Biography of Rey-cardenal de Portugal Don Enrique (1512-1580)

18th King of Portugal Lisbon-born January 31, 1512 and died in Almeirim on January 31, 1580. Last representative of the Avis dynasty, ruled Portugal for two years without naming a successor, which enabled that Felipe II would unite to Spain the Portuguese Crown.

Cardinal, Regent and creator of cultural institutions

Sixth son of Manuel I of Portugal and his second wife, queen Doña María, don Enrique was a brother of the King Juan III and since its birth it was decided for an ecclesiastical career. He/She received an exquisite education and his teachers of Greek, latin and Hebrew Clenardo and Aires Barbosa, and Pedro Nunes were of mathematics. In 1526, he/she received minor orders, allowing it to be supplied in canonical benefits. It began as prior of Santa Cruz de Coimbra and twenty-two years comendatario was appointed Archbishop of Braga by Pope Clement VII. In 1539 Paul III entrusted the post of Grand Inquisitor of Portugal and its conquests. A year later renounced the MITRE of Braga and received the headquarters of Evora, which, to him, became Archbishop. He/She earned a great reputation for its intelligent and jealous administration of both locations, excellent administrative and cultural reforms introduced in which: completed the College of São Paulo of Braga, which tried to make General Survey; in 1551 to the Jesuit College called do Espírito Santo de Évora, become public school in 1553 and University in 1559.

The 16 December 1545 reached the cardinalship. His brother, King Juan III, made proceedings to be proposed as a candidate for the Papal tiara in the conclaves of 1549 and 1555, 1559; in the 1555 he/she received fifteen votes, although he/she was finally elected Pope Pius IV. In 1561 he/she was appointed by Pius IV legacy ad latere for the Kingdom of Portugal and three years later succeeded Vasconcellos Fernando as Archbishop of Lisbon.

The death of Juan III (1557) the Prince Sebastián, three years of age; inherited realm his grandmother, the queen Doña Catalina, assumed the Regency, but the palatial pressure caused him to leave the post in the hands of the infante don Enrique, who maintained the Regency between 1562 and 1568. During those years it provided the most complete formation of Prince to his nephew, don Sebastián, contrary to the castellanizante policy of Catherine of Austria; It gave the public administration, in spice to the overseas, of a more solid national values. He/She founded the College of S. Mancos in 1263. In 1570 he/she received the post of abad-general of the Cistercian Congregation of Portugal. During his stay in the capital contributed to the construction of the College of Santo Antao, whose first floor outlined, together with the architect Baltasar Álvares. In 1574, tired of the life of the Court, don Enrique resigned from the seat of Lisbon and returned to gird the MITRE of Evora.

Don Henry, King of Portugal

Henry the cardinal received the news of the disaster of Alcazarquivir (August 4, 1578), that killed the King Sebastián, while he/she was in Alcobaça. As expected news certain upon the death of the King, don Enrique took over the Government as Regent and was crowned on 28 August. The first measure of urgency that practiced was the sending of don Francisco da Costa as Ambassador to Morocco to negotiate the rescue of hostages in the battle; to a large extent, funds for negotiation arose from riches the ecclesiastical benefits. The rey-cardenal made the mistake to resign to the more senior employees of the Court, especially those who had wronged him in the past, who replaced by makes his. This caused a huge mess in the Affairs of the State, which was used by the King of Spain to show their desires on the Crown of Portugal.

As a serious problem immediately raised the question of succession; Don Sebastián had died childless and Henry, given its status as a clergyman, had no children. The King was a sick old man and the question was. He/She thought obtain dispensation from the ecclesiastical celibacy and marriage to obtain offspring. Two candidates who they thought were Elisabeth of Austria, widow of Carlos IX of France and María daughter of Duke Juan de Braganza and the cardinal decided in favor of the young María, of fourteen years of age. The King wrote to the Pope Gregory XIII to apply for the waiver, while he/she asked for the support of Cardinal Borromeo. Felipe II exerted all the pressure on the Holy see to avoid it and finally the waiver was not granted. The situation is aggravated and the courts of Lisbon from 1579 also failed to reach a final agreement. The cardinal quoted by letter all the pretenders to the Crown so that they state their claims. In addition to the weak nominations of the Dukes of Savoy and Parma and Catherine de Medicis, arose the powerful Felipe II, the Duchess Catalina de Braganza, who could prove their dynastic rights, and Portugal's Antonio, prior of Crato, with great sympathy between the people and a manifest inability to the Government as well as a manifest decadence. The Spanish monarch bought the support of a large part of the Portuguese nobility and constantly pressured Cardinal so he/she tilted it. The courts of Almeirim in October 1579 had a marked nationalistic Court. The Court moved to Almeirim and there went from Villaviciosa the Duchess of Braganza and although, apparently, Henry was determined to name her heiress, finally did nothing. The King worsened his illness and died without having appointed heir, making Portugal the theatre of discords. The prior of Crato was proclaimed King in Santarém, but after being defeated his troops by the of the Duke of Alba in the battle of Alcântara (June 27, 1580), Felipe II was recognized King, consummating the union of the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal.


BIRMINGHAM, D. history of Portugal. Cambridge, 1995.

MARK, A.H. Portugal history: from ancient times to the Government of Pinheiro de Azevedo. Mexico, 1984.

PAYNE, S. brief history of Portugal. Madrid, 1982.

VERÍSSIMO SERRAO, J. História of Portugal, vo. II: Formação do modern State (1415-1495). Lisbon, 1978.