Afonso I (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Through astute leadership in military victories over Muslims and Christian Iberian neighbors, Afonso created the independent monarchy of Portugal and became its first king.
In 1087, many French knights were invited by Christians of the Iberian Peninsula to help in the fight against the Muslim Almoravids. These Moroccan warriors had invaded the divided Islamic areas of Spain, and through military victories were uniting the Muslims and threatening the Christian kingdoms. One of the French nobles was Henry of Burgundy, who ingratiated himself with the Emperor of León, Alfonso VI, and married his illegitimate daughter, Princess Teresa. The county of Portugal was conferred upon Henry by his father-in-law. He was charged with the defense of the western frontier from the Muslims. Henry established his court at Guimarães, in northern present-day Portugal. It was close to Braga, which had been restored as a bishopric in 1070. One of Henry’s successes was helping to achieve papal recognition of Braga’s elevation to a metropolitanate.
Sometime around 1108 Teresa gave birth to a son, Afonso. The prince was reared at the court, where he was surrounded by Portuguese barons who had been appointed by Henry to be his chief officers. Henry’s policy was to reward native aristocrats with estates, thus winning their loyalty and identifying his rule with the Portuguese.
(The entire section is 2057 words.)
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