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Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos

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Title: Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos  
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Subject: Denis of Portugal, Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional, Barcelos, Portugal
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Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos

Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos (before 1289 - May 1350), was an illegitimate son of King Denis of Portugal and Grácia Frois. He was made the 3rd Count of Barcelos on 1 May 1314.


Much like the other illegitimate children of King Denis, Pedro Afonso was raised by Queen Elizabeth of Aragon along with his half-brothers and -sisters at court.[1] The children were sent at an early age to live there as a political, not charitable necessity, as they were seen as a method of cementing alliances and creating a network of influence within the courts of Europe.[1][2] King Denis in his, October 1298, will left a provision that stated that the Queen would specifically administer and instruct his illegitimate children, and to disinherit these children if they were to dishonour or disobey the authority of the Infante Afonso.[3][4]

The Count always counted on the protection and support of his father, receiving dominion over lands in Lisboa, Estremoz, Evoramonte, Sintra and Tavira, among others. He quickly became an important manager, and in 1306, began managing the inheritances that the king bestowed.[5]

In 1307, he became the steward to Beatrice of Castile.[5]

With the conflicts that developed between Denis and his son, the crown prince Afonso, the King invested his illegitimate son with the title of Count of Barcelos (in 1317), at the time, a non-hereditary tile in the kingdom.[5] Pedro Afonso remained on the King's side during the initially phases of the medieval civil war, between 1319 and 1324.[5] At the same time he continued to stay close to the Crown Prince, and legitimate successor to the Portuguese crown. After disagreements with his brothers Infante João Afonso and Afonso Sanchez, principal opponents of Afonso, he was seen as doing a disservice to the King and exiled to Castile, where he remained between 1317 and 1322.[6]

On returning from exile in 1322, he looked to reconcile with his father, in order to recuperate his lost titles and properties.[6] At the same time, he attempted to fill the role of conciliator between Denis and the Infante Afonso, alongside his stepmother the Queen Elizabeth.[6]

After the death of Denis, in 1325, and the accession to the throne of the Infante Afonso, as Afonso IV of Portugal, Count Pedro Afonso began to occupy his time in the parish of Lalim, near Lamego, and limiting himself to interventions with his brother Afonso against the Crown of Castile.[6] In this role he was seen as "the strong arm, and strong blow, that drowned the resistance in their own blood".[6]

He was named by Afonso IV, as royal representative to the peace agreements between the kingdoms of Castile and Portugal, but, however, due to illness, he could not follow the Archbishop Goncalo Pereira to the meeting.[6]

Francisco Brandão indicated that Pedro Afonso was recognized at Court (in Portugal, Castile and Aragon) as a man of "great opinion, discrete, valorous, and generally applauded by those of important rank in Spain".[6]

Following his "retirement" to the civil parish of Lalim, Pedro Afonso was credited with a group of literary works, of varying themes, that included the Crônica Geral de Espanha (1344) and the Livro de Linhagens, in addition to Livro das Cantigas.

He died in 1350, at his home in the Paço de Lalim, and was buried in the Monastery of Tarouca.


Count Pedro was, officially, married twice: first with Branca Peres de Sousa, the daughter of wealthy and powerful courtesans, Pedro Eanes de Portel and Constança Mendes de Souza, and had one child who died in infancy. Friar Francisco Brandão (author of the five volumes of the Monarquia Lusitania) later added that the child was buried in Santa Maria dos Olivares, in Tomar, which was also confirmed by a reference in the church records, that "there was buried a nephew of King Denis".[4][7]

Queen Elizabeth, ever involved in the marital alliances, was involved in the Infante's second marriage; around 1300, Pedro married Maria Ximénez Cornel (later buried in the Monastery of Santa Maria de Sigena), one of the Queen's Aragonese ladies-in-waiting, and the daughter of a powerful Aragonese nobleman, Pedro Cornel.[4]

Also, following the death of Maria Ximénez, the Infante married for a third time, this time with Teresa Annes, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Consort of Portugal Beatrice of Castile, wife of the King Afonso IV.[5][7]




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