Blood of the Braganças
João I of Portugal had five sons and a daughter that lived to adulthood by his marriage to Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of the first marriage of John of Gaunt and thus a full sister of Henry IV of England. The sons are known in Portugal as Ínclita Geração, ‘the illustrious generation’, so brightly did their gifts shine. Of them two, the famous Henry the Navigator and the tragic Saint-Infante Fernando, had no issue, but descent survives from the other three and the daughter. The 1492 note on posterities part II covers descent from the great Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, the second son, but so far as royalty of today is concerned the descent is very limited, in fact to the two children of Prince Eudes of Orléans.
Descent from the first son, Duarte I of Portugal, and the fourth (slotting in between Henry the Navigator and the Saint-Infante Fernando), João, Constable of Portugal, is however universal in today’s royalty, as is descent from the daughter, Isabella, Duchess of Burgundy. In this thread’s note on posterities I already demonstrated the descent of the Emperor Ferdinand I, an acknowledged universal ancestor, from João I through Duarte I. I will now do the same for João, Constable of Portugal and Isabella, Duchess of Burgundy. However, that makes three descents from João I, and my assertion in the note was four. This is the fourth, and it comes through the Constable’s wife, his half-niece Isabella of Bragança.
Long before there were ever thoughts of his becoming King of Portugal & the Algarve* and marrying the King of England’s sister, João, illegitimate son of Pedro I by a Galician noble lady called Teresa Lourenco and half-brother of the King, Fernando I, had been Grand Master of the Order of Aviz, from which his House took its name. The Order, dating from the 12th century, was a monastic military order on the lines of the Templars and Hospitallers, so naturally its Grand Master was required to take a vow of chastity. Which the future João I ignored, like so many royal and noble youths in the same situation, fathering three children on his mistress Inês Peres, a lady of uncertain origin, though see at the bottom here.
There is posterity from only the first of these, Afonso, later 1st Duke of Bragança, but apart from the Most Serene House of Bragança itself, which became one of the great noble houses of all Iberia and eventually the Royal House of Portugal, it includes all ten current sovereigns, as Afonso was the father of Isabella of Braganca above. His wife, Isabella Pereira de Alvim, was a noble Portuguese lady, only child of the great general Nuno Álvares Pereira, the man who more than any other was responsible for preserving Portugal’s independence from Castile and establishing the reign of the House of Aviz. In later life he became a Carmelite friar and a noted mystic, and is now a Saint of the Catholic Church. His tomb is lost, destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, but the epitaph on it has been preserved. In translation it read:
Here lies that famous Nuno, the Constable, founder of the House of Bragança, excellent general, blessed monk, who during his life on earth so ardently desired the Kingdom of Heaven that after his death, he merited the eternal company of the Saints. His worldly honours were countless, but he turned his back on them. He was a great Prince, but he made himself a humble monk. He founded, built and endowed this church in which his body rests.
His sanctity was perhaps appropriate considering his bloodline. Or inappropriate, depending on how you look at it. He was the illegitimate son of the Prior of Crato, Alvaro Gonçalves Pereira, himself the illegitimate son of Gonçalo Pereira, Archbishop of Braga, whose own father, a Portuguese Count, was a Knight Hospitaller, though I don’t know whether his son the Archbishop was illegitimate or was born before his father took vows. Alvaro Gonçalves Pereira, Prior of Crato, was also a Hospitaller, commander of the Order in Portugal and, like his son, a famous warrior and general.
With all these illegitimacies I had better specify that Isabella of Bragança, wife of the Constable João, was for a change a daughter of Afonso, the first Duke, by his wife Beatrice, daughter and heiress of the sainted Nuno Álvares Pereira, and thus these saintly, clerical and military descents are shared by all sovereigns of today. The purpose of this post is to show some of the other unique descents that come through the Bragança bloodline to today’s sovereigns, though only some of them as the 1st Duke was also the last universal ancestor in the House.
Beatrice and Afonso had two other children besides Isabella, of whom Afonso, the eldest, predeceased his father and left no legitimate children. The 2nd Duke was therefore his younger brother Fernando I. A general who played a part in the Portuguese conquests in North Africa and was Governor of Ceuta, Fernando married a Portuguese noblewoman, Juana de Castro, and had several children from whom descent survives, but I will be concentrating here on the eldest of them, Fernando II, and his further descent. Much involved in Afonso V’s wars in North Africa and Castile, he was a favourite of that King but not of his son João II, who had him summarily executed soon after ascending to the throne.
It is however not his end but his continuation that I am concerned with. His wife Isabella was a sister of the later King Manoel I and a daughter of Infante Fernando, Duke of Viseu, a younger son of Duarte I, by Leonor, daughter of João the Constable, thus making Isabella herself a great-granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Bragança whose grandson and heir she married. Their son Jaime, the 4th Duke, was restored to his father’s lands and titles and had two children by his wife Leonor Pérez de Guzmán, daughter of the Castilian 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, before he had her murdered on suspicion of adultery.
With the exception of the Prince of Monaco, all Catholic monarchs today are descended from Jaime I and Leonor (the founder of whose line appears to have been a Moorish convert from Morocco), as shown here by a link illustrating the descent from them of Carlos IV of Spain, shown in the 1330 note on posterities part II to be an ancestor of the other four Catholic monarchs. However that is not through Jaime and Leonor’s son Teodósio I but their daughter Isabel, wife of Duarte, Duke of Guimarães, a younger son of Manoel I.
Jaime I had been a true Renaissance prince, building the sumptuous ducal palace of Vila Viçosa. And Teodósio I followed in his footsteps, being the foremost patron of the arts in the at the time very wealthy Kingdom of Portugal. He refrained however from murdering his wife, Isabella de Castro de Portugal. She was also his first cousin, daughter of Diniz, Count of Lemos, younger son of Duke Fernando II. Isabella’s mother Beatriz de Castro Osório came of illustrious Castilian noble and royal blood, the latter illegitimate of course.
Their son Jaime died at the Battle of Alcacer Quibir, fighting against the Moors of Morocco alongside his King, Sebastião, who also fell. Jaime’s nephew the future Teodósio II, the King’s page, was also present at the battle, aged just ten. He was the son of Duke João I by Infanta Catarina, daughter of Duarte, Duke of Guimarães by Isabel of Braganza above and thus again her husband’s first cousin, they both being grandchildren of Duke Jaime I. It was Catarina’s other grandfather Manoel I who was more important in the context, however, as on the death in 1580 of the Cardinal King Henrique and the extinction of the male line of the House of Aviz she became a claimant to the throne.
Her elder sister Maria, wife of Alessandro Farnese, the famous Duke of Parma who governed the Spanish Netherlands, had died three years earlier but left a son and daughter. The son, Ranuccio, who can be seen in the fourth generation of the link above between Duke Jaime I and Carlos IV, was the actual senior heir of line, but had three strikes against him; he was Italian, just eleven years old and his father was a loyal servant of Felipe II of Spain, who fancied he had a claim to Portugal. A mature woman, Portuguese of the Royal House and wife of the greatest noble in Portugal, himself a man of high royal lineage, Catarina believed she was the more credible claimant. Her competitors were António, Prior of Crato, an illegitimate son of Luis, Duke of Beja, second son of Manoel I, and Felipe II as aforesaid, whose mother Isabella was a daughter of Manoel I.
António attracted more support than Catarina, but Felipe II, whose claim was weak to the point of non-existence but whose armies were strong, came out the winner. Catarina and her husband accepted this and became faithful and well-rewarded supporters of the first of Portugal’s three Habsburg Kings. Their son Teodósio II, who at ten years old had not merely been present at the Battle of Alcacer Quibir but fought and was wounded in it†, was also a firm supporter of Filipe I, as Felipe II was in Portugal, and later of his son Filipe II/Felipe III and grandson Filipe III/Felipe IV.
The same cannot be said of his son Duke João II, as he is better known to history as João IV of Portugal, raised to the throne in 1640 and displacing Filipe III. Protracted warfare followed, but in 1668, during the reign of João IV’s son Afonso VI, the Treaty of Lisbon embodied Spanish recognition of Portuguese sovereignty and the legitimate reign of the House of Bragança.
João IV’s mother Ana de Velasco y Girón was of the highest Spanish nobility, her ancestry crowded with major figures in the recent history of Castile and Spain. Her grandmothers were sisters, daughters of the 6th Duke of Medina Sidonia by Ana, illegitimate daughter of Alonso, Archbishop of Zaragoza, himself an illegitimate son of Ferrando II of Aragón. Her male-line forefather Pedro Fernández de Velasco, 2nd Count of Haro, was made hereditary Constable of Castile by King Enrique IV and played an important part in the final stages of the Reconquista.
Ana’s maternal grandfather Pedro Téllez-Girón, created Duke of Osuna by Felipe II, was a Governor of Naples and ambassador to Portugal and the Holy See. His family line had been founded by Pedro Girón Acuña Pacheco, of Portuguese noble origin, who with his elder brother Juan Pacheco and uncle Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña, Archbishop of Toledo, had effectively ruled Castile under the weak Enrique IV, until displaced by a new favourite, Beltrán de la Cueva, of whom more anon.
As Master of the Order of Calatrava Pedro was vowed to chastity, which did not prevent him having children including Juan Téllez-Girón, 2nd Count of Ureña, father among others of another Juan, 4th Count. His wife Maria de la Cueva y Toledo was a daughter of Francisco Fernándo de la Cueva, 2nd Duke of Albuquerque and a son of the 1st Duke, that very Beltrán de la Cueva mentioned earlier, who not only displaced the Pacheco family as effective ruler of Castile but is believed to have fathered Enrique IV’s sole child Juana, mockingly known as ‘la Beltraneja’ in consequence.
He probably was the father, but it must be remembered that the histories of Enrique IV’s reign were written during the reign of his half-sister Isabella I, victor in the succession war against Juana. It is not certain that Enrique’s sobriquet ’the Impotent’ was accurate, and Isabella I may in fact have been a usurper. As Juana had no children it is though all moot, and on her death in 1530 Isabella I’s daughter Juana I would have been legitimate heiress in any case, albeit as Juana II.
Returning to the other Juana’s possible father, his wife was Mencía Hurtado de Mendoza y Luna, daughter of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, 1st Duke of the Infantado and in paternal line the son, grandson and great-grandson of notable poets, important figures in the development of Castilian literature. Their descendant the 2nd Duke of Albuquerque, great-great-grandfather of the mother of João IV of Portugal, was married to Francisca Álvarez de Toledo, daughter of García Álvarez de Toledo y Carrillo, 1st Duke of Alba, the founder of a famous line.
So this was the heritage of blood of the first Bragança King. Future Kings of the line had an even richer heritage through his Queen, the remarkable and courageous Luisa de Guzmán y Sandoval, daughter of the 8th Duke of Medina Sidonia (whose father was the commander of the Armada) and her husband’s third cousin, which by Bragança standards was a remote relationship. She was not without Bragança blood herself, being descended from Alvaro and Afonso, younger sons of the 2nd Duke.
There are some other interesting descents shown in the second link, for example from Francisco de Sandoval Rojas y de Borja, 1st Duke of Lerma, effective ruler of Spain for much of Felipe III’s reign, a Cardinal in later life and a grandson of St Francis Borgia (a Catholic saint who genuinely does appear to have been of saintly character, which is not always the case), himself a great-grandson of both Pope Alexander VI and Ferrando II of Aragón, through Archbishop Alonso again.
Francisco de Sandoval’s wife Catalina de la Cerda had other royal descents besides that from Afonso of Bragança, including from an illegitimate son of Enrique II of Castile and, more interestingly, an illegitimate daughter of Fernando I of Portugal. The descent shown here to the third Bragança King, Pedro II (the second, his elder brother Afonso VI, was childless) is the only conduit from Fernando I to the royalty of today, and also the only conduit for the legitimate issue of Fernando I’s father Pedro I, the other children of his marriage to Costanza Manuel of Castile having died young.
Of course, Pedro claimed to have married his mistress Inês de Castro, legitimating their children. You would have thought the eldest son João, also an ancestor of Luisa de Guzmán, might have claimed the throne after his half-brother Fernando I’s death, and he did, but was beaten out by his other half-brother, his namesake João I. Descent from the tragic Inês de Castro is universal in the royalty of today, but the interesting point here is that Luisa de Guzmán, and thus her sons and all future Portuguese monarchs, descended from all three unions of Pedro I known to have produced issue, and was as mentioned above the unique conduit for descent to royalty today from his one undoubted marriage, and indeed from the last King of the original Burgundian line, Fernando I.
I will cover two further interesting descents Doña Luisa had, then conclude by tracing from her to sovereigns of today. The first goes through Francisco de Sandoval rather than his wife, and is from Alvaro de Luna, who for long was the most powerful man in Castile under Juan II. He arranged the King’s second marriage, to Isabella of Portugal, mother of Isabella I. Although it was de Luna who brought her to Castile in the first place the elder Isabella took against him and successfully plotted his downfall and execution. Knowing that de Luna had been his true and faithful servant, guilt and grief hastened Juan II to his grave, while his widow went mad with her own guilt. Poignantly, the blood of all three was mingled in all Portuguese monarchs after João I.
The other descent is from Gaston III, Count of Foix, famed for his remarkable personal beauty, from which his sobriquet Gaston Phoebus derived, for the splendour and extravagance of his court and as the author of the Livre de Chasse, the foremost medieval book on hunting, his great passion. Gaston killed his only legitimate son in a quarrel, so was succeeded by the son of a cousin. Descent from Gaston Phoebus, one of the great figures of his day, was confined to that through his illegitimate son Bernardo, which eventually reached the royal house of Portugal and thus other royal lines, once again through Catalina de la Cerda and Luisa de Guzmán.
But what other royal lines? Numerous claimant Houses have the descent, but I will give here only that to the three current sovereigns possessing it, Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, Henri of Luxembourg (six times, while the others are twice each) and Philippe of Belgium. All three monarchs share in the rich heritage of the Blood of the Braganças, but with equal marriage virtually a thing of the past it seems unlikely that the descents will enter other current royal lines. Restoration in Romania and Serbia, both possible, would though increase the number of sovereign descendants to five, while considerably less likely prospects such as Portugal itself, Brazil, France (Orléans claimant), Austria and Italy (either claimant) would also do the trick. Maybe someday.
* The singular form is correct, the style did not become ‘Portugal & the Algarves’ until the reign of Duarte I’s son Afonso V.
† If you wonder how this was allowed, it wasn’t. The King, Sebastião, ordered servants to take the boy to safety as the battle began, but young Teodósio escaped them and charged at the enemy. He was taken prisoner and his distraught father offered a huge ransom, which the Sultan chivalrously declined, letting the boy go free without payment as he was touched by the story of his courage when at such a young age.