António was educated in Coimbra, and placed in the Order of St. John. He was endowed with the wealthy priory of Crato. In 1571 he was governor of the Portuguese North African fortification of Tangier. Nonetheless, little is known of his life until 1578. In that year, he accompanied King Sebastian of Portugal (1557–1578) in his invasion of Morocco, and was taken prisoner by the Moors in the Battle of Alcazarquivir, where the young King was slain. António is said to have secured his release on easy terms by a fiction. He was asked the meaning of the cross of St. John that he wore on his doublet, and replied that it was the sign of a small benefice which he held from the Pope, and would lose if he were not back by the 1st of January. His captor, believing him to be a poor man, allowed him to escape for a small ransom.
António, relying on the popular hostility to a Spanish ruler (even if Philip's mother was Portuguese), presented himself as an alternative candidate to King Philip II. He endeavoured to prove that his father and mother were married after his birth but no evidence of the marriage could be found at the time (and is still question of debate). António's claim, which was inferior to those of Philip II and the Duchess of Braganza, was not supported by the nobles or gentry. His partisans were drawn almost exclusively from the inferior clergy, the peasants and workmen. Moreover, Philip managed to bribe the upper classes of Portugal with gold from the Americas which ensured the success of his pursuit of the Portuguese crown. For them, the idea of a personal union of the crowns with Spain would be highly profitable for Portugal, which had been experiencing an economic downturn at the time, and would maintain formal independence as well as authonomous administration (in Europe and the empire).
António tried to win the common people to his cause, cashing in the diffuse anti-Spanish Portuguese identity and comparing the current situation to the one of the 1383-1385 Crisis. Then, just as in 1580, the king of Castile invoked arguments of blood nature to inherit the Portuguese throne; and like in 1580, the Master of Aviz (John), illegitimate son of King Peter I of Portugal, claimed his rights to the throne that ended in victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota and in the Cortes of Coimbra in 1385.
After the above event, he attempted to rule Portugal from Terceira Island, in the Azores, where he established an opposition government that lasted until 1583, and where he even minted coin — a typical act of sovereignty and royalty. Because of that, many authors consider him the last monarch of the House of Aviz (instead of Cardinal-King Henry) and the 18th King of Portugal.
His government on Terceira Island was only recognized in the Azores. On the continent and in the Madeira Islands, power was exercised by Philip II, who was recognized as official king the following year by the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar.
As the Habsburgs had not yet occupied the Azores, he sailed for them with a number of French adventurers under Philip Strozzi, a Florentine exile in the service of France, but was utterly defeated at sea by the Álvaro de Bazán, 1st Marquis of Santa Cruz at the Battle of Ponta Delgada off Terceira Island on July 26, and off São Miguel Island on July 27, 1582. He then returned to France and lived for a time in Ruel near Paris. Fear of assassins, employed by Philip II to remove him, drove António from one refuge to another until he finally went to England.
Queen Elizabeth I of England favoured him for much the same reasons as Catherine de' Medici did. In 1589, the year after the Spanish Armada, he accompanied an English expedition, under the command of Francis Drake and Norris, to the coast of Spain and Portugal. The force consisted partly of the queen's ships, and in part by privateers who joined in search of booty. António, with all the credulity of an exile, believed that his presence would provoke a general rising against Philip II. However, none took place and the expedition was a costly failure.
António continued to fight for the restoration of an independent Royal Dynasty of his country until the end of his life. He did not see the end of the Philippine dynasty and of the Iberian Union, in 1640, when a Portuguese — the grandson of his cousin, the Duchess of Braganza — was acclaimed king as John IV of Portugal, after a victorious coup in December 1 1640.
|António, Prior of Crato|| Father:|
Infante Luís, Duke of Beja
| Father's father:|
Manuel I of Portugal
| Father's father's father:|
Infante Fernando, Duke of Viseu
| Father's father's mother:|
Beatrice of Portugal
| Father's mother:|
Maria of Aragon
| Father's mother's father:|
Ferdinand II of Aragon
| Father's mother's mother:|
Isabella of Castile
| Mother's father:|
| Mother's father's father:|
| Mother's father's mother:|
| Mother's mother:|
| Mother's mother's father:|
| Mother's mother's mother:|
|By Ana Barbosa (?-?)|
|Manuel de Portugal||1568||June 22 1638||Accompanied his father in the exile in France, England and Flanders. Married Emilia of Nassau, daughter of William the Silent.|
|Cristóvão de Portugal||April 1573||June 3 1638||After his father's death continued to fight for his cause.|
|Dinis de Portugal||?||?||Cistercian monk.|
|João de Portugal||?||?||Died young.|
|Filipa de Portugal||?||?||Nun at the Monastery of Lorvão.|
|Luísa de Portugal||?||?||Nun in Tordesillas.|