Madragana

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Madragana Ben Aloandro, later Maior or Mór Afonso (Faro, Algarve, Portugal, born c. 1230), was a woman from the Algarve known as a mistress to king Afonso III of Portugal, in the 13th century, when he ended the Reconquista in Portugal by taking Faro in 1249. Faro was at that time the last part of the Kingdom of the Algarve still in Muslim hands, and there her father was the Qadi.

Christening[edit]

She was christened in time,[1] receiving her new name as Maior Afonso, or Mor Afonso, Mor being short for Maior, a common female name in medieval Portuguese. Afonso was given her in baptism as her new patronymic, meaning "the daughter of" Afonso - and that suggests that her elderly royal lover was also her godfather, that she took his spiritual "fatherhood" when christened. Her father's name was Aloandro Ben Bekar (also known in Portuguese as Aloandro or Aldroando Gil after his christening).

In ancient Portuguese chronicles, Madragana was also referred to as Mouroana,[2] Mouroana Gil, and Madraganil - all of which are Christian names.

Ethnicity[edit]

Madragana as ancestress of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of king George III of England

There is some controversy regarding her ethnicity. Duarte Nunes de Leão, a Portuguese royal chronicler of the 16th century, said that Madragana was a Moor.[3] That was denied in the 18th century by António Caetano de Sousa,[4] in which he is followed by many modern authors. She was likely Mozarab.[5][6][7][8] Nonetheless, this supposed Moorish connection gave rise to a claim that the royal family of England had African ancestry via the 15-generation descent of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III of the United Kingdom, from Madragana, giving the Queen what the proponent described as the appearance of a 'mulatto'.[9] However, it is far from clear that Madragana's family was of negroid origin, nor is it likely that were she African, Madragana's negligible contibution to Charlotte's genetic makeup would have caused the Queen alone, among all of Madgarana's descendants at this distant time including her husband and most of the royalty of Europe, to display distinctive African features.[10]

Madragana bore Afonso two known children:

  • Martim Afonso Chichorro (c. 1250 – after 1313), married to Inês Lourenço de Sousa (or Inês Lourenço de Valadares) (born c. 1250).
  • Urraca Afonso (born c. 1260), married twice: 1st in 1265 to Pedro Anes Gago de Riba Vizela (c. 1240-1286); 2nd c. 1275 to João Mendes de Briteiros (born c. 1250).

When passion with the King waned, Madragana was married to Fernão Rei. They had at least one daughter, Sancha Fernandes. Note that Rei means 'king', in Portuguese, and so Fernão Rei is believed to originally have been a servant of the king (Fernão do Rei, Ferdinand of the King).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Most probably because she had been previously christened according to the Mozarabic Rite, the re-christening being done in the Roman Rite.
  2. ^ Sometimes spelled Mourana (also in the variety Mourana Gil). Notice that the origin of the name Mourana is not the Portuguese for Moor, Mouro, but the Portuguese traditional name Ouroana, or Aureana.
  3. ^ LEAO, Duarte Nunes de, Primeira parte das Chronicas dos reis de Portvgal (sheet 97)
  4. ^ Sousa, António Caetano de, História Genealógica da Casa Real Portuguesa, Tomo XII, Parte II (pages 702 and 703)
  5. ^ Freire, Anselmo Braancamp, Brasões da Sala de Sintra, Vol I, pages 206-207
  6. ^ Felgueiras Gayo & Carvalhos de Basto, Nobiliário das Famílias de Portugal, Braga, 1989
  7. ^ Pizarro, José Augusto de Sotto Mayor, Linhagens Medievais Portuguesas, 3 vols., Porto, Universidade Moderna, 1999.
  8. ^ Soveral, Manuel Abranches de, "Origem dos Souza ditos do Prado", in Machado de Vila Pouca de Aguiar. Ascendências e parentescos da Casa do Couto d'Além em Soutelo de Aguiar, Porto, 2000
  9. ^ Mario de Valdes y Cocom, "The blurred racial lines of famous families - Queen Charlotte", PBS Frontline.
  10. ^ Stuart Jeffries, "Was this Britain's first black queen?" The Guardian, 12 March 2009.