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Manuel I of Portugal

Manuel I
Manuel I of Portugal
Potrait by Colijn de Coter, c. 1515-17.
King of Portugal
Reign25 October 1495 – 13 December 1521
Coronation27 October 1495
PredecessorJohn II
SuccessorJohn III
Born31 May 1469
Alcochete, Portugal
Died13 December 1521(1521-12-13) (aged 52)
Lisbon, Portugal
(m. 1497; died 1498)
(m. 1500; died 1517)
(m. 1518)
FatherFerdinand, Duke of Viseu
MotherBeatrice of Portugal
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureManuel I's signature

Manuel I[a] (European Portuguese: [mɐnuˈɛl]; 31 May 1469 – 13 December 1521), known as the Fortunate (Portuguese: O Venturoso), was King of Portugal from 1495 to 1521. A member of the House of Aviz, Manuel was Duke of Beja and Viseu prior to succeeding his cousin, John II of Portugal, as monarch. Manuel ruled over a period of intensive expansion of the Portuguese Empire owing to the numerous Portuguese discoveries made during his reign. His sponsorship of Vasco da Gama led to the Portuguese discovery of the sea route to India in 1498, resulting in the creation of the Portuguese India Armadas, which guaranteed Portugal's monopoly on the spice trade. Manuel began the Portuguese colonization of the Americas and Portuguese India, and oversaw the establishment of a vast trade empire across Africa and Asia.

Manuel established the Casa da Índia, a royal institution that managed Portugal's monopolies and its imperial expansion. He financed numerous famed Portuguese navigators, including Pedro Álvares Cabral (who discovered Brazil), Afonso de Albuquerque (who established Portuguese hegemony in the Indian Ocean), among numerous others. The income from Portuguese trade monopolies and colonized lands made Manuel the wealthiest monarch in Europe,[1][2] allowing him to be one of the great patrons of the Portuguese Renaissance, which produced many significant artistic and literary achievements. Manuel patronized numerous Portuguese intellectuals, including playwright Gil Vicente (called the father of Portuguese and Spanish theatre).[3] The Manueline style, considered Portugal's national architecture, is named for the king.[4]

Early life

Depiction of Manuel in prayer in his illuminated Gradual, c. 1500 (Austrian National Library).

Manuel was born in Alcochete on 31 May 1469,[5] the ninth child of Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu and Beatriz of Portugal.[6][7] His father, Ferdinand, was the son of Edward, King of Portugal and the brother of Afonso V of Portugal, while his mother, Beatriz, was granddaughter of King John I of Portugal. In addition, his sister Eleanor of Viseu was the wife of King John II of Portugal.[8]

Manuel grew up amidst strife between the Portuguese noble families and King John II.[9] In 1483, Fernando II, Duke of Braganza, leader of Portugal's most powerful feudal house,[10] was executed for treason.[11][12] Later, Manuel's older brother, Diogo, Duke of Viseu, was accused of leading a conspiracy against the crown and was stabbed to death in 1484 by the king himself.[13][14]

After the death of his son Prince Afonso and failed attempts to legitimise his illegitimate son, Jorge de Lencastre, Duke of Coimbra, John II named Manuel heir to the throne.[15][16] Manuel succeeded John as king of Portugal in 1495.[5]


Imperial expansion

King Manuel's royal standard, depicting an armillary sphere, became a symbol of the Portuguese Empire's global expanse and eventually Portugal itself. It can still be seen in Portugal's coat of arms and its flag.
Portrait of King Manuel I at Sala dos Capelos in the University of Coimbra.

Manuel would prove a worthy successor to his cousin John II for his support of Portuguese exploration of the Atlantic Ocean and development of Portuguese commerce. During his reign, the following achievements were realized:

1498 – The discovery of a maritime route to India by Vasco da Gama.[17][18]
1500 – The discovery of Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral.[19][20]
1501 – The discovery of Labrador by Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real.[21][22]
1503 – The construction of the first feitoria in Brazil by Fernão de Loronha and of a fort in the allied Kingdom of Cochin in India by Afonso de Albuquerque.[17]
1505 – The construction of forts at Kilwa, Sofala, Angediva, and Cannanore by Francisco de Almeida as the first viceroy of India.[23]
1506 – The capture of Essaouira in Morocco by Diogo de Azambuja.[18]
1507 – The capture of Socotra by Tristão da Cunha and Oman by Afonso de Albuquerque.[24]
1508 – The capture of Safi in Morocco by Diogo de Azambuja.[18]
1510 – The capture of Goa in India by Afonso de Albuquerque.[24]
1511 – The capture of Malacca in Malaysia by Afonso de Albuquerque.[24]
1513 – The capture of Azamor in Morocco by Dom Jaime Duke of Braganza.[25]
1515 – The capture of Ormus in the Persian Gulf by Afonso de Albuquerque.[25]

The capture of Malacca in modern-day Malaysia in 1511 was the result of a plan by Manuel I to thwart the Muslim trade in the Indian Ocean by capturing Aden, blocking trade through Alexandria, capturing Ormuz to block trade through the Persian Gulf and Beirut, and capturing Malacca to control trade with China.[26]

All these events made Portugal wealthy from foreign trade as it formally established a vast overseas empire. Manuel used the wealth to build a number of royal buildings (in the "Manueline" style)[27] and to attract artists to his court.[28]

Commercial treaties and diplomatic alliances were forged with the Ming dynasty of China and the Persian Safavid dynasty.[citation needed] Pope Leo X received a monumental embassy from Portugal during his reign designed to draw attention to Portugal's newly acquired riches to all of Europe.[29][30]

Like Afonso V, Manuel extended his official title to reflect Portugal's expansion. He styled himself King of Portugal and the Algarves, on this side and beyond the Sea in Africa, Lord of Guinea and the Lord of Conquest, Navigation and Commerce in Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India.[31][32]

Judicial reform

In Manuel's reign, royal absolutism was the method of government.[33] The Portuguese Cortes (the assembly of the kingdom) met only four times during his reign,[34] always in Lisbon, the king's seat.

He reformed the courts of justice and the municipal charters with the crown, modernizing taxes and the concepts of tributes and rights.[35] During his reign, the laws in force in the kingdom were recodified with the publication of the Manueline Ordinances.[36][37]

Religious policy

Manuel with his second wife Maria of Aragon and their eight children; by Colijn de Coter, c. 1515–17.

Manuel was a very religious man and invested a large amount of Portuguese income to send missionaries to the new colonies, among them Francisco Álvares, and sponsor the construction of religious buildings,[28] such as the Monastery of Jerónimos.[38][39] Manuel also endeavoured to promote another crusade against the Turks.[40]

At the outset of his reign, Manuel relaxed conditions that had kept Jews in virtual slavery under John II.[41][42] However, in 1496, while seeking to marry Infanta Isabella of Aragon, he relented to pressure from her parents, Ferdinand and Isabella, and decreed that Jews who refused baptism must leave the country.[43][44] Then, before the deadline for their expulsion he converted all Jews to Christianity by royal decree.[45]

Stained glass depiction, c. 1510–1513

That period of time technically ended the presence of Jews in Portugal. Afterwards, all converted Jews and their descendants would be referred to as "New Christians" and were given a grace period of thirty years in which no inquiries into their faith would be allowed, which was later extended to end in 1534.[46][47]

During the Lisbon massacre of 1506, people murdered thousands of accused Jews. The leaders of the riot were executed by Manuel.[34][48]

In addition, Manuel also ordered the expulsion of Muslims from Portugal, and he is known to have pressured Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to end the toleration of Islam in their own kingdom.[40]


Isabella died in childbirth,[49] thus putting a damper on Portuguese ambitions to rule in Spain, which various rulers had harbored since the reign of King Ferdinand I (1367–1383).[50] Manuel and Isabella's young son, Miguel da Paz, was named Prince of Asturias, Prince of Portugal, and Prince of Girona, making him heir apparent of Castile, Portugal, and Aragon until his death in 1500, at the age of two years, ended the ambitions of the Catholic Monarchs and Manuel.[29][51]

Manuel's next wife, Maria of Aragon, was his first wife's younger sister.[51][52] Two of their sons later became kings of Portugal.[29] Maria died in 1517 but the two sisters were survived by two other sisters, Joanna of Castile, who was born in 1479 and had married Archduke Philip (Maximilian I's son) and had a son, Charles V who would eventually inherit Spain and the Habsburg possessions,[51] and Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII.[53] After Maria's death, Manuel married her niece, Eleanor of Austria.[18]


Manuel I was awarded the Golden Rose by Pope Julius II in 1506[24] and by Pope Leo X in 1514. Manuel I became the first individual to receive more than one Golden Rose after Emperor Sigismund von Luxembourg.[citation needed]


Manuel's funeral in 1521.

In December 1521, while Lisbon was dealing with an outbreak of the Black Plague, Manuel and his court remained at Ribeira Palace.[54] On 4 December, Manuel began displaying symptoms of an intense fever which incapacitated him by the 11th. He died on 13 December 1521, at the age of 52,[55] and was succeeded by his son, John III of Portugal.[56][57]

The next day, his body was transported to the Belém district of Lisbon, in a black velvet-draped coffin, followed by masses of mourners. He was provisionally buried at Restelo Church, while the royal pantheon of the House of Aviz was furnished inside Jerónimos Monastery. His coffin was buried by four of the most prominent nobles of the kingdom, the Duke of Braganza, the Duke of Coimbra, and the Marquis of Vila Real, in a private ceremony attended only by the royal family and the Portuguese nobility. His remains were transferred to Jerónimos Monastery in 1551,[55] along with his second wife Maria of Aragon.



Marriages and Issue

Manuel was married three times,[62] to two daughters and one granddaughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain:

  • Isabella, married from 30 September 1497 – 23 August 1498, died in childbirth
  • Maria, married from 30 October 1500 – 7 March 1517, died from complications of pregnancy
  • Eleanor, married from 16 July 1518 – 13 December 1521, outlived Manuel, later Queen Consort of France.
Coat of Arms of King Manuel and Queen Maria of Aragon.
Name Portrait Lifespan Notes
By Isabel of Aragon (2 October 1470 – 23 August 1498; married 30 September 1497)
Miguel, Prince of Asturias & Portugal 23 August 1498 –
19 July 1500
Heir to all of the Iberian kingdoms of Portugal, Castile, and Aragon as Prince of Asturias, Prince of Portugal, and Prince of Girona, until premature death.
By Maria of Aragon (29 June 1482 – 7 March 1517; married 30 October 1500)
John III of Portugal 7 June 1502 –
11 June 1557
King of Portugal from 1521 until 1557. He was married to Catherine of Austria, daughter of King Philip I of Castile and Queen Joana I of Castile. He had nine children from this marriage.
Isabel, Holy Roman Empress 24 October 1503 –
1 May 1539
Married Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. She had five children from this marriage.
Beatriz, Duchess of Savoy 31 December 1504 –
8 January 1538
Married Charles III, Duke of Savoy. She had seven children from this marriage.
Luís, Duke of Beja 3 March 1506 –
27 November 1555
Never married but had an illegitimate son, António, Prior of Crato, who tried to claim the throne of Portugal during the 1580 dynastic crisis.
Fernando, Duke of Guarda 5 June 1507 –
7 November 1534
Married Guiomar Coutinho, Countess of Marialva and Loulé. He had two children from this marriage.
Afonso, Cardinal-Archbishop of Lisbon 23 April 1509 –
21 April 1540
He was a Cardinal-Infante, Prince of the Church, Archbishop of Lisbon, and Bishop of Évora.
Henry I of Portugal 31 January 1512 –
31 January 1580
King of Portugal from 1578 until 1580. He was a Cardinal-Infante, Prince of the Church, Archbishop of Lisbon, and the only cardinal in history to reign as king.
Infanta Maria 1511 – 1513[63] She died at the age of 2.
Duarte, Duke of Guimarães 7 October 1515 –
20 September 1540
Married Isabel of Braganza. He had three children from this marriage. Great-grandfather of John IV.
Infante António 8 September 1516 – 1 November 1516[64] He died less than two months later.
By Eleanor of Austria (15 November 1498 – 25 February 1558; married 16 July 1518)
Infante Carlos 18 February 1520 –
14 April 1521
He died at the age of 1, of a fever.
Maria, Duchess of Viseu 18 June 1521 –
10 October 1577
Never married. She was the richest woman in Europe of her time.

See also

16th century português from the reign of King Manuel.


  1. ^ In archaic Portuguese, Manoel.


  1. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 178.
  2. ^ Livermore 1976, p. 142.
  3. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 177.
  4. ^ Smith 1968, p. 23.
  5. ^ a b Pereira & Rodrigues 1904, p. 800.
  6. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 52.
  7. ^ Sanceau 1970, p. 3.
  8. ^ Rebelo 2003, p. 534.
  9. ^ McMurdo 1889, pp. 2–4.
  10. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 16.
  11. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 162.
  12. ^ McMurdo 1889, pp. 17–18.
  13. ^ Marques 1976, p. 210.
  14. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 21.
  15. ^ Sanceau 1970, pp. 1–2.
  16. ^ Bergenroth, G A. "Spain: December 1495 Pages 72–79 Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485–1509. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1862". British History Online. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  17. ^ a b Sanceau 1970, p. 168.
  18. ^ a b c d Marques 1976, p. 214.
  19. ^ Livermore 1976, p. 139.
  20. ^ Marques 1976, p. 226.
  21. ^ Marques 1976, p. 227.
  22. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 175.
  23. ^ Marques 1976, p. 232-233.
  24. ^ a b c d Sanceau 1970, p. 169.
  25. ^ a b Sanceau 1970, p. 170.
  26. ^ Logan, William (2000). Malabar Manual (Reprint ed.). Asian Educational Services. p. 312. ISBN 9788120604469.
  27. ^ Sanceau 1970, p. 167.
  28. ^ a b Smith 1968, p. 16.
  29. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Emanuel I." . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 305.
  30. ^ Sanceau 1970, pp. 95–102.
  31. ^ Newitt 2005, p. 55.
  32. ^ Sanceau 1970, p. 34.
  33. ^ Livermore 1976, p. 132.
  34. ^ a b Livermore 1976, p. 133.
  35. ^ Marques 1976, p. 176.
  36. ^ Marques 1976, p. 174.
  37. ^ McMurdo 1889, pp. 59–60.
  38. ^ Smith 1968, p. 81.
  39. ^ Marques 1976, p. 202.
  40. ^ a b Soyer, François (4 June 2014). "Manuel I of Portugal and the End of the Toleration of Islam in Castile: Marriage Diplomacy, Propaganda, and Portuguese Imperialism in Renaissance Europe, 1495–1505". Journal of Early Modern History. 18 (4): 331–356. doi:10.1163/15700658-12342416. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  41. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 53.
  42. ^ Marques 1976, p. 212.
  43. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 173.
  44. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 54.
  45. ^ Rebelo 2003.
  46. ^ Benveniste, Arthur (October 1997). 500th Anniversary of the Forced Conversion of the Jews of Portugal (Speech). Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, Los Angeles.
  47. ^ Marques 1976, p. 213.
  48. ^ Sanceau 1970, p. 129.
  49. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 57.
  50. ^ Stephens 1891, p. 171.
  51. ^ a b c Stephens 1891, p. 174.
  52. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 58.
  53. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 111.
  54. ^ Sanceau 1970, p. 163.
  55. ^ a b McMurdo 1889, p. 115.
  56. ^ McMurdo 1889, p. 119.
  57. ^ Livermore 1976, p. 145.
  58. ^ a b c d Stephens 1891, p. 139
  59. ^ a b Liss, Peggy K. (10 November 2015). Isabel the Queen: Life and Times. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780812293203.
  60. ^ a b de Sousa, Antonio Caetano (1735). Historia genealogica da casa real portugueza [Genealogical History of the Royal House of Portugal] (in Portuguese). Vol. 2. Lisboa Occidental. p. 497.
  61. ^ a b c d de Sousa, Antonio Caetano (1735). Historia genealogica da casa real portugueza [Genealogical History of the Royal House of Portugal] (in Portuguese). Vol. 2. Lisboa Occidental. p. 167.
  62. ^ Marques 1976, p. 307.
  63. ^ Buescu 2019, pp. 48–50.
  64. ^ Buescu 2019, pp. 48-50 and 75-76.


Further reading

  • Soyer, François (2007). The Persecution of the Jews and Muslims of Portugal: King Manuel I and the End of Religious Tolerance, 1496-97. Leiden: Brill.
Manuel I of Portugal House of AvizCadet branch of the House of BurgundyBorn: 31 May 1469 Died: 13 December 1521 Regnal titles Preceded byJoão II King of Portugal 1495–1521 Succeeded byJoão III Portuguese royalty Preceded byAfonso Prince of Portugal 1491–1495 Succeeded byMiguel de Paz Preceded byDiogo Duke of Beja 1484–1495 VacantTitle next held byLuís Duke of Viseu 1484–1495 VacantTitle next held byMaria
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Manuel I of Portugal
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