The Science of Kingship: Institutional Innovation during the Reign of Afonso II (1211–1223)



Few Portuguese monarchs have come to the throne under less auspicious circumstances than Afonso II. The deathbed capitulation of his father, King Sancho, dramatically weakened the authority of the monarchy as an institution. Worse perhaps, even though Afonso had been designated as heir to the throne from at least 1188, at the time of his accession he had seven siblings, all of whom were ambitious and strong-willed. The king was to face challenges to royal authority from many quarters, but among the most serious came from within his own closest family. Nor were these political and dynastic complications the only problems clouding the beginning of the new king’s reign. While posterity granted Afonso Henriques the honorific O Conquistador and King Sancho became O Povoador, Afonso II received a less flattering cognomen: O Gord (the Fat). This sobriquet alluded to the king’s health, which may have been quite delicate. Certainly Afonso seems to have had a limited capacity for physical exertion and exhibited none of the military élan that his predecessors — particularly his grandfather — had so conspicuously displayed.


Gold Coin Atlantic State Royal Court Military Order Crown Prince 
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© Stephen Lay 2009

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