1109 Alphonso VI. died, bequeathing all his territories to his legitimate daughter Urraca, and Count Henry at once invaded Leon, hoping to add to his own dominions at the expense of his suzerain. After three years of war against Urraca and other rival claimants to the throne of Leon, Count Henry himself died in 1112. He left Theresa to govern Portugal north of the Mondego during the minority of her infant son Affonso Henriques (Alphonso I.): south of the Mondego the Moors were still supreme.
Theresa renewed the struggle against her half-sister and
suzerain Urraca in 1116–1117, and again in 1120; in 1121 she
was besieged in Lanhoso and captured. But a
peace was negotiated by the archbishops Diogo
Gelmires of Santiago de Compostela and Burdino ofTheresa,
1112–1128. Braga, rival churchmen whose wealth and military resources enabled them to dictate terms. Bitter jealousy existed between the two prelates, each claiming to be primate of “all the Spains,” and their antagonism had some historical importance in so far as it fostered the growth of separatist tendencies among the Portuguese. But the quarrel was temporarily suspended because both Gelmires and Burdino had reason to dread the extension of Urraca's authority. It was arranged that Theresa should be liberated and should continue to hold the county of Portugal as a fief (honor) of Leon. During the next five years she lavished wealth and titles upon her lover Fernando Peres, count of Trava, thus estranging her son, the archbishop of Braga and the nobles, most of whom were foreign crusaders. In 1128, after her power had been crushed in another unsuccessful conflict with Leon and Castile, she was deposed by her own rebellious subjects and exiled in company with Peres. She died in 1130.
Alphonso, who became count of Portugal in 1128, was one of
the warrior heroes of medieval romance; his exploits were sung
by troubadours throughout south-western Europe, and even in
Africa “ibn Errik”—the son of Henry—was known and
feared. The annals of his reign have been encumberedAlphonso I.,
1128–1185. with a mass of legends, among which must be included the account of a cortes held at Lamego in 1143; probably also the description of the Valdevez tournament, in which the Portuguese knights are said to have vanquished the champions of Leon and Castile. Alphonso was occupied in almost incessant border fighting against his Christian or Moorish neighbours. Twelve years of campaigning on the Galician frontier were concluded in 1143 by the peace of Zamora, in which Alphonso was recognized as independent of any Spanish sovereign, although he promised to be a faithful vassal of the pope and to pay him a yearly tribute of four ounces of gold. In 1167, however, the war was renewed. Alphonso succeeded in conquering part of Galicia, but in attempting to capture the frontier fortress of Badajoz he was wounded and forced to surrender to Ferdinand II. of Leon (1169). Ferdinand was his son-in-law, and was probably disposed to leniency by the imminence of a Moorish invasion in which Portugal could render useful assistance. Alphonso was therefore released under promise to abandon all his conquests in Galicia.
He had already won many victories over the Moors. At the beginning of his reign the religious fervour which had sustained the Almoravide dynasty was rapidly subsiding; in Portugal independent Moorish chiefs ruled over cities and petty states, ignoring the central government; in Africa the Almohades were destroying the remnants of the Almoravide power. Alphonso took advantage of these dissensions to invade Alemtejo, reinforced by the Templars and Hospitallers, whose respective headquarters were at Soure and Thomar. On the 2 5th of July 1139 he defeated the combined forces of the Moors on the plains of Ourique, in Alemtejo. Legend has magnified the victory into the rout of 200,000 Moslems under five kings; but so far was the battle from being decisive that in 1140 the Moors were able to seize the fortress of Leiria, built by Alphonso in 1135 as an outpost for the defence of Coimbra, his capital. In 1144 they defeated the Templars at Soure. But on the 15th of March 1147 Alphonso stormed the fortress of Santarem, and about the same time a band of crusaders on their way to Palestine landed at Oporto and volunteered for the impending siege of Lisbon. Among them were many Englishmen, Germans and Flemings, who were afterwards induced to settle in Portugal. Aided by these powerful allies, Alphonso captured Lisbon on the 24th of October 1147. This was the greatest military achievement of his reign. The Moorish garrisons of Palmella, Cintra and Almada soon capitulated, and in 1158 Alcacer do Sal, one of the chief centres of Moorish commerce, was taken by storm. At this time, however, the Almohades had triumphed in Africa and invaded the Peninsula, where they were able to check the Portuguese reconquest, although isolated bands of crusading adventurers succeeded in establishing themselves in various cities of Alemtejo. The most famous of these free-lances was Giraldo Sempavor (“Gerald the Fearless”), who captured Evora in 1166. In 1171 Alphonso concluded a seven years truce with the Moors; weakened by his wound and by old age, he could no longer take the field, and .when the war broke out afresh he delegated the chief command to his son Sancho. Between 1179 and 1184 the Moors retrieved many of their losses in Alemtejo, but were unable to retake Santarem and Lisbon. Alphonso died on the 6th of December 1185. He had secured for Portugal the status though not the name of an independent kingdom, and had extended its frontier southwards from the Mondego to the Tagus. He had laid the foundation of its navy and had strengthened, if he did not inaugurate, that system of co-operation between the Crown and the military orders which afterwards proved of incalculable service in the maritime and colonial development of the nation.
Sancho I. continued the war against the Moors with varying
fortune. In 1189 he won Silves, then the capital of Algarve;
in 1192 he lost not only Algarve but the greater part
of Alemtejo, including Alcacer do Sal. A peace was
then arranged, and for the next eight years SanchoSancho I.,
1185–1211. was engaged in hostilities against Alphonso IX. of Leon. The motives and course of this indecisive struggle are equally obscure. It ended in 1201, and the last decade of Sancho's reign was a period of peaceful reform which earned for the king his popular name of o Povoador, the “maker of towns.” He granted fresh charters to many cities, legalizing the system of self-government which the Romans had bequeathed to the Visigoths and the Moors had retained or improved. Lisbon had already (1179) received a charter from Alphonso I. Sancho also endeavoured to foster immigration and agriculture, by granting estates to the military orders and municipalities on condition that the occupiers should cultivate or colonize their lands. Towards the close of his reign he became embroiled in a dispute with Pope Innocent III. He had insisted that priests should accompany their flocks in battle, had made them amenable to secular jurisdiction, had withheld the tribute due to Rome and had even claimed the right of disposing of ecclesiastical domains. Finally he had quarrelled with Martinho Rodrigues, the unpopular bishop of Oporto, who was besieged for five months in his palace and then forced to seek redress in Rome (1209). As Sancho was in weak health and had no means of resisting Papal pressure, he made full submission (1210); and after bestowing large estates on his sons and daughters, he retired into the monastery of Alcobaga (q.v.), where he died in 1211.
The reign of Alphonso II. (“the Fat”) is noteworthy for
the first meeting of the Portuguese cortes, to which the upper
hierarchy of the Church and the nobles (fidalgos and
ricos homens) were summoned by royal writ. The
was no warrior, but in 1212 a Portuguese contingentAlphonso II.
1211–1223. aided the Castilians to defeat the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa, and in 1217 the ministers, bishops and captains of the realm, reinforced by foreign Crusaders, retook Alcacer do Sal. Alfonso II. repudiated the will of his father, refused to surrender the estates left to his brothers, who went into exile, and only gave up the property bequeathed to his sisters after a prolonged civil war in which Alphonso IX. of Leon took part against them. Even then he compelled the heiresses to take the veil. His attempts to strengthen the monarchy and fill the treasury at the expense of the Church resulted in his excommunication by