Henry, King of Portugal

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Henry I
Henrique o Rei.jpg
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Reign 4 August 1578 – 31 January 1580
Acclamation 28 August 1578; Lisbon
Predecessor Sebastian
Successor Philip I
Born 31 January 1512
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 31 January 1580 (aged 68)
Almeirim, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon
House House of Aviz
Father Manuel I of Portugal
Mother Maria of Aragon
Religion Roman Catholicism

Henry (Portuguese: Henrique Portuguese pronunciation: [ẽˈʁik(ɨ)]; 31 January 1512 – 31 January 1580) was King of Portugal and the Algarves and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He ruled Portugal between 1578 and 1580, and was known as Henry the Chaste (Portuguese: Henrique o Casto).


Born in Lisbon, Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon.


Henry was the younger brother of King John III of Portugal and, as a younger son, he was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne. Early in his life, Henry took Holy Orders to promote Portuguese interests within the Catholic Church, then dominated by Spain. He rose fast through the Church hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop of Braga, Archbishop of Évora and Grand Inquisitor before receiving a Cardinal's hat in 1545,[1] along with the Titulus Ss. Quattuor Coronatorum. From 1564 to 1570 he was Archbishop of Lisbon. Henry, more than anyone, endeavoured to bring the Jesuits to Portugal and employed them in the colonial empire.

Coat of Arms of King-Cardinal Henry I of Portugal.


Henry served as regent for his grandnephew, King Sebastian, after 1562, replacing his sister-in-law (and Sebastian's grandmother) the Queen dowager Catherine, and then succeeded him as king after the disastrous Battle of Alcácer Quibir in 1578 in which Sebastian died. Henry attempted to renounce his ecclesiastical office and sought to take a bride for the continuation of the Avis dynasty, but Pope Gregory XIII, not wanting to anger Philip II, did not release him from his vows.[2]

Death and succession

The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim without having appointed a successor, leaving only a Regency to care for the kingdom. One of the closest dynastic claimants was King Philip II of Spain who, in November 1580, sent the Duke of Alba to claim Portugal by force. Lisbon soon fell, and Philip was elected King of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581—on the condition that the kingdom and its overseas territories would not become Spanish provinces.



  1. Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Enrique de Portugal; Henry's brother Alonso had also been made a Cardinal, in 1517 at the age of eight. (Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Alonso de Portugal).
  2. Ruth MacKay, The Baker Who Pretended to Be King of Portugal, (University of Chicago Press, 2012), 44.

See also

Henry, King of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy
Born: 31 January 1512 Died: 31 January 1580
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Succeeded by
Anthony or Philip I
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Diogo de Sousa
Archbishop of Braga
Succeeded by
Diego da Silva
Preceded by
Cardinal-Infante Afonso of Portugal
as Bishop of Evora
Archbishop of Evora
Succeeded by
João de Melo
Preceded by
Fernando de Menezes Coutinho e Vasconcellos
Archbishop of Lisboa
Succeeded by
Jorge de Almeida
Preceded by
João de Melo
Archbishop of Evora
Succeeded by
Teotónio de Bragança