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Mateus Fernandes


Born in Covilhã, Mateus Fernandes served the kings Afonso V, João II and Manuel I.

He was architect of the Monastery of Batalha during more than 25 years.

He married Isabel Guilherme, daughter of Master Guilherme and granddaughter of the Master Conrate.

By 1480 he was already Master, but in August of that year, he was removed from the post in favour of João Rodrigues.

João Rodrigues was a Master Glassmaker. His social standing and influence, worthy of the King’s trust, was incentive enough to make him master builder. But it seems he was not in charge for long.

By 1485 in fact, a certain João de Arruda was announced as master builder, but little is known about this man, except that he once worked in Évora and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria-a-Velha, Batalha.

By 1490 Mateus Fernandes was once again appointed master at Batalha, and this time would remain there until his death in 1515. It was he who introduced the Manueline style, characterized by its maritime, botanical and exotic motifs, inspired by the heroic deeds of the Discoveries.

Thanks to his standing and personal wealth, he became one of the most notable citizens of the Town of Batalha, and by 1503 he had ascended to the rank of judge.

On January 2, 1514 he was nominated for the administrative position of official receiver of works.

Mateus Fernandes managed something unique in the history of all the masters of the monument – he earned the privilege of being buried within the Monastic Church, along with his wife.

According to tradition it was Mateus Fernandes (II), his son, who would subsequently be considered for the administration of the project, succeeding him as general master in 1516 after being nominated by King Manuel I.