The Making of Portugal

The Kingdom of Portugal emerged in the 12th century, during the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula (the conquest of the southern territories, occupied by the Moors).




Baptism of D. Afonso Henriques by Saint Gerard, Archbishop of Braga,
17th century, attributed to Simão Álvares (active 1638-1657),
Museum of Alberto Sampaio, Guimarães.


Domus Municipalis of Braganza, 12th century.
It was used as the headquarters
of the municipal administration of this city
of north-eastern Portugal..

Its roots go back to the county of Portucale, integrated, in accordance with the feudal tradition, in one of the most ancient Christian kingdoms of Iberian Peninsula – Leão. This feudal unity demanded its independence from Leão in 1143. After some fights and negotiations, D. Afonso I, supported by the local nobility, was recognized as the first king of Portugal. The recognition by the papacy came later, in 1179, thus adding legitimacy to the new kingdom. In the eyes of the Christian world this meant a victory of Christianity over Islam, a reinforcement in the struggle against the “infidels”.


Royal seal of D. Afonso Henriques.


The concept of crusade and the belief that all peninsular kings descended from an ancient Visigoth monarchy, constituted part of the ideological support in the process of conquest towards the south, at the expenses of the territories of the al-Andalus. The help from the church was vital – the religious and military orders contributed largely to the construction of the new kingdom, through their efforts of conquest and settlement



Arms of Lisbon, showing two crows, which, according to legend,
accompanied the boat that transported the body of St. Vincent during its entire journey
from the Algarve to Lisbon (during D. Afonso Henriques reign).
That is the reason why they are represented in the arms of the city
In http://lisboalisboa.blogspot.com/2007/07/os-17-membros-da-nova-cmara-municipal.html, 29/01/2010


The peculiarity of the kingdom's formation lies in the various ways by which the territory was occupied. To the usual feudal forms of appropriation and use of the land – by the nobility, by the clergy and through allotment, a distinct mode made its appearance in Iberia – through the municipalities. They were granted considerable autonomy (that varied from municipality to municipality) by the king (or by a feudal lord). In exchange, these communities of free men would help populate and develop the territory



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