Matilda of Savoy, Queen of Portugal

Matilda of Savoy

Matilda in Genealogy of the Kings of Portugal (António de Holanda, 1530–1534)
Queen Consort of Portugal
Tenure 1146–1157/1158
Born c. 1125
County of Savoy
Died 4 November 1157 (aged 3132)
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Santa Cruz Monastery, Coimbra, District of Coimbra, Portugal
Spouse Afonso I, King of Portugal
Issue Infanta Mafalda
Urraca, Queen of León
Sancho I, King of Portugal
Theresa, Countess of Flanders
House House of Savoy
Father Amadeus III, Count of Savoy
Mother Mahaut of Albon
Religion Roman Catholicism

Matilda of Savoy (French: Mathilde, Portuguese: Mafalda; c. 1125[1]– 3 December 1157/58[2]) was Queen of Portugal. after her marriage to King Afonso Henriques, the first sovereign of Portugal, whom she married in 1146.


She was the second or third daughter of Amadeus III, Count of Savoy, Piedmont and Maurienne,[1] and Mahaut of Albon[1] (the sister of Guigues IV of Albon, "le Dauphin"). One of her aunts, Adelaide of Maurienne,was queen consort as the wife of King Louis VI of France, and one of her great-granduncles was Pope Callixtus II whose papacy lasted from 1119 until 1124, the year of his death.[3]

Possible reasons for her marriage

Her father had participated in the Second Crusade and this could have been one of the reasons why she was chosen as the consort of Portugal's first monarch. Such an alliance would contribute to expelling the moors from Portuguese territory and would also show the new King's independence by selecting a wife outside the sphere of influence of the Kingdom of León.[4] It is also possible that he was not able to select one of the infantas from the neighboring Iberian kingdoms due to reasons of consanguinity.[5] The wedding could have also been suggested by Guido de Vico, the papal representative in the Iberian Peninsula who had been one of the witnesses of the Treaty of Zamora in 1143.[4]

Life as queen consort

Matilda first appears with her husband on 23 May 1146 confirming a donation that had been made previously by her mother-in-law, Teresa of León, to the Order of Cluny.[6] She was very devoted to the Cistercian Order and founded the Monasterio of Costa in Guimarães and a hospital/hostel for pilgrims, the poor and the sick in Canaveses.[6] She stipulated in her will that this hospital was to be kept always clean, that it shoud be furnished with good and clean beds and that, if any of those lodged at the institution should die there, three masses were to be celebrated for the salvation of their souls.[6]

Walter Map, in his work, De nugis curialium, tells a story that "the King of Portugal now living", almost certainly Afonso, had been convinced by evil counselors to murder his pregnant wife out of misplaced jealousy. However, there is no other authority for this account, and it is not generally accepted.[7]

Death and burial

Queen Mafalda died in Coimbra on 3 December 1157 or 1158[lower-alpha 1] and was buried at the Monastery of Santa Cruz where her husband, who survived her by more than twenty-seven years, was later interred. She was survived by six of her seven children, only three of whom, infantes Sancho, Urraca and Theresa, would reach adulthood.[11]

Marriage and issue

Although the Annales D. Alfonsi Portugallensium Regis, record that the wedding of Alfonso and Mafalda was celebrated in 1145, it was not until a year later, in May 1146, when they both appear in royal charters. Historian José Mattoso refers to another source, Noticia sobre a Conquista de Santarém (News on the Conquest of Santarém), which states that the city was taken on 15 May 1147, less than a year after their marriage. Since at that time no wedding ceremony could be performed during Lent, Mattoso suggests that the marriage could have taken place in March or April of 1146, possibly on Easter Sunday which fell on 31 March of that year.[12] The groom was almost thirty-eight years old and the bride was about twenty-one years old. The children of this marriage were:


  1. Mattoso refers to 1157 as the year of her death.[8] Portuguese historian La Figanière mentions the same day but a year later based on a document which proves that the queen was still alive in 1158.[9] The document, dated 1158 and kept at the Torre do Tombo, mentioned by La Figanière refers to the donation of Atouguia by King Afonso and his wife to Guilherme de cornibus where Afonso confirms cum uxore mea Regina domna Mahalda filia comitis Amadei (sic) et de Moriana ("with my wife Queen Mafalda, daughter the Count of Savoy and Maurienne") .[10]



  • Arco y Garay, Ricardo del (1954). Sepulcros de la Casa Real de Castilla. Madrid: Instituto Jerónimo Zurita. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. OCLC 11366237. 
  • Caetano de Souza, Antonio (1735). Historia Genealógica de la Real Casa Portuguesa (PDF) (in Portuguese). Vol. I. Lisbon: Lisboa Occidental, na oficina de Joseph Antonio da Sylva. ISBN 978-84-8109-908-9. 
  • La Friganiére, Frederico Francisco de (1859). Memorias da rainhas de Portugal (in Portuguese). Lisbon: Typographia Universal. OCLC 680459800. 
  • Mattoso, José (2014). D. Afonso Henriques (in Portuguese). Lisbon: Temas e Debates. ISBN 978-972-759-911-0. 
  • Rodrigues Oliveira, Ana (2010). Rainhas medievais de Portugal. Dezassete mulheres, duas dinastias, quatro séculos de História (in Portuguese). Lisbon: A esfera dos livros. ISBN 978-989-626-261-7. 
Preceded by
Queen consort of Portugal
Succeeded by
Dulce of Aragon
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