A terrible
war was impending, when S. Isabel once more played
the part of peacemaker. Leaving the convent of
Poor Clares at Coimbra, whither she had retired after
her husband's death, she hurried to Estremoz, where
the two armies were facing each other, and made
peace between the opposing monarchs. Alfonso XI.
promised to treat his wife better, and the Infant Dom
Pedro, the only surviving son of the King of Portugal,
was granted the hand of Constance Manuel, daughter
of the Duke of Penafiel. The strength of the new
alliance was soon tried; for in 1340 Abu-l-Hasan,
king of Morocco, crossed the straits to come to
the help of the king of Granada, with a great
army. Alfonso XI. sent his wife to beg for the
assistance of the Portuguese chivalry, and Affonso
willingly complied. In the great battle of the Salado
on 29th of October the Moors were utterly defeated,
and the two generals who were most conspicuous on
the Christian side, were Affonso IV. of Portugal, who
won the sobriquet of Affonso " the Brave," and


Don Pedro Fernandez de Castro, Mordomo Mor of
Castile. This victory also marks an advance in
Portuguese poetry, for on it was written the first Por-
tuguese epic by Affonso Giraldes, the forerunner of

It is interesting during this reign to notice the close
intimacy growing up between Portugal and England,
which was to have many important results. Directly
on his accession, Affonso IV. determined to main-
tain the friendly relations which Diniz had com-
menced, and in 1325 he sent an ambassador to propose
a matrimonial alliance with the English rosal family,
probably with a view of contracting a marriage
between his elder daughter. Donna Maria, and the
young Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward III. The
English Court, then under the influence of Queen
Isabella, replied that the ambassador was not of
sufficiently high rank for his application to be
received. Accordingly, in the following year,
Affonso sent his Lord High Admiral, Dom
Manoel Pessanha, and Dom Rodrigo Domingues
on the same mission, but their embassy led to no
result, probably owing to the disturbed state of
affairs in England, and Donna Maria married, as
has been .said, the King of Castile. Friendly
communications continued, nevertheless, between
Portugal and England, and in 1344 Edward III.
sent two ambassadors, Henry, Earl of Lancaster,
and Richard, Earl of Arundel, to draw up a treaty
of alliance with Affonso IV. This was followed
by the mission of Andrew of Oxford, Richard of
Saham, and Philip Borton to ask for the hand of


Donna Leonora, the King of Portugal's younger
daughter, for Edward, Prince of Wales, better known
as the Black Prince, The marriage was agreed upon,
and in 1347 Robert Stratton and Richard of Saham
arrived to fix the day for the passage of the infanta
to England. But at this moment matrimonial
alliances of more political importance occurred to each
of the high contracting parties, and in this very year
Donna Leonora was married to King Pedro IV. of
Aragon, and the Black Prince to the Fair Maid of
Kent. The rupture of this marriage scheme did not
break the friendship of the two kings, both of whom
perceived the wealth to be obtained for their
countries and themselves by encouraging commerce.
The business relations between the two nations soon
became very close, and the wine of Portugal was
freely exchanged for the long-cloth of England. On
July 25, 1352, Edward III. issued a royal proclama-
, tion, ordering his subjects never to do any harm to
\ the Portuguese, and on October 20, 1353, a curious
1 sequel to the commercial treaty of 1294 was signed
lin London by Affonso Martins Alho. This young
Iwine merchant had been sent to England as repre-
Isentative of the merchants of the maritime cities of
Portugal, and the treaty he negotiated with the
citizens of London was one guaranteeing mutual
good faith in all matters of trade and commerce,
with many other technical clauses referring to special
lines of business. The very fact of this treaty or
agreement being signed is a proof, not only of the
close connection between Portugal and England,
but of the high degree of wealth, intelligence, and


business capacity possessed by the merchants of both

The later years of the reign of Affonso IV. were
marked by a fearful pestilence and a sad tragedy.
In 1348 the plague, or, as it was more commonly
called, the Black Death, reached Portugal, after tra-
versing Europe, and more than decimated the inhabi-
tants of Lisbon. On January 7, 1355, Donna Ines de
Castro was murdered in the streets of Coimbra. The
history of the various dynasties of Portugal is full
of romantic stories, some with ludicrous, and others
with tragical, endings, which illustrate, not only the
characters of the respective monarchs, but the
tendencies of their different epochs. The story of
Donna Branca, the princess who loved a carpenter,
has been told, with the comment that her son became
Grand Master of the wealthy Order of Calatrava ; the
romance of Dom Pedro's life ended more tragically.
Dom Pedro was the only son of Affonso IV. and
Beatrice of Castile who had survived his first year.
He was born in 1320, and had married in 1336, in
order to cement his father's alliance with Castile, the
Donna Constance Manuel, daughter of the Duke of
Penafiel. In her suite as lady-in-waiting came the
Donna Ines de Castro, daughter of Pedro Fernandez
de Castro, Mordomo Mor of Castile, and hero of the
battle of the Salado, and sister of Alvaro Peres de
Castro, first Constable of Portugal. Dom Pedro fell
in love with the beautiful Castilian lady, and though,
during his wife's lifetime, he always treated his wife with
the utmost consideration, and was the father by her of
Dom Ferdinand, afterwards King of Portugal, and of



Donna Maria, afterwards Queen of Aragon, it was well
known at the Portuguese Court that the love of Dom
Pedro's heart was centred on Donna Ines. In that dis-
solute Court little attention was paid to the conduct
of the prince ; princes were in those days privileged
persons, and he was known besides to have another
lady-love, the Donna Theresa Lourengo, who was the
mother of Joao, afterwards King of Portugal. It was
not until after the death of his wife that it was per-
ceived that Dom Pedro's love for the Donna Ines was
more than the ordinary fancy of a prince, and was an
absorbing passion. For love of her, he refused to marry
any of the foreign princesses proposed to him by his
father, and it is probable that he went through a
form of marriage with her after his first wife's death.
However that may be, King Affonso determined to
put an end to his son's infatuation by murdering the
object of it, and by his directions Donna Ines was
murdered in the streets of Coimbra by three courtiers,
Alvaro Gonial ves, the " Meirinho Mor " or Lord Cham-
berlain, Pedro Coelho, and Diogo Lopes Pacheco.
This is the tragedy which Camoens has celebrated in
an immortal passage,^ and which has since become a
common theme for the playwrights of the world, good,
bad, and indifferent ; and it may be said, that it is not
so much in the murder itself, as in the events which
followed it, that the most romantic part of the story
is to be found. Dom Pedro was absent on his estates
in the south when he heard of the murder of Ines.
He at once collected his vassals, and prepared to
attack his father, but, as had happened in the days
* "Lusiads," canto iii. stanzas 1 18-135.


of S. Isabel, the Queen, Beatrice of Castile, inter-
posed, and a compromise was made, by which father
and son agreed to see each other no more, and to
abandon active hostilities, and this compact lasted
until the death of Affonso "the Brave" in 1357.

The first act of Dom Pedro on ascending the
throne was to punish the murderers of Ines de
Castro, and he induced the King of Castile to
surrender Alvaro Gon9alves and Pedro Coelho to
him. Pacheco had escaped to England, and could
not be found, and thus escaped the fate of his
accomplices, wlio were slowly tortured to death in
front of the royal palace at Coimbra before the eyes
of Dom Pedro. The king four years later had the
strange ceremony performed, which is far better
known than the circumstances of his love affair with
Donna Ines. On April 24, 1361, either to show his
undying affection for her, or to confirm the story of
his marriage and legitimate his children by her, he
had her body disinterred at Coimbra, and conveyed
to the Convent of Algobaga, where it was solemnly
crowned, and then buried. It is usual to speak
of the Convent of Algobaga as if it had been the
burial-place of all the kings and queens of Portugal
up to this time. Such was not the case ; only
Affonso II. and Affonso III. and their queens were
buried there. Count Henry and Donna Theresa had
their last resting-place in the Cathedral of Braga,
Affonso Henriques and Sancho I. and their queens
in the Convent of Santa Cruz at Coimbra, Diniz in
the Convent of Odivelas, near Lisbon, S. Isabel in
that of the Poor Clares at Coimbra, Affonso IV. and


his queen in Lisbon Cathedral, and Dom Pedro's wife,
Constance Manuel, in the Convent of S. Francis at

The spirit of stern, revengeful justice which had
marked the commencement of the short reign of
Dom Pedro continued to show itself in all matters
of administration ; the king loved to dispense justice
in person, and the rigour with which he treated all
culprits, noble and priest as well as merchant and
vagabond, won for him the title of " Pedro the
Severe." This severity was not unpleasing to the
people, and many tales are extant of the king's
visits incognito to the law courts, and of his rigorous
punishment of unjust judges. Many of the famous
stories told in the "Arabian Nights" of the Caliph
Harun-ar-Rashid are also told of Dom Pedro, and
in them his Chancellor, Vasco Martins de Sousa,
played the part of the Vizir, as companion and butt.
In matters of policy Dom Pedro followed in his
father's and grandfather's steps, avoiding interference
with the other kingdoms of the peninsula, and main-
taining a close political and commercial connection
with England. His reign was too short to leave
much trace on the history of Portugal, for he died in
1367 at Estremoz, and was buried at Al9oba9a by
the side of Ines de Castro.

The accession of Ferdinand, called "the Hand-
some," the only son of Dom Pedro by Constance
Manuel, marks a crisis in the history of the Portu-
guese monarchy. As a natural result of the long
era of peace and prosperity which had succeeded the
final conquest of the Algarves, the people of Portugal


had become more wealthy, more cultivated, and more
conscious of their nationality than almost any people
in Europe while the Court had become more and
more dissolute, and more out of consonance with the
feelings of the people. If the Portuguese monarchy
was to continue to exist, it was obvious that it must
again become a truly national monarchy, as it had
been in the days of Affonso Henriques and of Diniz,
which should lead the way in findi-ng new outlets for
the growing energies of the people, and that the
kings must remember their duties, and not think
only of their pleasures. The affection the people
showed for Dom Pedro, who was by no means a
good king, but rather a despot of the Oriental type,
was a proof that they were ready to recognize with
gratitude the efforts of a just monarch, and their
energies, now that, owing to long peace, they were the
richest nation in the peninsula, only needed to be
directed. Neither the priesthood nor the nobility
showed any disposition to check the dissoluteness of
the Court. The bishops lost their old commanding
influence, as the Papacy, on which they depended,
became degenerate, and the nobles, now that they
had no longer wars to occupy them, either became
courtiers and abettors of the vices of the kings and
princes, or else lived on their feudal estates and
imitated them. The people had now no share in the
government. The power which the Cortes had
obtained during the reign of Affonso III. was in abey-
ance, because the king did not need its help against
his bishops and nobles, but it was only in abeyance,
and ready to spring forth again into new life.


The life and reign of Ferdinand " the Handsome "
are marked, like those of his father, by a romantic
amour, which, if not so tragic as the story of Ines
de Castro, had far greater poHtical importance.
Ferdinand was a weak and frivolous, but ambitious,
king, who, after binding himself to marry Leonora,
daughter of the King of Aragon, suddenly surprised
every one by claiming the thrones of Castile and
Leon in 1 369, on the death of Pedro " the Cruel." This
claim was derived through his grandmother, Beatrice
of Castile, and was good in law, and Dom Ferdinand
was favourably received at Ciudad Rodrigo and
Zamora. But the majority of the Castilians, both
noble and plebeian, had no desire to see a Portuguese
monarch on their throne, and therefore espoused the
cause of the illegitimate Henry of Trastamare as
Henry H. of Castile and Leon. The war which
followed turned to the advantage of the Castilian
pretender, and the contest ended in 1371 by the
intervention of Pope Gregory XL, when Ferdinand
agreed to surrender his claim to the throne of
Castile, and to marry Leonora, daughter of Henry
IL However, in spite of the Pope, this treaty was
never carried out, for at the marriage of his half-
sister, Beatrice, the daughter of Dom Pedro and Ines
de Castro, to Sancho Count of Alboquerque, King
Ferdinand saw and fell passionately in love with
Donna Leonor Telles de Mcnezes, daughter of a
nobleman in the Tras-os-Montes, and wife of Joao
Louren9o da Cunha, Lord of Pombeiro. This
passion was the king's ruin, for the object of it was
a sort of Portuguese Lucrczia Borgia, of whom


horrible stories are told, which historical research
has unfortunately shown to be only too well founded.
At this very period, when she first met the king, she
made no attempt to repulse his advances, though she
was a married woman, and she bore an undying feeling
of revenge against her sister, Donna Maria Telles, for
her attempts to repulse the amorous monarch. In
spite of her sister's efforts, Donna Leonor managed
to captivate the king, who, in his infatuation for her,
and in compliance with the dictates of her ambition,
refused to marry the daughter of Henry II. of Castile.
This refusal exasperated the people of Lisbon, who
knew that the Castilians would not tamely suffer
such an insult, and a great popular tumult and riot
burst forth in the city. The story of this riot has
been admirably told by the chief modern historian of
Portugal, Alexandra Herculano, in one of his his-
torical novels, and it affords a striking example of the
political foresight of the people, and of their conviction
of a coming revolution . The popular leader was a tailor
named Fernan Vasques, under whose command the
mob burst into the palace at Lisbon, hunted in vain
for Donna Leonor, and made King Ferdinand swear
to marry the Castilian infanta or the very next day.
But Ferdinand escaped the same night to Santarem,
and once there with his beloved, he forgot his oath,
and sent all the troops he could collect to punish the
rioters of Lisbon. They made but little resistance,
being unprepared for their sovereign's want of faith
to his plighted word, and Fernan Vasques, the tailor,
and his principal followers were beheaded. This cruel
p%iishment inflicted, the king betook himself to


Oporto, and there married the Donna Leonor at the
Church of S. Joao do Hospital, although her first
husband was still alive. It shows to what a depth
of degradation the Portuguese nobles had sunk that
all the nobility, with the exception of Dom Diniz,
one of the king's half-brothers, acquiesced in this
bigamous marriage, and recognized Donna Leonor
as queen. At the head of those who submitted were
Dom Joao or John, the elder son of the late king
by Ines de Castro, and Dom John, known as " the
Bastard," the Master of the Knights of Aviz, and
the son of Pedro by Theresa Lourengo.

The people of Lisbon were right in believing that
the Castilians would regard the marriage of Ferdinand
to Donna Leonor as a deadly insult to their infanta.
Henry II. at once invaded Portugal, and laid siege to
Lisbon; Ferdinand lived meanwhile quietly at San-
tarem with his queen, and made no effort to intervene ;
and the war would have ended badly for Portugal, had
not Cardinal Guy of Boulogne, who happened to be
in Spain as legate, interfered, and by using all the
authority of the Church, forced Henry H. to retire,
and to make a treaty of peace with Ferdinand at
Santarem. Even after this proof of the power of
Castile, and after the sufferings incurred by the
people of Lisbon during the siege, Ferdinand refused
to keep the peace. He would not believe that Henry
H. was firmly established on the throne, and in 1373
he treacherously renewed the negotiations which he
had entered into the year before with John of Gaunt,
Duke of Lancaster. This son of Edward HI.
claimed the throne of Castile for hjs wife Constance,


the daughter of Pedro "the Cruel," and Ferdinand
signed a treaty of alHance with Edward III., through
his ambassadors, Joao Fernandes Andeiro and Vasco
Domingues, by which he agreed to support the
claims of the English prince. But Donna Leonor did
not approve of the English alliance, and in 1374,
Ferdinand as usual broke his plighted word, and again

Online LibraryH. Morse (Henry Morse) StephensPortugal → online text (page 7 of 29)