All hail the king!

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Meet Portugal’s first king: Afonso Henriques.

I’ve mentioned him before on the blog but I had never really gotten into a lot of detail about him – and today will not be that day, either! Why? Because there’s so much I could tell you about him, a mix of fact and legend, that it would take several posts to do it.

You can easily look up information about him but, in a nutshell, we’re talking about a man who defied/ignored a lot of feudal rules (we’re talking 12th century Europe, here!) before and after becoming king. Just for starters he proclaimed himself king – at a time when Christian kingdoms needed the Pope’s approval for everything!

There’s not much certainty about the time and place of his birth and, actually, one of my favourite legends surrounding him concerns his birth, although it is not one of the most well-known stories about Afonso Henriques.

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Statue of Afonso Henriques in front of the castle, in Guimarães.

Legend has it that when the countess (Afonso’s mother) was pregnant a noble man, by the name of Egas Moniz, offered to raise the child. The baby was born with a problem in his legs, which meant he would probably never be able to ride a horse – troublesome if you happened to be a count’s son! So Egas Moniz prayed to the Virgin Mary and left the child for a whole night on an altar. When the morning came, lo and behold, the baby’s legs were normal! Some people choose the believe there was a miracle involved, while others prefer to think that Egas Moniz swaped the count’s baby for another – possibly his own son.

What’s your favourite explanation for this legend? 😉



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