Afonso III

Afonso III of Portugal

Afonso III (in Portuguese; rare English alternatives: Alphonzo or Alphonse), or Affonso (Archaic Portuguese), Alfonso or Alphonso (Portuguese-Galician) or Alphonsus (Latin), the Bolognian (Port. o Bolonhês) or the Brave (Port. o Bravo), the fifth King of Portugal (May 5 1210 in CoimbraFebruary 16 1279 in Alcobaça, Coimbra or Lisbon) and the first to use the title King of Portugal and the Algarve, since 1249. He was the second son of King Afonso II of Portugal and his wife, Urraca, princess of Castile; he succeeded his brother, King Sancho II of Portugal on 4 January, 1248.

As the second son of King Afonso II of Portugal, Afonso was not expected to inherit the throne, which was destined to go to his elder brother Sancho. He lived mostly in France, where he married Matilda, the heiress of Boulogne, in 1238, thereby becoming Count of Boulogne. In 1246, conflicts between his brother, the king, and the church became unbearable. Pope Innocent IV then ordered Sancho II to be removed from the throne and be replaced by the Count of Boulogne. Afonso, of course, did not refuse the papal order and marched to Portugal. Since Sancho was not a popular king, the order was not hard to enforce; he was exiled to Castile and Afonso III became king in 1248 after his brother's death. To ascend the throne, he abdicated from the county of Boulogne and later (1253) divorced Matilda.

Determined not to commit the same mistakes as his brother, Afonso III paid special attention to what the middle class, composed of merchants and small land owners, had to say. In 1254, in the city of Leiria, he held the first session of the Cortes, a general assembly comprising the nobility, the middle class and representatives of all municipalities. He also made laws intended to restrain the upper classes from abusing the least favoured part of the population. Remembered as a notable administrator, Afonso III founded several towns, granted the title of city to many others and reorganized public administration.

This King showed extraordinay vision for that time. Humanists and Progessists measures taken during his kingship includes: The representatives of the people were for the first time included in the governance, besides the nobility and clergy; The end of preventive arrests, all arrests by the police had to be first presented to a judge to determine the detention measure, monetary economy measures, such as the negotiation with the mercators a extraordinary taxation instead of the typical devalorization of money. The first measures of a state towards laicity, including taxation of the catolic church wealth. This leads to his excomunication by the holy see. This precipitated his death and his son Dom Dinis prematurelly rise to the throne with only 18 years old.

Secure on the throne, Afonso III then proceeded to make war with the Muslim communities that still thrived in the south. In his reign the Algarve became part of the kingdom, following the capture of Faro—Portugal thus becoming the first Iberian kingdom to complete its Reconquista.

Following his success against the Moors, Afonso III had to deal with a political situation arising from the borders with Castile. The neighbouring kingdom considered that the newly acquired lands of the Algarve should be Castilian, not Portuguese, which led to a series of wars between the two kingdoms. Finally, in 1267, a treaty was signed in Badajoz, determining that the southern border between Castile and Portugal should be the River Guadiana, as it is today.


Afonso's ancestors in three generations
Afonso III of Portugal Father:
Afonso II of Portugal
Father's father:
Sancho I of Portugal
Father's father's father:
Afonso I of Portugal
Father's father's mother:
Maud of Savoy
Father's mother:
Dulce Berenguer of Aragon
Father's mother's father:
Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona
Father's mother's mother:
Petronila of Aragon
Urraca of Castile
Mother's father:
Alfonso VIII of Castile
Mother's father's father:
Sancho III of Castile
Mother's father's mother:
Blanca of Navarre
Mother's mother:
Leonora of England
Mother's mother's father:
Henry II of England
Mother's mother's mother:
Eleanor of Aquitaine

Marriages and descendants

Afonso's first wife was Matilda II of Boulogne, daughter of Renaud, Count of Dammartin, and Ida of Boulogne. She had two sons (Roberto and an unnamed one), but both died young. He divorced Matilda in 1253 and, in the same year, married Beatrix of Castile, illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X, King of Castile, and Maria de Guzman.

Name Birth Death Notes
By Matilda II of Boulogne (c. 1202-1262; married in 1216)
Infante Roberto (Robert) 1239 1239  
By Beatrix of Castile (1242-1303; married in 1253)
Infanta Branca (Blanche) February 25 1259 April 17 1321 Abbess of the Convent of Huelgas
Infante Fernando (Ferdinand) 1260 1262  
Infante Dinis (Denis) October 9 1261 January 7 1325 Succeeded him as Denis, 6th King of Portugal. Married Infanta Isabel of Aragon.
Infante Afonso February 8 1263 November 2 1312 Lord of Portalegre. Married to Violante Manuel of Castile (daughter of Juan Manuel of Castile).
Infanta Sancha February 2 1264 c. 1302  
Infanta Maria November 21 1264 June 6 1304 Nun in the Convent of Saint John in Coimbra.
Infanta Constança (Constance) 1266 1271  
Infante Vicente (Vincent) 1268 1271  
By Madragana (Mor Afonso) (c. 1230-?)
Martim Afonso Chichorro c. 1250 a. 1313 Natural son; Married Inês Lourenço de Valadres.
Urraca Afonso c. 1260 ? Natural daughter; Married twice: 1st to D. Pedro Anes de Riba Vizela, 2nd to João Mendes de Briteiros
By Maria Peres de Enxara (?-?)
Afonso Dinis c. 1260 a. 1310 Natural son; Married to D. Maria Pais Ribeira, Lady of the House of Sousa.
Other natural offspring
Leonor Afonso c. 1250 1291 Natural daughter. Married twice: 1st to D. Estevão Anes de Sousa (without issue), 2nd to D. Gonçalo Garcia de Sousa, Count of Neiva (without issue).
Gil Afonso 1250 December 31 1346 Natural son; Knight of the Order of the Hospital.
Fernando Afonso ? ? Natural son; Knight of the Order of the Hospital.
Rodrigo Afonso 1258 about May 12 1272 Natural son; Prior of the city of Santarem.
Leonor Afonso (nun) ? 1259 Natural daughter; Nun in the Monastery of Santa Clara of Santarem.
Urraca Afonso 1250 November 4 1281 Natural daughter; Nun in the Monastery of Lorvão.
Henrique Afonso ? ? Natural son; Married to Inês (last name unknown).


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