Battle of Toro

Coordinates: 41°31′32″N 5°23′28″W / 41.52556°N 5.39111°W / 41.52556; -5.39111

The Battle of Toro was part of the War of the Castilian Succession, fought on 1 March 1476, near the city of Toro, between the Castilian-Aragonese troops of the Catholic Monarchs and the Portuguese-Castilian forces of Afonso V and Prince John of Portugal.

Battle of Toro
Part of the War of the Castilian Succession
Album Rejio, Francisco de Paula van Halen, batalla de Toro (cropped).jpg
Date1 March 1476
Peleagonzalo, near Toro, Castile

PortugueseFlag1475.png Kingdom of Portugal

Royal Banner of the Crown of Castille (15th Century Style)-Variant.svg Castilian Juanistas

Royal Banner of the Crown of Castille (15th Century Style)-Variant.svg Castilian Isabelistas

Pendón Heráldico de la Corona de Aragon.svg Crown of Aragon
Commanders and leaders
Afonso V of Portugal
Prince John of Portugal
Bishop of Évora
Archbishop of Toledo
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Cardinal Mendoza
Duke of Alba
Álvaro de Mendoza
Count of Alba de Aliste (POW)

About 8,500 men:

About 8,000 men:

  • 5,000 footmen[4]
  • 2,500[4] or 3,000 horsemen[5]
Casualties and losses
Near 1,000 (dead, prisoners and drowned)[6] Many hundreds (dead and prisoners)[7]

The battle was militarily inconclusive,[8][9][10][11][12] as both sides claimed victory: the Castilian right wing was defeated by the forces under Prince John who possessed the battlefield, but the troops of Afonso V were beaten by the Castilian left-centre led by the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza.[13][14]

However, it was a major political victory for the Catholic Monarchs by assuring to Isabella the throne of Castile:[2][3] The remnants of the nobles loyal to Juana de Trastámara adhered to Isabella. With great political vision, Isabella took advantage of the moment and summoned the 'Cortes' at Madrigal-Segovia (April–October 1476).[15] There her daughter was proclaimed sworn heiress of the Castile's crown, which was equivalent to legitimizing her own throne.

As noted by Spanish academic António Serrano: "From all of this it can be deduced that the battle [of Toro] was inconclusive, but Isabella and Ferdinand made it fly with wings of victory. (...) Actually, since this battle transformed in victory; since 1 March 1476, Isabella and Ferdinand started to rule the Spanish throne. (...) The inconclusive wings of the battle became the secure and powerful wings of San Juan's eagle [the commemorative temple of the battle of Toro] ".[16]

The war continued until the peace of Alcáçovas (1479), and the official propaganda transformed the Battle of Toro into a victory which avenged Aljubarrota.[17][18][19][20]


Spanish historians Luis Suárez Fernández, Juan de Mata Carriazo and Manuel Fernández Álvarez :

"From a strictly military point of view, the battle of Toro cannot be considered a clear victory, but only a favorable fight for [the cause of] the Catholic Monarchs. It is not its intrinsic value which causes the joyful explosion of happiness among the chroniclers, but the consequences that resulted from it ... because it definitely discourages the supporters of Juana (p. 157) [21]... but … does not contradict in any way the reality of the fact that a part of the Portuguese army, having defeated the Castilian right wing, remained on the field, withdrawing in the next day without opposition. (p. 161) [22] … Not a military victory, but a political victory, the battle of Toro is in itself, a decisive event because it solves the civil war in favour of the Catholic Monarchs, leaving as a relic, a border clash between the two countries (p. 163) " [23]

— in La España de los Reyes Católicos (1474–1516)



The death of Henry IV of Castile, in 1474, led to a succession crisis and the formation of two rival parties: Isabella, the King's half sister, received the support of the majority of the noblemen, clerks and people, whereas Juana de Trastámara, the King's daughter, was supported by some powerful nobles.[24]

This rivalry degenerated in civil war and the Portuguese King Afonso V intervened in the defence of his niece Juana's rights, to whom he married. He tried to unify the crowns of Castile and Portugal as an alternative to the union of Castile with Aragon, personified in the marriage of Isabella to Ferdinand, the heir of Aragon's throne.[24]

Ferdinand II of Aragon, married with Isabella. He conquered two peninsular kingdoms (Navarra and Granada), launching the foundations of Modern Spain. He also defeated the French in Italy.

The Burgos expedition: turning point of the warEdit

After some skirmishes, Afonso V's army marched for the rescue of the besieged castle inside Burgos. On the way, at Baltanás, it defeated and imprisoned a force of 400 spearmen of the Count of Benavente (18 – XI – 1475)[25] and also took Cantalapiedra, reaching the distance of only 60 km from Burgos.[26]

The Castilian allies pressed Afonso V to advance south towards Madrid, where they assured him many supporters. The King, who did not want to stretch his communication lines with Portugal, didn't listen to them and withdrew leaving Burgos to its fate. The city surrendered on 28 January 1476, and Afonso's prestige sank. It is the turning point of the war: Ocaña and other places changed side, the Estuñiga family defected, the mighty Marquis of Villena, Diego López Pacheco, denied his military support and the Juanista band began its dissolution.[24]

Zamora: prelude to the Battle of ToroEdit

Afonso V preferred to secure its line of cities and strongholds along the Duero River, but on 4 December 1475, a part of the Zamora's garrison – a key Juanista city – rebelled and besieged the inner fortress, where the Portuguese took refuge. Ferdinand II of Aragon entered the city next day.[citation needed]

At the end of January 1476, Afonso V received the reinforcement troops led by his own son, the Perfect Prince,[27][better source needed] and in the middle of February 1476, the combined Portuguese forces besieged Ferdinand's Army (locked inside the city of Zamora), putting him in the curious situation of besieger being besieged.

After two cold and rainy weeks, the besiegers decided to leave and rest in the city of Toro. Ferdinand pursued and reached them near Toro, where both armies decided to engage in battle.[citation needed]

Disposition of the forcesEdit

Isabelist army of D. FerdinandEdit

  • Centre: Commanded by Ferdinand, it included the royal guard and forces of several hidalgos, like Count of Lemos and the mayordomo mayor Enrique Enriquez. It was formed mainly by popular militias of several cities like Zamora, Ciudad Rodrigo or Valladolid.[28]
  • Right wing: it had 6 divisions ("batallas" or "battles") of light cavalry or jennets,[28][29] commanded by their captains: Álvaro de Mendoza (the main captain), the Bishop of Ávila and Alfonso de Fonseca (these two men shared the command of one battle), Pedro de Guzmán, Bernal Francés, Vasco de Vivero and Pedro de Velasco. This wing is sometimes called vanguard as some of his men closely followed the Portuguese from Zamora to Toro. It was divided in two lines: five battles at the forefront and one in the rear.[29]
  • Left wing: here were many knights with heavy armour, divided in 3 corps: the left one, near the Portuguese, commanded by Admiral Enríquéz; the centre one, led by Cardinal Mendoza, and on the right, the force headed by the Duke of Alba. It was the most powerful.[citation needed]
  • Reserve forces: the men of Enrique Enríquez, Count of Alba de Aliste (King Ferdinand's uncle and Galicia's governor, who would be taken prisoner by the Portuguese); and the horsemen from the marquis of Astorga.[citation needed]

The foot soldiers were in the middle of all those battles. In practical terms, the Isabelist army fought on two separate fronts: right wing and left-centre or Royal Battle (due to the presence of Ferdinand).[citation needed]

Portuguese-Castilian army of Afonso V / The Perfect PrinceEdit

  • Centre: commanded by Afonso V, it was formed by the knights of several noblemen from his House and the Castilian knights loyal to D. Juana led by Rui Pereira. It also had 4 bodies of footmen with their backs turned to the Duero River.
  • Right wing: troops of some Portuguese nobles and the Castilians of the Toledo's Archbishop, Alfonso Carrillo.
  • Left wing: here were the elite troops of the kingdom (chevaliers) together with the army's artillery (arquebusiers) and the javelin throwers. It was commanded by the Perfect Prince, who had as his main captain the Bishop of Évora. It included a rear guard battle under Pedro de Meneses.[30]

Because of the split of leadership between the King and Prince, the Portuguese army also fought divided into two parts which did not help each other:[31] left wing or Prince's battle and right-centre or Royal Battle.[citation needed]


The Perfect Prince defeats the right wing of Ferdinand's armyEdit

The forces of Prince John and of the Bishop of Évora, formed by arquebusiers, javelin throwers, and by the Portuguese elite knights, screaming "St. George! St. George!", invested the six bodies or battles in the right wing of the Castilian army. The Prince attacked the five advanced battles while the battle of Pedro de Meneses attacked the other one.[32] The Castilian forces (which were very select)[5] withdrew in disorder, after suffering heavy losses.[citation needed]

Chronicler Hernando del Pulgar (Castilian): "promptly, those 6 Castilian captains, which we already told were at the right side of the royal battle, and were invested by the prince of Portugal and the bishop of Évora, turned their backs and put themselves on the run".[28]

Chronicler Garcia de Resende (Portuguese): "and being the battles of both sides ordered that way and prepared to attack by nearly sunshine, the King ordered the prince to attack the enemy with his and God's blessing, which he obeyed (...). (...) and after the sound of the trumpets and screaming all for S. George invested so bravely the enemy battles, and in spite of their enormous size, they could not stand the hard fight and were rapidly beaten and put on the run with great losses."[33]

Chronicler Pedro de Medina (Castilian): "In the Portuguese left wing, where the people of the Prince of Portugal and from the Bishop of Évora were, a very cruel battle began in which the Castilians were defeated: due to the large artillery and shotgun's bullets from the enemy, a huge number of Castilians promptly fell dead and was necessary to remove another crowd of wounded men. As for the remaining, they found a great resistance in the Portuguese since this was their strongest army's side, as already told, and were forced to withdraw (...). Having been so easily defeated the right battle of the Castilian army; the other two attacked their respective counterparts in order to avenge the affront and losses."[34]

Chronicler Juan de Mariana (Castilian): " ... the [Castilian] horsemen ... moved forward(...).They were received by prince D. John... whose charge... they couldn't stand but were instead defeated and ran away."[35]

Chronicler Damião de Góis (Portuguese): "... these Castilians who were on the right of the Castilian Royal battle, received [the charge of] the Prince's men as brave knights invoking Santiago but they couldn't resist them and began to flee, and [so] our men killed and arrested many of them, and among those who escaped some took refuge ... in their Royal battle which was on the left of these six [Castilian] divisions.".[32]

Chronicler Garibay (Spanish): " ... D. Alfonso de Fonseca first and then Álvaro de Mendoza ... and other [captains] begged the King [Ferdinand] permission to be the first to attack the Prince's squad ... which was the strength of the Portuguese army, and the King authorized them, provided that the six battles named above remained together (...). And facing the Prince's squads ... they were defeated, many of them dying due to artillery and javelin throwers ... and this way, the victory in the beginning was for the Portuguese ..."[36]

Chevaliers and footmen in combat (battle of Grandson, 2 March 1476)

The Prince's men pursued the fugitives along the land. The Prince, in order to avoid the dispersion of his troops, decided to make a halt: "and the prince, as a wise captain, seeing the great victory God had given to him and the good fate of that hour, chose to secure the honour of victory than follow the chase."( Garcia de Resende)[33] But some of his men went too far (Rui de Pina says during a league, 5 km)[37] and paid the price: "and some of the important people and others ... in the heat of victory chased [the fugitives] so deeply that they were killed or captured."[37] According to Rui de Pina, this happened because some of these fugitives, after a hard chase, gathered with one of Ferdinand's battles on the rear and faced the most temerarious pursuers. Pulgar confirms this post chase episode: "Many of those who were on those 6 Castilian battles defeated by the Prince of Portugal at the beginning, seeing the victory of the other king's battles on their respective side [left wing and centre], assembled with the people of the King and fought again" (3 hours after the beginning of the battle, according to him).[28]

Pulgar justifies the defeat of the Isabelistas with the fact that the Prince's battle attacked as a block, while the Castilians were divided into six battles. So, each of them was successively beaten off without benefiting from the help of the others. Another factor cited by the same chronicler was "the great loss" suffered by the Castilians as a result of the fire from the many arquebusiers in the Prince's battle.[28] Zurita adds that the Prince successfully attacked with such "impetus" that the remaining men of the Castilian army became "disturbed".[5]

These events had important consequences. The Portuguese chroniclers unanimously[32][33][37] stated what Rui de Pina synthesized this way: " ... king D. Ferdinand ... as soon as he saw defeated his first and big battles [on the right], and believing the same fate would happen to his own battles at the hands of King Afonso's battles, was counselled to withdraw as he did to Zamora".[37]

Among the Castilians, Pulgar – the official chronicler of the Catholic Monarchs – says that Ferdinand withdrew from the battlefield for other reasons. Its justification: "the King promptly returned to the city of Zamora ["volvió luego"] because he was told that people from the King of Portugal, located in the city of Toro on the other side of the river, could attack the "estanzas" he left besieging the Zamora's fortress. And the cardinal and the duke of Alba stayed on the battlefield (...)."[28]

Not only Pulgar reveals that Ferdinand left the battlefield before Cardinal Mendoza and the duke of Alba, but the expression "promptly returned" seems to indicate that the King stayed a small time on the battlefield, delegating the leadership on these two main commanders.[38] On the other hand, it was highly improbable that Ferdinand risked helping Zamora in a Royal battle which was deciding the destiny of the entire kingdom of Castile. This city wasn't at risk since it was inconceivable that the small Portuguese garrison of Toro dared to attack in a very dark and rainy night the powerful and distant city of Zamora (29,2 km in straight way, but farther through the mountains), instead of helping the forces of his King and Prince which were fighting with difficulties practically at its gates.[citation needed]

The victorious Prince's forces (which included the best Portuguese troops) were still on the field and were continuously raising their numbers with dispersed men converging to them from every corner of the field.[28][33][37][39][40] According to the chivalry codes of that time, to withdraw from the battlefield under these circumstances instead of confronting this new threat and not remaining 3 days on the battlefield -as a sign of victory-[41] would be the proof that he had not won.[citation needed]

Indeed, it is much more probable that Ferdinand had retreated to Zamora in the beginning of the battle as a consequence of the defeat of the right side of his army (things could get worse).[42] However, there is a sharp contrast between the prudent but orderly retreat of Ferdinand to Zamora and the precipitated escape of Afonso V to avoid imprisonment.[citation needed]

The Royal Battle of Ferdinand defeats the Royal Battle of Afonso VEdit

In the meantime, the other Castilian troops were fighting a fierce combat with their direct opponents. The Castilian centre charged the Portuguese centre while the Castilian left wing, superiorly commanded by Cardinal Mendoza and Duke of Alba, attacked the Portuguese right wing: "...those from the battle of the King [Castilian centre] as well as those...from the left wing, charged [respectively] against the battle of the King of Portugal...and against the other Portuguese of their right wing."[28]

Cardinal Mendoza among other cardinals. Both a brilliant military leader and a very respected voice by the Catholic Monarchs.

Sensing the hesitation of his forces because of the Portuguese attack on the other end of the battlefield, the cardinal rode forward and shouted, "here is the cardinal, traitors!".[5] He would be wounded but kept fighting with bravery.[citation needed]

The Portuguese started to break. The struggle around the Portuguese royal standard was ferocious: having the flag carrier's (the ensign Duarte de Almeida) hand cut off, he transferred the standard to the remaining hand which was also cut off.[32][33][37] So he sustained the standard on the air with his teeth until he fainted under the wounds inflicted by the enemies which surrounded and captured him.[citation needed]

Afonso V, seeing his standard lost and supposing he had equally beaten his son's forces (which were smaller than his) sought death in combat,[32] but was prevented from doing so by those around him. They took him to Castronuño where he was welcomed by the alcalde.[citation needed]

By then, the Portuguese disbanded in all directions and many of them drowned in the Duero River because of the darkness and confusion. The Castilians captured 8 flags and sacked the Portuguese camp.[28] Bernaldez painted a grandiose picture of the loot mentioning many horses, prisoners, gold, silver and clothes, which was doubtful given the dark and rainy night described by the chroniclers. In fact, Pulgar recognizes that the product of the loot was modest: "and the people who participated on the battle during the previous day divided the captured spoils: which were in small quantity because it was a very dark night".[43]

Pulgar: "At last the portuguese couldn't stand the mighty force of the castilians and were defeated, and they ran seeking refuge in the city of Toro.(...) [the] Portugal's King seeing the defeat of his men, gave up of going to Toro to avoid being molested by the men of the King [Ferdinand], and with three or four men of all those who were responsible for his security went to Castronuño that night. (...) consequently many Portuguese were killed or taken prisoners..."[28]

Pulgar wrote that a large number of both Castilians and Portuguese died in the battle, but while the Castilians died fighting, the Portuguese drowned while trying to escape by swimming across the river Duero.[citation needed]

Rui de Pina justifies the Portuguese Royal Battle's defeat with the fact that the best Portuguese troops were with the Prince and were missed by the King, and also because there were many arquebusiers in the Castilian Royal Battle whose fire scared the Portuguese horses.[37]

Afonso V, the "African".

With the darkness of the night and the intense rain, chaos reigned. There were dispersed men from all sides: fugitives from the Castilian right wing, Portuguese pursuers, fugitive soldiers from the Portuguese King, the Cardinal Mendoza's men and the Duke of Alba's men were divided between pursuing the Portuguese and sacking their spoils and still; the Prince's men returned in the meantime.The battlefield became a very dangerous place where the minimal error could lead to death or imprisonment. As an example and according to Pulgar, some Portuguese shouted "Ferdinand, Ferdinand!"[28] to lure their pursuers making them think they were Castilians.

As a consequence of this triumph, Ferdinand promptly sent a letter to the cities of Castile claiming victory,[44] but without mentioning neither the defeat of part of his forces nor the retreat of his remaining troops when faced with the forces of Prince John, who possessed the camp and also claimed victory.

Later, the Perfect Prince also sent a letter to the main cities of Portugal,[44] Lisbon and Porto, ordering the commemoration of his triumph on the battle of Toro (but not mentioning his father's defeat) with a solemn procession on each anniversary of the battle.[45]

Isabella immediately ordered a thanks giving procession at Tordesillas, and in many other cities feasts and religious ceremonies were organized to celebrate the great "victory God has given to the King and to her people."[46] She would also build a magnificent commemorative Gothic temple at Toledo, the Monastery of S. Juan de los Reyes, to dissipate any doubts and perpetuate her victory.

As the Historian Justo Gonzalez summarizes: "Both armies faced each other at the camps of Toro resulting in an undecided battle. But while the Portuguese King reorganized his troops, Ferdinand sent news to all the cities of Castile and to several foreign kingdoms informing them about a huge victory where the Portuguese were crushed. Faced with these news, the party of "la Beltraneja" [Juana] was dissolved and the Portuguese were forced to return to their kingdom."[47] The key of the war was the Castilian public opinion, not the Portuguese.

The Perfect Prince becomes master of the battlefieldEdit

Meanwhile Prince John returned after a brief chase, defeating one of the Castilian battles where the men were dispersed looting the spoils of the defeated Portuguese. However, faced with other enemy battles, he abstained from attacking and put his men in a defensive position on a hill. He lighted big fires and played the trumpets to guide all the Portuguese spread throughout the camp towards him and to defy the enemy. He acted this way because, according to the chronicler Álvaro Chaves, the Prince's forces were under-numbered as most of his men had gone in pursuit of the adversaries: "(...) [the Prince] turned against the battles of king D. Ferdinand, but because the people from his battles spread in the pursue of the defeated, the enemy's battle outnumbered the few men that remained with him, but in spite of that he attacked and defeated it and he went on until he faced other enemy battles, and then he stopped his battle to recover some of his dispersed men (...) because the enemy had the triple of his people."[48]

Pulgar: "And because the people of his father and King were defeated and dispersed, the Prince of Portugal went up to a hill and played the trumpets and lighted fires in order to recover some of the fugitives and stood on with his battle..."[28]

Prince John, the "Perfect Prince". His military behavior at the Battle of Toro was praised by his adversary Ferdinand. This happened when some nobles pressed King Ferdinand to force his royal chronicler Pulgar to change what he wrote about Prince John during that battle.[49] Indeed, the Castilian chronicles reveal that the Perfect Prince was the only leader who fulfilled all the premises of a winner: he defeated a part of the enemy,[28] he stood "without suffering defeat" (Juan de Mariana),[35] and finally he mastered the battlefield (Bernaldez,[4] and Juan de Mariana[35]). Ferdinand summed up the battle of Toro in a private letter to Isabella: "if it had not been for the chicken [Prince John], the old cock [Afonso V] would have been taken."[50]

The Prince's men took some prisoners, among them King Ferdinand's uncle, D. Enrique, Count of Alba de Liste, and for his great joy, they retook his father's royal standard as well as the Castilian noble who carried it, Souto Mayor (according to the chroniclers Rui de Pina,[37] Garcia de Resende[33] Damião de Góis[32]).

With the Prince's forces increasing continuously,[28][33][37][39][40] no military leader could be considered winner without defeating this new threat, which included the Portuguese elite troops who had defeated the Castilian right wing. Zurita: "This could have been a very costly victory if the Prince of Portugal, who always had his forces in good order, and was very near the river banks, had attacked our men who were dispersed and without order".[5]

The Cardinal Mendoza and the Duke of Alba began to join their dispersed men to remove the new threat: "against who [Prince John] the Spain's cardinal as well as the Duke of Alba intended to go with some men that they were able to collect from those returned from the chase and from those who were spread around the camp capturing horses and prisoners..." ( Pulgar).[28]

Two great heterogeneous battles (a Portuguese and a Castilian one) formed this way, standing face to face and playing musical instruments to intimidate each other:[37] "(...) so close were the men from one part and the other, that some knights went out of the battles to invest with the spears [individual combats]" (Álvaro Lopes).[48]

But the Cardinal and the Duke of Alba couldn't convince their men to move and attack the Prince's forces: "(...) and they couldn't join and move the men".[28] That's corroborated by the Portuguese chronicler Garcia de Resende: "being very close to him [the Prince] so many men of King D. Ferdinand, they didn't dare to attack him because they had seen his men fighting so bravely and observed the security and order of his forces (...)"[33]

Pulgar felt the necessity to justify the fact that the Castilians, which assumed the victory, didn't attack the victorious Prince and have instead retreated to Zamora: "(...) because the night was so dark they [the Castilians] couldn't neither see nor recognize each other and because the men were so tired and haven't eaten all day as they left Zamora by morning (...) and turned back to the city of Zamora."[28]

These circumstances, which applied to the enemy as well, don't explain the Castilian behaviour: the chronicles of both sides show that the Prince's battle kept increasing (making a "gross battle"),[28][33][37][39][40] because towards it moved many defeated and fugitives from the Royal Battle and also the Prince's men coming back from the enemy's chase, and even contingents of soldiers from Toro,[37] which crossed the battlefield to reinforce the Prince. Thus, if all these men could reach the Prince, the Castilians could do it too, especially because the two battles (the Portuguese and the Castilian) were so proximal that the men could listen to each other: "(...) being so close to each other [the Portuguese and the Castilians] that they could hear what they talked about (...)"[33] (Garcia de Resende).

At last the Castilians withdrew in disorder to Zamora.

Rui de Pina: "And being the two enemy battles face to face, the Castilian battle was deeply agitated and showing clear signs of defeat if attacked as it was without King and dubious of the outcome.(...) And without discipline and with great disorder they went to Zamora. So being the Prince alone on the field without suffering defeat but inflicting it on the adversary he became heir and master of his own victory".[37]

Damião de Góis: "being the night so advanced (...) the Castilians left the camp in small groups (...) and neither the Cardinal of Castile nor the duke of Alba could impose them order; they also went to Zamora with the men who remained with them in the most silent way possible as all the people had fled (...) and the Prince realizing their retreat didn't pursue them (...) because he feared [that the Castilian retreat was] a war trap, but that wasn't the intention of the Castilians because by morning not a soul was seen on the field(...), resulting in a victorious Prince with all his people in order(...)"[39]

Álvaro de Chaves: "They abruptly left the camp towards Zamora as defeated men"[48]

Garcia de Resende: "And after the Prince had been most of the night on the battlefield, and seeing that the enemy had fled leaving no soul behind, and having nothing more to do, he decided to stand on the camp for three days (...)".[33] He would be convinced[33][37] by the Toledo's Archbishop to stay there only three hours as a symbol of the three days.[41]

After defeating their direct opponents and because of the dark and rainy night, Prince John's tactical choice had been to prevent the dissemination of his forces during the subsequent chase, slowly gathering the scattered men from all proveniences, in order to recover his lost operational power and attack the Castilians early the next day.[39]

The Prince made a triumphal march towards Toro, carrying his Castilian prisoners,[39] and "with his flags draping and at the sound of trumpets."[33] But very soon the sadness dominated him because nobody knew where his father, the King, was. Besides that, the city of Toro was chaotic, with its gates closed because the Portuguese mistrusted their Castilian allies who they accused of treason and blamed for the defeat of their King.[46]

The Prince ordered the gates to be opened, restored the order and on the next day he sent a force to Castronuño, which brought back the King. He also "sent some of his captains to the battlefield to bury the dead and to redact a victory act, which was entirely made without contradiction".[48]

The fact that the Portuguese remained masters of the battlefield is documented in contemporary sources from both sides:[51] Pulgar first states that King Ferdinand withdrew from the battlefield to Zamora before Cardinal Mendoza and the Duke of Alba,[28] and then he declares that his army (now under command of the Cardinal and Duke) also withdrew from the battlefield to Zamora – after an attempt to attack Prince John, who was thus left in possession of the battlefield.[28]

And Bernaldez explicitly wrote that the Prince only returned to Toro after the withdrawal of Ferdinand's army: "The people of King D. Ferdinand, both horsemen and peons, plundered the camp and all the spoils they found in front of the Prince of Portugal, who during that night never moved from top of a hill, until (...) King D. Ferdinand left to Zamora with his people plus the spoils. Then, the Prince of Portugal left to Toro."[4]

Juan de Mariana corroborates him: "(...) the enemy led by prince D. John of Portugal, who without suffering defeat, stood on a hill with his forces in good order until very late (...). Thus, both forces [Castilians and Portuguese] remained face to face for some hours; and the Portuguese kept their position during more time (...)"[35]


Complete medieval armour

The Portuguese chronicles agree with the Castilian official chronicler Pulgar in most of the essential facts about the battle of Toro. Both show that the strongest part of each army (the Castilian and Portuguese left wings, respectively led by Cardinal Mendoza and Prince John) never fought each other: only at the end, says Pulgar, there was an unsuccessful attempt of Cardinal Mendoza and Duke of Alba to attack the forces of the Prince, quickly followed by a withdrawal of the Castilian army to Zamora.[28] This was probably decisive for the outcome of the battle, because each one of the armies won where it was stronger. Naturally the Castilian and Portuguese chroniclers focused their attention on their respective victory.

  • Each side had a part of its army defeated and one part winner [28][32][34][33][35][37][5] (the Castilian army had its right wing defeated and its left-centre winner. The Portuguese army had its right-centre defeated and its left wing victorious);
  • Both Kings left the battlefield:[4][28][32][33][37] Ferdinand to Zamora in an orderly way (probably after the victorious attack of the Prince) and Afonso V fled after the defeat of his Royal Battle by the Castilian left-centre;
  • The battlefield[51] stood in possession of the Prince's forces[4][28][33][35][37][39][48] increased by many combatants spread throughout the camp which converged to him (tactical victory);
  • The Portuguese royal standard was retaken by the Prince's men;[32][33][36][37]
  • The losses were large in both[28][48] armies (in relative terms) but small[35] in absolute value;
  • Both sides proclaimed victory;[1]
  • The battle represented a victory for the aspirations of Isabella to the throne of Castile, regardless its uncertain military outcome.[52] As the Spanish historian Ana Isabel Carrasco Manchado puts it: "It's difficult to assess the importance of this battle from a military perspective. Indubitably, it represented a moral turning point for the party of Isabella and Ferdinand."[44]

The polemicEdit

Indeed, the Battle of Toro consisted almost in two separated combats: one won by the troops of Prince John and the other by Ferdinand's forces.[citation needed]

None of the intervenients had access to a global vision of the battle due to the geographic separation of the two engagements and also because of the darkness, fog and rain. Therefore, it is natural that separated combats with different outcomes have originated different versions among the chroniclers of both sides, and as revealed by Pulgar, between Castilians and Portuguese: "there held the old question about the force and bravery".[28]

Due to all of this, the only way to get a historical and impartial reconstitution of the Battle of Toro is by analyzing the sources of both sides.[citation needed]

In fact, there is not an essential contradiction between the victory proclamations of both sides. As observed by the Spanish academic Luis Suárez Fernández: "But this document [Ferdinand's letter communicating his victory to the cities] of great importance does not contain more than the bare attribution of the victory to the Castilian arms, and doesn't contradict in any way the reality of one part of the Portuguese army, winner of one of the [Castilian] wings, staying on the camp and being able to retreat on the next day without being hindered. Neither is contradiction in the admission that being a dubious business it represented a very great political victory to Ferdinand and Isabella as it finished what still remained from the Juana' s party."[53]

The recovery of the Portuguese royal standardEdit

The Portuguese chroniclers unanimously state that the Portuguese royal standard was retaken from the enemy by Gonçalo Pires,[32][33][37] whose nickname became Bandeira (in Portuguese it means "Flag") in memory of that deed, and so he became Gonçalo Pires Bandeira (coat of arms chart conceded on 4 July 1483 by King John II).[54] The Castilian who carried it – Souto Mayor – was captured and the others fled.[32][33][37]

The Portuguese chronicler Rui de Pina made a hard critic to the King himself. He accuses Afonso V of ingratitude towards Gonçalo Pires, the man who served him so well and retook the lost standard: the royal rent given to him was so miserable (5,000 Reis) that he had to work in agriculture in order to survive (the manual work as a stigma to the medieval mentality). This was certainly common knowledge, because other way it would be a gratuitous slander to the King Afonso V (uncle of the monarch Manuel I to whom Rui de Pina wrote his chronicle) from which his author wouldn't benefit at all.[55]

Heroic deed of Duarte de Almeida, «o decepado» («the mutilated»), a commemorative Portuguese lithography of the battle of Toro (late 19th century). The episode of the Portuguese royal standard, first taken by the Castilians and then retaken by the Portuguese illustrates the confusion of the struggle and the uncertain outcome of the battle of Toro.

Most of the Castilian chronicles also confirm the fact that the Castilians lost the Portuguese standard during the battle. However, the Castilian sources are contradictory in the details,[56][57] and one of their chroniclers (Bernaldez) even wrote that the Portuguese ensign was killed,[4] whereas he was captured and later returned to Portugal.[28][32][33][37]

In his Chronicle, Pulgar, the official chronicler of the Catholic Monarchs, made an important correction to a previous account that he had provided a few years ago in a letter sent to the city of Murcia, pretending that after the battle, the Castilians owned half of the Portuguese royal standard (after two Castilian chevaliers had divided it into two pieces, one of them lost its part). Then a reward would have been announced and some time later a man with the other half would have appeared, and the two halves formed a whole again.[56] However, it is very implausible that the two men dared to tear apart in two halves such a precious trophy -whose care had been entrusted to them by Cardinal Mendoza himself. Indeed, a few years later, after investigating the episode and many other facts in order to write his Chronicle of the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, Pulgar reviewed this first version and eventually stated plainly that Ferdinand's men simply lost the Portuguese royal standard in the battle of Toro, thus converging his own report with that of the Portuguese chroniclers and increasing its reliability since it included an embarrassing fact:

"And the standard of the King of Portugal was taken there by the Cardinal and by the men of arms of his guard. (...) And the Cardinal left that place and ordered two knights, Pedro de Velasco and Pero Vaca, to guard the standard, but they lost it again. And eight flags were taken to the Portuguese, which were taken to the city of Zamora. (...) And the Ensign that brought the standard of the King of Portugal was arrested and was taken to Zamora." (Hernando del Pulgar, Crónica de los Reyes Católicos[28])

However, other trophies were involved: in 1922 several academics among them Félix de Llanos y Torriglia studied a Portuguese banner hanging at the Chapel of the New Kings (Toledo's cathedral) and concluded that this banner was probably Castilian and probably from the 14th century (the Battle of Toro was fought during the 15th century).[58] In 1945, Orestes Ferrara also investigated the banner and concluded that it couldn't be the Standard carried by Afonso V at the Battle of Toro.[59] It is necessary to take into account that several Portuguese banners were captured in the battle (eight, according to Pulgar.[28] Among them, and according to Palencia, was the minor Portuguese royal standard,[60] as traditionally used by the Kings of Castile, which Afonso V assumed to be -and that may have been mistaken by some Castilians as the main Portuguese royal standard.[56]). In their writings, both chroniclers Pulgar and Palencia as well as Ferdinand himself clearly differentiate the Portuguese royal standard from the Portuguese flags.

The loss of the Portuguese royal standard can also be demonstrated by its absence: writing during the last year of the war, the Isabela's partisan Bachilar Palma, describes in detail -as an eyewitness-, the triumph ceremony in the Cathedral of Toledo (2 February 1477, only 11 months after the battle), during which the most valuable throphies taken to the Portuguese were dragged to the ground and then hung over the tomb of King John I (whose memory was thus symbolically avenged, since he had lost the Castilian royal standard to the Portuguese in the battle of Aljubarrota, in 1385): only the armour of the Portuguese Alferez and several flags taken to Afonso V were there, but the Portuguese standard is not mentioned.[61]

Thereby Isabella conceived the remaining fallback solution: an invasion of Portugal led by herself in order to retake the Castilian royal standard lost to the Portuguese on the battle of Aljubarrota. This plan -which was considered inappropriate to her feminine condition by chronicler Palencia and which involved numerous troops from many cities (1477), was soon abandoned.[62][63]

In addition to the Portuguese chronicles, three Castilian chroniclers corroborate the episode of the recapture of the Portuguese standard – which is thus supported by contemporaneous sources on both sides:

Scholar Antonio de Nebrija (Castilian): "The Lusitanian standard is captured, which was a valuable insignia, yet by the negligence of Pedro Velasco and Pedro Vaca, to whom it was entrusted, as [already] mentioned, it is subsequently taken up by the enemy."[64]

Chronicler Garibay (Spanish): "The king of Portugal (...) seeing lost, one first time, his Royal standard and captured the ensign, who was taken to Zamora and stripped of his weapons which ...were exposed in the Chapel of the New Kings, Toledo's Church, (...) even though the standard, for negligence (...) was taken by the Portuguese."[36]

Royal Cosmographer and Chronicler Pedro de Medina (Castilian): "The Castilians invested the Portugal's standard ...and took it easily due to the cowardly and soft resistance from the ensign and its guards. The ensign was captured and later taken to Zamora...but the standard was not taken because...some Portuguese chevaliers regained it after fighting with bravery."[65]

In medieval warfare, the royal standard was not a mere flag. Its loss was almost equivalent to losing the battle.

The Battle of Toro in numbersEdit


All the chroniclers on both sides agree that the battle began just before sunset, which on March 1 occurs around 7:10 p.m. The fight would have taken between more than an hour (according to Damião de Góis),[32] and far more than 3 hours.[28] This chronicler -referring only to the struggle between both Royal battles-, wrote that "The indecisiveness of the outcome lasted for three hours, without victory leaning to either side ."[28] But to this, we must add the time required for the prior defeat and chase of the Castilian right wing, the withdrawal of Alfonso V´men and their pursuit during the dark night into Toro −5 km away.[citation needed]

The size of the armiesEdit

Both armies had a similar number of men: around 8,000 soldiers.

According to Bernaldez, the only chronicler who gives total numbers, the Portuguese army had 8,500 men (3,500 horsemen plus 5,000 peons)[4] while Ferdinand's army had 7,500 men (2,500 horsemen and 5,000 peons) when they left Zamora.[4] So, the Portuguese army had a light advantage of 1,000 horsemen.

Bernaldez wrote that the Portuguese army who besieged Zamora had 8,500 men. The siege of this city started in the middle of February 1476 – fifteen days[66] after the union of the reinforcements brought by the Perfect Prince with the royal army of Afonso V (end of January 1476)[67] – and continued until the day of the battle (1 March 1476).Thus, 8,500 men is the total number for the combined Portuguese forces at the Battle of Toro since the Portuguese army who fought it was precisely the army who abandoned the Zamora's siege and withdrew to Toro, where it was reached by the former besieged Isabelist army. From this initial number of 8,500 men, it is necessary to discount the losses by desertion, disease,[68][69] and fight during the Zamora's siege, after 15 days of hard winter,[4] putting the final figure in more than 8,000 Luso-Castilians.

From the Portuguese side, this number reflects the high desertion suffered by its initial army (14,000 footmen and 5,600 chevaliers – but many of them were used as garrison of strongholds and thus did not fight in the Battle of Toro),[70][71] due to the unpopularity of the war among them. Especially after the failure of Burgos as it is told by Rui de Pina: "(...) many Portuguese without the will of serving the King came back to the kingdom [Portugal]".[72] The Portuguese captains complained that while they were in Castile, their undefended lands in Portugal were set on fire and looting by the enemy.[73] Other reasons were the high losses by disease,[74] especially fevers from the hot and also because the Luso-Castilian army included many Castilian contingents who easily and massively changed sides after the aborted expedition to Burgos and its consequent fall on 28 January 1476. From all the great Castilian nobles who initially supported Juana, only[67] the Archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carillo de Acuña was at the side of Afonso V on the day of the battle. After all, despite the reinforcement troops[75] brought by Prince John, when the Battle of Toro was fought, the invader army had suffered the erosion of 10 months of permanency in enemy territory.

Álvaro Lopes de Chaves, the most nationalist of the Portuguese chroniclers, wrote that the Castilian army had a small advantage of 700 to 800 chevaliers over the Portuguese army.[48] Pulgar Corroborates the similar size of both armies: "... there was little difference in the number of horsemen between both armies."[28][76]

The high numbers involving dozens of thousands of men on each army as it is mentioned in some modern records of the Battle of Toro not only do not have documentary support but are also in direct contradiction with the Historical record: the contemporaneous chronicler Andreas Bernaldez, being a Castilian and a partisan of the Catholic Monarchs, cannot therefore be accused of pulling down the numbers of the armies present at the battlefield to reduce the triumph of his King Ferdinand at Toro.

Bernaldez is also corroborated by the partial numbers of the late chronicler Zurita for the horsemen of both armies: 3,000 chevaliers to Ferdinand and 3,500 chevaliers to Afonso V.[5]


The total number of losses (dead and prisoners) was probably similar in both armies (but larger among the Juanistas) and wouldn't have been higher than one thousand men[6] among the Portuguese-Castilians and many hundreds[7] for the Isabelistas.

While Diego de Valera estimates 800 dead, Bernaldez mentions about 1,200 Portuguese dead[4] (that's the version high Portuguese losses and low Castilian losses). But the version of great Portuguese losses / great Castilian losses is much more credible, not only because it is the only one supported by the sources of both sides (Pulgar[28] and Á. Lopes de Chaves[48]), but also because Bernaldez is contradicted by no less than six chroniclers (three Castilian and three Portuguese) who explicitly stated that the Castilian losses were high: Pulgar, Esteban de Garibay y Zamalloa,[77] Pedro de Medina,[78] Garcia de Resende,[79] A. Lopes Chaves and Damião de Góis.[80]

Pulgar states: "(...) and many were killed in one side and on the other side (...)."[28]

Álvaro Lopes de Chaves, also an eyewitness[48] of the campaign, adds:"(...) and on the battle there were many dead, prisoners and wounded in one side and on the other side."[48]

As for prisoners, the available numbers are even scarcer. Chronicler Palencia wrote that when Afonso V returned to the city of Toro in the days immediately after the battle, he had wasted "an opportunity of stabbing or drowning in the river 500 enemies both infantry and chivalry [Castilian prisoners inside Toro]".,[81] which would certainly be a revenge over men who had contributed to his defeat in the battle. Like all numbers related to the battle of Toro, there are no certainties, and this number of 500 Castilian prisoners should be considered as a maximum and possibly inflated.

The losses were relatively large comparing to the size of the armies in presence, but according to chronicler Juan de Mariana they were low in terms of absolute value for a battle with this political importance: "The killing was small compared with the victory, and even the number of captives was not large".[35]

Besides the chronicles, there is additional evidence pointing to low losses in the Battle of Toro: during the Lisbon courts of 1476, the procurators of Évora called the attention of Prince John to the strong contingent given by the city to his father's army. This was natural because Évora was the second most populous Portuguese city of the 15th century.[82] What is not expectable is that only 17 men from that contingent had died in the Battle of Toro,[83] as the same procurators proudly declared. This number only makes sense if we accept that the Portuguese fatalities in battle were low.

Aftermath and consequencesEdit

From a military perspective the Battle of Toro was inconclusive[84][20] but politically the outcome was the same as it would have been if the battle was a military victory for the Catholic Monarchs, because all its fruits have fallen by their side.[85][86] Isabella convoked courts at Madrigal where her daughter was proclaimed and sworn heiress of Castile's throne (April 1476).

Madonna of the Catholic Monarchs, by Fernando Gallego, c. 1490–95.

After the battle, Afonso V – who wanted to avoid the renovation of the truces between France and Aragon, which would expire in July 1476[87] – became convinced that Portugal wouldn't be able to impose his niece's rights to the Castile's throne without external aid. So he departed to France seeking for help. The combined resources of Castile and Aragon had a population five times bigger[88][89] and an area five times larger than that of Portugal.

Many nobles still loyal to Juana since the Burgos episode turned sides[24] along the next months and years – like the Portocarrero and Pacheco-Girón families plus the hesitant Marquis of Cadiz – and the majority of the undecided cities and castles would bound to the Isabella's party specially the fortress of Zamora, Madrid and other places from the Central region of Castile. It was a very slow but irreversible process.

However, the bulk[90][91] of the Portuguese army stayed in Castile with Afonso V and Juana[92][93] during more than 3 months after the Battle of Toro, until 13 June 1476.[94][95] Rui de Pina and Damião de Góis wrote that only a small fraction[90][91] of the Portuguese troops returned to Portugal with the Perfect Prince – one month after the battle, first days[96] of April 1476 (Easter) – to organize the resistance[73] of the undefended Portuguese frontier from the continuous Castilian attacks. According to Juan de Mariana they were only 400 horsemen.[97]

In spite of having been weakened by the countless defections from the Juanistas to the Isabelistas, the Portuguese troops maintained a winning attitude especially in the district of Salamanca (and later around Toro), conquering[98] and burning many castles and villages. The Portuguese army even organized two large military expeditions to capture[99][100] King Ferdinand and then Queen Isabella (April 1476).

After the Battle of Toro Ferdinand's reinforced army did not attack the invading army, but with less risk besieged the Juanista strongholds (successfully even at length thanks to a clever policy of forgiveness) while negotiating with the rebel hidalgos.

The Catholic Monarchs' strategy proved to be right because time and resources were on their side: the terrible military pressure[101] exercised over the Portuguese border lands (which defensive forces were in Castile at the service of Afonso V) together with the new front of the naval warfare (Isabella decided to attack the Portuguese at the heart of their power – the sea and the gold of Guinea)[102] made inevitable the return of the Portuguese army to Portugal.

Diplomatic solution at AlcáçovasEdit

After the Battle of Toro the war continued, especially by sea (the Portuguese reconquest of Ceuta[103][104] besieged and taken by the Castilians except for the inner fortress, the campaign of the Canary islands,[105][106] and the decisive naval Battle of Guinea[107]), but also in Castilian and Portuguese soil.

In 1477 a force of 2,000 Castilian knights commanded by the master of Santiago, Alonso de Cárdenas who invaded the Alentejo (Portugal) is defeated[108][109] near Mourão: more than 100 Castilian knights were captured[108][109] and the others fled, according to the chroniclers Garcia de Resende and Damião de Góis.

In 1479, the same master of Santiago defeats at Albuera[110] a force of 700 or 1,000 (depending on the sources) Portuguese and allied Castilians who had invaded Extremadura (Castile) to help the rebel cities of Medellin and Mérida. According to Alfonso de Palencia the Portuguese-Castilians had 85 knights killed[111] and few prisoners,[112] but the bulk[113] of that force reached those two cities where they resisted to fierce sieges by Ferdinand's forces until the end of the conflict,[114][115] and thus increasing the bargaining power of Portugal during the peace negotiations and keeping the war's gravity centre inside Castile and out of doors. Except for those two cities on Extremadura and a few other places (Tui, Azagala, Ferrera and Montánchez),[116] all the other strongholds occupied by the Portuguese in Castile ( Zamora, Toro and Cantalapiedra)[24] as well as those occupied by their allied castilians[117] (Castronuño, Sieteiglesias, Cubillas Villalonso, Portillo, Villaba) surrendered.

Nevertheless, all the strongholds occupied by the Castilians in Portugal (Ouguela, Alegrete and Noudar)[118] were retaken by Prince John.

The exit from this impasse was reached through negotiations: the naval victory on the war[119][120] allowed Portugal to negotiate its acquittal to the Castilian throne at the exchange[121][122] of a very favourable share of the Atlantic and possessions.

On the other side, months before the start of peace negotiations the Catholic Monarchs reached two great victories: The acknowledgement of Isabella as Queen of Castile by the French King (treaty of Saint-Jean-de-Luz on 9 October 1478), who broke this way the alliance with Afonso V, leaving Portugal isolated facing Castile and Aragon.[123]

The Pope Sixtus IV, changing his position, revoked the former bull authorizing Juana's marriage with her uncle Afonso V. This way, the legitimacy of Afonso V as King of Castile fell by its foundations.

The final balance of the war became very similar to the one of the Battle of Toro, without a conclusive victory to none of the sides: Castilian victory on the land[120] and a Portuguese victory on the seas.[120] In the peace Treaty of Alcáçovas, everybody won: Isabella was recognized Castile's Queen (in exchange for her acquittal to the Portuguese crown and the payment of a big war compensation to Portugal: 106.676 dobles of gold)[24][124] and Portugal won the exclusive domain of the navigation and commerce in all the Atlantic Ocean except for the Canary Islands (in exchange for its eventual rights over those islands which remained to Castile). Portugal also reached the exclusive conquest right over the Kingdom of Fez (Morocco). Only D. Juana, la "Beltraneja" or "the Excellent Lady", has lost a lot as she saw her rights sacrificed to the Iberian states' interests.


San Juan de los Reyes. It was a key monument of the propagandistic architecture of the Battle of Toro. The argument of victory was based on a very intuitive syllogism: If there was a battle at Toro and if Isabella was proclaimed Queen of Castile, so that implied that she had won it. The complex and polemic Battle of Toro was this way presented as a black and white picture, and the entire War reduced to its dynastic dimension ignoring its naval and colonial component.

As the Spanish academic Ana Isabel Carrasco Manchado summarized:

"The battle [of Toro] was fierce and uncertain, and because of that both sides attributed themselves the victory. (...). Both wanted to take advantage of the victory's propaganda."[44]

Both sides used it. However, Isabella demonstrated a superior political intelligence and clearly won the propaganda's war around the result of the battle of Toro: during a religious ceremony at the Toledo's cathedral (2 February 1477), Isabella – who already had proclaimed herself Queen of Portugal – hung the military trophies taken from the Portuguese (flags and the armour of the ensign) at the tomb of her great grandfather Juan I, as a posthumous revenge for the terrible disaster of Aljubarrota.[61][125]

Since then the chroniclers of the Catholic Monarchs followed the official version that the Battle of Toro (1476) was a victory which represented a divine retribution for the battle of Aljubarrota (1385): one of the chroniclers (Alonso Palma, in 1479) put it exactly as the title of his chronicle –"La Divina retribución sobre la caída de España en tiempo del noble rey Don Juan el Primero"[126] ("Divine retribution for the defeat of Spain during the time of the noble King D. John the first").

After the letter[127] sent in 1475 by Pulgar -whose chronicle seems to have been personally reviewed by Isabella,[128] to Afonso V (invoking Aljubarrota, where "(...) fell that crowd of Castilians (...) killed"),[127] the theme became recurrent.

This is well exemplified by Palencia, who not only frequently mentions Aljubarrota but also refers to the expedition that was planned by the inner circle of Isabella to send a great Castilian force to penetrate deeply into Portugal in order to recover the Castilian royal standard taken by the Portuguese at the Battle of Aljubarrota one hundred years before. There were many volunteers –hidalgos and cities like Seville, Jerez, Carmona, Écija, Cordova, and Badajoz. All this because, according to Palencia, this standard symbolized the "(...) eternal shame of our people" for the Castilian defeat at Aljubarrota.[62][129]

This obsession with Aljubarrota clearly influenced the descriptions of the Battle of Toro in the Castilian chronicles.[20]

It is important to the modern historical critic of the Battle of Toro to differentiate the facts from the official propaganda of the 15th and 16th centuries and to confront these records with those of the enemy side: for example with the chapter "How the Prince won the Battle of Toro and remained in the battlefield without contradiction" from the chronicle "Life and deeds of King D. John II" of the Portuguese chronicler Garcia de Resende.[33]

Besides literature, architecture was also used for propaganda and was influenced by Aljubarrota. The construction of the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes (to celebrate the battle of Toro and the birth of Prince John) was mainly a response to the Monastery of the Battle,[18][130] built by the Portuguese to commemorate Aljubarrota, and like the Portuguese one it was also conceived to be a royal pantheon.

On the other side, the Portuguese chroniclers focused their attention on the victory of the Perfect Prince instead of the defeat of his King, Afonso V. And they also presented the Portuguese invasion of Castile as a just cause because it was made in the defence of the legitimate Queen against a "usurper" – Isabella.

In addition to the documents, there are also important indicators in assessing the outcome of the battle of Toro, like the attitude and behaviour of both armies in the weeks immediately after the battle, the invading army's length of stay in enemy territory, and even comparisons with other similar battles.

The Battle of Toro as retribution to AljubarrotaEdit

The Battle of Toro is frequently presented as a twin battle (with opposite sign) of the Battle of Aljubarrota. Politically the comparison is legitimate: both of them were Royal Battles which decided the fate of some Peninsular Kingdoms in a way that would prove to be favourable to the nationalist party. But on military terms the difference is large[131]

Besides Afonso V's defeat, Pulgar reports that a part of the Portuguese army (his left side led by the Perfect Prince) defeated[28] during the Battle of Toro a part of the Isabelista army: its right side, and he gives a justification[28] for that.

That's corroborated by all the four Portuguese chroniclers,[33][37][48][80] and also by Zurita and Mariana, who respectively added that, after this, the Prince's forces remained "always in good order",[5] and "without suffering defeat",[35] during the whole battle (or "intact", according to Pedro de Medina).[132]

The Portuguese-Castilians became masters of the battlefield according to all the Portuguese chroniclers and also to Pulgar,[28] Bernaldez[4] and Mariana who revealed that "the Portuguese sustained their positions during more time".[35]

Both Kings Ferdinand and Afonso left the battlefield of Toro (to Zamora and Castronuño respectively) in the night of the battle according to all chroniclers of both sides and the Portuguese recovered its lost royal standard.[32][33][36][37]

Battle of Aljubarrota, 1385: a constant shadow in the historic memory of the Catholic Monarchs chroniclers, who like all the new dynasties after a civil war, needed a "foundational myth". The Battle of Toro was the perfect choice: it reflected the God's will and was presented[20] as a victory that avenged Aljubarrota.

At the Battle of Aljubarrota all the parts of the Franco-Castilian army were defeated: vanguard,[133] royal battle[134] and right wing.[135] At the end of the battle, the only Castilian soldiers present at the battlefield were dead[136] or imprisoned,[131] and the Portuguese King plus his army remained there for 3 days.[137] The Castilian royal standard was taken to Lisbon and 12 hours[138] after the battle Juan I left Portuguese soil taking refuge in his mighty armada which was besieging Lisbon (3 days[139] later he sailed towards Castile) – while his entire army fled to Castile in the hours immediately[140][141][142] after the battle. The Portuguese army invaded Castile and defeated a large Castilian army in the Battle of Valverde (mid October 1385).[143][144]

After the Battle of Toro, the Afonso's V army stayed in Castile 3+12 months[94][95] where it launched several offensives especially in the Salamanca's district[98] and later around Toro.[98] For that he was criticized by chronicler Damião de Góis: "[Afonso V] never stopped to make raids and horse attacks along the land, acting more like a frontier's captain than like a King as it was convenient to his royal person."[98]

Shortly after the Battle of Toro (April 1476), the Portuguese army organized two large military operations to capture[99][100] first King Ferdinand himself (during the siege to Cantalapiedra) and then Queen Isabella (among Madrigal and Medina del Campo). As noted by historian L. Miguel Duarte,[145] this is not the behaviour of a defeated army.

On the other side, the Castilian army during those 3 months after the Battle of Toro, in spite of its numerical advantage – with the massive transferences from the Juanistas to the Isabelistas plus the departure of some troops back to Portugal with Prince John – and despite of being impelled in his own territory, it neither offered a second battle nor attacked the invading army. This behaviour and attitude is an elucidative indicator of the outcome of the Battle of Toro.

There is also a number gap. In the Battle of Toro the proportion of both armies was practically 1:1, according to Bernaldez (7,500 Juanistas to 8,500 Isabelistas),[4] Álvaro L Chaves[48] and Pulgar,[28] whereas at Aljubarrota that proportion was 5:1 according to Fernão Lopes (31,000 Franco-Castilians to 6,500 Anglo-Portuguese)[146] or "at least 4:1"[147] according to Jean Froissart. Elucidative is the attitude of the Castilian chronicler Pero López de Ayala, who besides being a military expert and a royal counsellor, participated on the Battle of Aljubarrota: he described minuciously the disposition and the numbers of the Anglo-Portuguese army but understandably he didn't say a word about the soldiers' number of his own army.[148]

In the Battle of Toro the casualties (dead and prisoners) were similar[28][48] in both armies according to Pulgar and Álvaro L. Chaves and were low[35] to J. Mariana. According to Diego de Valera the Portuguese suffered 800 dead while Bernaldez, who doesn't quantify the Castilian losses, gives a total of 1,200 dead to the Portuguese.[6]

At Aljubarrota, Fernão Lopes reveals that the Castilians lost 2,500 men at arms [135] Plus a "huge crowd"[135] of "little people", men without a (noble) name (foot men, javelin throwers, jennets) and in the subsequent 24 hours the fugitives suffered a terrible bloodbath in the neighbouring villages at the hands of the local.[149]

The so-called "monk of Westminster", who wrote near 1390 possibly recording the testimony of English participants in the battle of Aljubarrota, puts the total losses (common people and men at arms) at more than 7,500 dead.[150][151] (to Froissart they were 7 to 8 thousand dead[152]).

As for the prisoners, Ximenes de Sandoval, the great Aljubarrota Spanish expert, estimated in his classic work[153] the grand total for the Franco-Castilian losses: 10,000 men: 3,000 dead on the battlefield plus 3,000 dead on the near villages and 4,000 prisoners.

Only losses of this magnitude could justify the national mourning decreed by Juan I –which lasted two years[154] – and also the prohibition to participate in any public and private feast during that time:[155] "Nowadays, our kingdom has suffered such great loss of so many and so important Knights like those who died on the present war [with Portugal] and also because in this time came such great dishonour and ruin to everyone of our kingdom that it is great the pain and shame residing in our heart."[156][157] (Juan I at the Valladolid courts −1385, December).

Ten days[158] after the Battle of Toro, a few Portuguese deserters[159] were imprisoned when they tried to reach Portugal through Sayago, on the frontier, and some of them were killed or castrated.

Desertion among the Portuguese was very high before[72] the Battle of Toro, especially after the Burgos episode, and after this battle the number increased: "And many of the Portuguese that left the battle returned to Portugal whether on foot or by horse.",[43] wrote Pulgar.

When some Portuguese proposed to buy a free transit document (one silver royal for each man) to avoid fighting, the Cardinal Mendoza counselled Ferdinand to send an order to spare any prisoner and to not offer resistance to those Portuguese who tried to cross the frontier, because other way, they would have no alternative except to fight and thereby prolonging the war and destruction inside Castile: "when this was known to the King, it was debated in his council if they should permit the returning of the Portuguese to Portugal in security. Some chevaliers and other men from the King's army whose sons and brothers and relatives were killed and wounded on the battle (...) worked to provoke the King (...). And brought into the King's memory the injuries and the cruel deaths inflicted by the Portuguese to the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota (...).The cardinal of Spain said: (...) Pero Gonzalez de Mendoza my great grandfather, lord of Aleva, was killed on that so called battle of Aljubarrota (...) and in the same way perished some of my relatives and many of Castile's important personalities. (...) do not think in revenge (...). It is sure that if the passage was made impossible for those [Portuguese] who go, they will be forced to stay in your kingdoms, making war and bad things (...). After hearing the cardinal's reasons, the King sent an order to not preclude the passage of the Portuguese, and to not cause them harm in any way." (Pulgar).[43] It was a variant of the principle attributed to Sun Tzu: "when enemy soldiers leave your country cover them with gold", except that in this case it was the enemy soldiers who left silver in Castilian territory in exchange for their free transit.

This situation of the Portuguese deserters[159] trying to cross the frontier by their own risk, several days[158] after the Battle of Toro, is not comparable to the bloodbath suffered by the Castilian fugitives at the hands of the population in the 24 hours after the Battle of Aljubarrota.[149] After all, those Portuguese deserters had some capability to make war and antagonize the Castilians who might try to capture them (as Cardinal Mendoza himself admitted), whereas near the Aljubarrota battlefield the Castilian soldiers' thought was to survive the carnage. Their bargaining power and silver were useless.

In the Portuguese historiography and imaginary, the Battle of Toro wasn't considered a defeat but an inconclusive engagement or even a victory – and not just exclusively in Portugal,[160][161][162] especially for those of the 15th to the 18th centuries.

In Castile the Battle of Aljubarrota was considered a national tragedy: Castilian chronicler Álvaro Garcia de Santa María reports that during the peace negotiations at 1431 (as late as nearly half a century after Aljubarrota) the members of the Castilian royal council didn't want to sign the peace treaty and offered a hard resistance because many of them "have lost their grandfathers, or fathers or uncles or relatives in the battle of Aljubarrota and wanted to avenge the great loss they had suffered on that occasion"[163]

"Revenge" would finally come two centuries after Aljubarrota at the Battle of Alcântara (1580) when a Spanish army defeated the Portuguese supporters of António, Prior of Crato and incorporated Portugal into the Iberian Union.

A royal letter contradicted by the chroniclersEdit

The letter written and sent by Ferdinand to the cities of Castile in the day after the battle of Toro (claiming victory), although contradicted by his own chroniclers in many ways, is a masterpiece of political propaganda,[19] and it is in line with his practical concept of truth, later disclosed by himself in another event: "The King of France complains that I have twice deceived him. He lies, the fool; I have deceived him ten times and more."[164]

examples where his account is contradicted not only by Portuguese chroniclers but also by his own chroniclers are the death of the Portuguese standard-bearer Duarte de Almeida; the complete omissions of Prince John´s victory over his right wing, the retreat of his remaining forces when faced by prince John in the battlefield (Pulgar,[28] Bernandez,[4] and Juan de Mariana[35]), and the recovery of the royal standard by the Portuguese (Nebrija,[165][64] Pedro de Medina,[166] and Garibay[167]).

Niccolò Machiavelli nello studio, Stefano Ussi, 1894. Machiavelli was a great admirer of Ferdinand's methods, whom he praised as "the foremost king in Christendom" [168]

He also omitted his personal withdrawal from the battlefield before his own army (Pulgar),[28] and pretended that after the battle he remained on the ground ruling the field for three or four hours, which is impossible, given the timing provided by the Castilian chroniclers: according to Pulgar's timing, the battle must have ended around 11:00 p.m. (all chroniclers of both sides agree that it started at sunset –around 7:00 p.m.- and to the 3 hours of indecisive fight between both royal battles, as reported by Pulgar,[28] we must add the time required for the prior defeat and chase of the Castilian right wing, the withdrawal of Alfonso V´men, their pursuit during the dark night into Toro −5 km away– and the looting of the field). Thus, if Ferdinand had remained on the field for 3 or 4 hours after the end of the battle, it implies that he would have started the journey back to Zamora between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., –a length journey of more than 22 km across the mountains in the middle of a very dark and rainny night, after an exhausting battle of many hours and carrying spoils– which would have taken several hours to complete. Since Ferdinand stated that he reached Zamora at 1:00 a.m., it is impossible that he remained on the battlefield as long as he wrote (his arrival could not have occurred before his departure).

Besides this, the Castilian royal chronicler Pulgar explicitly states that Ferdinand promptly withdraw into Zamora (before cardinal Mendoza, the duke of Alba and his men),[28] and attempted to justify this by implying that the night was dark enough to prevent the Castilians of attacking Prince John -who was in front of them on the battlefield, but not dark enough to avoid an attack from the Portuguese garrison of Toro to the distant city of Zamora (29,2 km in straight way, but farther through the mountains)–which was the reason he gave for explaining the abrupt Ferdinand's retreat from the battlefield,[169] against all chivalric custom of the time (Sessio Triduana).[41]

Also, the report of the Castilian chronicler Palencia shows that Ferdinand can't have been so long on the camp, after the battle, since he wrote that Ferdinand left the battlefield at 9:00 p.m.[170] –at a time when the battle, according to the timing given by Pulgar, was still undecided (his departure before the end of the battle is also supported by the Portuguese chroniclers). Indeed, if Ferdinand had remained 3 or 4 hours on the battlefield after the end of the battle and departed at 9:00 p.m., this would imply that the battle (which lasted several hours) had finished between 5:00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m., –but all chroniclers of both sides agree that the battle began very late, at the sunset (7:00 p.m.) of that day. The battle could not have ended before it began.

Moreover, Fedinand is contradicted even by the timing of the Castilian chronicler Bernáldez (whose battle's account is the closest to the King's letter), because this chronicler -who stated that Prince John remained on the battlefield after the Castilian withdrawal "with a great force of knights"-,[4] estimated that the king (with his army) left the battlefield around midnight,[4] while Ferdinand himself stated that he arrived in Zamora at 1:00 a.m. It is impossible that Ferdinand's army had made such a long journey from Peleagonzalo to Zamora in just an hour: 22 km in straight way, but much farther through the mountains, under the rain of a very dark night, after several hours of exhausting battle preceded by a chase of many hours, and carrying spoils.

In addition to this, the timing given by Zurita in his Anales de la Corona de Aragon, strongly supports the conclusion that Ferdinand left the battlefield soon after the beginning of the battle: this chronicler states that Alfonso's army took three hours to complete half the distance between Zamora and Toro,[5] and thus the Portuguese army took a little less than six hours to travel from Zamora to the battlefield, since it is located very near the city of Toro (just one league west of Toro, about 5 km, according to Ferdinand). Indeed, when Ferdinand's army reached the rearguard of the Portuguese army, in a point between Toro and Peleagonzalo, its vanguard (and most of its infantrymen) had already entered the city of Toro and were called back to face the enemy.[171]

But while the Portuguese were physically fresh and traveled in daylight through ground in good condition, Ferdinand returned to Zamora (making the same journey in reverse) walking and riding at night in complete darkness (worsened by intense rain and fog), the trail requesting a lot of attention due to the danger of falls on a wet and slippery ground caused by heavy rainfall; and finally men and horses were exhausted by the march and the pursuit of the enemy from Zamora to the battlefield near Toro, performing -literally- twice the distance traveled by the Portuguese. Thus, Ferdinand necessarily took more time for his Toro-Zamora march than the nearly six hours taken by the Portuguese to complete their journey Zamora-Toro. Since Ferdinand arrived in Zamora at 1:00 a.m. (according to himself) and since he took more than 6 hours in the journey, it is possible to calculate the hour Ferdinand left the battlefield of Peleagonzalo: around 7:00 pm, which matches the time given by the Portuguese chronicles (in the beginning of the battle[37] –that started a few minutes before sunset, which on March 1 occurs around 7:10 p.m.-, when Ferdinand saw its right wing defeated and the fight between both royal battles still indecisive).

Garcia de Resende: " … King Ferdinand, who, without fighting, was on a hill in the rear with a small battle, seeing the defeat inflicted by the Prince on his first two battles [the Castilian right wing was disposed in two lines: the first had five battles while the second had one battle], which had many more men than him [Prince John] , and seeing his big battle [centre and left wing] fully agitated (…), it appearing to him that it would be defeated as well, he abandoned everything and quickly sheltered in Zamora with those who were with him. " [33]

Damião de Góis: "King Ferdinand, as already told, placed himself in the rearguard of all his army with a small division, but as soon as he knew that Prince John had defeated the first six divisions, and [seeing] the fate of his royal battle undecided because neither his nor that of Alfonso was winning, sent word to the Cardinal of Spain and the Duke of Alba to take command of the army and do whatever they thought necessary; and before the Portuguese started to disband … he went to Zamora with that small division which was in the rearguard in front of the entrance of the way through the mountains, reaching the city by night, without him or those with him knowing if they were winners or losers. "[172]

However, some historians have acritically accepted Ferdinand's letter as an impartial and reliable historical source, which is a tribute to Ferdinand's persuasive and convincing power.

Finally, and on the other side of the coin, Prince's John letter to the main Portuguese cities (claiming victory) also omisses the defeat of his father's troops.

The Battle of Toro and modern SpainEdit

An anachronous map of the Portuguese Empire (1415–1999)

The great political genius of the Catholic Monarchs was to have been capable of transforming[19][173][174][175] one inconclusive battle[176][177] into a great moral, political, and strategic victory, which would not only assure them the crown but also create the foundations of the Spanish nation. The academic Rafael Dominguez Casas: "...San Juan de los Reyes resulted from the royal will to build a monastery to commemorate the victory in a battle with an uncertain outcome but decisive, the one fought in Toro in 1476, which consolidated the union of the two most important Peninsular Kingdoms."[178]

Soon came the Granada conquest, the discovery and colonization of the New World, the Spanish hegemony in Europe, and at last the "Siglo de Oro" (Spanish Golden Age) whose zenith was reached with the incorporation of Portugal and its fabulous empire into the Iberian Union, creating a web of territories "where the sun never sets".

Nowadays, the relationship between Spain and Portugal is excellent and battles like the one of Toro seem part of a remote past: some Portuguese and Spanish commonly refer to each other by the designation of "nuestros hermanos", which means "our brothers" in Spanish.


  1. ^ a b Portuguese victory: Rui de Pina, Garcia de Resende, Álvaro Lopes de Chaves, Damião de Góis (4 Portuguese chroniclers). Castilian victory: Hernando del Pulgar, Andreas Bernaldez, Alonso de Palencia, Alonso Palma and Juan de Mariana (5 Castilian chroniclers), Jeronimo Zurita (Aragonese chronicler), and Esteban de Garibay (Basque chronicler).
  2. ^ a b Rubio, p. 34: "The solution of this conflict is also similar to the previous one. The indecisive battle of Toro, which was certainly not in its results and consequences, puts an end to the indubitable "Portuguese danger" to Castile".
  3. ^ a b Castell, p. 132: "The King of Portugal simply remained on the defensive; the first March 1476, he was attacked by Ferdinand of Aragon in front of the town of Toro. The battle was indecisive, but [with] the supporters of the Catholic Monarchs asserting their superiority, the Portuguese King withdrew".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Bernaldez, chapter XXIII.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Zurita, volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XLIV.
  6. ^ a b c According to Valera chapters XX and XXI, the Luso-Castilians had 800 dead, while to Bernaldez chapter XXIII, p.61, they suffered 1,200 dead. These figures are possibly inflated since Mariana wrote that the Portuguese losses – both dead and prisoners – were low: "The killing was small...and also the number of prisoners was not large; ..." Book XXIV, chapter X, p.300). Zurita can only list 3 names of Portuguese noblemen killed in the battle (Volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XLIV) and the partial casualties reported in the courts of 1476 by the procurators of Évora point to very low numbers (Pereira, p. 9 and 10.).
  7. ^ a b The casualties were similarly "high" in both armies (as stated by Pulgar in chapter XLV, p. 88, and by chronicler Chaves). However, the Isabelistas losses were probably lower than the Juanistas losses due to the (Portuguese) drowned in the Duero River. This last number was close to the number of Portuguese killed in combat (Pulgar, chapter XLV, p. 88.). Even the Cardinal Mendoza was wounded by a spear and several members from the Castilian royal council who met 10 days after the battle of Toro lost relatives there (Pulgar, chapter XLVII, p. 91). Chronicler Palencia wrote that when Afonso V returned to Toro in the days immediately after the battle, there were 500 Castilian prisoners inside the city, adding that this King had wasted "an opportunity of stabbing or drowning in the river 500 enemies both infantry and chivalry [certainly as a revenge on men who had contributed for his defeat in Toro]". See Palencia, Década III, book XXV, chapter IX.
  8. ^ Desormeaux p. 25: "...The result of the battle was very uncertain; Ferdinand defeated the enemy's right wing led by Alfonso, but the Prince had the same advantage over the Castilians".
  9. ^ Marlés: "...the infant [Prince John] and the duke [of Alba, the main Castilian commander] remained masters, each on his side, of the battlefield. The latter withdrew during the night...", p. 190.
  10. ^ Schaeffer p. 554-555: "The two Kings had left the battlefield before the action was decided... In the end, the prince stood alone on the field as a winner after the defeat of the main [Portuguese] body. Until that defeat, [Prince] John chased the six divisions beaten by him..."
  11. ^ McMurdo, p. 515: "...the battle of Toro in which both adversaries proclaimed themselves conquerors, (...) it was no more than a success of war sufficiently doubtful for either party, ...were it not that the cause of D. Alfonso V was already virtually lost by the successive defection of his partisans..."
  12. ^ Damas, p. 35: "But Alfonso failed to defeat the supporters of Isabella and Ferdinand, and the battle of Toro (1476) resulted indecisive."
  13. ^ Bury, p. 523: "After nine months, occupied with frontier raids and fruitless negotiations, the Castilian and Portuguese armies met at Toro...and fought an indecisive battle, for while Afonso was beaten and fled, his son john destroyed the forces opposed to him."
  14. ^ Dumont, p. 49: "In the centre, leading the popular milicia, Ferdinand achieves victory taking the standards of the King of Portugal and causing his troops to flee. In the [Portuguese] right wing, the forces of Cardinal [Mendoza] and Duke of Alba and the nobles do the same. But in the [Portuguese] left Wing, in front of the Asturians and Galician, the reinforcement army of the Prince heir of Portugal, well provided with artillery, could leave the battlefield with its head high. The battle resulted this way, inconclusive. But its global result stays after that decided by the withdrawal of the Portugal's King [not as its direct consequence since this only happened three months and a half later, on 13 June 1476, after several military operations], the surrender of the Zamora's fortress on Mars 19, and the multiple adhesions of the nobles to the young princes."
  15. ^ Lunenfeld, p. 27: "In 1476, immediately after the indecisive battle of Peleagonzalo, Ferdinand and Isabella hailed the result as a great victory and called the 'Cortes' at Madrigal. The newly created prestige was used to gain municipal support from their allies...". See also p. 29.
  16. ^ Serrano, pp. 55–70.
  17. ^ Torres p. 303: "...later... were those [attempts] of Alfonso V to the Castilian crown [that] also finished by tiredness and not by the indecisive battle of Toro, which was transformed by the Spanish in another Aljubarrota..."
  18. ^ a b Lozoya, p. 85: "This famous Franciscan convent [San Juan de los Reyes] intended to be a replica of the Batalha [the Portuguese monastery built after Aljubarrota], and was built to commemorate the indecisive battle of Toro."
  19. ^ a b c Spanish historian Beretta, p. 56: "His moment is the inconclusive Battle of Toro.(...) both sides attributed themselves the victory (...) The letters written by the King [Ferdinand] to the main cities (...) are a model of skill. (...) what a powerful description of the battle! The nebulous transforms into light, the doubtful acquires the profile of a certain triumph. The politic [Ferdinand] achieved the fruits of a discussed victory."
  20. ^ a b c d Palenzuela: "That is the battle of Toro. The Portuguese army had not been exactly defeated, however, the sensation was that D. Juana's cause had completely sunk. It made sense that for the Castilians Toro was considered as the divine retribution, the compensation desired by God to compensate the terrible disaster of Aljubarrota, still alive in the Castilian memory". (Electronic version).
  21. ^ Carriazo, p. 157
  22. ^ Carriazo, p. 161
  23. ^ Carriazo, p. 163
  24. ^ a b c d e f Palenzuela.
  25. ^ Pina, 3rd book, chapter CLXXX.
  26. ^ Fernández, p. 139.
  27. ^ Title awarded to him by Lope de Vega in his piece The Perfect Prince, part I.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq Pulgar, chapter XLV.
  29. ^ a b Góis, chapters LXXVII and LXXVIII (description of both armies). Sometimes Góis mentions 6 divisions in the Castilian right and other times 2 big divisions, because the Castilian right wing was divided in two parts: 5 advanced battles and a rear one (as a reserve).
  30. ^ Góis, chapters LXXVII and LXXVIII.
  31. ^ Mattoso, p. 382.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Góis, chapter LXXVIII.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Resende, chapter XIII.
  34. ^ a b Medina, pp. 218–219.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mariana, book XXIV, chapter X, pp. 299, 300.
  36. ^ a b c d Garibay, book 18, chapter VII, p. 597.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Pina, 3rd book, chapter CXCI.
  38. ^ Garibay also says that Ferdinand left the battlefield before Cardinal Mendoza, the Duke of Alba and the Portuguese: book 18, chapter VII, p. 597.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g Góis, chapter LXXIX.
  40. ^ a b c "...the Prince of Portugal stayed with a big battle... on top of a hill... gathering many..." in Bernaldez, chapter XXIII, p. 61.
  41. ^ a b c Chivalry tradition of remaining three days on the battlefield after the end of the battle -as a sign of victory and to give the enemy the opportunity of contesting the result- based on the German custom of Sessio triduana, which determined that the buyer of an immobile should stay on it in the three subsequent days after the purchase to consummate the appropriation, which became by this way indisputable, in Mattoso, p. 244.
  42. ^ Góis, chapter LXXVIII, p. 303 adds that before leaving the battlefield, Ferdinand sent word to the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza to assume command and to do their best. When Ferdinand and those with him reached Zamora very late that night, they didn't know "if they were winners or defeated".
  43. ^ a b c Pulgar, chapter XLVII.
  44. ^ a b c d Manchado, pp. 195, 196.
  45. ^ Duro, p. 250: "...For those who ignore the background of these circumstances it will certainly seem strange that while the Catholic Monarchs raised a temple in Toledo in honour of the victory that God grant them on that occasion, the same fact [the Battle of Toro] was festively celebrated with solemn processions on its anniversary in Portugal".
  46. ^ a b Pulgar, chapter XLVI.
  47. ^ González, p. 68.
  48. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Chaves in Duro, pp. 254–257.
  49. ^ Those nobles should plausibly be relatives or proximal to the seven captains who led the Castilian army's right wing on the battle of Toro and that were defeated and chased by the Prince's men. In Resende, chapter CLIV.
  50. ^ Since, as stated by Garibay himself (book 18, chapter VII), Prince John did not come to the aid of Afonso V throughout the battle of Toro – both were always too far from each other – this Ferdinand's sentence only makes sense with a victorious and permanently threatening Prince on the battlefield. Ferdinand's letter reported by Spanish chronicler Garibay, book 18, chapter VIII.
  51. ^ a b In Medieval battles – especially when both kings left the battlefield – it was particularly important to keep the battlefield (Medieval war historian João Monteiro quoted in Nova História Militar de Portugal, 1st book, 2003, p.384). Even Juan de Mariana recognized the importance of dominating the battlefield of Toro: "...The Portuguese kept their position during more time, which was some relief to the setback..." Ironically, although Mariana attributed the victory to the Castilians, his description of the battle furiously points towards a draw: Mariana, book XXIV, chapter X, p.300.
  52. ^ Miller, p. 270: "But, if the outcome of [the battle of] Toro, militarily, is debatable, there is no doubt whatsoever as to its enormous psychological and political effects".
  53. ^ Fernández, p. 178 (footnote 61).
  54. ^ Duro.
  55. ^ "(...) not even the squire has become happy: because in spite of the honored nobility of arms given to him, he got a rent of only five thousand reis and so he was forced to take the sickle and the hoe [in order to survive], which were more secure and profitable arms, and thus he lived and died in poverty (...)" in Pina, 3rd book, chapter CXCI.
  56. ^ a b c Gutiérrez.
  57. ^ To read the contradictions among some of the Castilian chronicles about the Portuguese standard: Manchado, pp. 196–198.
  58. ^ Manchado, p. 282 (footnote 76).
  59. ^ Manchado, p. 196 (footnote 134).
  60. ^ Palencia, Década III, book XXV, chapter VIII.
  61. ^ a b "[The Castilian officers] brought with them their flags and those of the nobles ... raised in the air, and the armor of the ensign of the Portuguese adversary, who had been imprisoned in the said battle, placed on a length of spear, and the flags of the mentioned adversary and his [nobles] of Portugal, lowered into the ground … and after the prayer and answer, they offered the armor and flags of their Portuguese adversary, which they had captured in battle, and hung them over the grave of the said king, where they are today. In this way, the dishonor and defeat that King John suffered in the battle of Aljubarrota was avenged." In Palma, chapter XV.
  62. ^ a b Palencia, Década III, book XXIX, chapter II.
  63. ^ Obradó.
  64. ^ a b The original Nebrija's statement (in Latin) is quoted by historian Martins, page 207, footnote 34: "Captum est Lusitani vexillum cuius erat insigne vultus, sed Petri Veraci et Petri Vaccae ignavia quibus traditum est, ut asseverantur, ab hostribus postea est receptum" (Década I, book V, chapter VII). The Nebrija's chronicle is in reality, the translation into Latin (Granada, 1545–1550) of the original Castilian manuscript chronicle of Hernando del Pulgar, with very few Nebrija's addings. This way, the chronicle of Pulgar was published and erroneously attributed to Nebrija (first edition in Castilian, 1565, after the death of Nebrija and Pulgar) by his grandson, also named António de Nebrija. See Tesoros p. 329.
  65. ^ Medina, p. 219.
  66. ^ Góis, chapter LXXV.
  67. ^ a b Góis, chapter LXXIV.
  68. ^ "Because.. the place [Zamora] was sickly and the people were much maltreated..." Resende, chapter XIII.
  69. ^ "... during 15 days they [the Juanistas] suffered much rain, cold and snow from which they suffered so much loss..." in Góis, chapter LXXVI.
  70. ^ After a muster roll in Piedrabuena (Castile) according to Pina, 3rd book, chapter CLXXVII.
  71. ^ Góis, chapter L.
  72. ^ a b Pina, 3rd book, chapter CLXXXIV.
  73. ^ a b "... Knowing the King D. Afonso how the Castilians made countless attacks in Portugal, without any resistance, [he] agreed with his council that was necessary the return of the Prince to the Kingdom" in Góis, chapter LXXXIII.
  74. ^ Like in Arévalo, when the Luso-Castilians were about to go over Burgos: "... many people died..." from fevers and other diseases.... Pina, 3rd book, 1902, chapter CLXXX.
  75. ^ Zurita: "[Afonso V] was at Toro [waiting for the imminent reinforcements of the Prince] with so few people that they were less than 800 chevaliers" in volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XXXIX.
  76. ^ According to Zurita this difference in horsemen between both armies was 500 men.... (volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XLIV), and to Bernaldez it was 1,000 men (chapter XXIII).
  77. ^ "(...) [The Castilians] were driven back with many dead by the artillery and javelin throwers from the Portuguese infantry (...)." In Garibay, book 18, chapter VII, p. 597.
  78. ^ Medina: "… a huge number of Castilians promptly fell dead and was necessary to remove another crowd of wounded men." pp. 218–219.
  79. ^ "...with great loss (...)." In Resende, chapter XIII.
  80. ^ a b ("... [The Castilians] started running away and our men killed and imprisoned many of them, and from those who escaped..." in Góis, chapter LXXVIII, p. 298- 299.
  81. ^ Palencia, Década III, book XXV, chapter IX.
  82. ^ Sociedade e população dos descobrimentos Archived 2011-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Infopédia, Enciclopédia e Dicionários, Porto Editora, Oporto, 2003–2011.
  83. ^ "... with the arms on the backs, spending our money (...) risking the life for your service in such a way that if you lord look for, you will find that from this city died on the battle seventeen men (...)" speech of the Evora's procurators at the courts of 1476, in Pereira, pp. 9–10.
  84. ^ Cusatelli, p. 267: "The battle of Toro between Portuguese and Castilians had an uncertain outcome; but at the end [of the war] Alfonso had to subscribe the Peace of Alcáçovas (4 September 1479)."
  85. ^ As noted by Fernández, p. 156: "(...) in the situation created, Afonso V needed an evident triumph; it was not enough for him to not be defeated."
  86. ^ Zurita in Volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XLIV, wrote in a lucid way that "In spite of whatever happened [at the Battle of Toro] where the adversary [the Portuguese] also claimed victory, this battle ended the war (...) becoming the Sicilia's King [Ferdinand]... King of Castile."
  87. ^ Mendonça, p. 81.
  88. ^ In 1499: "1 million souls" in Portugal... Rodrigues, p .21.
  89. ^ In 1480: 4.5 million in Castile plus 840,000 in Aragon (total: 5.34 million) in Tutorformación, chapter 5, p. 93.
  90. ^ a b "The Prince left the King in the Holy Week [Easter of 1476: first days of April] with very few people because the most of the people... stayed with the King." In Góis, chapter LXXXIII.
  91. ^ a b "... and with him [Prince John] the count of Penela... and few more people because the majority of the men stayed at Toro with the King." in Pina, 3rd book, 1902, chapter CXCII ("How the Prince came back to Portugal and what the King D. Afonso did during that time in Castile").
  92. ^ Juana, la "Beltraneja", returned to Portugal with her husband Afonso V (and not with prince John as erroneously wrote Juan de Mariana 120 years after the Battle of Toro, and thus a more distant source) just in time to celebrate the feast of the Corpus Christi at Miranda do Douro (in the frontier): Pina, 3rd book, 1902, chapter CXCIII, ("How was decided the King's trip to France and he came back to Portugal with the queen D. Joana").
  93. ^ Góis, chapter LXXXVIII ("How the King D. Alfonso returned to Portugal together with his wife d. Joana").
  94. ^ a b Remained in Castile until 13 June 1476: Mariana, book XXIV, Chapter XI, p.304.
  95. ^ a b Selvagem, p. 232.
  96. ^ Fernández, p. 158.
  97. ^ 400 horsemen: Mariana, book XXIV, chapter XI, p. 302.
  98. ^ a b c d Góis, chapter LXXXVII ("...and the destruction that king D. Afonso made in all the district of Salamanca"). Góis clarifies that when the Castilian siege to Cantalapiedra finally ended, Afonso V having reached its objective, returned from the lands of Salamanca to Toro. In this city he learned with regret that the Castilian forces that had recently besieged Cantalapiedra had been sent to Salamanca – because he had lost this way an opportunity to fight a battle with them.
  99. ^ a b Góis, Chapter LXXXIV ("... about an ambush set up by King D. Alfonso to King D. Ferdinand") and chapter LXXXV ("How King D. Alfonso set up an ambush to queen Isabella between Madrigal and Medina Del Campo").
  100. ^ a b Operations to capture Ferdinand and later Isabella: Pina, 3rd book, chapter CXCII.
  101. ^ Moreno, pp. 103–116.
  102. ^ Mendonça, pp. 79, 98–99.
  103. ^ Pina, 3rd book, chapter CXCIV (Editorial error: Chapter CXCIV erroneously appears as Chapter CLXIV).
  104. ^ Quesada, p. 98. A dominated Ceuta by the Castilians would certainly have forced a share of the right to conquer Fez (Morocco) between Portugal and Castile instead of the Portuguese monopoly as it happened.
  105. ^ The Canary's campaign: Palencia, Decada IV, Book XXXI, Chapters VIII and IX ("preparation of 2 fleets [to Guinea and to Canary, respectively] so that with them King Ferdinand crush its enemies [the Portuguese]...").
  106. ^ Palencia, Decada IV, book XXXII, chapter III: in 1478 a Portuguese fleet intercepted the armada of 25 navies sent by Ferdinand to conquer Gran Canary – capturing 5 of its navies plus 200 Castilians – and forced it to fled hastily and definitively from the Canary waters. This victory allowed the Perfect Prince to use the Canary Islands as an "exchange coin" for the Portuguese monopoly of navigation and commerce in all the Atlantic south of those islands, in the peace treaty of Alcáçovas.
  107. ^ Battle of Guinea: Palencia, Década IV, Book XXXIII, Chapter V ( "Disaster among those sent to the mines of gold [Guinea]. Charges against the King..."), p.91-94. This was a decisive battle because after it and in spite of the Catholic Monarchs' attempts, they were unable to send new fleets to Guinea, Canary or to any part of the Portuguese empire until the end of the War. The Perfect Prince sent an order to drown any Castilian crew captured in Guinea waters. Even the Castilian navies which left to Guinea before the signature of the peace treaty had to pay the tax ("quinto") to the Portuguese crown when returned to Castile after the peace treaty. Isabella had to ask permission to Afonso V so that this tax could be paid in Castilian harbours. Naturally all this caused grudge against the Catholic Monarchs in Andalusia.
  108. ^ a b Battle of Mourão: Resende, chapter XVI, "How the Prince conquered Alegrete and how he beat off the Master of Santiago who intended to attack Évora with 2,000 chevaliers".
  109. ^ a b Góis, chapter XCVI, p. 361-365.
  110. ^ Battle of Albuera: Pulgar, chapter LXXXVII.
  111. ^ Palencia, Decada IV, book 34, chapter 2.
  112. ^ The prisoners were qualitatively important since all the Portuguese captains were captured: Pulgar, chapter LXXXVII, p.153. (see next footnote)
  113. ^ ...however the number of prisoners was very low: " (...) -with the only exception of those killed on the fight [of Albuera]- all the others reached [Mérida]..." in Palencia, Decada IV, book XXXIV, chapter 3. Sometimes the clash of Albuera is presented as a "decisive battle" which would have forced Portugal to ask for peace and thus ending the war (because the peace negotiations started few days later). But it is highly unlikely that a fight so reduced in size, with so few losses, and which didn't even prevent the Portuguese from achieving their strategic objectives (reach and maintain until the war's end the allied cities of Mérida and Medellin) had forced Portugal whatsoever. After all, more important than the start of the peace negotiations is the date the war ended: more than half a year after Albuera, on September 4, 1479.
  114. ^ "... [The Portuguese of Merida and Medellin] resisted during the entire summer until the peace treaty..." in Pina, 3rd book, chapter CCV.
  115. ^ "This way was dated and signed the peace (...). And the sieges to the fortresses [Merida and Mededellin] were immediately raised" in Pulgar, chapter CXI, page 158.
  116. ^ "...and the negotiations [Treaty of Alcáçovas] concerning the restituition of the [Castilian] fortresses of Azagala, Tuy, and Ferrera..." in Costa, p. 34.
  117. ^ Fernández, p. 278.
  118. ^ Resende, chapters X and XV.
  119. ^ Newitt, pp. 39, 40: "However, in 1478 the Portuguese surprised thirty-five Castilian ships returning from Mina [Guinea] and seized them and all their gold. Another...Castilian voyage to Mina, that of Eustache de la Fosse, was intercepted ... in 1480. (...) All things considered, it is not surprising that the Portuguese emerged victorious from this first maritime colonial war. They were far better organised than the Castilians, were able to raise money for the preparation and supply of their fleets and had clear central direction from ... [Prince] John."
  120. ^ a b c Diffie et al., p. 152, "In a war in which the Castilians were victorious on land and the Portuguese at sea...".
  121. ^ Guerrero, p.49: "...[with the Peace treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479] the Catholic monarchs find themselves forced to abandon their expansion by the Atlantic...". It would be Columbus who would free Castile from this difficult situation of blocked overseas expansion, because his New World discovery led to a new and much more balanced sharing of the Atlantic at Tordesilhas in 1494. The orders received by Columbus in his first voyage (1492) are elucidative: "...[the Catholic Monarchs] have always in mind that the limits signed in the "share" of Alcáçovas should not be overcome, and thus they insist with Columbus to sail along the parallel of Canary."
  122. ^ Armas wrote that at Alcáçovas, the Catholic monarchs "buy the peace at an excessively expensive price...", p. 88. With the Alcáçovas treaty, the Portuguese reached its ultimate goal: Castile – the only nation able to compete with Portugal in the ultramarine expansion – was practically "out" of the Atlantic and also deprived from the gold of Guinea (where it occurred the battle of Guinea, 1478).
  123. ^ Mendonça, p. 91.
  124. ^ Mendonça, pp. 102, 103.
  125. ^ Manchado, pp. 279–282.
  126. ^ Palma.
  127. ^ a b Manchado, p. 136.
  128. ^ Tesoros, p.329. Pulgar (who was dismissed from royal chronicler after being criticized by the Inquisitor Torquemada for defending the Marranos) also saw his masterpiece censured: Claros varones de Castilla.
  129. ^ Manchado, p. 290.
  130. ^ "the initiative of the edification of this monastery [S. Juan de los Reyes] was one way more to overcome in a triumphal sense the parallelism with that battle of Aljubarrota, which was commemorated in Portugal with the construction of the Battle's monastery. (...) initially conceived as a royal pantheon (like the Portuguese one)..." in Manchado, p. 283.
  131. ^ a b Barata, pp. 3–4. It is possible to compare the list of great nobles killed in the battles of Toro and Aljubarrota: Zurita gives a list of 3 Portuguese nobles (Volume VIII, book XIX, chapter XLIV) killed at the Battle of Toro whereas Lopes presents a list of 43 great nobles from the Juan's I army killed at Aljubarrota (Cronica de D. João I (2), chapter XLIV).
  132. ^ Castilian chronicler Medina, pp. 218–219: "...[The men of Afonso V disbanded, in spite of] having on their [left] side their Prince intact and with good troops...." This chronicler even showed himself amazed that Prince John had not aided his father, which is an admission that he remained unbroken.
  133. ^ Froissart, folios 239v, 240r, 240v, 241r.
  134. ^ Froissart, folios 241r, 241v, 242r.
  135. ^ a b c Lopes, chapter XLIV.
  136. ^ Illustrative was the answer given by the Portuguese King John I to his scouts when they returned on the next morning and informed him that there were no enemies around the Aljubarrota battlefield except of course countless Castilian corpses: "Of them we need not be afraid" in Froissart, folio 242v.
  137. ^ "The [Portuguese] king stayed 3 days on the camp, as is tradition in such battles..." in Lopes, chapter XLV, pages 118, 119.
  138. ^ 12 hours: Lopes, chapter XLIII, tells that Juan I fled from the battlefield of Aljubarrota towards Santarém at the sunset and then he left Santarém at dawn of the next day in a boat arriving to Lisbon where he got refuge in his fleet. He registered the arriving hour of the King: hora tertia which corresponds roughly to the third hour of the day after dawn. The timing for hora tertia depended on the latitude and day of year. At Rome's latitude (practically the same of Aljubarrota) hora tertia was, at the summer solstice, 06:58 to 08:13.
  139. ^ Lopes, chapter XLIII.
  140. ^ Lopes, chapter XLIX.
  141. ^ Ayala, 7th year, chapter XV.
  142. ^ The French-Aragonese army led by the heir prince of Navarre, Charles – who was advancing at top speed to help Juan I in the battle of Aljubarrota – fled from Portugal to Castile as soon as he heard the news about the disaster. Ayala, 7th year, chapter XVI.
  143. ^ Lopes, chapters LIV, LV, LVI and LVII.
  144. ^ Ayala, 7th year, chapter XVIII.
  145. ^ Mattoso, pp. 390–391.
  146. ^ Lopes, chapters XXXVI and XXXVII. The army brought from Castile was enlarged on its way towards Aljubarrota with the forces from the many cities and fortresses loyal to Juan I, commanded by their respective alcaldes plus a large contingent from the Castilian armada which was besieging Lisbon reaching: 6,000 men at arms plus 15,000 peons plus 2,000 jennets and 8,000 javelin throwers.
  147. ^ Froissart, folio 237r.
  148. ^ Ayala, 7th year: chapters XIII and XIV. Ayala was captured after the battle.
  149. ^ a b Lopes, chapters XLIV and XLV.
  150. ^ Westminster
  151. ^ Russel, p. 431.
  152. ^ 500 knights and 500 squids killed plus "... six or seven thousand other men" killed, in Froissart, folio 242r.
  153. ^ Sandoval.
  154. ^ The national mourning started in the Valladolid Courts (1385 December) until the Briviesca Courts (December 1387) in Russel, pp. 433, 439,440 and 533–535.
  155. ^ All public and private diversions forbidden in Russel, p. 433.
  156. ^ Cortes, p. 331.
  157. ^ Russel, p. 439.
  158. ^ a b Speech of Cardinal Mendoza: "... It would be deshuman... 10 days after the battle..." in Pulgar, chapter XLVII, page 91.
  159. ^ a b Deserters, not fugitives: Martins, p. 224.
  160. ^ Thomas p. 1279: "JOHN (JOÃO) II, King of Portugal, surnamed THE PERFECT (...), five years later gained the battle of Toro over the Castilians".
  161. ^ Richebourg p. 198: "(...) though the Portuguese had undoubtedly won [the battle of Toro], King Ferdinand got all the advantages. (...) there are victories that are disadvantageous to the winners, and defeats that are useful to the defeated."
  162. ^ Blake: "JOHN II, King of Portugal (...). He subsequently defeated the Castilians at the battle of Toro, in 1476", p. 661.
  163. ^ Álvar Garcia de Santa Maria- Crónica de Juan II, 1431, Biblioteca de Autores Españoles 68, chapters 4, 16 and 25. The peace treaty with Portugal was signed at last at Medina del Campo (1431), but without neither the payment of war compensation nor the obligation of military assistance, as demanded by Castile.
  164. ^ "... such deception and avarice was a fact of life in fifteenth-century Europe. Ferdinand V worked overtime in the practice of falsity. (…) Indeed, Ferdinand relished in his effective use of deceit and mendacity to gain the upper hand over his foes …This was a befitting attribute …" in Malveaux, p.550.
  165. ^ "The Lusitanian standard is captured, which was a valuable insignia, yet by the negligence of Pedro Velasco and Pedro Vaca, to whom it was entrusted, as [already] mentioned, it is subsequently taken up by the enemy."
  166. ^ "The Castilians invested the Portugal's standard ...and took it easily due to the cowardly and soft resistance from the ensign and its guards. The ensign was captured and later taken to Zamora...but the standard was not taken because...some Portuguese chevaliers regained it after fighting with bravery." In Medina, p. 219.
  167. ^ "The king of Portugal (...) seeing lost, one first time, his Royal standard and captured the ensign, who was taken to Zamora and stripped of his weapons which ...were exposed in the Chapel of the New Kings, Toledo's Church, (...) even though the standard, for negligence (...) was taken by the Portuguese." In Garibay, book 18, chapter VIII
  168. ^ "Machiavelly carefully studied Ferdinand's career, relished his cunning, praised his 'deeds … all great and some extraordinary', and called him 'the foremost king in Christendom.'" in Durant, p. 206.
  169. ^ "... against who [Prince John] the Spain's cardinal as well as the Duke of Alba intended to go with some men that they were able to collect from those returned from the chase and from those who were spread around the camp … and they couldn´t move them, because the night was so dark that they [the Castilians] couldn't neither see nor recognize each other and because the men were so tired and haven't eaten all day as they left Zamora by morning. The King [Ferdinand] promptly returned to the city of Zamora ["volvió luego"] because he was told that people from the King of Portugal, located in the city of Toro on the other side of the river, could attack the "estanzas" he left besieging the Zamora's fortress. And the cardinal and the duke of Alba stayed on the battlefield gathering the men and returned with them to the city of Zamora. " In Pulgar, chapter XLV.
  170. ^ Palencia, II, book XXV, chapter IX, p. 272.
  171. ^ Chaves in Duro, p. 255-256.
  172. ^ Góis, chapter LXXVIII, p. 302-303.
  173. ^ Renouard, p. 89: "The inconclusive Battle of Toro (1476), that the Isabella's propaganda transformed in victory... ruined the hopes of the King of Portugal".
  174. ^ Erlanger: "who won [the battle of Toro]? Each one declares himself winner... a genius of propaganda... Isabella knew the effectiveness of propaganda... she organized feasts, proclaimed through Spain the news of her victory so that everybody believed it even if a less evident truth came out. (...) This false move, not the success of their arms at Toro gave their kingdom to Ferdinand and Isabella." (Electronic version).
  175. ^ Bajo, p. 36: "...Battle of Toro... outcome... indecisive. The Castilians, still sore with the bitter defeat of Aljubarrota, attributed the victory to themselves."
  176. ^ "the result of this battle was very doubtful" in Hénault et al, p. 694.
  177. ^ Schoell p. 351: "The war ended in 1476 with the battle of Toro (..) it was indecisive, but the subsequent events (...)"
  178. ^ Casas, p. 364.





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