Biography of King of Portugal Alfonso V (1432-1481)

King of Portugal, called the African born in the Palace of Sintra in 1432 and died on August 28, 1481 in the same place. Son of King Duarte I of Portugal (1391-1438) and Eleanor of Aragon, daughter of Fernando de Antequera. On the death of his father he/she was crowned King and nominally occupied the Throne from 1438 and full-fledged 1448 and 1481.

Childhood and Regency

In October 1438, aged just six, Alfonso became King of Portugal after the death of his father. According to the testament of this, and considering the small age of the new King, established a Regency Council chaired by the widow Queen, Doña Leonor de Aragón, but because of his Hispanic origin there was strong opposition to exercising the Regency. This opposition was not but the reflection of another deeper conflict that divided the country into two camps since the days of Juan I, on the one hand were those nobles eager to continue with the Portuguese expansion in North Africa by means of war, and other those who related to the pacifist ideals of the deceased Duarteopposed to the war of conquest. Supporters of the war in Africa, led by Henry the Navigator, legitimate son of Juan I, and Alonso conde de Barcelos, illegitimate son of Juan I, supported the Regent Leonor; against was a large and powerful party led by don Pedro, Duke of Coimbra and Juan, two brothers of the deceased King, who grouped together large sections of the bourgeoisie and the most humble people. Meanwhile, the high clergy and the nobility were divided. Finally, in 1441, don Pedro was victorious and took over the Regency, but not before reaching an agreement with the count of Barcelos, which granted the title of Duke of Braganza. Between 1441 and 1448 don Pedro acted as Regent of Portugal. Leonor of Aragon Meanwhile, returned to Castile where he/she remained until his death.

The seven years of the Regency of don Pedro were marked by internal conflicts between the aforementioned parties and continuous maneuvers of the Regent by perpetuate itself in power. Don Pedro married his daughter Elizabeth of Portugal with the young King in 1447, and his son major, Pedro, appointed him Constable of the Kingdom. Since Isabel and Alfonso were cousins, had to ask which Eugenio IV granted papal permission. As regards internal policy developed by the Regent, it was marked by moderation to the nobility to try to avoid a possible uprising; Despite attempts to don Pedro, could not avoid confrontation with the count of Barcelos and the noble supporters of the House of Braganza. But if something characterized the complicated Regency was exaggerated nepotism of don Pedro, which came out very benefited Enrique the Navigator.

During the Regency of don Pedro Alfonso relationships went from being very good end in armed conflict. The change of position on his uncle Alfonso V was mainly due to the influence of the Court, especially that of the count of Barcelos. In 1448, by influence of the count of Barcelos Regent don Pedro was removed from office and forced to March to Coimbra. Alfonso V was solemnly proclaimed as King of Portugal, but the following year don Pedro revolted and raised an army from his retreat in Coimbra with which marched against Alfonso V, intending to seize the throne. The armies of don Pedro and Alfonso v may 20, 1499 in Alfarrobeira fought, the battle ended with the death of don Pedro and the defeat of his army.

African politics

Once Alfonso V settled on the throne, placed next to it, as advisors, the Duke of Braganza and the of Viseo, that is, to Barcelos Alonso and Enrique the Navigator. This decision, far from being arbitrary, shows very clearly the policy of the young King size since hand Alonso de Barcelos represented the landowning nobility and on the other, Enrique the Navigator was the best example of the interventionist interest in North Africa. Both currents marked the reign of Alfonso V until his death, expanding on the one hand the nobility privileges, that turned the nobility in an increasingly powerful group, but at the same time, it maintained to this busy, and therefore harmless, nobility in the North African campaigns which, in addition, rendered important economic benefits.

One of the greatest diplomatic triumphs of the reign of Alfonso V was the establishment of the link between her sister Leonor and the Emperor Federico III, bringing Portugal stood in the orbit of the House of Austria. On the other hand, thanks to the link between Isabel, daughter of Juan I, and the Duke of Burgundy Felipe el Bueno, Alfonso V could count with an important ally, Carlos the bold, Duke of Burgundy.

From to it may 29, 1453 the city of Constantinople, capital and stronghold of the Byzantine Empire, fall in the power of the sultan Mehmet II, a new and threatening force was established in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Ottoman Empire. This new danger both Alfonso V and the Pope Nicolás V began to conceive the idea of a crusade general of Christianity against Islam, were thinking about taking Jerusalem after crossing North Africa. Before crazy idea and null found support, both leaders had to abandon his idea, but continued to work closely, Alfonso V continued its military actions in Morocco, while Nicolás V blessed the Portuguese expansion with the Papal Bull Romanus Pontifex (January 8, 1454).

In 1457 Alfonso V decided to continue the policy of open warfare against infidels urging by his uncle, Enrique the Navigator, so it is planned a series of expeditions armed against Safim and Tangier. Breaking the Portuguese had to change their plans to the imminence of the attack of the King of Fez against Ceuta, so they decided to pre-empt the Muslim plans and attack the plaza de Alcácer Ceguer (Alcazarseguer), close to Ceuta. The expedition would be directed by Enrique the Navigator and own King Alfonso, which left Lisbon as it was ravaged by the plague. Met a squad of two hundred twenty ships and an army of more than twenty-six thousand men, powerful force wasn't more than a few hours to plaza de Alcácer Ceguer, whose defenders surrendered unable to maintain its position of October 23, 1458. The most important consequence of the taking of Alcácer Ceguer, was the widespread discontent, on the one hand the square not yielded the desired economic benefits; on the other hand, the nobility began to tire of intervening in adventures in which put his life and possessions in the game, and got little in return.

The infante don Enrique, the head of the African expansion died in 1460. Alfonso V centralized control of commercial activities in the Crown and navigation across the Atlantic, which came to a halt in the rhythm of the geographical discoveries since Alfonso V was more interested in exploiting the already found, to get money, to follow spending funds, which increasingly scarce, new discoveries. To this end, in 1469 leased traffic with Guinea Fernán Gomes. Alfonso V supported the peaceful penetration on the African coast; at the time, Portuguese sailors recognized the coasts of Guinea and founded their first settlements on them.

In 1462 had been vacant the Aragonese throne, which was an international conflict for Portugal. D. Pedro was a maternal grandson of the count of Urgell, therefore had certain rights to the throne; for its part, offered by the Catalans and he/she accepted. In 1464 he/she landed secretly in Barcelona and was made proclaim, but his Government lasted only until 1466. This action angered Juan II defending its legitimacy, Luis XI of France that harbored the hope of obtaining the throne for himself, and even Alfonso V, since the Constable acted if your permission.

In 1469 the infante don Fernando, with Royal approval, organized a new expedition against North Africa, this time against the enclave of stove (Casablanca), which was conquered without serious problems, but which was not obtained any tangible benefit.

In 1471 Alfonso V tried to conquer Tangier, but his advisers dissuaded him idea arguing the high costs of such an enterprise. At the insistence of the King, his advisers persuaded him that it forgot to Tangier and conform with taking the important enclave of Arcila, ended where the rich from Mali gold route and that move to Portuguese hands, apart from the economic benefits would be significant strategic benefits moving to competitors, castellanos, Jews and Genoese. The expedition to Arcila consisted of four hundred and seventy-seven ships that traveled an army of more than thirty thousand men, among which was the Crown Prince Juan. After the impressive conquest of Arcila, 24 August 1471, Tangier was evacuated by what Alfonso V, after negotiating with the King of Fez, Muley Sheikh, took the city on 28 August.

In that same year of 1471 a diplomatic incident in the waters of the English channel between Portuguese English and marine Corsairs was about to trigger a war between the two countries. After the incident Alfonso V demanded that the King of England, Eduardo IV, which take care of the compensation, which the English King not issued any response. The anger of Alfonso V came to the plan to launch the African fleet against England. December 10, 1471, Alfonso V issued a decree which authorized all his subjects to assail any English vessel that could see; before such a measure was only Eduardo IV declare war or pay an indemnity, and sign the peace, opted for the latter.

Relations between Castile and Alfonso V

The last years of the reign of Alfonso V were marked by disputes with Castile as a result of the succession of Henry IV of Castile, who died in 1474. In 1475 he/she began their intervention in the war of succession of Castile defending the rights of which could have been his second wife, Juana la Beltraneja, against Elizabeth I.

In 1473 to instances of the conspirante Juan Pacheco, was established the link between Alfonso V and Juana la Beltraneja, against the opinion of important members of the nobility and the Portuguese clergy, who feared the possibility of a war between the two kingdoms. But the Prior of Crato and the counts of Vila Real and Faro were as enthusiastic advocates of the link. Alfonso V braced himself against a possible war, through a partnership with Luis XI of France, which promised the Basque provinces if their cause is triumphant. Finally, the Portuguese monarch obtained dispensation from Sixtus IV to celebrate the marriage, necessary waiver to the close kinship that linked to the Contracting Parties.

After the death of Enrique IV the succession to the Spanish throne was conflict, on the one hand, Isabel and Fernando of Aragon, while on the other hand were Juana and Alfonso V. In 1475 Alfonso V Evora courts requested a loan to deal with the already inevitable war. Isabel and Fernando did much in his possessions. Alfonso V may 25, 1475 invaded Castile, managing to Plasencia, where on 30 May was celebrated their engagement with Juana la Beltraneja, after which Alfonso V was recognized as King of Portugal, Castile and Leon. The reaction of Isabel and Fernando was swift and on June 20 they declared war on Portugal. The Castilian nobility on the other hand, was divided into two factions, being greater that supported Isabel and Fernando. The Prince and Portuguese heir Juan, marched to Castilla in support of his father, leaving the throne of Portugal in the hands of the Princess Leonor.

The troops of both sides met the 2 March 1476 in Toro, resulting winners Isabel and Fernando. Disaster of Toro, the Portuguese King was quick to nominate Luis XI an Alliance against Isabel and Fernando, but he/she plunged into internal conflicts against the League of the public good and the Duke of Burgundy, Carlos daredevil, refused the Alliance. As a result, Alfonso V embarked towards France to meet personally with Luis XI, which received him with honors, but after nine months of giving long finally denied him, once again, requested help. He/She then sought the help of his cousin, Carlos daredevil, whom he/she tried to convince signing peace with Luis XI, with the aim that this peace the French monarch would be without arguments to give the help so much needed in Castile, but Carlos daredevil refused to any agreement with Luis XI. Finally the 15 November 1477 Alfonso V returned to Portugal, desperate and without help.

On his return to Portugal Alfonso V took an important decision, he/she abdicated the Portuguese throne in his son, who already ruled as Regent from 1474, to devote all their efforts to the conquest of Castilla and wash his battered honor. In 1479, Alfonso V was completely defeated at the battle of Albuera, after it was forced to sign the Treaty of Alcáçovas on September 4, Treaty that it was ratified in Toledo in March 1480, and which put an end to the conflict. Alfonso V pledged not to formalize his marriage with his niece Juana and renounce their rights to the Spanish throne

Once the Spanish conflict, Alfonso decided to abdicate the Crown definitely in his son and retire to a monastery where he/she died on August 28, 1481.

The reign of Alfonso V, despite the successes in Africa, marked a period of decline between Juan I and Juan II, since in the final balance had more defeats than victories. In internal affairs he/she was too weak and generous with the nobility, and too submissive to Ecclesiastical Affairs. Alfonso V was, perhaps, the last medieval King of his time, which explains its diplomatic failures in France and Castile, both kingdoms led by kings who were already envision what would be the bureaucratic States of the modern age. It supported and protected science and art and the first library of Portugal was founded in his time.