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House of Aviz


House of Aviz

House of Aviz
Casa de Aviz
Country Portugal
Parent house House of Burgundy
Founded 1385
Founder John I
Final ruler António
Dissolution 1580
Cadet branches

The House of Aviz (modern Portuguese: Avis; Portuguese pronunciation: ) was the second dynasty of the kings of Portugal. In 1385, the Interregnum of the 1383-1385 crisis ended when the Cortes of Coimbra proclaimed the Master of the monastic military Order of Aviz as King John I.[1] John was the natural (illegitimate) son of King Peter I and Dona Teresa Lourenço, and so was half-brother to the last king of the Portuguese House of Burgundy or Afonsine Dynasty, Ferdinand I of Portugal. The House of Aviz continued to rule Portugal until Philip II of Spain inherited the Portuguese crown with the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580.

The descendants of King John I were still also Masters of Aviz, though at times that title passed to one descendant of John and the Crown of Portugal to another. The title of Grand Master of the Order of Aviz was permanently incorporated into the Portuguese Crown toward the end of rule by the House of Aviz, in 1551.[2]


  • History 1
  • Aviz-Beja 2
  • Monarchs 3
    • Portugal 3.1
  • Other notable infantes and infantas of the House of Aviz 4
  • See also 5
  • Coats of arms 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The House of Aviz was established as a result of the dynastic crisis following the 1383 death of Ferdinand I.[3] Ferdinand's widow Leonor Telles was disliked by both the nobility and the commoners for having left her first husband and for having had their marriage annulled in order to marry King Ferdinand. Ferdinand's designated heir was their only surviving child Beatrice, married to John I of Castile who claimed the throne in the name of his wife,[4] but under the Treaty of Salvaterra that had been the basis for John's marriage to Beatrice, the unpopular Leonor was left as Regent until such time as the son of Beatrice and John would be 14 years old.

In April 1385, amidst popular revolt and civil war, the Cortes of Coimbra declared John, Master of Aviz, as king John I of Portugal. He was half-brother of Ferdinand and natural son of Ferdinand's father and predecessor Pedro I. He had the particular backing of the rising bourgeoisie of Lisbon; the nobility were split, with the majority favoring the legitimist Beatrice. Troops under General Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated a small Castilian army at Valverde, assisted in part by a pestilence that had spread among their rival's forces. This was followed, however, by a larger invasion of Castilian and Portuguese troops loyal to John of Castile and Beatrice.

John of Aviz's rule became established fact with the Portuguese victory in the Battle of Aljubarrota[5] on 14 August 1385, where he defeated John I of Castile.[4] A formal peace between Portugal and Castile would not be signed until 1411.

To mark his victory, John founded the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, known as the "Batalha Monastery" ("Battle Monastery"), whose chapel became the burial place of the princes of the new dynasty of Aviz.

The House of Aviz would rule Portugal until Philip II of Spain annexed Portugal in 1580,[6] after he had ordered the Duke of Alba to take Portugal by force.[7] The Cortes in Tomar acknowledged Philip II of Spain as king Philip II of Portugal on 16 April 1581 after this Spanish military intervention.[8] From 1581, the House of Aviz had ceased to rule any portion of continental Portugal; António, Prior of Crato held out in the Azores into 1582 as António I of Portugal; the last of his allies in the islands finally surrendered in 1583.[9]

This period of Portuguese history saw the ascent of Portugal to the status of a European and world power. The conquest of Ceuta in 1415 was its first venture in colonial expansion,[10] followed by a great outpouring of national energy and capital investment in the exploration of Africa, Asia and Brazil with the founding of colonies to exploit their resources commercially.[11] The period also includes the zenith of the Portuguese Empire during the reign of Manuel I and the beginning of its decline during John III's reign.[12]

John III was succeeded in 1557 by his grandson Sebastian I of Portugal, who died, aged 24 and childless, in the Battle of Alcácer Quibir.[13] Sebastian was succeeded by his great-uncle Henry, aged 66, who, as a Catholic Cardinal, also had no children. The Cardinal-King Henry died two years later, and a succession crisis occurred when pretenders to the throne including Catherine, Duchess of Braganza, Philip II of Spain, and António, Prior of Crato claimed the right to inherit it.[14]

António, Prior of Crato, was acclaimed king in several cities around the country in 1580, twenty days before Philip II of Spain invaded Portugal and defeated the supporters of António in the Battle of Alcântara. Although António had been proclaimed king, and was still regarded as rightful king in some of the Azores Islands until 1583,[15] his legitimacy as a monarch is still disputed by historians. Only a small minority of historians (even in Portugal) accept the period of twenty days between Anthony's acclamation and the Battle of Alcântara as his reign. In Portugal he generally considered not as a national king, but as a patriot who led armed resistance to the Philippine domination.

Joaquim Veríssimo Serrão, writing in 1956 and counting António as a king, dates the end of the dynasty's rule of Portugal as occurring in 1581–1582. The Cortes of Tomar had acclaimed Philip II of Spain as Philip I of Portugal in 1581, subsequently António's forces were utterly defeated at sea by Álvaro de Bazán at the Battle of Ponta Delgada off São Miguel Island in the Azores, on 26 July 1582. António then retreated to Terceira, where he supervised the raising of levies for defense, but in November he left Angra do Heroísmo en route to France[16] to persuade the French to furnish more troops,[9] 800 of which arrived in June 1583.[17] Philip had despatched Santa Cruz with an overwhelming force which left Lisbon on 23 June,[18] and reaching sight of São Miguel some time after 7 July,[19] finally reduced the Azores to subjection.[20]

The House of Aviz was succeeded in Portugal by Philip's personal union of the Crowns of Portugal and Spain.[21] In Portuguese history this is variously referred to as the Philippine Dynasty,[22] the House of Habsburg, or the House of Austria. Portugal and Spain would share a common monarch until 1640, upon the proclamation of the Duke of Braganza as John IV of Portugal.[23]


In the genealogical trees in the two-volume work História de Portugal (1972) by A. H. de Oliveira Marques, the historian presented the House of Aviz in two separate diagrams. He labeled the royal line from John I to Manuel as the "Avis" dynasty, and for the subsequent descent he called the line from Manuel I to António as "Avis-Beja", merely for ease of identification and reading.

This banal and insignificant literary convenience was later conflated with other genealogical interpretations derived from foreign sources, leading to a widespread belief among the less informed that there were two branches of the royal Avis dynasty, the Avis and the "Avis-Beja", although in fact Manuel I was a first cousin of John II (they had the same paternal grandfather, Edward I). The gist of the interpretation is that it focuses on Manuel having been Duke of Beja before he inherited the crown. However, Manuel was an Infante of Portugal by birth (the equivalent in common English parlance would be a prince, but not first in line to the throne). Manuel's father was Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, third son of the King Edward and his wife Eleanor of Aragon. The title "Duke of Beja" was created for the future Manuel I in 1453 by his uncle, King Afonso V. Beja was one of many seigniories of the royal family, and it was reasonably common to create such a title for someone in the royal line. In this period, dukedoms and bishoprics were the king's to give. The granting of such a title hardly removes its recipient from the royal dynasty.

Normally, the ascent of any legitimate member of the same family is not considered a change of dynasty (in contrast, the founder of the House of Aviz, John I, was born a natural son and usurped the rights of the legitimate heiress Beatrice). As to the view that Manuel begins a new dynasty, were a similar standard applied elsewhere in Portuguese history several other kings would have to be considered as each beginning a new dynasty, including the earlier Afonso III of the House of Burgundy, but also Henry (great uncle of his predecessor Sebastian I).



Name Cognomen Reigned Dynastic succession
John I The Good or The One of Happy Memory 1385 - 1433 Natural son of Pedro I, half-brother of Ferdinand I
Edward I The Philosopher or The Eloquent 1433 - 1438 Son of John I
Afonso V The African Conqueror 1438 - 1481 Son of Edward I
John II The Perfect Prince 1481 - 1495 Son of Afonso V
Manuel I The Fortunate 1495 - 1521 Grandson of Edward I, cousin of John II
John III The Pious 1521 - 1557 Son of Manuel I
Sebastian The Desired 1557 - 1578 Grandson of John III, son of John Manuel, Prince of Portugal
Henry The Chaste 1578 - 1580 Son of Manuel I, younger brother of John III
António The Determined 1580 (disputed) Grandson of Manuel I's, natural son of Infante Louis, Duke of Beja

Other notable infantes and infantas of the House of Aviz

See also

Coats of arms

Coat of Arms Title Time Held
King of Portugal 1385–1580
King of the Algarve 1385–1580
Lord of Guinea 1485–1580
Lord of Ceuta 1415–1471


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External links

House of Aviz
Cadet branch of the Portuguese House of Burgundy
Preceded by
House of Burgundy

Ruling House of the Kingdom of Portugal

1385 – 1580
Succeeded by
House of Habsburg
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