Henry, King of Portugal

Henry (Portuguese: Henrique [ẽˈʁik(ɨ)]; 31 January 1512 — 31 January 1580), dubbed the Chaste (Portuguese: o Casto) and the Cardinal-King (Portuguese: o Cardeal-Rei), was king of Portugal and a cardinal of the Catholic Church, who ruled Portugal between 1578 and 1580. As a clergyman, he was bound to chastity, and as such, had no children to succeed him, and thus put an end to the reigning House of Aviz. His death led to the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 and ultimately to the 60-year Iberian Union that saw Portugal share a monarch with that of Habsburg Spain. The next independent monarch of Portugal would be John IV, who restored the throne after 60 years of Spanish rule.

Ritratto di Enrico I del Portogallo (1587) - Cristofano dell'Altissimo (Galleria degli Uffizi).png
Portrait by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, c. 1587
King of Portugal
Reign4 August 1578 — 31 January 1580
Coronation28 August 1578; Lisbon
SuccessorAntónio (disputed) or Philip I
Born31 January 1512
Lisbon, Portugal
Died31 January 1580 (aged 68)
Almeirim, Portugal
FatherManuel I of Portugal
MotherMaria of Aragon


Born in Lisbon, Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon.


As the younger brother of King John III of Portugal and a younger son in the Royal Family, Henry was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne. Early in his life, Henry took Holy Orders to promote Portuguese interests within the Catholic Church, then dominated by Spain. He rose rapidly through the Church hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop of Braga, Archbishop of Évora, and Grand Inquisitor before being made a cardinal in 1545,[1] with the title of Santi Quattro Coronati. From 1564 to 1570 he was Patriarch of Lisbon. Henry, more than anyone, endeavoured to bring the Jesuits to Portugal to encourage their activity in the colonial empire.

Styles of
Henry of Portugal
Reference styleHis Royal Highness[2]
Spoken styleYour Royal Highness[2]
Religious styleHis Eminence
Informal styleCardinal-King


Henry served as regent for his great-nephew King Sebastian, replacing his sister-in-law and Sebastian's grandmother Queen dowager Catherine, following her resignation from the role in 1562.[3] King Sebastian died without an heir in the disastrous Battle of Alcácer Quibir that took place in 1578, and the elderly cardinal was proclaimed king soon after. Henry sought to be released from his ecclesiastical vows so he could take a bride and pursue the continuation of the Aviz dynasty, but Pope Gregory XIII, not wanting to antagonize Philip II of Spain, did not grant him that release.[4][5]

Death and successionEdit

The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim, on his 68th birthday, without having appointed a successor, leaving only a regency to care for the kingdom. One of the closest dynastic claimants was King Philip II of Spain who, in November 1580, sent the Duke of Alba to claim Portugal by force. Lisbon soon fell, and Philip was elected king of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581—on the condition that the kingdom and its overseas territories would not become Spanish provinces.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Enrique de Portugal; Henry's brother Alonso had also been made a cardinal, in 1517 at the age of eight. (Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Alonso de Portugal).
  2. ^ a b As King, Cardinal Henry deprecated the manner of address of "Your Majesty", considering it to be appropriate only when applied to God.
  3. ^ Disney, p. 174.
  4. ^ MacKay, p. 44.
  5. ^ Disney, p. 176.
  6. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Emanuel I." . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ a b c d Liss, Peggy K. (2015). Isabel the Queen: Life and Times. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780812293203.
  8. ^ a b Stephens, Henry Morse (1903). The Story of Portugal. G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 139. ISBN 9780722224731.
  9. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferdinand V. of Castile and Leon and II. of Aragon" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  10. ^ a b Isabella I, Queen of Spain at the Encyclopædia Britannica


  • Disney, A. R. (2009). A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, vol. 1: Portugal. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-60397-3.
  • MacKay, Ruth (2012). The Baker Who Pretended to Be King of Portugal. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226501086.

External linksEdit

Henry, King of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy
Born: 31 January 1512 Died: 31 January 1580
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Portugal
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Braga
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Bishop of Evora Archbishop of Evora
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Lisboa
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Evora
Succeeded by