Biography of King of Portugal Alfonso III (1210-1279)

King of Portugal, known as the reformer, born May 5, 1210 in Coimbra and died February 16, 1279. Under his reign were restricted the abuses, converted into law, of the Church and the nobility, was open to councils participation in the politics of the Kingdom and carried out a deep reorganization of public finances and administrative.

Member of the dynasty of Burgundy, Alfonso III was the son of Alfonso II and Doña Urraca and brother of King Sancho II. In 1227 he/she travelled to France and stayed with his aunt, Doña Blanca of Castilela reina. Infant married the widow Countess Matilde di Bologna (1238), becoming in this way count of Bologna and vassal of Luis IX of France. Don Alfonso fought in the service of the French King Henry III of England, playing a prominent role in the battle of the Saintes (1243).

Meanwhile, in Portugal, a part of the nobility and the high clergy rose up against King Sancho II, who blamed allow disorder and claimed it was unable to for the Government. The Archbishop of Braga and the Bishop of Porto got that Innocent IV proclaimed the deposition of the monarch, a gesture that served the Pope to show his power to its main enemy, Emperor Federico II. To give effect to the decisions of the Curia was offered the Portuguese Crown to the infante don Alfonso, beginning negotiations in late 1244; at the beginning of the following year, the prelates swore obedience to don Alfonso, at the same time that innocent IV excommunicated to Sancho II. The infante took the title of Regent, which kept until the death of his brother. The problem was how the Regent could leave France and depart for Portugal with an army, without reasons; Dad solved this by promulgating a bull of the crusade for the Iberian Peninsula (it was the time of the crusade of San Luis), granting indulgences to all who are joining don Alfonso and ordering all the vassals of the Portuguese Crown, which obey the infant as Governor of the Kingdom. Don Alfonso, who in Paris had accepted degrading conditions for access to the throne, came to Lisbon in early 1246, but the takeover was not simple. He/She took the title of visitor and curator do United and received the accession of Lisbon and, in general, in the South of the country; the North declared supporter of Sancho II, who, with their valid, Martim Gil, opposed a tenacious resistance. The King asked for help to the infante of Castile (which would be the future Alfonso X) and the pleas of the Castilian Prince did Pope Innocent IV, who increasingly lived most of the Duke of Bologna, to reconsider the deposition of the monarch. Did nothing to don Sancho, who died in January of 1248.

Only after the death of his brother, Alfonso III was proclaimed King. The former partisans of don Sancho were forced to emigrate from Portugal to avoid reprisals by the new monarch, who confiscated the lands of many of them and delivered them to their related, especially Chancellor Esteban Anes and don Juan Pérez de Aboim (who also entrusted the Government of the southern Alentejo and Algarve landsrecently conquered by the military orders). Those who remained were forced to negotiate with the monarch, who also normalized relations with Castile, signing a truce of forty years with Fernando III and obtaining recognition of the domain of the Algarve, don Alfonso was not answered until after the death of the Holy King.

But with the ascent to the throne of Alfonso X in Castile, the Algarve was again disputed territory. Seems that the campaign developed by the wise King (1252) resolved nothing, and were the negotiations between the two monarchs peninsular which ended the conflict: Alfonso III would receive the Algarve property, while incomes that produce the region would go to stop into the Castilian coffers. In any case, Alfonso X did not exercise any dominion over the Algarve throughout all his reign. In the peace negotiations the marriage also agreed of Alfonso III Doña Beatriz, bastard daughter of Alfonso X. The marriage took place after the death of the queen Doña Matilde.

Alfonso X received from the Holy see in 1265 the right to charge the tenth on the ecclesiastical performances of the Peninsula, to be able to undertake the crusade. There was, however, a constraint: the Spanish could not charge tenths of the Kingdom of Portugal Alfonso III was engaged in wars against the Muslims, that was not the case, whether this agreed to collaborate with his father-in-law in the crusade. The Portuguese showed eagerness to collaboration and sent his son, the infante don Dionis to visit his great-uncle (1267); for this, and other signs of goodwill Alfonso X gave to don Dionís Algarve, which was incorporated to Portugal permanently.

Once gained a foothold in power, Alfonso III revoked the conditions that had accepted in Paris before the prelates that they offered him the throne, which led to clashes between the Crown and the Church. The King kept a lawsuit with the Bishop of Porto, he/she condemned to pay compensation for the irregular payment of some customs duties. Later, in order to reconcile with the Church establishment, don Alfonso raised fines to the see of Porto. This took place in the courts of Leiria, in April of 1254. These courts were of special importance, because they were the first in which the town was represented through attorneys and municipal delegates, while previous courts had been composed exclusively for the nobility and the high clergy. The cortes of Leiria marked the beginning of a collaboration between the Crown and the town, which was greatly developed in the time of King don Dionís. In Leiria, the municipalities filed their complaints and the King confirmed donations or issued repairs to damage inferred to some monasteries.

The efforts of Alfonso III to protect the settlers and to the members of the councils and redirect tax policy harmed the interests of the nobility and the clergy. In particular, the rulings handed down in 1265 were very answered by the great lords and the clergy regular and secular, as the livelihood of the wars which agitated the country during the last years of the reign of don Alfonso. The King should keep violent fights with disgruntled nobles of the North of Portugal. The Church also reacted against actual measurements; of the nine prelates that comprised the dioceses of Portugal, seven were against the King and threw the interdict on the Kingdom, and to request the Papal support. Negotiations between the King and the Roman Curia is dilated, until 4 September 1275 was issued the Bull of Regno Portugaliae, in which the Pope threatened the King with excommunication if he/she not adhered to the provisions of Paris and ceded to the demands of the clergy. The excommunication came, but did not have political effects. The King continued to develop the same policy until the end of his days, though, before he/she died, it took an oath to his heir, don Dionís, that it would respect the mandates of Apostolic and ecclesiastical immunities. Alfonso III died of painful illness and was buried in Alcobaça.

They are highlighting the efforts of Alfonso III in the revitalization of the economy and the creation of new currency. The strength of the economy allowed the King to replace some of the old taxes in kind tax on currency. In addition, in 1258 many usurped before goods were returned to the Crown, which could improve the tax collection system. In the courts of Coimbra of 1261, Alfonso III instituted a general tribute on the property; This tax, which has been considered by some historians as a concession of the people, not as an achievement of the monarch, served for the minting of silver coin new, with the same value as the previous coin, but with a much lower intrinsic value. To implement the circulation of the new currency was instituted a tax aimed at rescuing the old currency.


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