(Lenor) to Pedro IV. of Aragon. The later years of his reign were darkened by the tragedy of Inez de Castro (q.v.). He died in 1357, and the first act of his successor, Pedro the Severe, Pedro, was to take vengeance on the murderers of Inez.Pedro I.
1357–1367. Throughout his reign he strengthened the central government at the expense of the aristocracy and the Church, by a stern enforcement of law and order. In 1361, at the cortes of Elvas, it was enacted that the privileges of the clergy should only be deemed valid in so far as they did not conflict with the royal prerogative. Pedro maintained friendly relations with England, where in 1352 Edward III. issued a proclamation in favour of Portuguese traders, and in 1353 the Portuguese envoy Affonso Martins Alho signed a covenant with the merchants of London, guaranteeing mutual good faith in all commercial dealings.
The foreign policy of Diniz, Alphonso IV. and Pedro I. had been, as a rule, successful in its main object, the preservation of peace with the Christian kingdoms of Spain; in consequence, the Portuguese had advanced in prosperity and culture. They had supported the monarchy because it was a national institution, hostile to the tyranny of nobles and clergy. During the reign of Ferdinand (1367–1383) and under the regency of Leonora the ruling dynasty ceased to represent the national will; the Portuguese people therefore made an end of the dynasty and chose its own ruler. The complex events which brought about this crisis may be briefly summarized.
Ferdinand, a weak but ambitious and unscrupulous king, claimed the thrones of Castile and Leon, left vacant by the Ferdinand death of Pedro I. of Castile (1369); he based his claim on the fact that his grandmother Beatrice belonged to the legitimate line of Castile. WhenFerdinand and Leonora, 1367–1385. the majority of the Castilian nobles refused to accept a Portuguese sovereign, and welcomed Henry of Trastamara (see Spain History), as Henry II. of Castile, Ferdinand allied himself with the Moors and Aragonese; but in 1371 Pope Gregory XI. intervened, and it was decided that Ferdinand should renounce his claim and marry Leonora, the daughter of his successful rival. Ferdinand, however, preferred his Portuguese mistress, Leonora Telles de Menezes, whom he eventually married. To avenge this slight, Henry of Castile invaded Portugal and besieged Lisbon. Ferdinand appealed to John of Gaunt, who also claimed the throne of Castile, on behalf of his wife Constance, daughter of Pedro I. of Castile. An alliance between Portugal and England was concluded; and although Ferdinand made peace with Castile in 1374, he renewed his claim in 1380, after the death of Henry of Castile, and sent João Fernandes Andeiro, count of Ourem, to secure English aid. In 1381 Richard II. of England dispatched a powerful force to Lisbon, and betrothed his cousin Prince Edward to Beatrice, only child of Ferdinand, who had been recognized as heiress to the throne by the cortes of Leiria (1376). In 1383, however, Ferdinand made peace with John I. of Castile at Salvaterra, deserting his English allies, who retaliated by ravaging part of his territory. By the treaty of Salvaterra it was agreed that Beatrice should marry John I. Six months later Ferdinand died, and in accordance with the terms of the treaty Leonora became regent until, the eldest son of John I. and Beatrice should be of age.
Leonora had long carried on an intrigue with the count of Ourem, whose influence was resented by the leaders of the The aristocracy, while her tyrannical rule also aroused bitter opposition. The malcontents chose D. John, grand-master of the knights of Aviz and illegitimateThe Rebellion of 1383. son of Pedro the Severe, as their leader, organized a. revolt in Lisbon, and assassinated the count of Ourem within the royal palace (Dec. 6, 1383). Leonora fled to Santarem and summoned aid from Castile, while D. John was proclaimed defender of Portugal. In 1384 a Castilian army invested Lisbon, but encountered a heroic resistance, and after five months an outbreak of plague compelled them to raise the siege. John I. of Castile, discovering or alleging that Leonora had plotted to poison him, imprisoned her in a convent at Tordesillas, where she died in 1386. Before this, Nuno Alvares Pereira, constable of Portugal, had gained his popular title of “The Holy Constable” by twice defeating the invaders, at Atoleiro and Trancoso in the district of Guarda.
On the 16th of April 1385 the cortes assembled at Coimbra declared the crown of Portugal elective, and at the instance of João das Regras, the chancellor, D. John was chosen king. No event in the early constitutional history of Portugal is more important than thisCortes of Coimbra. election, which definitely affirmed the national character of the monarchy. The choice of the grand-master of Aviz ratified the old alliance between the Crown and the military orders; his election by the whole cortes not only ratified the alliance between the Crown and the commons, but also included. the nobles and the Church. The nation was unanimous.
Ferdinand had been the last legitimate descendant of Count
Henry of Burgundy. With John I. began the rule of a new
dynasty, the House of Aviz. The most urgent John I
matter which confronted the king—or the group
of statesmen, led by João das Regras and theJohn I.
1385–1433. “Holy Constable” who inspired his policy—was the menace of Castilian aggression. But on the 14th of August 1385 the Portuguese army, aided by 500 English archers, utterly defeated the Castilians at Aljubarrota. By this victory the Portuguese showed themselves equal in military power to their strongest rivals in the Peninsula. In October the “Holy Constable” won another victory at Valverde; early in 1386 5000 English soldiers, under John of Gaunt, reinforced the Portuguese; and by the treaty of Windsor (May 9, 1386), the alliance between Portugal and England was confirmed and extended. Against such a. combination the Castilians were powerless; a truce was arranged in 1387 and renewed at intervals until 1411, when peace was concluded. D. Diniz, eldest son of Inez de Castro, claimed the throne and invaded Portugal in 1398, but his supporters were easily crushed. The domestic and foreign policy pursued by John I. until his death in 1433 may be briefly described. At home he endeavoured to reform administration, to encourage agriculture and commerce, and to secure the loyalty of the nobles by grants of land and privileges so extensive that, towards the end of his reign, many nobles who exercised their full feudal rights had become almost independent princes. Abroad, he aimed at peace with Castile and close friendship with England. In 1387 he had married Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt; Richard II. sent troops to aid in the expulsion of D. Diniz; Henry IV., Henry V. and Henry VI. of England successively ratified the treaty of Windsor; Henry IV. made his ally a knight of the Garter in 1400. The convent of Batalha (q.v.), founded to commemorate the victory of Aljubarrota, is architecturally a monument of the English influence prevalent at this time throughout Portugal.
The cortes of Coimbra, the battle of Aljubarrota and the treaty of Windsor mark the three final stages in the consolidation of the monarchy. A period of expansion oversea began in the same reign, with the capture of Ceuta in Morocco. The three eldest sons of King John and Queen Philippa—Edward, Pedro and Henry, afterwards celebrated as Prince Henry the Navigator—desired to win knighthood by service against the Moors, the historic enemies of their country and creed. In 1415 a Portuguese fleet, commanded by the king and the three princes, set sail for Ceuta. English men-at-arms were sent by Henry V. to take part in the expedition, which proved successful. The town was captured and garrisoned, and thus the first Portuguese outpost was established on the mainland of Africa.
3. The Period of Discoveries: 1415–1499.—Before describing in outline the course of the discoveries which were soon to render Portugal the foremost colonizing power in Europe it is necessary to indicate the main causes which contributed to that result. As the south-westermnost of the free peoples of Europe, the Portuguese were the natural inheritors of that work of exploration which had been carried on during the middle ages.