Edward, King of Portugal


King Duarte in Crónica d'El-Rei D. Duarte;
Rui de Pina, c. 1497–1504.
King of Portugal and the Algarve
Reign 14 August 1433 – 9 September 1438
Predecessor John I
Successor Afonso V
Born (1391-10-31)31 October 1391
Viseu, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 9 September 1438(1438-09-09) (aged 46)
Tomar, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Monastery of Batalha
Spouse Eleanor of Aragon
Issue Afonso V of Portugal
Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu
Eleanor, Holy Roman Empress
Infanta Catherine
Joan, Queen of Castile
House Aviz
Father John I
Mother Philippa of Lancaster
Religion Roman Catholicism

Duarte[lower-alpha 1] (duˈaɾt(ɨ); 31 October 1391 – 9 September 1438), known in English as Edward and called the Philosopher (o Rei-Filósofo) or the Eloquent (o Eloquente), was King of Portugal and the Algarve and Lord of Ceuta from 1433 until his death. He was born in Viseu, the son of John I of Portugal and his wife, Queen Philippa of Portugal, a daughter of John of Gaunt. Edward was the oldest member of the "Illustrious Generation" of accomplished royal children who contributed to the development of Portuguese civilization during the 15th century. As a cousin of several English kings, he became a Knight of the Garter.[lower-alpha 2]

Early life

Before he ascended the throne, Duarte always followed his father in the affairs of the kingdom. He was knighted in 1415 after the Portuguese capture of the city of Ceuta in North Africa, across from Gibraltar, in the Battle of Ceuta. He became king in 1433, when his father died of the plague.[1]

As king, Duarte soon showed interest in building internal political consensus. During his short reign of five years, he called the Portuguese Cortes (the national assembly) no less than five times to discuss the political affairs of his kingdom. He also followed the politics of his father concerning the maritime exploration of Africa. He encouraged and financed his famous brother, Henry the Navigator, who initiated many expeditions on the west coast of Africa. An expedition of Gil Eanes in 1434 first rounded Cape Bojador on the northwestern coast of Africa, leading the way for further exploration southward along the African coast.

Colonial affairs

A Portrait of Edward.

The colony at Ceuta rapidly became a drain on the Portuguese treasury, and it was realised that without the city of Tangier, possession of Ceuta was worthless. After Ceuta was captured by the Portuguese, the camel caravans that were part of the overland trade routes began to use Tangier as their new destination. This deprived Ceuta of the materials and goods that made it an attractive market and a vibrant trading locale, and it became an isolated community.

In 1437, Duarte's brothers Henry and Ferdinand persuaded him to launch an attack on the Marinid sultanate of Morocco. The expedition was not unanimously supported and was undertaken against the advice of the Pope.[1] Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra, and the Infante John were both against the initiative; they preferred to avoid conflict with the Marinid Sultan. Their instincts proved to be justified. The resulting Battle of Tangier, led by Henry, was a debacle. Failing to take the city in a series of assaults, the Portuguese siege camp was soon itself surrounded and starved into submission by a Moroccan relief army. In the resulting treaty, Henry promised to deliver Ceuta back to the Marinids in return for allowing the Portuguese army to depart unmolested. Duarte's youngest brother, Ferdinand, was handed over to the Marinids as a hostage for the final handover of the city.

Late life

The debacle at Tangier dominated Duarte's final year. Peter and John urged him to fulfill the treaty, yield Ceuta and secure Ferdinand's release, whereas Henry (who had signed the treaty) urged him to renege on it. Caught in indecision, Duarte assembled the Portuguese Cortes at Leiria in early 1438 for consultation. The Cortes refused to ratify the treaty, preferring to hang on to Ceuta and requesting that Duarte find some other means of obtaining Ferdinand's release.

Duarte died late that summer, in Tomar, of the plague, like his father and mother (and her mother) before him. Popular lore suggested he died of heartbreak over the fate of his hapless brother; Ferdinand would remain in captivity in Fez until his own death in 1443.[1]


Duarte's premature death provoked a political crisis in Portugal. Leaving only a young son, Afonso, to inherit the throne, it was generally assumed that Duarte's brothers would take over the regency of the realm. But Duarte's will appointed his unpopular foreign wife, Eleanor of Aragon, as regent. A popular uprising followed, in which the burghers of the realm, assembled by John of Reguengos, acclaimed Peter of Coimbra as regent. But the nobles backed Eleanor's claim, and threatened civil war. The regency crisis was defused by a complicated and tense power-sharing arrangement between Eleanor and Peter.

Another less political side of Duarte's personality is related to culture. A reflective and scholarly infante, he wrote the treatises O Leal Conselheiro (The Loyal Counsellor) and Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela ("Book of Teachings on Riding Well on Every Saddle") as well as several poems. He was in the process of revising the Portuguese law code when he died.

Marriages and descendants

Duarte married Eleanor of Aragon, a daughter of Ferdinand I of Aragon and Eleanor of Alburquerque, in 1428.

By Eleanor of Aragon (c. 1402–19 February 1445); married on 22 September 1428)
Infante JohnOctober 1429b. 14 August 1433Prince of Portugal (1429–1433).
Infanta Philippa27 November 143024 March 1439Died young.
Infante Afonso15 January 143228 August 1481Who succeeded him as Afonso V, King of Portugal.
Infanta Maria7 December 14328 December 1432Died in infancy.
Infante Ferdinand17 November 143318 September 1470Duke of Viseu. He was declared heir to his brother Afonso V for two brief periods, and therefore used the style of Prince instead of Infante. He was the father of future king Manuel I.
Infanta Eleanor18 September 14343 September 1467Holy Roman Empress by marriage to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.
Infante Duarte12 July 143512 July 1435Died shortly after being born.
Infanta Catherine26 November 143617 June 1463She was betrothed to Charles IV of Navarre but he died before the marriage could take place. After his death, Catherine entered the Convent of Saint Claire and became a nun.
Infanta Joan20 March 143913 June 1475Queen of Castile by marriage to King Henry IV of Castile.



  1. Rendered Eduarte in archaic Portuguese.
  2. Specifically, he was the first cousin once removed of King Richard II; a nephew of King Henry IV; first cousin of King Henry V; first cousin once removed of King Henry VI; and more distantly related to subsequent British monarchs.


External links

Edward, King of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy
Born: 31 October 1391 Died: 9 September 1438
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John I
King of Portugal and the Algarve
Succeeded by
Afonso V
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