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King Manuel I


14th Monarch of Portugal. Born in Alcochete on 31 May 1469 and died in Lisbon on 13 December 1521.
He was son of the Infante Fernando and the Lady Brites.

He inherited the throne by order of will and testament and was crowned king in Alcácer do Sal on 27 October 1495.

He was the first king to assume the title: “King of Portugal and the Algarves, of either side of the sea in Africa, Lord of Commerce, Conquest and Navigation of Arabia, Persia and India’.

In terms of domestic policies, Manuel reformed the Alphonsine Orders in 1521, substituting them with the Manueline Orders. It was under his rule that the bureaucratic and mercantile State was born.

In his overseas policies, he continued to support the preparation for the maritime voyage to India.

The fleet, no longer comprised of caravels, which were replaced by the larger carracks, left Lisbon on 8 July 1497. On 20 May 1498 it reached Calicut (now Kozhikode) in India, having discovered the maritime route to India.

In 1500 Manuel sent a large armada to India. It was commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral, who on April 22 caught sight of the Brazilian coast and, 2 days later, disembarked on a wide stretch of a sheltered beach, thus discovering Brazil.

Manuel also organised voyages westwards, reaching Greenland and Newfoundland.

In an effort to improve culture in Portugal, he advanced the reform of the General Studies.

From an artistic point of view, he used the money that came from commerce to construct royal buildings, giving birth in Portugal to the Manueline style, which would come to dominate various types of construction: civil, military and religious. Examples of this style are the Tower of Belem and the Monastery of Jerónimos.

The Monastery of Batalha was also added in this period. Amongst others things, the detailing of the platbands in the Royal Cloister and the magnificent portal of the Unfinished Chapels are in the Manueline style.

After his death on 13 December 1521 he was given the cognomen The Fortunate or the Well Fortuned, due to the winds of fortune which carried him to the throne and prevailed during his reign, making Portugal one of the richest and most powerful countries in Europe.

He married Isabel, the widow of Prince Afonso, in 1497 and they had 1 son:
Miguel da Paz (who died young)

Made a widower in 1498, Manuel married the Infanta Maria of Aragon, the sister of his deceased wife on 30 October 1500. They had 10 children:

João (his father’s successor, the future João III)
Isabel (married Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor)
Beatriz, (Duchess of Savoy, married with Charles III, Duke of Savoy)
Luís (Duke of Beja, General of the kingdom)
Fernando (Duke of Guarda, married to Guiomar Coutinho, Countess of Marialva)
Afonso (Cardinal, Archbishop of Évora and Lisbon)
Maria (who died young)
Henrique (Cardinal, Archbishop of Braga, Évora and Lisbon, General Inquisitor, regent of the kingdom and future king of Portugal)
Duarte (Duke of Guimarães)
António (who died after just a few days)

Widowed once again in 1517, a year later he wed Leonor (Eleanor) of Austria, infanta of Spain and sister of Charles V, with whom  he had have two children:

Carlos (who died young)
Maria (famous for being the most cultured of the infantas)

He is buried in the Monastery which he himself ordered to be built – the Monastery of Jerónimos in Lisbon

He became known for the motto In Hoc Signo Vinces