Saturday, June 27, 2009

The 1st Portuguese

This is another no-budget big production, brought to you by Bloguistan to honor the 1st King of Portugal - King Alphonse I - the man who dreamed to start his own country and actually achieved that, within his lifetime, with flying colors. This is his epic, true story.

Born in the early years of the 12th century, his father was a French nobleman and his mother the youngest daughter of the King of Castile (Spain). His parents were the administrators of the Portucale County, edged between the Atlantic and the Kingdom of Leon, it was basically the current North of Portugal down to the town of Coimbra.
To the South layed the Moors.

Much of what happened back in the day is hazy as the chronicles are scarce and mixed with legend.
There is still much debate about King Alphonse’s birth place, his early years and his physical constitution - some sources say he was born frail and sickly, others that he was a “giant”, others that he was in fact puny but was either replaced in childhood by another boy or simply was a late bloomer and also thanks to a divine intervention got stronger as he grew up – well it’s a matter for debate even today, because his tomb was never opened. Almost happened once, but some bureaucratic/political/stupid decision prevented the studying of the remains, at the last minute…

Legendary is also the fierce independence feeling that was apparently passed through the generations in the area. It had been the centre of a short-lived Germanic (some people say Slavic) kingdom, ruled by the Suevi (probably from Swabia other people say from the word Slavic).

What is certain is that Count Henri, his father, was already involved in the separation of his county from the northern county of Galicia. Young Alphonse continued his work but took it to the next level.

Galicia, once in the periphery, was now concentrating the political and religious centres. Things got to the point where the Galicians came to Braga, the once capital of the Suevi Kingdom and highest priory, and they translated the holy relics of the saints buried in Braga to Santiago…
The Portucalensis barons and clergy decided they had enough of it and would not become second-best.

Young Alphonse couldn’t read nor write but he was from start a shrewd man. He had it all, basically. He was so full of courage and confidence and defiance that he armed himself a knight at age 14. Then he entitled himself Prince. From there it was a straight arrow to leading armies against his Christian “oppressors” and the Moors alike.

He succeeded in liberating many important towns like Lisbon, and doubled the size of the county he received from his father, in little more than 20m years, making it a Kingdom – and thus, Portugal was born. Without King Alphonse, there wouldn’t have been the age of discoveries (at least when and as it happened); there wouldn’t be a Brazil, so the world and football would be very different than it is… :D

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