Maria of Aragon, Queen of Portugal

Maria of Aragon (29 June 1482 – 7 March 1517) was Queen of Portugal as the second spouse of King Manuel I, the widower of her elder sister Isabella.

Maria of Aragon
Stained glass of Queen Maria at prayer
Stained glass depiction, c. 1510–1513
Queen consort of Portugal
Tenure30 October 1500 – 7 March 1517
Born29 June 1482
Córdoba, Kingdom of Castile
Died7 March 1517(1517-03-07) (aged 34)
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
(m. 1500)
FatherFerdinand II of Aragon
MotherIsabella I of Castile
ReligionRoman Catholicism


Early lifeEdit

Maria was born at Córdoba on 29 June 1482 as the third surviving daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon (the Catholic monarchs). She was the fourth of their five surviving children, and had a stillborn twin (the sources differ on the gender of Maria's twin).[1] Like her sisters, she was given a thorough education, not only in household tasks but also in arithmetic, Latin, several other languages, history, philosophy and the classics.


As an infanta of Spain, her hand in marriage was important in European politics. Before her marriage to Manuel I of Portugal, her parents entertained the idea of marrying her to King James IV of Scotland.[2] This was at a time when her younger sister Catherine's marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales, was being planned. Ferdinand and Isabella thought if Maria was Queen of Scotland, the two sisters could keep the peace between their husbands. These plans, however, came to nothing. Her eldest sister Isabella, Princess of Asturias, was the first wife of Manuel I, but her death in 1498 created a necessity for Manuel to remarry; Maria became the next bride of the Portuguese king, reaffirming dynastic links with Spanish royal houses.

Manuel and Maria were married in Alcácer do Sal on 30 October 1500,[3] and Maria was granted Viseu and Torres Vedras as her dower. She had 10 children, eight of whom reached adulthood, including King John III of Portugal, Holy Roman Empress Isabella, and Beatrice, Duchess of Savoy.


Queen Maria was described as pale and thin to her exterior, with a retiring chin, and had a very serious character to her personality. Despite the fact that she was queen during a famous time period in Portuguese history, when the Portuguese court was one of the richest in Europe, she did not play any significant part as an individual. Serious and pious, she devoted her time to sewing, pious devotion and supervising the education of her children in accordance with the principles of her parents. She maintained a close correspondence with her parents, got along well with her sister-in-law Isabel and the queen dowager Beatrice, and hosted a large court with both Spanish and Portuguese ladies-in-waiting. King Manuel appreciated her pious nature, treated her with respect and awarded her with expensive clothes and jewelry during her pregnancies.

Queen Maria was not described as politically active, though chronicles praised her for occasionally persuading her husband to an act of mercy. She was, however, somewhat involved in religious politics. She supported King Manuel's religious-imperial project, including the plan to conquer the Mamluk's realm, destroy Mecca and Medina and reconquer Christian holy places such as Jerusalem. She co-founded the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon.[4]

During her life in Portugal, Maria was almost continually pregnant. Normally, she had but a few months pause between a delivery and her next pregnancy. This state of affairs resulted in an continual deterioration of her health and after the delivery of 1516, she was reportedly exhausted to a point that she was also temporarily mentally confused before she recuperated. She died in Lisbon on 7 March 1517, and was buried at the Jerónimos Monastery of Belém. She died as a result of her last pregnancy.


In 1580, the dynastic links from the marriage led to a succession crisis in Portugal that made her grandson Philip II of Spain king of Portugal as Philip I of Portugal.



Her marriage with Manuel produced the following children:

Name Birth Death Notes
King John III 6 June 1502 11 June 1557 Succeeded Manuel as King of Portugal. Had issue.
Infanta Isabella 24 October 1503 1 May 1539 Married Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Had issue.
Infanta Beatrice 31 December 1504 8 January 1538 Married Charles III, Duke of Savoy. Had issue.
Infante Luis, Duke of Beja 3 March 1506 27 November 1555 Unmarried but had illegitimate descendants, one of them being Antonio, Prior of Crato, a claimant of the throne of Portugal in 1580 (See: Struggle for the throne of Portugal).
Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Guarda 5 June 1507 7 November 1534 Married Guiomar Coutinho, Countess of Marialva. No surviving issue.
Infante Afonso 23 April 1509 21 April 1540 Cardinal of the Kingdom.
King Henry 31 January 1512 31 January 1580 Cardinal of the Kingdom who succeeded his grandnephew King Sebastian (Manuel's great-grandson) as 17th King of Portugal. His death triggered the struggle for the throne of Portugal.
Infanta Maria 3 February 1513 Died at birth.
Infante Duarte, Duke of Guimarães 7 October 1515 20 September 1540 Duke of Guimarães and great-grandfather of John IV of Portugal. Married Isabella of Braganza, daughter of Jaime, Duke of Braganza.
Infante Antonio 9 September 1516 Died at birth.

Her widowed husband later married a third time, in 1518, also this time from her family: Maria's niece Eleanor of Austria.


  1. ^ Philippa was the daughter John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster to his first wife Blanche of Lancaster,[16] making her half-sister of Catherine of Aragon's maternal great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster to his second wife Constance of Castile.


  1. ^ Harris 2017, p. 78.
  2. ^ Bergenroth 1862, pp. 167–80.
  3. ^ Howe 2008, p. 53.
  4. ^ Harris 2017, p. 79.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Isabella I, Queen of Spain at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "John II of Aragon" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ a b c d Ortega Gato, Esteban (1999). "Los Enríquez, Almirantes de Castilla" [The Enríquezes, Admirals of Castille] (PDF). Publicaciones de la Institución "Tello Téllez de Meneses" (in Spanish). 70: 42. ISSN 0210-7317.
  9. ^ a b c Henry III, King of Castille at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  10. ^ a b c Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Philippa of Lancaster" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 167.
  11. ^ a b c Gerli, E. Michael; Armistead, Samuel G. (2003). Medieval Iberia. Taylor & Francis. p. 182. ISBN 9780415939188. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  12. ^ a b Ferdinand I, King of Aragon at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  13. ^ a b Miron, E. L. (1913). "Doña Leonor of Alburquerque". The Queens of Aragon: Their Lives and Times. Brentano's. p. 265. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Mariana de Ayala Córdoba y Toledo". Ducal House of Medinaceli Foundation. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  15. ^ a b Leese, Thelma Anna, Blood royal: issue of the kings and queens of medieval England, 1066–1399, (Heritage Books Inc., 1996), 222.
  16. ^ Armitage-Smith, Sydney (1905). John of Gaunt: King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln, and Leicester, Seneschal of England. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 77. Retrieved 17 May 2018.


  • Bergenroth, G A, ed. (1862). "Spain: July 1498, 21–31". Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485–1509.
  • Harris, Carolyn (2017). Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting. Dundurn Press.
  • Howe, Elizabeth Teresa (2008). Education and Women in the Early Modern Hispanic World. Ashgate Publishing Limited.
  • Serrano, Joana Bouza. Maria de Castela (1482–1517): uma rainha do Renascimento. In: As avis: as grandes rainhas que partilharam o trono de Portugal na segunda dinastia. 2ª ed. Lisboa: A Esfera dos Livros, 2009

  Media related to Maria of Aragon, Queen of Portugal at Wikimedia Commons

Maria of Aragon, Queen of Portugal
Born: 29 June 1482 Died: 7 March 1517
Portuguese royalty
Title last held by
Isabella of Aragon
Queen consort of Portugal
30 October 1500 – 7 March 1517
Title next held by
Eleanor of Austria