AFONSO, D. (Chaves, c. 1402 ? Tomar, 29 de Agosto de 1460)
Dom Afonso, 4th Earl of Ourém and 1st Marquis of Valença, was born circa 1402 in Chaves. He was the son of Dom Afonso, 1st Duke of Bragança, and of Dona Beatriz Pereira; on his father?s side, he was grandson of king Dom João, and on his mother?s side, of Constable Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira. His tutor was Master Fernão d?Álvares, a great Latinist whose alma mater was Salamanca.
In 1442, following in the steps of king Dom João I, Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira created independent Houses for each one of his grandchildren, disposing of his titles and patrimony. As a donation, Dom Afonso received the patrimonial nucleus of Estremadura along with the title of 4th Duke of Ourém. Dom Afonso, Earl of Barcelos, became the only one amongst the children of Dom João I to have titled adult descendants. Enriched by their grandfather?s inheritance, they immediately achieved higher positions in the royal court, thus outranking older members of the royal household. With three titled individuals, the lineage was able to manage both its enormous action mobility and an immeasurable network of interests.
Ever since the beginning, Dom Afonso started participating in diplomatic missions. In 1429-30, he was part of the retinue led by Infante Dom Fernando which accompanied Infanta Dona Isabel, daughter of Dom João I, in her journey to the Netherlands to marry Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. The Earl of Ourém and Dom Fernando were the bride?s witnesses.
It is said that in 1431 he was in Aragon, possibly preparing the peace agreement between Portugal, Navarre and Aragon, which was signed at Torres Novas on 11 August 1432. In that same year, Dom Duarte asked his siblings and nephews for advice on the kingdom?s external politics. They were asked if they were in favour of a Portuguese participation in the conquest of Granada, and how would they tackle a new Portuguese expedition to Northern Africa. In his advice, dated from 4 June 1432, the Earlof Ourém stands for a Portuguese participation in Granada, thus defending the war against the Moors, but in an easier battleground. Dom Duarte should send an imposing delegation to Castile, with the most important people of the kingdom (including his father, brother and Dom Antão, Porto?s bishop), in order to start the preparations for battle. To convince Castile to accept his help, he should reinforce the fact that the only goal of this enterprise was the service to God and that all the fortresses to be conquered should not be accepted. Moreover, if there was to be a Portuguese intervention, the heir to the throne should be the one to lead it into battle. The kingdom?s administration would certainly be well managed by Infante Dom Pedro and Infante Dom Henrique.
In 1436, Dom Afonso returned to the diplomatic missions, leading the Portuguese delegation to the Council of Basel, and later on, to the Council of Ferrara, both set by Pope Eugene IV. This mission?s main goals were: to obtain a crusade edict for the African fortified strongholds; to gain the privilege of self-anointment for Portuguese kings; and to ask for the excuse of the knights of the military orders of Christ and Aviz so they could get married. As the mission ended, the Earl of Ourém seized the opportunity to travel through Italy, and then continued on to the Holy Land, as a pilgrim. The same had been done by his father a few years before. He returned to the kingdom after the death of Dom Duarte.
The regency of Dom Pedro was a disturbing period in the life of the Earl of Ourém. In the beginning, he supported Dom Pedro?s cause, and even confronted his father, besides working as a mediator between both sides. However, in 1442, when Dom Pedro refused to appoint him Constable of Portugal only to give the position to his son, Dom Pedro, Dom Afonso left the royal court, stating that he would only return when Dom Pedro was no longer regent. (The position of Constable of Portugal had been vacant since the death of Infante Dom João, and later, of his son Dom Diogo). Dom Afonso is traditionally considered by the Portuguese historiography as one of the principal instigators of the Battle of Alfarrobeira, which culminated with the death of Infante Dom Pedro.
The Earl of Ourém returned to Italy in 1451-52, as the leader of the entourage which escorted Infanta Dona Leonor, sister of Dom Afonso V, to Rome. She was to marry Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor. In order to make this trip, and as compensation, Dom Afonso demanded a new town and a new title from the king. The latter granted him the town of Valença and the title of Marquis, which was a lifelong award that was not to be inherited by his descendants.
In 1458, for the first and only time, Dom Afonso took part in the Portuguese expansion of Northern Africa (despite having been in Ceuta with Infanta Dona Leonor in October, 1451). He accompanied the king in the conquest of Alcácer Ceguer, and was in charge of Porto?s fleet organization.
It was in this journey to Morocco that Dom Afonso caught the fever from which he suffered until his death. He died in Tomar, where the royal court was located, on 29 August 1460. It was a year before his father, the old Duke of Bragança.
The Marquis of Valença was never married. In his História Genealógica da Casa Real Portuguesa, Dom António Caetano de Sousa alludes to a possible marriage agreement with Dona Filipa, daughter of Dona Isabel and Infante Dom João. It is said that Dona Filipa never married due to the death of Dom Afonso. Nonetheless, it would have been a late marriage. Dom Afonso was nearly 60 years old and there was a great age difference between bride and groom. However, the Marquis of Valença had an illegitimate son, Dom Afonso de Portugal, who would later become the bishop of Évora. Dom Afonso de Portugal tried to claim his father?s inheritance, alleging a secret marriage had happened between his parents, Dom Afonso and Dona Beatriz de Sousa.
The duchy of Bragança was inherited by Dom Afonso?s brother, Dom Fernando, Marquis of Vila Viçosa.
The Marquis of Valença is buried in Ourém in a mausoleum attached to the mother- church.
Actas do Congresso Histórico: D. Afonso, 4º Conde de Ourém, e a Sua Época, Ourém, Câmara Municipal, 2004. BARRADAS, Alexandra Leal, Ourém e Porto de Mós: a Obra Mecenática de D. Afonso, 4º Conde de Ourém, Lisboa, Colibri, 2007. Diário da Jornada do Conde de Ourém ao Concílio de Basileia, apresentação de Aida Fernandes, com um prefácio de David Catarino, Ourém, Câmara Municipal de Ourém, 2003. SOUSA, João Silva de, D. Afonso: 4º Conde de Ourém, Ourém, Câmara Municipal, 2005.
Author: Maria Dávila
Translated by: Marília Pavão