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Henry, King of Portugal

Henry, King of Portugal

King of Portugal
The basics
Occupations Catholic priest
Countries Portugal
Gender male
Birth January 31, 1512 (Lisbon)
Death January 31, 1580 (Almeirim Municipality)
Mother: Maria of AragonQueen of Portugal
Father: Manuel I of Portugal
Siblings: Cardinal-Infante Afonso of PortugalInfante FerdinandDuke of Guarda and TrancosoJohn III of PortugalInfante Edward4th Duke of GuimarãesLuís of PortugalDuke of BejaMiguel da PazPrince of PortugalInfanta MariaDuchess of ViseuIsabella of PortugalBeatrice of PortugalDuchess of Savoy
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
The details

Henry (Portuguese: Henrique Portuguese pronunciation: [ẽˈʁik(ɨ)]; 31 January 1512 – 31 January 1580) was King of Portugal and the Algarves and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He ruled Portugal between 1578 and 1580 and was known as Henry the Chaste (Portuguese: Henrique o Casto).


Born in Lisbon, Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon.


As the younger brother of King John III of Portugal and a younger son in the royal family, Henry was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne. Early in his life, Henry took Holy Orders to promote Portuguese interests within the Catholic Church, then dominated by Spain. He rose fast through the Church hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop of Braga, Archbishop of Évora and Grand Inquisitor before receiving a Cardinal's hat in 1545, along with the Titulus Ss. Quattuor Coronatorum. From 1564 to 1570 he was Archbishop of Lisbon. Henry, more than anyone, endeavoured to bring the Jesuits to Portugal to employ them in the colonial empire.

Coat of Arms of King-Cardinal Henry I of Portugal.


Henry served as regent for his great-nephew, King Sebastian, after 1562, replacing his sister-in-law (and Sebastian's grandmother) the Queen dowager Catherine, and then succeeded him as king after the disastrous Battle of Alcácer Quibir in 1578 in which Sebastian died. Henry attempted to renounce his ecclesiastical office and sought to take a bride for the continuation of the Avis dynasty, but Pope Gregory XIII, not wanting to anger King Philip II of Spain, did not release him from his vows.

Death and succession

The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim without having appointed a successor, leaving only a regency to care for the kingdom. One of the closest dynastic claimants was King Philip II of Spain who, in November 1580, sent the Duke of Alba to claim Portugal by force. Lisbon soon fell, and Philip was elected king of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581—on the condition that the kingdom and its overseas territories would not become Spanish provinces.


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