Afonso IV of Portugal
b.8 FEB 1291
d.28 May 1357 Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
Facts and Events
Afonso IV (; 8 February 1291 – 28 May 1357), called the Brave, was King of Portugal and the Algarve from 1325 until his death. He was the only legitimate son of King Denis of Portugal by his wife Elizabeth of Aragon.
Afonso, born in Lisbon, was the rightful heir to the Portuguese throne. However, he was not, according to several sources, Dinis' favourite son; his half-brother, the illegitimate Afonso Sanches, enjoyed full royal favour. From early in life, the notorious rivalry led to several outbreaks of civil war. On 7 January 1325, Afonso's father died and he became king, taking full revenge on his brother. His rival was sentenced to exile in Castile, and stripped of all the lands and fiefdoms donated by their father. Afonso Sanches, however, did not sit still. From Castile, he orchestrated a series of attempts to usurp the crown for himself. After a few failed attempts at invasion, the brothers signed a peace treaty, arranged by Afonso's mother Queen Elizabeth.
In 1309, Afonso IV married Infanta Beatrice of Castile, daughter of King Sancho IV of Castile by his wife Maria de Molina. The first-born of this union, Infanta Maria of Portugal, married King Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328, at the same time that Afonso IV's heir, Peter I of Portugal, was promised to another Castilian infanta, Constance of Peñafiel. These arrangements were imperiled by the ill will of Alfonso XI of Castile, who was, at the time, publicly mistreating his wife. Afonso IV was not happy to see his daughter abused, and started a war against Castile. Peace arrived four years later, with the intervention of Infanta Maria herself. A peace treaty was signed in Seville in 1339 and, in the next year, Portuguese troops played an important role in the victory of the Battle of Rio Salado over the Marinid Moors in October 1340.
The situation became worse as the years passed and the aging Afonso lost control over his court. Peter's only male heir, future king Fernando of Portugal, was a sickly child, while the illegitimate children sired with Inês thrived. Worried about his legitimate grandson's life, and the growing power of Castile within Portugal's borders, Afonso ordered the murder of Inês de Castro in 1355. He expected his son to give in, but the heir was not able to forgive him. Enraged at the barbaric act, Peter put himself at the head of an army and devastated the country between the Douro and the Minho rivers before he was reconciled to his father in early 1357. Afonso died almost immediately after, in Lisbon in May.
As king, Afonso IV is remembered as a soldier and a valiant general, hence the nickname the Brave. But perhaps his most important contribution was the importance he gave to the Portuguese navy. Afonso IV granted public funding to raise a proper commercial fleet and ordered the first maritime explorations.
Henry de Montherlant's French drama La Reine morte was inspired by the conflict between King Afonso and Pedro and Inês.