Papal Recognition of Portuguese Royalty (1147–1179)



By the end of 1147 Afonso Henriques could reflect on a year in which sudden military triumph had justified the patient political manoeuvring of decades and given greater substance to his claims for royal dignity. As befitted a man who aspired to be a king, in the aftermath of his spectacular victories at Santarém and Lisbon Afonso rewarded his faithful followers richly. Among the usual role-call of aristocratic and ecclesiastical beneficiaries were a few of more exotic origin. Early in 1148 the Cistercian monks received a generous donation of land in central Portugal; so too did a foreign knight, William, who had rendered important service during the capture of Lisbon.1 These grants were a recognition by Afonso of the pivotal role Latin Christian forces had played in recent Portuguese successes, as well as an acknowledgement of the ongoing importance of European institutions to his future rule. For while Afonso’s self-proclaimed royal status seems to have been accepted by his own subjects, and even by neighbouring Iberian monarchs, the papacy continued to display deep reservations. Yet Afonso could not allow the matter to rest. If he was to establish a lasting royal dynasty he had no alternative but to elicit a favourable decision from the reluctant papal curia.


Twelfth Century Peace Treaty Portuguese Society Sado Estuary Muslim Leader 
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  1. 60.
    Muslim descriptions of Gerald’s depredations are collected by A. B. Coelho, Portugal na Espanha Arab., 4 vols (Lisbon: Seara Nova, 1975 ), vol. 3, pp. 277–90.Google Scholar

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© Stephen Lay 2009

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