But one of its greatest and most enduring successes has been its monarchy. As I mentioned earlier, Portugal began as a crusader state called the County of Porto Cale. It was controlled by the Frankish emperor who first invested the title of count to a local noble family, probably of Basque origin, before it eventually passed to Henry, the son of Duke Henry of Burgundy, the son of Duke Robert I of Burgundy, the son of King Robert II of France. Count Henry was a junior cadet branch of the senior House of Burgundy, but his line proved to be the longest living.
|Henry, Count of Portugal|
|Afonso I the Conqueror, King of Portugal|
|John II, King of Portugal and the Algarve|
Portugal's explorations continued but the monarchy became increasingly wrapped up in problematic rulers. John III was the first European monarch to contact China and Japan but his goals were mostly evangelistic. Sabastian was a child for most of his reign and Henry the Cardinal was quite old. With Henry's death, the Portuguese throne was wide open for the taking and there were many potential candidates. Anthony, the Prior of Crato, was the last of the house of Aviz (although he was illegitimate) to claim the Portuguese throne, but his illegitimacy gave the Habsburg king of Spain, Philip II, license to claim the throne by right of his mother, who was a Portuguese princess. None could really argue with the might of the Habsburg Empire bearing down on them. A short war began but the winner was clear from the start. Thus, Portugal passed from the Capetian dynasty to the House of Habsburg for a while, from 1580 until 1640 to be precise. Such an interlude was unfortunate, but pro-Capetian forces won the day in the end.
The rise of the Most Serene House of Braganza in 1640 was slightly unexpected and followed proper Portuguese form. Like Aviz, Braganza was a male-line illegitimate branch of the previous dynasty, although it was removed quite a few more generations. Where Burgundy founded Portugal, and Avis created the Portuguese Empire, Braganza's chief claim to fame is creating the break-away Empire of Brasil. The royal house began as dukes of Braganza, a region in northern Portugal. The third duke, Fernando II, married Isabella, granddaughter of King Duarte I, thereby legitimizing the branch and giving it a strong claim to the throne. This was strengthened when the sixth duke, John I, married Catarina, a granddaughter of King Manuel I. When war broke out in 1580, the Braganza branch was overlooked since its chief representative was a woman (Catarina). For the next sixty years, the family would remain loyal to their Habsburg overlords, becoming rich and powerful due to their service.
|John IV, King of Portugal and the Algarve|
The Napoleonic Wars, as it did to so many other kingdoms in Europe, caused much panic in Portugal. The royal family fled to Brasil, renaming the Portuguese empire the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve. It wasn't until 1821 that the family returned to Portugal but Brasil was now happy being a European capital and became quite frustrated when King John VI demoted it to a colony. John's eldest son, Pedro, siding with the Brasilians, proclaimed himself Emperor of Brasil, and began the long separation between Brasil and its mother country. Pedro abdicated in 1831 in favor of his son, Pedro II, who ruled Brasil until 1889 when the Brasilian aristocracy overthrew the monarchy because of its anti-slavery policies. The Brasilian Braganza branch still has two rival pretender lines to this day, but they have never reclaimed the Brasilian throne.
|Maria II, Queen Regnant of Portugal and the Algarve|
|Miguel, Usurper and King of Portugal and the Algarve|
|Manuel II, Last King of Portugal and the Algarve|
Technically, the last four monarchs of Portugal were members of the German House of Wettin, often called the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, but they are also considered a continuation of the previous house and are rarely separated from it in family trees, much like William III of England is generally considered a Stuart monarch despite being a member of the House of Orange. As noted, after the family went into exile, it did in fact return to the Braganza branch anyway, through the person of King Miguel.
|Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and Pretender to Portugal|
So ends the long and complex history of the Capetian Dynasty. Next week, we will explore the family of Moctezuma of the Aztecs and see just how quickly that family spread across Spain and Mexico.