1383–1385 Crisis

1383–1385 Crisis

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The 1383–1385 Crisis was a period of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 in Portuguese history
History of Portugal
The history of Portugal, a European and an Atlantic nation, dates back to the Early Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia and...

 that began with the death of King Ferdinand I of Portugal
Ferdinand I of Portugal
Ferdinand I , sometimes referred to as the Handsome or rarely as the Inconstant , was the ninth King of Portugal and the Algarve, the second son of Peter I and his wife, Constance of Castile...

, who left no male heirs, and ended with the accession to the throne of King John I
John I of Portugal
John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

 in 1385, in the wake of the Battle of Aljubarrota
Battle of Aljubarrota
The Battle of Aljubarrota was a battle fought between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile on 14 August 1385. Forces commanded by King John I of Portugal and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira, with the support of English allies, opposed the army of King John I of Castile with its...

.

In Portugal, this period is also known as the "Portuguese Interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

", since it is a period when no crowned king
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 reigned. The period is interpreted in Portuguese popular history as a Portuguese national "resistance movement" countering Castilian intervention, as the "great revealer of national consciousness", as Robert Durand expressed it. The role of the burgesses and nobles that established the Aviz dynasty securely on an independent throne can be contrasted with the centrifugal pull of aristocratic factions against a centralised monarchy in the English War of the Roses and with national and political aspects of the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 being waged in France.

Prelude


In 1383, King Ferdinand I of Portugal
Ferdinand I of Portugal
Ferdinand I , sometimes referred to as the Handsome or rarely as the Inconstant , was the ninth King of Portugal and the Algarve, the second son of Peter I and his wife, Constance of Castile...

 was dying. From his marriage with Leonor Telles de Menezes
Leonor Telles de Menezes
Leonor Telles de Menezes was a queen consort of Portugal and regent during the years 1383–1385. She was the wife of a Portuguese nobleman from whom she was forcibly divorced by King Ferdinand I, who afterward married her...

 only a girl, princess Beatrice of Portugal
Beatrice of Portugal
Beatrice was the only surviving child of King Ferdinand I of Portugal and his wife, Leonor Telles de Menezes. She married King John I of Castile. In the absence of a male heir, she claimed the throne of Portugal, supported by her husband. This led to the 1383–1385 Crisis, in which the Portuguese...

, survived. Her marriage was the major political issue of the day, since it would determine the future of the kingdom.

Several political factions lobbied for possible husbands, which included English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 princes. Finally, the king settled for his wife's first choice, King John I of Castile
John I of Castile
John I was the king of Crown of Castile, was the son of Henry II and of his wife Juana Manuel of Castile, daughter of Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, head of a younger branch of the royal house of Castile...

. Ferdinand had waged three wars against Castile during his reign, and the marriage, celebrated in May 1383, was intended to put an end to hostilities by a union of the two crowns; however, this was not a widely accepted solution. This dynastic union meant that Portugal would lose independence to Castile; many nobles were fiercely opposed to this possibility, but they were not united under a common pretender to the crown. The two candidates, both illegitimate half-brothers of Ferdinand, were:
  • John
    Infante João, Duke of Valencia de Campos
    Infante Dom John of Portugal was the son of Portuguese King Peter I and a Castilian noblewoman named Inês de Castro that had arrived in Portugal as a maid of Infanta Constance of Castile, recently married to Pedro I .-Background:Considering John an Infante of Portugal is a debatable subject...

    , son of Peter I of Portugal
    Peter I of Portugal
    Peter I , called the Just , was the eighth King of Portugal and the Algarve from 1357 until his death. He was the third but only surviving son of Afonso IV of Portugal and his wife, princess Beatrice of Castile....

     and Inês de Castro
    Inês de Castro
    Inês Peres de Castro was a Galician noblewoman born of a Portuguese mother...

    , at the time living in Castile
  • John, Great Master of Aviz
    John I of Portugal
    John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

    , another natural son of Peter I, very popular among the Portuguese middle class and traditional aristocracy


On October 22, King Ferdinand died. According to the marriage contract, dowager queen Leonor assumed regency in the name of her daughter Beatrice and son-in-law, John I of Castile. Since diplomatic opposition was no longer possible, the party for independence took more drastic measures, starting the 1383–1385 crisis.

1383


The regent's privy council made the error of excluding any representation of the merchants of Lisbon. The first move was taken by the faction of John (João) of Aviz in December 1383. João Fernandes Andeiro, Count of Ourém, called Conde Andeiro, the detested lover of the dowager queen, was murdered by a group of conspirators led by João of Aviz. Following this act, John, acclaimed "rector and defender of the realm" by the great Lisbon merchants, was now the leader of the opposition to the pretensions of John I of Castile, who tried to be recognized as monarch iure uxoris, against the treaty of Salvaterra
Treaty of Salvaterra
The Treaty of Salvaterra de Magos was an agreement signed in 1383 between Portugal and Castile in order to end a period known in Portugal as the Fernandine Wars ....

.

1384


The armed resistance met the Castilian army on April 6, 1384, in the battle of Atoleiros
Battle of Atoleiros
The Battle of Atoleiros took place on 6 April 1384, between a Portuguese force and a punitive expedition from Castile sent by John I. The battle took place near the population centre of the same name in Alentejo...

. General Nuno Álvares Pereira won the battle for the Aviz party, but victory was not decisive. John I of Castile then retreated to Lisbon in May and besieged the capital, with an auxiliary fleet blocking the city's port in the river Tagus
Tagus
The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It is long, in Spain, along the border between Portugal and Spain and in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It drains an area of . The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course...

, in a severe drawback to the independence cause. Without the capital and its riches and commerce, little could be done to free the country from the Castilian king. On his side, John I of Castile needed Lisbon, not only for financial reasons, but also for political ones—neither he nor Beatrice had been crowned as monarchs of Portugal, and without a coronation in the capital he was only a designated king.

Meanwhile, John of Aviz had surrendered the military command of the resistance to Nuno Álvares Pereira. The general continued to attack cities loyal to the Castilians and to harass the invading army. John of Aviz was now focused on diplomatic offensives. International politics played an important role in deciding Portuguese affairs. In 1384, the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 was at its peak, with English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 forces in a struggle for the crown of France. The conflict spilled beyond the French borders, and influenced, for instance, the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 in a papacy only recently moved to Avignon from Rome. Castile was a traditional ally of France, so, looking for assistance in England was the natural option for John of Aviz. In May, with Lisbon under siege, an embassy was sent to Richard II of England
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

 to make a case for Portuguese independence. In 1384, Richard was seventeen years old, but the power lay with his uncle John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, and regent of England. Despite initial reluctance to concede men, John of Gaunt finally agreed to levy troops to reinforce the Portuguese army.

Lisbon was struggling with famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and feared defeat by the Castilian siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

. Blocked by land and by the river, the city had no hope of relief by the Aviz army, which was too small to risk an intervention and was occupied subduing other cities. An attempt was made by a Portuguese fleet to relieve the Castilian blockade. On July 18 a group of ships led by captain Rui Pereira managed to break the blockade and deliver precious supplies of food to Lisbon. The cost was high, since three of four boats were seized and Rui Pereira himself died in the naval combat. Despite this minor success, the siege held on; the city of Almada
Almada
Almada is a municipality in Portugal, covering an area of 70.2 km² located on the southern margin of the Tagus River. Its municipal population in 2008 was 164,844 inhabitants; the urbanized center had a population of 102,357.The seat is the city of Almada....

 on the south bank of the Tagus surrendered to Castile. But the siege was hard not only on the inhabitants of Lisbon: the army of Castile was also dealing with a shortage of food supplies, due to the harassment of Nuno Álvares Pereira, and the bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

. It was the outbreak of an epidemic in his ranks that forced John I of Castile to raise the siege on September 3 and retreat to Castile. Weeks later, the Castilian fleet also abandoned the Tagus, and Lisbon avoided conflict.

1385


In late 1384 and the early months of 1385, Nuno Álvares Pereira and John of Aviz pursued the war, but they did not arrive to subdue the majority of those Portuguese cities then in favour of the Castilian cause. Answering the call for help, English troops landed in Portugal on Easter Day. They were not a big contingent, around 600 men, but they were mainly veterans of the Hundred Years' War battles and thereby well schooled in successful English military tactics. Among them were a small number of longbowmen
English longbow
The English longbow, also called the Welsh longbow, is a powerful type of medieval longbow about 6 ft long used by the English and Welsh for hunting and as a weapon in medieval warfare...

 who had already demonstrated their value against cavalry charges, as at Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

.

At the same time, John of Aviz organized a meeting in Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

 of the Cortes
Portuguese Cortes
In the Medieval Kingdom of Portugal, the Cortes was an assembly of representatives of the estates of the realm - the nobility, clergy and bourgeoisie. It was called and dismissed by the King of Portugal at will, at a place of his choosing...

, the assembly of the kingdom. There, on April 6, he was proclaimed the tenth king of Portugal, a clear act of defiance against the Castilian pretensions. John I of Portugal nominated Nuno Álvares Pereira Constable of Portugal
Constable of Portugal
Constable of Portugal or Constable of the Kingdom was a title created by the King of Portugal Ferdinand I in 1382, to substitute the title Alferes Mór do Reino. The constable was the second most powerful person in the kingdom, after the King of Portugal...

 and went to subdue the resistance still surviving in the north.

John I of Castille was not pleased. His first move was to send a punitive expedition
Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge...

, but the forces were heavily defeated in the battle of Trancoso
Battle of Trancoso
The Battle of Trancoso was fought in 29 May of 1385 between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile.Following the coronation of João of Aviz, John I of Castile sent an army into the Portuguese region of Beira in retaliation for Portuguese defiance, where they committed all the kinds of...

 in May. From January, he began preparing his army to solve the problem definitively. The king himself led an enormous Castilian army that invaded Portugal in the second week of June through the central north, from Celorico da Beira
Celorico da Beira
Celorico da Beira is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 247.2 km² and a total population of 8,752 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 22 parishes, and is located in Guarda District.Main town: Celorico da Beira, near the Mondego River....

 to Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

 and Leiria
Leiria
Leiria is a city in Leiria Municipality in the Centro Region, Portugal. It is the capital of Leiria District. The city proper has 50,200 inhabitants and the entire municipality has nearly 120,000...

. An allied contingent of French heavy cavalry travelled with them. The power of numbers was on their side—about 32,000 men on the Castilian side versus 6,500 on the Portuguese. They immediately headed to the region of Lisbon and Santarém, the country's major cities.

Meanwhile, the armies of John I of Portugal and Nuno Álvares Pereira joined together in the city of Tomar
Tomar
Tomar Municipality has a total area of 351.0 km² and a total population of 43,007 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 16 parishes, and is located in Santarém District...

. After some debate, a decision was made: the Castilians could not be allowed to besiege Lisbon once again, since the city would undoubtedly fall, so the Portuguese would intercept the enemy in the vicinity of Leiria
Leiria
Leiria is a city in Leiria Municipality in the Centro Region, Portugal. It is the capital of Leiria District. The city proper has 50,200 inhabitants and the entire municipality has nearly 120,000...

, near the village of Aljubarrota. On August 14, the Castilian army, very slow due to its huge numbers, finally met the Portuguese and English troops. The ensuing fight, the battle of Aljubarrota
Battle of Aljubarrota
The Battle of Aljubarrota was a battle fought between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile on 14 August 1385. Forces commanded by King John I of Portugal and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira, with the support of English allies, opposed the army of King John I of Castile with its...

, was fought in the style of the battles of Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

 and Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

. These tactics allowed a reduced infantry army to defeat cavalrymen with the use of longbowmen in the flanks and defensive structures (like caltrop
Caltrop
A caltrop is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base...

s) in the front. The Castilian army was not only defeated, but decimated. Their losses were so great that John I of Castille was prevented from attempting another invasion in the following years.

Legacy


With this victory, John I was recognized as the undisputed king of Portugal, putting an end to the interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

and anarchy of the 1383–1385 crisis. Recognition from Castile would not arrive until 1411, after another Portuguese victory at the battle of Valverde
Battle of Valverde (1385)
The Battle of Valverde was fought in 14 October 1385, near Valverde de Mérida, Castile, between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile, and was part of the Portuguese Crisis of 1383–1385.-Prelude:...

, with the signing of the Treaty of Ayllón
Treaty of Ayllón
The Treaty of Ayllón was a peace treaty signed between the Kingdom of Portugal and Crown of Castile in 1411....

. The English–Portuguese alliance would be renewed in 1386 with the Treaty of Windsor
Treaty of Windsor 1386
The Treaty of Windsor is the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world which is still in force. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was renewed in 1386 with the Treaty of Windsor and the marriage of King John I of Portugal with Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster...

 and the marriage of John I to Philippa of Lancaster
Philippa of Lancaster
Philippa of Lancaster, LG was a Queen consort of Portugal. Born into the royal family of England, her marriage with King John I secured the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance and produced several famous children who became known as the "Illustrious Generation" in Portugal...

, daughter of John of Gaunt.

The treaty, still valid today, established a pact of mutual support between the countries.

Indeed, Portugal would use it again against its neighbours in 1640, to expel the Spanish Habsburg kings from the country, and again during the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance
Anglo-Portuguese Alliance
The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, between England and Portugal is claimed to be the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force — with the earliest treaty dating back to the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373.This alliance, which goes back to the...

 would also be used by Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 (in succession
Succession of states
Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding the recognition and acceptance of a newly created sovereign state by other states, based on a perceived historical relationship the new state has with a prior state...

 from England) in the Second World War (allowing the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 to establish bases on the Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

) and during the 1982 Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

.

Timeline


1383
  • April – Infanta Beatrice of Portugal
    Beatrice of Portugal
    Beatrice was the only surviving child of King Ferdinand I of Portugal and his wife, Leonor Telles de Menezes. She married King John I of Castile. In the absence of a male heir, she claimed the throne of Portugal, supported by her husband. This led to the 1383–1385 Crisis, in which the Portuguese...

     (only child of King Ferdinand I of Portugal
    Ferdinand I of Portugal
    Ferdinand I , sometimes referred to as the Handsome or rarely as the Inconstant , was the ninth King of Portugal and the Algarve, the second son of Peter I and his wife, Constance of Castile...

    ) marries King John I of Castile
    John I of Castile
    John I was the king of Crown of Castile, was the son of Henry II and of his wife Juana Manuel of Castile, daughter of Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, head of a younger branch of the royal house of Castile...

     according to the Treaty of Salvaterra de Magos
    Salvaterra de Magos
    Salvaterra de Magos is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 244,74 km² and a total population of 22,053 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 6 parishes, and is located in the district of Santarém....

  • October 22 – King Ferdinand dies: dowager queen Leonor becomes regent in the name of Beatrice and John I
  • The resistance starts, led by John, Great Master of Aviz
    John I of Portugal
    John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

    : occupation of several castles

1384
  • January – John I of Castile invades Portugal
  • April – The Aviz party wins the Battle of Atoleiros
    Battle of Atoleiros
    The Battle of Atoleiros took place on 6 April 1384, between a Portuguese force and a punitive expedition from Castile sent by John I. The battle took place near the population centre of the same name in Alentejo...

    , but not decisively
  • May – Lisbon
    Lisbon
    Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

     is besieged by the Castilians; an embassy is sent to England
  • July – A Portuguese fleet breaks the siege
  • September 3 – John I and his army retreat to Castile
  • Winter – Álvares Pereira and João of Aviz subdue pro-Castilian cities

1385
  • Easter – The English allied troops arrive
  • April 6 – John of Aviz is acclaimed King John I
  • June – John I of Castile invades Portugal once again and in force, after the defeat of a punitive expedition in Trancoso
  • August 14 – Battle of Aljubarrota
    Battle of Aljubarrota
    The Battle of Aljubarrota was a battle fought between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile on 14 August 1385. Forces commanded by King John I of Portugal and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira, with the support of English allies, opposed the army of King John I of Castile with its...

    : decisive Portuguese victory
  • October - Battle of Valverde
    Battle of Valverde (1385)
    The Battle of Valverde was fought in 14 October 1385, near Valverde de Mérida, Castile, between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile, and was part of the Portuguese Crisis of 1383–1385.-Prelude:...

    : Portuguese victory