between Portugal and Castile in the
Late Middle Ages 13th-16th centuries
Ángel Álvarez Palenzuela
Autonoma University of Madrid
A study of the intense diplomatic relations maintained
between the Portuguese and Leonese, afterwards Castilian-Leonese, monarchies
throughout the Middle Ages. They were dotted with a series of agreements
relating to the internal problems of each kingdom, the mutual relations
and the general political situation in the Iberian Peninsula. These
relations, except for specific moments of brief warfare, which were
sometimes very serious, were friendly and familiar. This didnt
exclude the occurrence of frictions resulting from contrary interests.
On both sides of the frontier very similar problems were faced: dynastic
confrontations or rebellions of the nobility in which both monarchies
usually collaborated closely. Castilian expansion and the resulting
imbalance of power in its favour, was the cause of the gravest tensions.
Diplomatic Relations, Castile, International Treaties
Relations between the Portuguese monarchy and the monarchies of Leon or
Castile (the Kingdom of Castile was the historical continuation of the
Kingdom of Leon) after the unification of the latter two kingdoms show
a profundity, intensity and continuity not to be found among any of the
other peninsular kingdoms during the Middle Ages, even though these were
also very close. The bond between the two went far beyond merely diplomatic
relations. The matrimonial unions between the two were so strong and frequent
that it is possible to claim that both kingdoms were ruled by a single
dynasty during the entire Middle Ages.1
Despite this, any attempt by one or the other to unify both kingdoms was
destined to failure, and more often than not, to harsh confrontation leading
to prolonged resentment and suspicions which were difficult to overcome.2 The very close relations are, in my opinion, the result of a common historical,
cultural, and mental identity, but also of an awareness of the differences
between their respective personalities. I make this claim without wishing
to give credit to nationalist viewpoints which I consider to be out of
place and inadequate for historical analysis.
Birth of Portugal and Guarantees of Growth
The difference between Castilians and Portuguese, however subtle we may
think, included a diversity of interests among the ruling aristocracy
(Mattoso, 1968, 1968-1969 and 1978). The confrontation which took places
between, on the one hand, nobles and ecclesiastics from Braga, and on
the other the Trabas and the Gelmírez, and which led to the birth
of Portugal, would probably not have taken place if there hadnt
been certain differences. These differences, then, set in train the process
by which Portugal evolved from a territory of the Astur-Leonese Kingdom,
to a county and finally, a kingdom (Marques da Silva, 1983).
The birth of Portugal as a kingdom didnt provoke a confrontation
with its 'womb,' the Kingdom of Leon. The new political reality fitted
perfectly with the Leonese idea of Empire. Impera in ancient Hispania
was compatible with the existence of other kingdoms. In practice these
kingdoms were of equal dignity and, as well as this, they constituted
the most adequate response to the Islamic threat, each one taking charge
of the defence of a part of the frontier as well as contributing to the
Reconquest (Alvarez Palenzuela, 1999 and 2000). Portugal wasnt born
in confrontation with Léon. Rather, it was born in the womb
of Léon as a solution to the political-military problems that had
Because of this, the birth of Portugal didnt cause any tensions
between Léon and Portugal. Recognition of the new kingdom occurred
naturally, after simple negotiations. This, however, didnt prevent
the usual tensions between neighboring kingdoms from occurring later on.
On the other hand, I consider that the ecclesiastical structure in the
new kingdom was the result of confrontation between the metropolitan see
of Braga and the metropolitan sees of Compostela and Toledo. The problem
of ecclesiastical jurisdiction was the reason for the long delay in pontifical
recognition of Portugal as a kingdom. Such recognition had posed no problems
for the Leonese monarchy (Amaral, 2000).
Early agreements were aimed exclusively at guaranteeing the existence
of Portugal as a kingdom e.g. The Pact of Tuy in June 1137, whose possible
effects for Portugal were curtailed by the Almoravid attack on Leiría;
the Treaty of Zamora in 1143 (Recuero, 1979 and 2000) where, in completely
normal circumstances, Afonso Henriques was made king.
It was also necessary to firmly establish the frontiers of the kingdom,
whose very existence called into question, if only theoretically, the
divisions of territory agreed between Fernando II of León and Sancho
III of Castile in the Treaty of Sahagún on May 23, 1158 (Gonzalez,
J, 1960, I, 670; II, 79-82). This was the aim of the talks between Fernando
II and Alfonso I in La Cabrera in November of the same year and in Santa
María de Palo in December 1159. The Treaty of Lérez in April
1165 was signed by both kings on the basis of complete equality and it
arranged the marriage of Princess Urraca of Portugal with the King of
León. This was the first of many matrimonial alliances.
Agreements were also reached which attempted to guarantee both existing
and future borders, and respective zones for reconquest. The Reconquest
was the main concern of both kingdoms when they werent disputing
each others right to existence. Portuguese advances in Alentejo
and in the present day Spanish Extremadura posed a threat not only to
areas which the Leonese King considered pertaining to his area of expansion,
but, when united to the Castilian advance in the south-west, could leave
the Kingdom of León without an Islamic frontier.
This grave danger for Léon provides a thorough explanation for
the alliance between Fernando II and the Almohads which led to disaster
for Alfonso I in Badajoz in 1169. This military action was not aimed against
Portugal. It was carried out in defense of vital Leonese interests. Thus,
it was perfectly reasonable that two years later when the Almohads attacked
Santarém, concerning which the King of León had no plans,
the King should send help to his father-in-law and his brother-in-law.
This action led to the rupture of Leonese friendship with the Caliphate
and harsh reprisals which demolished the Leonese advance to the south
of the Tagus River. And it was also a reasonable thing for Fernando II
to do battle with his brother-in-law, Prince Sancho, in Argañan
in 1180, when the latter invaded the Leonese area of influence. In 1184,
Fernando II would save Santarém once again when it was at the end
of its tether.
Any kingdom which threatened the unstable equilibrium between the peninsular
kingdoms became an enemy of all the others. The rise of Castile in the
1180s and 90s gave rise to alliances of the remaining kingdoms against
it. The following events had an anti-Castilian aim: the marriage of Alfonso
IX of León to Teresa, daughter of Sancho I in 1191 and the Treaty
of Huesca (González, 1960, I, p.711) signed by the kings of Portugal,
León, Navarre, and Aragon. Given the Islamic threat at the time,
this treaty may be considered to have been an act of madness. The result
was the defeat of Alarcos, a disaster for Castile, but also, if the policies
of the Treaty of Huesca were to be continued, disaster for all. These
alliances proved that the essential aim was to prevent a threatening rise
of any of the kingdoms.
A coordinated defense against the common enemy was essential but so also
was the need to guarantee the equilibrium between the Peninsular kingdoms
and, above all, their future growth and expansion. This explains the frequent
border treaties which were signed in this period, treaties which alternated
with apparently contradictory hostile acts.
The twin objectives, territorial boundaries and a definition of the areas
of reconquest were the main items on the agenda at the Truce of Coimbra
in November, 1212 (González, 1944, II, p. 383-384, 1960, III, p.
576, and 1984, p.529). The kings of Portugal, Alfonso II, of León,
Fernando II, and of Castile, Alfonso VIII, who were present at the talks,
as well as reaching agreements between themselves, also decided on a common
plan against the Muslims which included a satisfactory distribution of
the territories to be conquered (Álvarez Palenzuela, 1998, p.1045).
The recent victory at the Navas of Tolosa and the collapse of the Almohads
led everyone to hope for a rapid conquest of Islamic territories. It was
reasonable to plan for this new situation and forget the insignificant
problems of the past.
The Formation and Definition of the Kingdom
For years, internal events in the Christian kingdoms postponed the advance.
In the case of Portugal, this period saw the beginning of the tensions
between the monarchy and the ecclesiastical hierarchy. This conflict brought
into discussion the very definition of the kingdom and at one point there
was a threat that Alfonso IX of León would become involved. The
talks between Alfonso IX and Alfonso II in Boronal in June, 1219, and
those between Sancho II and Fernando III in Sabugal in 1224 (Veloso, 1980)
gave rise to the necessary guarantees.
From 1225 onwards the Christian kingdoms, as if they had all been awaiting
the same signal, renewed their advance into Islamic territory. León
reaped the highest rewards Cáceres, Montánchez, Mérida
and Badajoz but Castile and Portugal also benefited, Portugal conquering
Elvas. Then something happened which greatly upset the delicate equilibrium
reached at Coimbra: León and Castile became united under the same
king, Fernando III. It was an event in which Portuguese intervention -
led by Princess Teresa, first wife of Alfonso IX, and also by his second
wife, Berenguela was decisive. Inevitably, there were also hidden
factors involved, and it was in order to clear up these that Fernando
III and Sancho II met in April, 1231. Existing agreements were ratified
thus giving the go-ahead for the continued advance into Islamic territory.
The Portuguese advance was delayed by internal problems which led to the
removal of Sancho II and his replacement by his brother Alfonso. A long-standing
Portuguese problem: the excessive temporal power of its episcopal hierarchy
was the pretext for the development of a sensitive political strategy
with international ramifications, which led to the substitution of a Ghibelline
prince by a Guelph prince.
The best way to allow everyone to forget this controversial substitution
and show the adequacy of the solution was by renewing and completing the
Reconquest. On the Portuguese side this led to the successful conquest
of the Algarve without great military effort (Crónica, 1856; Mattoso,
II, 133-134). However, there was a diplomatic obstacle involved as Castile
claimed rights over the Algarve (Mattoso, 1986; Marques, 1994). Perhaps
this claim originated in the demand for protection by the Taifa of Niebla
from Castile due its condition of vassalage. More probably, it resulted
from the putting into effect by Alfonso X of the territorial divisions
agreed by Fernando II and Sancho II in the Treaty of Sahagún in
1158 (González Jiménez, 2000, 5).
The complex negotiations over the Algarve reached a preliminary solution
at Badajoz in November 1252. Two important starting points were agreed
on: the decision to fix the Guadiana as the border and the recognition
of the sovereignty of Alfonso X over the disputed territory. (González
Jiménez, 2000, 6-11). In May 1253 in Chaves an agreement was reached
which recognized Castilian rights over the Algarve, though the territory
was ceded as a fief to Alfonso III (García Fernández, 2000,
908) or as the dowry of Beatriz, the illegitimate daughter of the new
Castilian King, Alfonso X. Beatriz had already been referred to as Queen
of Portugal in documents in May of the same year (Ventura, L. 2000, 47).
Afterwards the territory would pass to the first-born child of this marriage
on reaching seven years of age.
This was a strange agreement, based on the marriage of a king who was
already married. Papal condemnation soon followed and the king was excommunicated.
On the other hand, the very active Portuguese upper echelons of society
didnt protest at all. The nobility broke off relations with the
king when he renewed attempts to strengthen monarchical authority, attempts
which had earlier cost his brother the crown. The above marriage caused
concern among the Portuguese nobility as it didnt satisfactorily
resolve the problem of the Algarve. Here the Castilian king still held
certain rights in the territory.
It is likely that the relinquishment by Alfonso X of his rights in the
Algarve was a result of the revolt of the Mudejars in Andalusia and Murcia
in the spring of 1264. Portuguese support was forthcoming for the Castilian
king and, perhaps relating to this, an agreement was reached on June 5
of that year when a friendly division of the disputed territories was
agreed on (González Jiménez; 1991, doc. 285). The fact is
that in September of that year Alfonso X relinquished his rights in the
Algarve, except for the right to claim an auxiliary force of fifty soldiers
armed with lances (González Jiménez, 1991, doc. 290). From
this time on, Alfonso III held complete sovereignty.
This agreement was essential to the relations between both kingdoms. In
February 1267 the two kings met in Badajoz to sign a new pact (González
Jiménez, 1991, doc. 382; Mendonca, 2000). This pact brought an
end to all obligations to provide military aid and the Guadiana frontier
was mapped out (de Ayala, 1994). The agreement was also vital in that,
free from external problems, and despite delays, Alfonso XIII and above
all, Dinis were able to hold a long discussion with the ecclesiastical
authorities. This confrontation ended favorably for the monarchy after
tough negotiations which ended in 1289.
The rise in monarchical power not only confronted the monarchs with the
ecclesiastical authorities, but also with the nobility. The rise of the
power of the nobility was a problem in all of the kingdoms. As well as
this, it occurred at the same time, which led the kings to collaborate.
There was a recognized need to limit this growing power as well as to
control the growing French influence in the Peninsula. This French influence
provided theoretical support for the nobility, i.e. it was a Guelph scheme
opposed to the Ghibelline scheme of strengthening of the monarchy, which
had been proposed by the young Iberian kings.
Pedro III of Aragon began a great Mediterranean political project in 1282.
This project was necessarily in confrontation with the Anjou and therefore,
with France. Sancho IV of Castile (Nieto, 1994), king in the midst of
a complex war of succession, also had to adopt a hostile attitude to France.
France protected the princes of la Cerda who disputed Sanchos right
to the throne. Yet Sancho also need the friendship of France in order
to obtain Papal dispensation for his marriage to María de Molina.
The plans of Dinis fitted in with this scheme of things. Dinis wished
to strengthen the monarchy, which brought him into confrontation with
the nobility, including his mother Beatríz, who returned to Castile,
and, above all with his brother Alfonso, who cloaked his position in dangerous
This explains the marriage of Dinis and Isabel, the saintly queen, daughter
of Pedro III, as well as the talks which the kings of Portugal and Castile
held in Sabugal in July, 1287. The purpose of the talks was to coordinate
the action to be taken against their respective rebels: Prince Alfonso
and Álvar Núñez de Lara, Arronches being their impregnable
base of operations. At these talks the double marriages of their respective
children were planned: the Portuguese heir, Alfonso, with Beatriz; the
Castilian heir, Fernando, with Constanza. These plans, after many ups
and downs, would be carried out.
Portuguese-Castilian friendship remained firm during the following years,
even when Castile and Aragon reached open confrontation between 1289 and
1291 because of the insistence of the King of Aragón, Alfonso III,
in improving his borders. In September, 1291 Sancho IV and Dinis again
held talks in Ciudad Rodrigo to discuss real problems: a common defense
against Islam and the affirmation of monarchical power. Again the proposed
marriage of the Castilian heir with Constanza was discussed.
Some months later new talks were held in Ciudad Rodrigo, in April, 1292.
Sancho IV asked his Portuguese counterpart for economic help for the offensive
he was about to initiate. Despite the affectionate refusal of the Portuguese
king, friendship between the kings was not affected.
However, comprehension was not easy as the situation was complex. In the
summer of 1293 Sancho IV seemed to reach an understanding with France
and the previous marriage plans were cancelled. Again the Guadiana frontier
(Serpa, Moura, Mourão) became an object of concern. There were
incidents from Ribacoa to the Algarve coast and to the Tagus estuary.
The end of the Reconquest -(only Granada remaining) favored a united kingdom
of León and Castile. This fact had fatally broken the delicate
political equilibrium forged towards the end of the 12th and the beginning
of the 13th centuries. Navarre being isolated and a mere appendix of France
for several decades, Portugal and Aragon (whose future expansion could
only be overseas) took advantage of any Castilian weakness in order to
correct this situation.
This provides an explanation for the following: after the death of Sancho
IV of Castile, when his brother Juan, the theoretical leader of the claims
of the nobility, disputed the throne, at least that of León, with
his nephew Fernando IV (González Mínguez, 1976 and 1995),
he could count on Portuguese support after talks with Dinis held in Guarda,
probably in July, 1295 (Baquero, 2000, 643).
Momentarily, the problem was resolved by the talks held between the Castilian
Prince Enrique and Dinis in Guarda in September of the same year. The
Prince offered to hand over Serpa, Moura, and Mourão as well as
Aroche and Aracena (García Fernández, 2000, 932). More concessions
were agreed on at the talks between Queen María de Molina (Gaibrois,
1935; Hoyos, 1972-739) and Dinis in Ciudad Rodrigo in October at which
the effective cession to Portugal of the disputed elbow of the Guadiana (recodo del Guadiana) and the above mentioned towns was agreed
But, immediately, Jaime II of Aragon (Martínez Ferrando, 1980)
started the ancient project of changing the peninsular equilibrium. He
now hoped to break up Castile-Leóns political edifice, splitting
it into two kingdoms with territorial compensations for Aragon and Portugal.
This scheme was agreed at Bordalba in January, 1296. The problems of territorial
boundaries and the deadlines for handing over territories which Dinis
considered to be delaying tactics, justified the militaristic attitude
of the Portuguese king and his support for Aragon.
In defense of this project, in September 1296, a Portuguese army led by
Dinis himself advanced along the Duero and reached the neighborhood of
Valladolid. Nevertheless, when nothing seemed to prevent an entry into
the city where the queen lived (regent for her son) the Portuguese king
ordered a withdrawal during which the lands around Ribacoa were conquered
this, surely was the true aim of his Castilian adventure- and negotiations
were commenced. Apart from the firm support of the Cortes for Queen María,
which Dinis soon became aware of, it was a contradiction to promote the
strengthening of monarchical authority in Portugal while supporting the
power of the nobility in Castile.
The clarification of the boundaries and the return to a more balanced
territorial situation were important. However, the political risk was
not proportional for those involved. Because of this and because he had
something to offer in exchange, Dinis was the first to open negotiations
with the prostrate Castilian monarchy, encouraged to do so by the beneficial
influence of Queen Isabel. As well as this, Castilian offers were very
interesting: a letter from Fernando IV, towards the end of August, 1297,
proposed the recognition of the seven fortified towns of the Ribacoa area
as belonging to Portugal (Baquero, 2000, 646).
This situation led to the Treaty of Alcañices of the 12 September
1297 (González Jiménez, 2000, 21-24). This treaty, agreed
on between Castile and Portugal from an evident position of Portuguese
strength, principally contained provisions for a Castilian surrender of
territory. Besides the Ribacoa territory (in fact, occupied by Portuguese
troops on previous occasions, Ventura, 2000, 38-41), this included the
lands which had been given to Castile at the Treaty of Badajoz in 1267.
Castile held on to Aroche and Aracena by surrendering territory in the
Badajoz area (Lovenza, Campo Mayor, Ouguela), as well as San Felices de
los Gallegos. Dinis also symbolically relinquished territories over which
he supposedly had authority: Valencia de Alcántara, Ferreira and
Esparragal. In exchange for this territorial sacrifice, Castile received
something very valuable: the Portuguese king would not intervene in political
or military operations threatening for Castile.
Portuguese historians have been right in saying that the Treaty of Alcañices
provided a definitive map of the border between the two kingdoms (Amaral-Garcia,
2000). It was also the definitive acceptance of the territorial boundaries
which had been drawn up during the previous century and a half.
Collaboration on Common Problems
The Treaty of Alcañices didnt end Diniss intervention
in Castilian politics. He was immediately asked by some members of the
Cortes, meeting in Valladolid in May 1298, for help against Prince John
and his supporters. His behavior, however, showed him to be more inclined
to follow the plans for the break-up of the Crown of Castile rather than
a sincere attempt to provide aid. This would seem reasonable after the
treaty which had been signed and the matrimonial alliances which had been
After talks in Toro with Prince Enrique, whose attitude in the crisis
was even more dubious, the Portuguese king proposed to Queen María
de Molina the surrender of Galicia to Prince Juan, as a way of pacifying
the situation. His proposal was rejected and at the request of the Castilian
government he returned to his kingdom. However, he remained in places
close to the border keeping a sharp eye on what was happening.
In the following months a strengthening of the government of the regent
Queen was evident. It was very active and received the vital support of
the Cortes. Despite this, many initiatives were frustrated or their success
diminished by the strong interests of the nobility who supported her.
The nobility had no interest in the destruction of her opponents. The
intervention of Dinis inevitably led to a weakening of monarchical positions.
Perhaps it was this reality as well as the consolidation of the Castilian
government which moved Dinis to favor the successful outcome of the recent
pacts. By his initiative in January, 1300 a new meeting was arranged with
the Castilian queen and her son to take place in Ciudad Rodrigo in March
of the same year. The official reason cited was the division of the expenditure
needed to obtain the bulls of dispensation necessary to be able to proceed
with the arranged marriages. We can accept that for Dinis it was better
to reach an understanding with the kingdom of his future son-in-law, whose
position on his throne appeared to be strengthening, than to support schemes
for breaking up Castile: schemes which were losing support everywhere.
We should also take into account Queen Isabels efforts to bring
peace (Lopes, 1967) as well as the growing concern caused by the increasing
rebelliousness of Prince Alfonso.
The arrival of the bulls legitimizing the children of Sancho IV and María
and the dispensations for the celebrations of the marriages in October
1301 must have removed any doubts from the Portuguese king. Fernando IV
and Constanza were betrothed in January 1302. Seven months later Dinis
sent a messenger to Castile to fix the date for the consummation of the
marriage, as both parties had reached the necessary age (Baquero, 2000,
These events should be seen in the general context of peninsular and Mediterranean
peace, despite some military threats. The Peace of Caltabellota was signed
in August, 1302 and Jaime II began to set his sights on prospects in Sardinia
which were far more attractive than the old dispute over the hereditary
rights of La Cerdas. Thanks to the initiative of Aragon, talks were held
between Aragon, Castile and Portugal, with the presence of representatives
of Alfonse de la Cerda, in Badajoz in April 1303.
The solution proved difficult to come by, and the attempts led to proposals
of the most disparate solutions, which always returned to the old scheme
for territorial break-up that Jaime II didnt seem willing to carry
out. However, his duplicity caused Dinis increasing unrest and led him
to protest against what he considered to be double-dealing. This was what
led to the solution by arbitration, when Dinis intervened as the principal
actor in peninsular politics.
During the months of March and April, 1304, the final details were fixed
in Calatayud and Tarazona for a great meeting to be held, presided over
by the King of Portugal, and where the differences between Castile and
Aragon would be resolved and the long dispute over the Castilian succession
would be brought to an end. Dinis in the month of May in Coimbra accepted
the proposed meeting and began preparations for the outward display which
characterized his journey across Castilian territory to Torrellas, a place
on the Castilian-Aragonese border, between Ágreda and Tarazona.
Dinis acted in Torrellas as the doyen of Iberian sovereigns. It might
seem that this was the hour of glory of his reign. However, we shouldnt
allow ourselves to be dazzled by the pomp of the meeting and the festivities.
Jaime II was the real victor of this meeting, the one who obtained territorial
benefits. The presence of the Portuguese monarch added luster and solemnity
to the occasion but it didnt change anything which had already been
The Torrellas Pact only resolved some of the problems presented, in particular,
the Castilian succession. It didnt bring an end to Aragonese maneuvers
to force a new peninsular equilibrium which would overrule all preceding
territorial pacts, including that of Almizra in 1244 and, certainly, the
latest one in Torrellas. Nor did it mean that Castile was in agreement
with the border mapped out in Alcañices. At the beginning of 1312,
Fernando IV again raised the issue of his territorial claims to the Recodo
del Guadiana, Ribacoa, Aroche and Aracena and he appeared to be willing
to accept the arbitration of Aragon. The Portuguese side responded with
a group of arguments based on the conquest and on the pacts signed by
both monarchies in the previous half century.
This situation was largely responsible for a dangerous rise in the power
of the nobility. This problem was evident in Castile, above all after
1312, when the early death of Fernando IV, besides bringing an end to
the latest Castilian demands, saw the beginning of a new and prolonged
regency. Even in Portugal alarming signs became evident: It was more or
less during this period that the first confrontations between Dinis and
the heir apparent occurred, which would lead soon after to civil war.
A situation of great anarchy reigned in Castile during the following years,
the kingdom being divided by the actions of the regency. In general terms,
power was disputed by two groups, one representing the power of the nobility,
which included the most important Castilian nobles and the relict of Fernando
IV, Constanza, and the other, defending royal authority, led again by
Queen María de Molina, with the support of her son, Prince Pedro.
The successive deaths of the most important personages involved didnt
make the formation of a single government in Castile any easier. Rather,
they led to a prolonged confrontation which only began to be resolved
from 1325 onwards with the declaration that the new Castilian king, Alfonso
XI had attained his majority.
Portugal, with a very different setting, lived through similar problems,
the result of a rise in the power of the nobility, which has already been
referred to. Tensions started with the dispute among the heirs of Juan
Alfonso de Alburquerque, one of whom was Alfonso Sánchez, bastard
son of Dinis. The presence of this important personage in circles close
to royal power (he had been appointed chief steward and was the visible
head of a noble faction) and also that of another bastard son, Pedro,
Count of Barcelos, gave real concern to the heir that he was in danger
of losing his crown. In any event, the heir considered it evident that
the power of these personages nullified the continuing task of strengthening
royal power, and severely compromised the future.
In 1319 the Portuguese prince turned to Castile and asked the Castilian
queen, María de Molina, who was his mother-in-law for help. He
also asked his father to hand him over the administration of justice.
The Queen of Castile even asked Dinis to hand over power to his son. A
strange situation where the heir, while claiming to act in defense of
monarchical power, rebelled against it, supported by a considerable number
of nobles; and the king, who with his support for his bastard sons had
placed monarchical power in danger, now defended it with the support of
his son Alfonso Sánchez, the visible head of the nobility.
Thus began the civil war. The war was the occasion for successive harsh
manifestos by Dinis against his son in June of 1320 and in May
and December of 1321- and military actions which led to a real division
of the kingdom between Dinis and the heir, Alfonso. Queen Isabel, working
patiently and with great difficulty, achieved some periods of respite
in the conflict between the two. She was unable to avoid the division
of the kingdom under two governments, a situation which occurred before
the unexpected death of Dinis in January, 1325.
From that year onwards, a new generation came to power. There was also
the beginning of a new way of understanding relations between Castile
and Portugal. It was deemed necessary to abandon old territorial disputes
and lay the foundation for a more genuine cooperation in resolving problems
which were common to both.
Both Alfonso IV in Portugal and Alfonso XI in Castile began their reigns
resolved on strengthening the power of the monarchy, using extremely harsh
methods if necessary. In the case of Alfonso IV this policy was made manifest
in his actions against his stepbrother, Alfonso Sánchez, which
included the conviction and execution of Juan Alfonso de Alburquerque,
father-in-law and principal support of the latter. In parallel fashion,
Alfonso XI showed his firmness when, having failed in his attempts to
muster the collaboration of Don Juan el Tuerto, head of the Castilian
nobility, lured him to a meeting in Toro (November, 1326) and had him
It was at this time in Toro that talks were held with Portuguese ambassadors
where, for the first time, a climate of mutual collaboration for the subjection
of their respective nobilities and the renewal of the war against Islam
in Granada was achieved. Negotiations were also begun for the marriage
of Alfonso XI and María, daughter of the Portuguese king.
During the following months there was an intense exchange of messengers.
On the Portuguese side the proposal was brought to completion by arrangements
for a double matrimony: besides that of Alfonso XI and María, there
was that of the Portuguese heir, Pedro and Blanca, daughter of the Castilian
Prince Pedro. It was a kind of replay of the Alcañices system (Diaz
Martín, 2000, 1240). Despite the fact that Alfonso and María
were very closely related, being double first cousins, the proposed marriage
was accepted in Coimbra in December, 1327 and solemnized a few months
later in Alfayates.
The marriage of the Castilian king was a very serious step, which can
only be understood in connection with the other matrimonial alliance,
which meant the surrender of an important and strategic part of the brides
territorial inheritance to the Castilian monarchy. In fact, the matrimonial
alliance meant the breaking of the previous agreement of Alfonso XI with
Constanza, daughter of Don Juan Manuel. This led to the rebellion of that
powerful noble, the protests of the King of Aragon, Jaime II, grandfather
of the bride, and new agitation among the nobility in Castile, linked
to similar tensions in Portugal.
For the present, taking advantage of the change of king in Aragon - Alfonso
IV succeeded Jaime II, who died in November, 1327- Alfonso XI suggested
to the new king of Aragon that they collaborate in the Reconquest, and
offered him Almería if he re-conquered it. In October, 1328 a pact
of friendship was signed by Aragon, Portugal and Castile which reproduced
the situation of 1304 (Baquero, 2000, 651-652). A few months later, in
January 1329, agreement was reached on the marriage of the King of Aragon,
a widow, to Leonor, a sister of the King of Castile. The above agreements
were ratified in the exalted atmosphere of a crusade when, in February
1329, Alfonso XI accompanied his sister to Saragossa for her wedding.
However, stability in the relations between Castile and Portugal didnt
last long. In 1329 the King of Castile met Leonor de Guzmán, who
was to become his lover and be treated like a queen, in flagrant disregard
for Queen María. Thus may be understood why the successive intrigues
contrived by Don Juan Manuel were to eventually find support in Portugal,
at least from 1335 onwards, even involving a matrimonial alliance. The
proposed marriage involved the daughter of the Castilian noble to Pedro,
the Portuguese heir, and the breaking off of this Princes previous
matrimonial alliance, to be justified by the illness of the bride.
The support of Aragon was also sought against Castile. Aragonese support,
weak during the reign of Alfonso IV, became strong from January 1336 with
the accession of his son Pedro IV. The fierce personal resentment of the
new king towards Castile, and towards his Castilian stepmother, induced
him to join the coalition. Doubtless, this new attitude led Alfonso IV
of Portugal to lay siege to Badajoz, a strategic maneuver aimed at taking
the pressure off rebellious elements in the interior of Castile.
Alfonso XI didnt divert troops to the Portuguese border: the intervention
of troops from the bishopric of Jaén and the Council of Seville
was enough to defeat the Portuguese at Villanueva de Barcarrota and force
Alfonso IV to raise his siege of Jaén. The Castilian reply, after
the rebels were defeated, was very harsh: on the three fronts at Galicia,
Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, Castilian troops inflicted serious damage
to Portuguese territory. The Castilian fleet defeated a Portuguese fleet
and brought destruction near Oporto.
This situation lasted almost three years until November 1338. Neither
the efforts of the Portuguese queen, Beatriz, basing her appeal on closeness
of kinship, nor those of a papal legate who tried to get the collaboration
of both kingdoms in the war against Islam, nor those of France which sought
Castilian help against England, could bring hostilities to a halt before
Tensions would only ease when an offensive in Africa became imminent.
Control of the Straits was endangered, the Straits being a route of vital
importance for Portugal, Aragon, and Castile, and also for their Genoese
friends, especially now as war with France seriously endangered the overland
routes. Despite this, Portuguese aid was only forthcoming after Castile
accepted a stringent set of conditions among them the separation
of Alfonso and Leonor- in July 1340, when the Benimerins had already landed
and the Castilian fleet had suffered a serious defeat.
Alfonso IV intervened in the war against Islam, which was surrounded with
the solemn atmosphere of a crusade, only after his own daughter and son-in-law
came to Portugal and begged him to. The result was the resounding victory
of El Salado (30th October, 1340), a definitive defeat of the Benimerins
and the starting point for the, as yet poorly defined, Castilian and Portuguese
projects in Africa. Even though the offensive continued to the conquest
of Algeciras (1344), the huge cost of the war meant that a respite was
The successful campaign allowed the peninsular monarchs to strengthen
monarchical power, a task which they carried out simultaneously. In Portugal,
Alfonso IV repressed rebellions of the nobility and reformed the judicial
system and the organization of municipal government. In Aragon, Pedro
IV issued the Ordenamiento de la Casa, Cancillería y Capilla
Reales (a decree concerning the royal household, the Chancery and
the royal chapels) and revoked the Privilegio General de la Unión (General Privilege of the Nobility). In Castile, Alfonso XI issued
the Ordenamiento de Alcalá (the Alcalá decree).
The Black Plague, the resulting economic and social problems and finally,
the death of Alfonso XI in 1350 created a new situation. Military operations
were halted and the atmosphere of crusade weakened. For Queen María,
not only had the moment for revenge arrived, which her father had tried
to prevent, but more importantly, that of guaranteeing the succession
of her son to the throne, seriously threatened by the numerous offspring
of Leonor de Guzmán and the significant support she enjoyed in
the kingdom. As was to be expected, the new Castilian king, Pedro I had
the support from the beginning of his Portuguese grandfather. Contacts
between the two courts at this time were, doubtless, far more frequent
and friendly than is testified by the scanty documentation that remains.
In the meantime, the domestic affairs of the Portuguese royal family began
to have political dimensions, including the relationship to the situation
in Castile. The affair of the Portuguese heir, Pedro with Inés
de Castro, especially from 1345 on, after the death of his wife Constanza,
brought back the old danger of the closeness to power of the bastard offspring
of the royalty. Inéss brothers urged the Portuguese prince
to ally himself with Juan Alfonso de Alburquerque; he and Queen María
shared power in Castile. Queen María was regent for her son. Juan
Alfonso was a kinsman of Inés but he was also a son of Alfonso
Sánchez, stepbrother of Alfonso IV. Sánchez had caused many
problems for Alfonso IV at the beginning of his reign.
Again we have a recurrence of the confrontation between the monarchy and
the nobility. This led to a set of bloody moves by Pedro I in Castile,
and in Portugal, almost at the same time, where Alfonso IV ordered the
execution of Inés de Castro. This measure was designed above all
else to avoid a more than possible substitution of his grandson Fernando
as heir by one of the sons of Inés de Castro. For the Portuguese
king this would have meant a kind of return of Alfonso Sánchez.
War broke out in both kingdoms. In Portugal power was practically handed
over to the heir and in Castile the king instituted harsh repression.
The parallelism between the two Pedros the Portuguese one succeeded
his father in May 1357 is complete. Both strove to govern in their
respective kingdoms in a personal manner, and neither was very concerned
about the violence of many of their decisions. From March, 1358, date
of the Treaty of Évora, they were allies: Portuguese ships formed
part of the Castilian fleet which that summer harassed the coast of Aragon,
the second act in the war between Aragon and Castile. Friendship was again
based on matrimonial alliances: a future marriage was arranged between
the Portuguese heir, Fernando and Beatriz, daughter of the King of Castile
and María de Padilla. Portuguese support for Castile in its operations
against Aragon occurred on further occasions. At least during the summer
of 1363, there were Portuguese troops in the army that fought on the territories
of Aragon and Valencia.
However, in 1366 the Portuguese king refused to become seriously involved
in the Castilian Civil War, which was beginning to take a worrying course
for the legitimate monarch. In summer, Pedro I traveled to Portugal to
request that his Portuguese namesake intervene seriously in the conflict.
He made an attractive offer: the fulfillment of the matrimonial alliance
which had been decided at Évora and immediate recognition of the
Portuguese heir as successor to the throne of Castile. Apart from calculations
as to the difficulties of a successful intervention, the Portuguese refusal
was probably due to the fact that the proposal involved a union, at least
a personal one, between the kingdoms.
The Portuguese king died in January 1367 and from this time, his successor,
while maintaining a strict neutrality regarding the Castilian question,
strove for closer ties with Aragon. Nevertheless, the death of Pedro I
of Castile in March 1369 and the resistance of his supporters would change
The death of Pedro I didnt bring an end to the problems of Enrique
II. The partisans of Pedro, basing their argument on the rights of Manuel
via his mother, Constanza, argued that Fernando I of Portugal was a possible
candidate for the Castilian throne. A coalition between Portugal and Aragon,
including the collaboration of Navarre and Granada, was thought to be
Fernando I prepared to make his claim effective. A Portuguese fleet attacked
in the mouth of the Guadalquivir at the same time as Portuguese troops
took possession of Ciudad Rodrigo. Fernando I arrived in La Coruña,
the main centre of Petrismo. All this led Enrique II to retaliate. He
recovered territory in Galicia and made a profound advance into Portugal
as far as Braga and Guimarães. The following year the Castilian
fleet broke the blockade which had been enforced by the Portuguese fleet.
This didnt mark the end of Petrismo, which continued to hold out
in many parts of Castile, but it did show where real power lay. Nevertheless,
a coalition of peninsular kingdoms, including Granada, rose against the
Trastámara, aimed as usual at limiting Castilian hegemony in the
The taking of Zamora by the Trastamaristas, in February 1371, moved the
Portuguese king to seek a treaty with Enrique II. Negotiations for this
treaty had been going on for months under the supervision of papal legates.
On the basis of the proposed marriage of the Portuguese king to a daughter
of the King of Castile, Leonor, the Treaty of Alcoutim was signed on 31
March 1371. The treaty contained important territorial cessions from Castile
to Portugal along almost the entire frontier: Allariz, Monterrey, Ciudad
Rodrigo and Valencia de Alcántara, as the dowry of the Castilian
princess. The surrender of territory didnt take place, as the marriage
of Fernando to Leonor Téllez brought an end to the plans for the
marriage arranged at the treaty as well as an end to the need for the
territorial compensation which had been agreed on.
From the summer of 1371 on, the Lancastrian design (which was a new version
of Petrismo) began to operate. The scheme sought to give the throne of
Castile to John of Lancaster who was at the time married to Constanza,
daughter of Pedro I and heiress to his titles. This scheme, in furtherance
of which England sought the support of Portugal (Russell, 1955) should,
perhaps, be considered as providing an explanation for the marriage of
Fernando I, a marriage which has usually been considered to be the result
of a mere whim. The fact is that when the King of Portugal formed an alliance
with the Duke of Lancaster in July, 1372, it was probably, from a military
viewpoint the worst moment possible, as a Castilian fleet had just inflicted
a severe defeat on an English fleet near La Rochelle: Castiles naval
hegemony had begun.
The Castilian reply was to advance deep into Portugal. Castile had significant
support in Portugal and the expeditionary army reached Lisbon where a
Castilian fleet lay anchored. Pontifical mediation led to a new peace
treaty between both monarchies in Santarém, 19 March 1373. The
treaty provided for the marriage of Beatriz, sister of Fernando I, to
Sancho, brother of the Castilian monarch. Other matrimonial alliances
followed between the children of both kings (Alfonso and Fadrique, bastard
sons of Enrique II to Isabel and Beatriz, daughters of Fernando I, Beatriz
being a legitimate daughter). These alliances were aimed to strengthen
the ties of friendship between both kingdoms.
Peace between the monarchies lasted for some years. At this time there
were talks of arranging a marriage between Beatriz and the heir of the
new King of Castile, Juan I (Suárez Fernández, 1977)
a utopian project, in reality a strategic maneuver to divert attention
and of having a common position on the question of the Schism,
with recognition of the Pope in Avignon. All this coincides with Castilian
efforts to achieve neutrality in the Anglo-French conflict. However, the
rupture caused by the Schism of the West in the Church and in Christendom
(Alvarez Palenzuela, 1982) had serious consequences for Portuguese-Castilian
relations. The delicate equilibrium between the two was complicated by
the survival of Petrismo and the Lancastrian design to attain the throne
Through the mediation of an important Petrista, Juan Fernández
de Andeiro, secret negotiations were carried out leading to an Anglo-Portuguese
alliance. This alliance made provisions for the marriage of Beatriz to
Edmond of Langley, a nephew of the Duke of Lancaster and the sending of
an English expeditionary force to Portugal. All of this was agreed in
July 1380 by virtue of the agreement signed in Estremoz.
The discovery of these proposals provoked a strong reaction on the part
of Castile, which was the prologue to further confrontation with Portugal.
It abandoned its transitory neutrality and renewed its alliance with France
(April, 1381). It further recognized Clement VII as the legitimate Pope
(May, 1381) and it began a new era in its relations with Navarre via the
heir to the throne, the future Carlos III.
At the beginning of summer of 1381, Castile began its attacks on the Portuguese
frontier, as well as naval attacks which included another blockade of
Lisbon. Fernando I made a grave undertaking to recognize Urban VI as the
legitimate Pope. Thus the English expedition to Portugal acquired the
character of a crusade in favour of Rome. Nevertheless, for English interests
which were centerd mainly in Flanders, Portugal was on this occasion,
of secondary importance. The English troops who arrived in Portugal were
scarce in number and poorly equipped. They behaved like an occupying army,
dealing harshly with the people, thereby increasing their disquiet which
stemmed from the behaviour of Queen Leonor and the omnipresent power of
Juan Fernández de Andeiro.
It wasnt very surprising therefore, when instead of fighting each
other, the two armies negotiated near Elvas. Under the supervision of
the pontifical legate, Pedro de Luna, later Pope Benedict XIII (Suárez
Fernández, 2002), an agreement was reached in August 1382. This
agreement involved a renewal of the Treaty of Santarém as well
as providing for a new marriage for Beatriz, to Prince Fernando, the second
of the sons of Juan I of Castile. This formula was both more dignified
and realistic than that which had been agreed on in previous negotiations.
Naturally, Portugal joined those powers that were obedient to Clement
Unquestionably, the Treaty of Elvas left Leonor Téllez and her
Petristan supporters in a compromising position, as the illness of Fernando
I worsened and made it necessary for them to take steps to secure their
future after the kings death. Barely a few weeks after the signing
of the above agreement, the Queen of Castile died, thus offering new possibilities
to the ruling group in Portugal.
Effectively, in November of that year, Leonor Téllez proposed that
the matrimonial clause in the Treaty of Elvas be modified in the sense
that the future husband of Beatriz should be the King of Castile himself
(now a widower). Negotiations lead to the cautious Treaty of Salvaterra
de Magos in April 1383. This treaty established guarantees preventing
a future fusion of the two kingdoms and also satisfied the wishes of the
Portuguese rulers, by providing for military backup to keep them in power
during the imminent period of the heirs minority, in quite hostile
surroundings. (Suárez Fernández, 1982, 469-475; Arnaut,
For Juan I this risky maneuver had an important compensation: Portugal
joined Castile and France in a Clementist group, which was hostile to
England. Soon, Navarre and Aragon would join this group when the current
heirs took power. The wedding took place in Badajoz in May 1383.
Less than six months after the agreement, Fernando I died. As had been
planned, a government headed by Queen Leonor came to power. It had to
face strong internal resistance which soon became open rebellion (Coelho,
1984). In Lisbon and Porto, a popular movement (Serrão, 1985; Tavares,
1978) grew whose aim was to prevent Castilian hegemony. Such a hegemony
was a grave threat to the Portuguese crafts and to trade, which would
have been completely unable to withstand Castilian competition.
The Portuguese situation convinced the Castilian monarch, who apart from
enjoying significant support in Portugal received an express request from
Queen Leonor to enter Portugal. He did so, establishing himself in Guarda,
and demanding that he be handed over complete control of the government,
thereby exceeding the powers that had been yielded to him at the signing
of the capitulations. At the beginning of 1384, the atmosphere was that
of war. From March on, a Castilian force laid siege to Lisbon, which with
great severity was continued throughout the summer months. Casualties
on both sides were high.
This was the great military campaign which consolidated the figure of
João de Avís. Based on his success and on the brilliant
judicial arguments of João das Regras in the Cortes of Coimbra
in April, 1385 (Tavares, 1983; Bernardino, 1984; Sousa, 1985; Caetano,
1985), the political fortune of Del Master (who became King Juan I) was
built. The great victory at Aljubarrota ratified the political decision
taken some months before. In international affairs, the new king brought
a renewal of the alliance with England and a return of Portugal to the
fold of the Roman Pope.
For the Castilian monarchy, the defeat at Aljubarrota, besides bringing
on an important internal crisis, from which, nevertheless, it emerged
in a stronger position, meant having to confront another English invasion,
with Portuguese support, decided on at the Treaty of Windsor in May, 1386.
This was a serious threat to the very existence of the Trastámara
dynasty and to the territorial integrity of the kingdom. If it had succeeded
it would have involved the handing over to Portugal of a substantial group
of territories in Salamanca and Extremadura. Again the English expeditionary
force had the characteristics of a crusade in defense of the Roman Pontiff.
Anglo-Portuguese collaboration was reaffirmed and became even closer some
months after the arrival of the expeditionary force with the matrimonial
alliance of Juan I and Philippa of Lancaster, one of the great events
guiding the history of Portugal. Despite its apparent strength, it soon
became obvious that the English force had no possibilities of success
in the Castilian interior. More time was given to negotiations than to
combat. Despite the serious obstacles, at the end of July 1388, the Castilian
monarch reached an agreement, costly in economic terms. This agreement
provided for the marriage of the heir to the throne of Castile with Catherine,
daughter of the English aspirant, bringing an end to Lancastrian ambitions
The agreement was signed in a general atmosphere of peace. In January,
1389, Castile and Portugal signed six month treaties. In June of the same
year, France, England, Scotland and Castile signed three-year treaties,
leading to a long ceasefire it was hoped that it would be definitive-
in the Anglo-French War. In November, in Monção, Castile
and Portugal also signed three-year treaties, which could be extended,
in order to resolve their remaining differences. Portugal joined the general
system of Leulingham; the desire for a definitive peace seemed to predominate
The Construction of Peace
Despite this, the road to peace between the two monarchies was a long
one and was often broken by periods of military conflict, some of which
were of significance. The harsh reality of Aljubarrota, with its sequel
of human and material losses and desires for revenge would interfere with
the peace process, prolonging it for years. The signed treaties were badly
observed because of this, and also because of the internal political tensions
in Castile after the death of Juan I. The latter circumstance encouraged
the more belligerent positions and made diplomatic contacts, already complicated
by the internal situation, more difficult.
With the aim of extending the valid treaties, talks were begun in Sabugal
and continued in Lisbon. These talks lead to the signing of an agreement
in May 1393 which increased the validity of the treaties to 15 years.
Thus they could be considered as a providing an excellent foundation for
peace (Suárez Fernández, 1960). The contents of the agreement
revealed mutual resentment and mistrust, but also a willingness to improve
economic relations. It provided for freedom of trade, and the return of
property which had been seized, thus establishing the starting point for
a return to normal relations.
Some parts of the agreement, especially those pertaining to the return
of prisoners, were poorly observed by the Castilians. This eventually
lead to new episodes of war especially from 1396 to 1399, and included
such radical events as the taking of Badajoz (May, 1396), the burning
of Viseu (June, 1397) and the proclamation of Prince Dinis as King or
Portugal (May, 1398). The movement of members of the nobility from one
kingdom to another was an essential aspect of these confrontations and
made peace even more difficult to attain.
After overcoming grave difficulties, new treaties, to last 10 years, and
to begin from the following March, were signed in August 1402 (Suárez
Fernández, 1960, doc. 32). The tone of these treaties reveals a
greater trust between the kingdoms and the desire for an effective peace.
This led to special efforts being made to remove the obstacles to peace,
to resolve the differences which might arise in the future and, especially,
in fixing a precise schedule for the commencement of the appropriate diplomatic
Despite this express willingness, the proposed contacts were continually
postponed. The death of Enrique III and the subsequent problems in Castile
brought even further delays. Doubtless, it was the perspective of his
access to the throne of Aragon which induced the Castilian Prince Fernando,
regent for his nephew, to seek an agreement with Portugal. This agreement
was formally signed in October 1411 (Monumenta Henricina, II, doc.
5). It was, in the full meaning of the expression, a peace treaty, which
included France and also Aragon, in the event of the Castilian prince
being crowned King of Aragon. Because of this, it strove to definitively
cancel the past, with the relinquishment of all political demands or claims
for injuries, and tried to establish a wide economic basis for future
The treaty had to be ratified by Juan II on reaching the age of 14. Despite
the desire for peace, the tensions occurring in Castile from 1418 on,
with the irruption of the Princes of Aragon in Castilian politics, again
raised difficulties for the ratification of the treaty. In 1420 voices
were heard in Castile, which refused to accept an automatic ratification
of the treaty, and considered a previous show of strength to be essential
to force the Portuguese into accepting more stringent conditions.
In spite of the political changeover in Castile the fall of Prince
Don Enrique- difficult negotiations were needed between October 1421 and
September 1423 to reach an agreement, not on the previously signed peace
treaty, but only on a new ten-year treaty. The terms of this latter treaty
had to be completed at later meetings, as negotiations became very complex
due to the intervention of Alfonso V of Aragón in Castilian politics.
It wasnt until 1427 that agreement was reached on the additional
terms, a stark revelation of the importance of acts of piracy, which both
Castilians and Portuguese used against each other.
The control of power by Don Álvaro de Luna, from the middle of
1429 onwards, and surely also the death of Queen Beatriz (daughter of
Fernando I of Portugal, and widow of Juan I of Castile), by removing the
last obstacle to peace, at last established the adequate conditions for
the signing of a true peace treaty. The said treaty was signed in Medina
del Campo in October 1431 (Monumenta, IV, doc. 9), and ratified
in Almeirim in the following January (Suárez, 1960, doc. 49). It
marked the end of a long period of confrontations, and the establishment
of an economic and political basis for future understanding.
For quite a number of years, based on these last agreements, relations
between the two kingdoms were essentially friendly. There were some scares
in relation to maritime expansion, such as the Canary Island question
which became an international affair at the Council of Basel (Álvarez,
An apparently innocent request by Portugal to the Council gave rise to
Castilian suspicions. Portugal requested that a plenary indulgence be
granted, in articulo mortis, to the inhabitants of Ceuta and to
those of other territories that might be conquered by Portugal. Such vagueness
when referring to future conquests was the reason for the protest presented
by the Castilian delegation. This led to further protests by both delegations;
everything made more complicated by the difficult situation at the Council,
due to its confrontation with the Pope.
The unmentioned question which was of grave concern to both delegations
was that of the Canary Islands. Portugal had been showing an interest
in them, at least since 1418. In 1423 Castilian diplomats protested against
proposed Portuguese journeys to the islands.
Concern increased in July 1436 when a Portuguese delegation asked Pope
Eugene IV to grant Portugal the right to conquer the Canary Islands. The
successive replies of the Pope, while being favorable to Portuguese demands,
were extremely careful neither to threaten Castilian interests nor the
peaceful situation existing between the two kingdoms. The issue motivated
the drawing up of a well-documented report in August 1437 by Alfonso García
de Santa María, an important specialist in relations with Portugal.
The discussion on this issue, carried on in a parallel manner in the Curia
and at the Council, didnt lead to a clearly favourable verdict for
either party. However, it did lead to heated debates in both places, especially
in the commissions of the Council. No definitive conclusion was reached.
Nevertheless, the Councils message to Duarte was practically a request
to relinquish all hopes of a favorable verdict, as it was considered that
such demands infringed on previous Castilian claims. In any event, both
the Castilian and Portuguese presence at the Council was coming to an
end. In reality, both delegations had remained longer than was intended,
precisely to insure that no decision damaging to their interests was taken
in the event of either delegation prematurely abandoning the Conciliar
Another issue affecting the peace process, without essentially changing
anything which had been agreed on, was the presence of the Princes of
Aragon in Castilian politics. Portuguese intervention led to the liberation
of Prince Don Pedro in December 1432, but Portugal was very careful not
to threaten the recently attained peace treaty. After the death of Duarte,
Queen Leonors abandonment of Portugal and her participation in the
renewed struggle of her brothers against Juan II led to another period
of tense relations. Naturally, Prince Dom Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, motivated
by common interests and political objectives, formed a strong alliance
with Don Álavo Luna and the King of Castile. The death of Queen
Leonor, and the defeat of the Princes in Olmedo (1445), brought an end
for the present, to the threats to peace.
The Consolidation of Peace
The defeat of the princes led to a greater rapprochement between Portugal
and Castile. This was especially true of their respective rulers, the
Duke of Coimbra and Don Álvaro, who consolidated their personal
authority. The external manifestation of this rapprochement was the marriage
of the Castilian monarch to Isabel, daughter of the Portuguese Prince
Juan, and therefore a granddaughter of the first king of the Avís
dynasty. This marriage would prove, however, to be an important obstacle
to the political plans of the High Constable of Castile.
The fall from grace of the Duke of Coimbra, despite the fact that his
daughter Isabel was the wife of Alfonso V, and his subsequent defeat and
death in Alfarrobeira, in May, 1449 (Baquero Moreno, 1973) were events
with great repercussions in Castilian politics. In a certain sense, they
were a precedent of what would happen in Castile to Don Álvaro.
Nevertheless, neither the death of the Duke of Coimbra, nor the subsequent
execution of the Castilian High Constable in June 1453 would bring any
change in the foreign policy of the two kingdoms: relations continued
to be perfectly friendly.
Negotiations for the second marriage of the Prince of Asturias to Juana,
daughter of Duarte and Leonor, were begun by Don Álvaro and continued
without any change during his imprisonment. Despite the many difficulties
involved they were completed fairly quickly, even though the wedding wasnt
celebrated until May 1455, by which time Enrique had been made king. It
provided the link for the collaboration between Enrique IV and Alfonso
V against the Aragonese.
For Enrique IV, Portugal seemed to provide firm support and even a place
of refuge. On the eve of his dismissal in Avila, while he was negotiating
the marriage of his stepsister to Alfonso V, he seemed willing to take
refuge in Portugal. From Portugal he received promises of military aid
when he considered taking violent action against the rebellion of the
nobles and the proclamation of Alfonsos rights to the throne. Afterwards,
Guisandos plans for a marriage between Isabel, now heiress to the
throne of Castile (del Val, 1975) and the Portuguese monarch, were seriously
considered again. The Portuguese monarch was staunch in his refusal to
countenance such an alliance.
The proximity of Portugal to Castilian affairs became an inconvenience
at the outbreak of the Castilian Civil War in March 1475. Alfonso V decided
to intervene in Castile in defense of the eventual rights of his niece,
Juana, the Excellent Lady, who was by then engaged to be married. This
action seemed to bring Portuguese-Castilian relations back to the worst
times of 1383-1385, with a repetition of many of the events of those years,
but now in the opposite direction: a Portuguese invasion of Castile, despite
many voices of protest in Portugal itself, the proclamation of the new
Queen of Castile, the search for international alliances, in this case
with France. The battle of Toro (March, 1476) demonstrated the non-viability
of the Portuguese undertaking as well as reaffirming Isabel on the Castilian
throne (Suárez Fernández, 2000). However, it wasnt
until February 1479 that another Portuguese defeat brought a decisive
end to the war.
Complex negotiations between Beatriz de Braganca and her niece, Queen
Isabel during March 1479 led to the signing of a complex peace agreement,
the Treaty of Alcáçovas, on 4 September 1479 (Suárez
Fernández, 1989; Torre-Suárez, 1958). It didnt just
mean the end of the war, by resolving the issues which had brought it
on: it meant a full restoration of relations between both kingdoms to
the point they had reached in the Treaty of Medina del Campo-Almeirim.
For this reason the first of the four pacts of the Treaty of Alcáçovas,
which restored peace between the two parties, was conceived as a renewal
of the ancient peace treaties of Almeirim. The clauses of these treaties
were fully transcribed and a new one was added, aimed at resolving problems
which had cropped up in the meantime. These more recent issues mainly
concerned Portuguese shipping on the African coast, and the islands of
the so-called Atlantic-Mediterranean. Portugals exclusive
rights in these zones were acknowledged, as well as Castiles ownership
of the Canary Islands.
The other pacts of the Treaty of Alcáçovas were devoted
to solving the problem of the destiny of Juana: the renunciation of her
claims to the title of Queen of Castile and her marriage to the Prince
of Asturias, with careful clarification concerning the interim tercerías management of the Moura. Future relations were to be firmly founded on
family ties a marriage was proposed between Isabel and Alfonso,
with a large dowry, in reality, an indemnity. And a solution to all the
problems resulting from the recent war: pardon for rebels and exiles,
the release of prisoners and the return of property, etc.
In the full meaning of the term, Alcáçovas marked the end
of a journey where the peace treaty, attained with such difficulty at
Almeirim, was strengthened. In the following years, relations between
the two kingdoms, despite passing through difficult times, would be based
not only on friendship, but, even more so, on familiarity. The good understanding
had its origins not only in the treaty clauses, but also in the proximity
of kinship, consolidated by successive and frequent marriages.
The Treaty of Tordesillas (Tratado, 1995), a union of two agreements signed
in June, 1494, provided a climax to Castilian-Portuguese relations during
the Middle Ages. The text of the Treaty showed a clear continuity with
the entire process I have analysed here; it ratified in their entirety
the provisions agreed at Alcácova, which both sides considered
to provide a full guarantee for friendly relations. Nevertheless, this
last treaty was different from the previous one which was almost completely
technical. The Treaty of Tordesillas sought to reply to the new situation
which had arisen after Columbus first trip.
In fact, the Alcáçovas agreements had resolved the situation
created by navigation along the coast of Africa by a partition which followed
latitudinal parallels. Now, the existence of lands to the west meant that
a division along the lines of the meridians was needed, whatever the limits
established were, and some clear definitions regarding Africa. The rest
was simply a ratification of that point in relations which had culminated
in Almerim and afterwards, in Alcáçovas.
1 This claim may seem to be exaggerated. However, I think it is fully
endorsed by the frequent matrimonial alliances between the two ruling
families. Five of the nine kings of the first Portuguese dynasty had
Castilian wives: Alfonso II, Sancho II, Alfonso III, Alfonso IV, and
Pedro I (and to some degree the same could be said of Fernando I). Leonor,
wife of Duarte, was also Castilian, even if she was considered to be
Aragonese, and so were the three successive wives of Manuel
I. A very similar panorama is seen in the marriages of the kings of
Leon and Castile. Fernando I, Alfonso IX, Fernando IV, Alfonso XI, Juan
I, Juan II and Enrique IV all married Portuguese princesses, a tradition
which carried through to the 16th century.
2 I am referring to, on the Portuguese side, to Fernando Is
claim to the Castilian throne, which didnt have further consequences
and to a similar claim by Alfonso V, which lead to his involvement in
the Castilian Civil War. On the Castilian side, we have Juan I, whose
claim to the Portuguese throne lead to violent confrontation, a civil
war in Portugal, and to the disaster of Aljubarrota.
Alvarez Palenzuela, V. A (1982). El Cisma de Occidente. Madrid.
Alvarez Palenzuela, V. A. (1992). La situación europea en
época del concilio de Basilea. Informe de la delegación
del reino de Castilla. León.
Alvarez Palenzuela, V. A. (1999). Las relaciones castellano-portuguesas
en el panorama político internacional. In III Jornadas de
cultura Hispano Portuguesa. Universidades Autónoma de Madrid
y de Oporto, 1997. Actas, 33-50. Madrid.
Alvarez Palenzuela, V. A. (2000). Nacimiento de Portugal en el ámbito
del Imperio Hispánico. In Segundo Congresso Histórico
de Guimarães, Actas, vol. 2, 185-199. Guimarães.
Alvarez Palenzuela, V. A. (2000). Relaciones peninsulares en el siglo
de Alcañices (1250-1350). Regencias y minorías regias.
In IV Jornadas Luso-Españolas de Historia Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, 2, 1045-1070.
Amaral, Diogo Freitas do (2000). Em que momento se tornou Portugal um
país independente. In Actas II Congresso Histórico
de Guimarães, 139-181. Guimarães.
Amaral, Diogo Freitas do (2001). D. Afonso Henriques. Biografia. Lisboa.
Amaral, L.C. y Garcia, J.C. (2000). O Tratado de Alcañices (1297):
uma construção historiográfica. In IV Jornadas
Luso-Españolas de Historia Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, II, 967-986.
Arnaut, S. Dias (1960). A Crise Nacional dos Fins do Século
Ayala Martínez, C. de (1994). Alfonso X, el Algarbe y Andalucía:
el destino de Serpa, Moura y Mourão. In Actas del III Congreso
de Historia de Andalucía. Historia Medieval. 1, 289-304.
Baquero Moreno, H. (1973). A batalha de Alfarrobeira. Antecedentes
e significado histórico. Lourenço Marques.
Baquero Moreno, H. (1990) Relações entre Portugal e a
Galiza nos séculos XIV e XV. Revista da Faculdade de Letras,
Baquero Moreno, H. (2000) As relações de fronteira no
século de Alcañices (1250-1350): o tratado de Alcañices.
In IV Jornadas Luso-Españolas de Historia Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, 1, 641-653.
Bernardino, T. A (1984). Revolução Portuguesa de 1383-1385.
Caetano, M. A (1985). Crise Nacional de 1383-1385. Subsídios
para o seu estudo. Lisboa.
Coelho, A. Borges, (1984). A Revolução de 1383. Tentativa
de caracterização. Lisboa: 5th ed.
Crónica da conquista do Algarve (1856), Lisboa: Portugaliae
Monumenta Historica. Scriptores, I.
Diaz Martín, L.V. (2000). Las fluctuaciones en las relaciones
castellano-portuguesas durante el reinado de Alfonso IV. In IV Jornadas
Luso-Españolas de Historia Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, v. 2,
Diaz Martín, L.V. (1975). Itinerario de Pedro I de Castilla.
Estudio y regesta. Valladolid.
Diaz Martín, L.V. (1995) Pedro I (1350-1369). Palencia.
Diaz Martín, L.V. (1997). Colección documental de Pedro
I de Castilla. (1350-1369). 4 vols. Salamanca.
Fernández Flórez, J.A. (1991) Colección diplomática
del monasterio de Sahagún. (857-1300). Vol. IV. León.
Fonseca L. Adão da (1982). O Condestável D. Pedro de
Fonseca L. Adão da (1987). As relações comerciais
entre Portugal e os Reinos Peninsulares nos séculos XIV e XV.
In Actas das II Jornadas Luso-Espanholas de História Medieval, v. II, 541-561. Porto.
Fonseca L. Adão da (1991). O tratado de Tordesillas e a diplomacia
luso-castelhana no século XV. Lisboa.
Gaibrois, M. María de Molina (1935). Madrid.
García Fernández, M. (2000). La política internacional
de Portugal y Castilla en el contexto peninsular del Tratado de Alcañices:
1267-1297. Relaciones diplomáticas y dinásticas, in IV
Jornadas Luso-Espanholas de História Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, v. II.
González González, J. (1944). Alfonso IX. Madrid.
González González, (1960). El reino de Castilla en
la época de Afonso VIII. 3 vols. Madrid.
González González, (1984). Reyes cristianos e Imperio
almohade, en Historia de España y América. Vol.
IV, 479-562. Madrid.
González Jiménez, M. (ed.) (1991). Diplomatario andaluz
de Alfonso X. Sevilla.
González Jiménez, M. (1993). Alfonso X el Sabio. 1252-1284. Palencia.
González Jiménez (2000). Las relaciones entre Portugal
y Castilla durante el siglo XIII. In IV Jornadas Luso-Espanholas
de História Medieval. As relações de fronteira
no século de Alcañices. Actas, I, 1-24. Porto.
González Jiménez (1976). Fernando IV de Castilla (1295-1312).
La guerra civil y el predominio de la nobleza. Vitoria.
González Jiménez (1995). Fernando IV (1295-1312). Palencia.
González Jiménez (2000). La minoría de Fernando
IV de Castilla (1295-1301). In IV Jornadas Luso-Espanholas de História
Medieval. As relações de fronteira no século de
Alcañices. Actas, v. II, 1071-1084.
Hoyos, M.M. (1972) and (1973). Doña María de Molina. Boletín
de la Institución Fernán González, 179, 290-321
y 180, 626-666.
Ladero Quesada, M.A. La formación de la frontera de Portugal
en los siglos XII y XIII y el Tratado de Alcañices (1297). Boletín
de la Real Academia de la Historia, CXCIV, 3, 1997.
Lopes, F.F. Santa Isabel de Portugal. A larga contenda entre el-rei
D. Dinis e seu filho D. Afonso, Colectânea de estudos,
4, 1953, 34-40.
Lopes, F.F. Santa Isabel de Portugal (1967). Actividades pacificadoras
de S. Isabel de Portugal nos dissídios entre Castela e Aragão,
de 1300 a 1304. Itinerarium, 57, 1967.
Marques, J (1994). Afonso X e a diocese de Silves, Relações
entre Portugal e Castela nos finais da Idade Média, 105-123.
Marques, J (1994). Os castelos algarvios da ordem de Santiago no reinado
de D. Afonso III. Relações entre Portugal e Castela
nos finais da Idade Média, 125-152. Porto.
Marques da Silva, M. J. (1983). Violante Branco, Portugal no reino de
León. Etapas de uma relação. (866-1179), en El reino de León en la Alta Edad Media. IV. La Monarquía
(1109-1230). 533-633. León.
Martínez Ferrando, J.E. (1980). Jaume II. Vol. 6 de Biografíes
Mattoso, J. (1968). A nobreza rural portuense nos séculos XI
e XII. Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 465-520.
Mattoso, J. (1968-69) As familias condais portucalenses dos séculos
X e XI. Studium Genérale, 12, 59-115.
Mattoso, J. (1978). A primeira tarde portuguesa. Revista de Guimarães, 88, 159-186.
Mattoso, J. (1986). As relações de Portugal com Castela
no reinado de Afonso X o Sabio, Estudos Medievais, 7, 69-94.
Mattoso, J. (ed.) (1993). Historia de Portugal. Vol. II: A Monarquia
Feudal (1096-1480). Lisbon.
Mendonça, M. D. (2000). Dinis e a fronteira sul: o Tratado de
Badajoz. In IV Jornadas Luso-Espanholas de História Medieval.
As relações de fronteira no século de Alcañices.
Actas, v. II, 1123-1134. Porto.
Monumenta Henricina (1960-). Coimbra. 15 vols.
Nieto Soria, J.M. (1994). Sancho IV. 1284-1295. Palencia.
Viscomde de Santarém (1842-43). Quadro elementar das Relações
Políticas e Diplomáticas de Portugal com as diversas potencias
do mundo. Paris. 3 vols.
Recuero Astray, M. (1979). Alfonso VII, emperador. El Imperio Hispánico
en el siglo XII. León.
Recuero Astray, M. (2000). Consideraciones sobre la situación
histórica de la Península Ibérica en el siglo XII. Actas II Congresso Histórico de Guimarães, II,
Russell, P.E. (1955). The English Intervention in Spain & Portugal
in the Time of Edward III & Richard II. Oxford.
Serrão, J. (1976). O Carácter Social da Revolução
de 1383. Lisboa. 2nd ed.
Serrão, J. & Marques, A. H. de Oliveira. 1996 (eds). Nova
História de Portugal. Vol. III: Portugal em Definição
de Fronteiras (1096-1325). Do Condado Portucalense à crise do
século XIV (ed.. M. H. da Cruz Coelho & A. L. de Carvalho
Tratado de Alcañices (1297), Jornadas commemorativas del VII
Centenario del Tratado de Alcañices (1297-1997), (1997). Zamora: Fundación Rei Afonso Henriques.
Sousa, A. de (1985). O discurso político dos Concelhos nas Cortes
de 1385. Revista da Faculdade de Letras do Porto, II, 9-44.
Sousa, A. de (1985). 1383-1385 e a Crise Geral dos séculos XIV-XV. Actas de Jornadas de Historia Medieval, Lisboa.
Suárez Fernández, L. (1960). Relaciones entre Portugal
y Castilla en la época del Infante don Enrique. 1393-1460. Madrid.
Suárez Fernández, L. (1977/1982). Historia del reinado
de Juan I de Castilla. Vol. I & II. Madrid.
Suárez Fernández, L. (1989). Los Reyes Católicos.
La conquista del trono. Madrid.
Suárez Fernández, L. (2000) Isabel I, Reina. Barcelona.
Suárez Fernández, L. (2001). Enrique IV de Castilla. Barcelona.
Suárez Fernández, L. (2002). Benedicto XIII. Barcelona.
Suárez Fernández, L. (2003). Nobleza y Monarquía.
Entendimiento y rivalidad. El proceso de la construcción de la
Corona Española. Madrid.
Tavares, M. J. (1977). Pimenta Ferro, A Revolta dos Mesteirais de 1383. Actas das III Jornadas Arqueológicas. 359-383.
Tavares, M. J. (1983). A Nobreza no Reinado de D. Fernando e a sua actuação
em 1383-1385. Revista de Historia Económica e Social, 12,
Torre, A. de la & Suarez Fernández, L (1958). Documentos
referentes a las relaciones con Portugal durante el reinado de los Reyes
(El) Tratado de Tordesillas. Congreso Internacional de Historia.
Val Valdivieso, M.I. del (1975). Isabel la Católica Princesa.
Valdeón Baruque, J. (2001) Los Trastámaras. El triunfo
de una dinastía bastarda. Madrid.
Veloso, M.T. (1980). A questão entre Afonso II e suas irmas sobre
a detenção dos direitos senhoriais. Revista Portuguesa
de História, XVIII. Coimbra.
Ventura, L. (2000). A fronteira luso-castelhana na Idade Media. In IV
Jornadas Luso-Espanholas de História Medieval. As relações
de fronteira no século de Alcañices. Actas, I, 25-52.
Viegas, V. (1984). Cronología da Revolução de
Viegas, V. (1985). Lisboa, a Força da Revolução
(1383-1385). Os Documentos comprovam Fernão Lopes. Lisboa.
2003, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol.1, number 1, Summer 2003