FERNANDO, D.(Chaves, 1403 ? Vila Viçosa, 1478)
3rd Count of Arraiolos, 1st Marquis of Vila Viçosa, 2nd Duke of Braganza, (Chaves, 1403 ? Vila Viçosa, 1478)
Dom Fernando, 3rd Count of Arraiolos, 1st Marquis of Vila Viçosa, 2nd Duke of Braganza, 9th Count of Barcelos, 3rd Count of Neiva, 2nd Count of Penafiel, 5th Count of Ourém, was born around the year 1403. He was the second son of Dom Afonso, a legitimized son of King João I, and of Dona Beatriz Pereira, constable D. Nuno Álvares Pereira?s sole heir.
He is first mentioned on April the 4th 1422, when, like King João I had done to his children, Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira granted Houses to his grandchildren, handing them his patrimony. In so doing the constable assured them an important position in society, the possibility of marrying a member of the high nobility or even of the monarchy and, above all, he assured the survival of his lineage. Dom Fernando received the constable?s lands in Alentejo and the title of 3rd count of Arraiolos.
In December 1429, he married Dona Joana de Castro, sole heir of Dom João de Castro, Lord of Cadaval. From this marriage eight children were born: D. Fernando, his first born son and future heir to the House of Braganza, born in 1430; Dom João, Marquis of Montemor-o-Novo; Dom Afonso, Count of Faro; Dom Álvaro, High Chancellor (who married the heir of Rui Afonso de Melo, 1st Count of Olivença); Dona Isabel; Dona Beatriz (who married the Marquis of Vila Real); Dona Guiomar (who married Dom Henrique de Meneses, 1st Count of Valença and Loulé); and Dona Catarina (engaged to Dom João Coutinho, who died in the capture of Arzila, in 1471).
In the 1430?s, Dom Duarte asked his brothers and nephews for advice on whether Portugal should participate in the capture of Granada and whether a new expedition to Northern Africa should be undertaken. On April the 22nd 1432, the Count of Arraiolos gave his advice. He first stated the arguments in favour of the conquest of Granada: it would, once more, be under the influence of the Christian faith; it would help protect the Iberian Peninsula against new Muslim attacks and invasions; the people of Granada were murderers and thieves; it would keep the Moors from continuing to promote the apostasy of Moorish New Christians; the kingdom of Granada was a legitimate inheritance of Spain and conquering it would lead many Muslims into becoming Christians. For all of these reasons he was in favour of Prince Henrique conquering Granada, for he and his men would make a difference. Dom Fernando also mentioned the political benefits Dom Duarte could profit from after this intervention: the possibility of marrying his daughter to whom he saw fit; Prince Henrique would control the kingdom of Granada (which would best serve Dom Duarte?s interests than if it stayed in the hands of his brothers-in law, the princes of Aragon) allowing him to control the policy of Castile and prepare to take possession of the Canary islands. On the continuation of the military campaigns in Morocco, he was very clear: he was against it, because he thought one could go to war either to gain fame or to serve God. In this particular case, war against the Moors could bring great harm and it was therefore the opposite of serving God. Even if Portugal could conquer the kingdom of Fez, on the long run, such a conquest would bring nothing but great problems and disturbances. Portugal did not have enough people and money to defend the two kingdoms (which was proved by the overwhelming costs of maintaining Ceuta) and they could both be lost.
However, when Dom Duarte decided to continue the war in Morocco, Dom Fernando, who had never before interfered with royal decisions, was named constable of the fleet which tried to conquer Tangier, in 1437. Upon his return to the kingdom, the count of Arraiolos led, in the cortes, the small group which was against the delivery of Ceuta in exchange for prince Dom Fernando.
In 1438, after Dom Duarte?s death, when the disagreements between Queen Leonor and Prince Pedro began, Dom Fernando was named for the tripartite regency and he was in charge of the administration of justice. He also took part in the armed conflicts in the beginning of the regency, as a supporter of the duke of Coimbra. However, Dom Fernando did not witness the disagreements between his father and Prince Pedro, which led to the Battle of Alfarrobeira, because in 1445, after D. Fernando de Noronha?s death, he was nominated Governor of Ceuta, with absolute power and civil and criminal jurisdiction. Up until his arrival to Ceuta, in 1447, António Pacheco had been interim captain. It was him who replaced the Count upon his journey to the kingdom in 1448.
After Alfarrobeira, the Count of Arraiolos asked the King to return to Portugal. During the long year of 1450, he remained in Ceuta, waiting to be replaced by Prince Henrique, which never happened. He only left Ceuta the following year by the end of September, having been replaced by Dom Sancho de Noronha.
In 1445 he was granted the title of Marquis of Vila Viçosa, as a reward for the way he served the Crown. During the six years he was Marquis of Vila Viçosa, Dom Fernando took part in the conquest of Alcacer Ceguer in 1458 and, in 1460, he was one of the three noblemen (along with Constable Pedro and Prince Fernando) who gave King Afonso V written advice on the external political situation and the alliances with Castile and Aragon. He advised the King to avoid the complicated Iberian political forces and to continue the campaign in Morocco.
When Dom Afonso, Marquis of Valença, died from fever, in Tomar, on August the 29th 1460, before his father and with no legitimate issue, Dom Fernando became the House of Braganza heir and he became 2nd Duke of Braganza in 1461. He was approximately sixty years old.
He returned to Morocco for the last time to accompany the King in a new attempt at conquering Tangier in 1463-64. In 1471, when King Afonso V fled to conquer Arzila, he remained in the kingdom as regent.
He gave his opinion on Iberian politics once more in 1475, when he opposed the King?s will to marry his cousin Joana, the Beltreneja.
D. Fernando died in 1478, his first born son, Fernando II, inherited the House of Braganza.
CUNHA, Mafalda Soares da, Linhagem, Parentesco e Poder. A Casa de Bragança (1384-1433), Lisboa, Fundação da Casa de Bragança, 1990.
SOUSA, António Caetano de, História Genealógica da Casa Real Portuguesa, tomo V, nova edição revista por M. Lopes de Almeida e César Pegado, Coimbra, Atlântida Livraria Editora, 1948.
Author: Maria Dávila
Translated by: Dominique Faria