Afonso III of Portugal

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"Afonso III" redirects here. For other uses, see Afonso III of Kongo.
Afonso III
Afonso III.jpg
King of Portugal
Reign 4 January 1248 – 16 February 1279
Predecessor Sancho II
Successor Denis
King of the Algarve
Reign 1249–1279
Predecessor Sancho I
as King of Silves
Successor Denis
Count of Boulogne
Reign 1238–1253
Predecessor Matilda II
Successor Matilda II
Regent Matilda II
Consort Matilda II, Countess of Boulogne
Beatrice of Castile
Issue See Issue
House House of Burgundy
Father Afonso II
Mother Urraca of Castile
Born 5 May 1210
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 16 February 1279 (aged 68)
Alcobaça, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Monastery of Alcobaça, Alcobaça, District of Leiria, Portugal
Religion Roman Catholicism

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

Early life[edit]

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, Mortain, Aumale and Dammartin-en-Goële jure uxoris.


Afonso III of Portugal
Statue of Afonso III in Faro, a city which he reconquered from the Moors in 1249.

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 and the order was not hard to enforce; he was exiled to Castile, where he lived in Toledo, where he died. Until his brother's death, and his eventual coronation, Afonso retained and used the title of Visitador, Curador e Defensor do Reino (Overseer, Curator and Defender of the Kingdom).

In order to ascend the throne he abdicated his rights to the county of Boulogne in 1248.

In 1253, he divorced Matilde, in order to marry Beatrice of Castile, illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X, King of Castile, and Mayor Guillén de Guzmán (Maria de Guzman).

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 favored 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.

Afonso showed extraordinary vision for the time. Progressive measures taken during his kingship include: representatives of the commons, besides the nobility and clergy, were involved in governance; the end of preventive arrests such that henceforward all arrests had to be first presented to a judge to determine the detention measure; and fiscal innovation, such as negotiating extraordinary taxes with the mercantile classes and direct taxation of the Church, rather than debasement of the coinage. These may have led to his excommunication by the holy see and possibly precipitated his death, and his son Denis's premature rise to the throne at 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.

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.

Marriages and descendants[edit]

Afonso's first wife was Matilda II, Countess of Boulogne, daughter of Renaud, Count of Dammartin, and Ida, Countess 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 Beatrice of Castile, illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X, King of Castile, and Mayor Guillén de Guzmán (Maria de Guzman).

Name Birth Death Notes
By Matilda II of Boulogne (c. 1202–1262; married in 1239)
Roberto (Robert) 1239 1239  
By Beatrice of Castile (1242–1303; married in 1253)
Blanche 25 February 1259 17 April 1321 Lady of Las Huelgas
Fernando (Ferdinand) 1260 1262  
Dinis (Denis) 9 October 1261 7 January 1325 Succeeded him as Denis, 6th King of Portugal. Married Infanta Isabel of Aragon.
Afonso 8 February 1263 2 November 1312 Lord of Portalegre. Married to Violante Manuel of Castile (daughter of Manuel of Castile).
Sancha 2 February 1264 c. 1302  
Maria 21 November 1264 6 June 1304 Nun in the Convent of Saint John in Coimbra.
Constança (Constance) 1266 1271  
Vicente (Vincent) 1268 1271  
By Madragana (Mor Afonso) (c. 1230-?)
Martim Afonso Chichorro c. 1250 a. 1313 Natural son; Married Inês Lourenço de Valadres. Ancestors of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz wife of King George III of the House of Windsor[1]
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. Afonso is an ancestor of Queen Silvia of Sweden and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands
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 31 December 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 12 May 1272 Natural son; Prior of the city of Santarém.
Leonor Afonso (nun) ? 1259 Natural daughter; Nun in the Monastery of Santa Clara of Santarém.
Urraca Afonso 1250 4 November 1281 Natural daughter; Nun in the Monastery of Lorvão.
Henrique Afonso ? ? Natural son; Married to Inês (last name unknown).



External links[edit]

Afonso III of Portugal
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 5 May 1210 Died: 16 February 1279
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sancho II
King of Portugal
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sancho I
as King of Silves
King of Algarve
Preceded by
Matilda II
as sole monarch
Count of Boulogne, of Mortain,
of Aumale and of Dammartin
(jure uxoris)
Succeeded by
Matilda II
as sole monarch