Portugal Table of Contents

King Afonso HenriquesAfonso Henriques was a robust, visionary young man of about twenty years of age when he acquired control of the province of Portugal. He was anxious to free himself from León and establish his own kingdom. Consequently, he invaded Galicia and defeated Fernando Peres and the Galician barons at the Battle of Cerneja. This action brought a response from Alfonso VII, who had in the meantime proclaimed himself emperor. He ordered the Galician barons to make war on Afonso Henriques, who, threatened by Muslims from the south recently reinvigorated by the Almohads from Morocco, made peace with Alfonso VII in 1137 at Tuy.

Afonso Henriques Becomes King

After the peace of Tuy, Afonso Henriques temporarily turned his attention to the Muslim threat in the south. In 1139 he struck deep into the heart of Al Andalus and defeated a Muslim army at Ourique, a place in the Alentejo. After this battle, Afonso Henriques began to be referred to in documents as king. In 1140 he renewed his claim on southern Galicia, which he invaded. This again sparked a reaction by Alfonso VII who, in return, marched on Portugal. The two armies met at Arcos de Valdevez and engaged in a joust won by the Portuguese knights. Afonso Henriques's self-proclamation as king was finally recognized in 1143 at the Conference of Samora when Alfonso VII recognized him as such, although, because he was an emperor, Alfonso VII still considered Afonso Henriques his vassal.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress