The Final Campaign: Sancho II, Afonso III and the Completion of the Reconquest in Portugal (1223–1250)



The death of the ailing King Afonso in August 1223 marked a nadir in the fortunes of the Portuguese monarchy. Authority devolved onto Afonso’s eldest son, Sancho, who had been born during the reign of his grandfather and namesake, Sancho o Povoador. The new king’s childhood and early adolescence were spent under the shadow of his grandfather’s deathbed capitulation, and much of Sancho’s own reign would be shaped by the policies his father had adopted to restore royal fortunes. Although Sancho had four younger siblings, Afonso, Leonor, Fernando and João (who died before reaching adulthood), the establishment of the twin principles of primogeniture and the indivisibility of the royal patrimony ensured that he succeeded to the throne without challenge. Nevertheless, it was a bleak inheritance. Many of the aristocratic houses and the senior prelates of the kingdom had been deeply antagonised by his father’s efforts to recoup royal resources at their expense. The close of Afonso’s reign saw these discontented magnates in the ascendant, and they were determined to prevent the royal heir from similarly attempting to intervene in their affairs.


Young Brother Royal Court Papal Court Ecclesiastical Authority Military Order 
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© Stephen Lay 2009

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