Portrait in Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz's "Philippus Prudens", 1639
King of Portugal
Reign14 August 1433 – 9 September 1438
PredecessorJohn I
SuccessorAfonso V
Born31 October 1391
Viseu, Portugal
Died9 September 1438(1438-09-09) (aged 46)
Tomar, Portugal
(m. 1428)
FatherJohn I of Portugal
MotherPhilippa of Lancaster
SignatureEdward's signature

Edward (Portuguese: Duarte[a] [duˈaɾt(ɨ)]; 31 October 1391 – 9 September 1438), also called Edward the Philosopher King (Duarte o Rei-Filósofo) or the Eloquent (o Eloquente), was the King of Portugal from 1433 until his death. He was born in Viseu, the son of John I of Portugal and his wife, Philippa of Lancaster. Edward was the oldest member of the "Illustrious Generation" of accomplished royal children who contributed to the development of Portuguese civilization during the 15th century.

Early life

Edward was the second born male legitimate son of King John I. He became the heir to the throne after his brother Afonso died in 1400, aged 10.

Before he ascended to the throne, Edward always followed his father in the affairs of the kingdom. He was knighted in 1415 after the Portuguese capture of the city of Ceuta in North Africa, across from Gibraltar. He became king in 1433, when his father died of the plague.[2]

As king, Edward soon showed interest in building internal political consensus. During his short reign of five years, he called the Portuguese Cortes (the national assembly) no less than five times to discuss the political affairs of his kingdom. He also followed the politics of his father concerning the maritime exploration of Africa. He encouraged and financed his famous brother, Henry the Navigator, who initiated many expeditions on the west coast of Africa. An expedition of Gil Eanes in 1434 first rounded Cape Bojador on the northwestern coast of Africa, leading the way for further exploration southward along the African coast.

Colonial affairs

Coin of King Edward

The colony at Ceuta rapidly became a drain on the Portuguese treasury, and it was realised that without the city of Tangier, possession of Ceuta was worthless. After Ceuta was captured by the Portuguese, the camel caravans that were part of the overland trade routes began to use Tangier as their new destination. This deprived Ceuta of the materials and goods that made it an attractive market and a vibrant trading locale, and it became an isolated community.

In 1437, Edward's brothers Henry and Ferdinand persuaded him to launch an attack on the Marinid sultanate of Morocco. The expedition was not unanimously supported and was undertaken against the advice of the Pope.[2] Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra, and the Infante John were both against the initiative; they preferred to avoid conflict with the Marinid Sultan. Their instincts proved to be justified. The resulting Battle of Tangier, led by Henry, was a debacle. Failing to take the city in a series of assaults, the Portuguese siege camp was soon itself surrounded and starved into submission by a Moroccan relief army. In the resulting treaty, Henry promised to deliver Ceuta back to the Marinids in return for allowing the Portuguese army to depart unmolested. Ferdinand, the youngest brother of Edward, was handed over to the Marinids as a hostage for the final handover of the city.

Late life

The debacle at Tangier dominated the final year of Edward's life. Peter and John urged him to fulfill the treaty, yield Ceuta and secure Ferdinand's release, whereas Henry (who had signed the treaty) urged him to renege on it. Caught in indecision, Edward assembled the Portuguese Cortes at Leiria in early 1438 for consultation. The Cortes refused to ratify the treaty, preferring to hang on to Ceuta and requesting that Edward find some other means of obtaining Ferdinand's release.

Edward died late that summer, in Tomar, of the plague, like his father and mother (and her mother) before him. Popular lore suggested he died of heartbreak over the fate of his hapless brother; Ferdinand would remain in captivity in Fez until his own death in 1443.[2]


Statue of King Edward in Viseu, by Álvaro de Brée, 1955

Edward's premature death provoked a political crisis in Portugal. Leaving only a young son, Afonso, to inherit the throne, it was generally assumed that Edward's brothers would take over the regency of the realm. But Edward's will appointed his unpopular foreign wife, Eleanor of Aragon, as regent. A popular uprising followed, in which the burghers of the realm, assembled by John of Reguengos, acclaimed Peter of Coimbra as regent. But the nobles backed Eleanor's claim, and threatened civil war. The regency crisis was defused by a complicated and tense power-sharing arrangement between Eleanor and Peter.

Another less political side of Edward's personality is related to culture. A reflective and scholarly infante, he wrote the treatises O Leal Conselheiro (The Loyal Counsellor) and Livro Da Ensinança De Bem Cavalgar Toda Sela ("Book of Teachings on Riding Well on Every Saddle") as well as several poems. He was in the process of revising the Portuguese law code when he died.

Marriages and descendants

Edward married Eleanor of Aragon, a daughter of Ferdinand I of Aragon and Eleanor of Alburquerque, in 1428.[3]

Name Birth Death Notes
By Eleanor of Aragon (c. 1402–19 February 1445); married on 22 September 1428)
Infante John October 1429 b. 14 August 1433 Prince of Portugal.
Infanta Philippa 27 November 1430 24 March 1441 Died aged eleven.
Infante Afonso 15 January 1432 28 August 1481 Who succeeded him as Afonso V, King of Portugal.
Infanta Maria 7 December 1432 8 December 1432 Died in infancy.
Infante Ferdinand 17 November 1433 18 September 1470 Duke of Viseu. He was declared heir to his brother Afonso V for two brief periods, and therefore used the style of Prince instead of Infante. He was the father of future king Manuel I.
Infanta Eleanor 18 September 1434 3 September 1467 Holy Roman Empress by marriage to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor.[3]
Infante Duarte 12 July 1435 12 July 1435 Died shortly after being born.
Infanta Catherine 26 November 1436 17 June 1463 She was betrothed to Charles IV of Navarre but he died before the marriage could take place. After his death, Catherine entered the Convent of Saint Claire and became a nun.
Infanta Joan 20 March 1439 13 June 1475 Queen of Castile by marriage to Henry IV of Castile.



  1. ^ Rendered as Eduarte (and occasionally Eduarde) in Archaic Portuguese. Latinized as Eduardus in his own written works.[1]


  1. ^ McMurdo, Edward (1889). The History of Portugal: From the Commencement of the Monarchy to the Reign of Alfonso III. S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington. p. 374.
  2. ^ a b c Stephens, Henry Morse. The Story of Portugal, G.P. Putnam's sons, 1903
  3. ^ a b Watanabe 1988, p. 136.
  4. ^ a b John I, King of Portugal at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ a b c d e f Armitage-Smith, Sydney (1905). John of Gaunt: King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln, and Leicester, Seneschal of England. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 21. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b Peter I, King of Portugal at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ 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. 4.


Edward, King of Portugal House of AvizCadet branch of the House of BurgundyBorn: 31 October 1391 Died: 9 September 1438 Regnal titles Preceded byJohn I King of Portugal 1433–1438 Succeeded byAfonso V