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Philippine dynasty
Full Ornamented Royal Coat of Arms of Spain (1621-1668).svg
Parent houseHouse of Habsburg
Casa de Habsburgo
Country Portugal
Founded25 March 1581
FounderPhilip I
Current headExtinct
Final rulerPhilip III
Deposition1 December 1640

The Philippine dynasty (Portuguese: dinastia filipina), also known as the House of Habsburg in Portugal, was the third royal house of Portugal. It was named after the three Habsburg Spanish kings, all named Philip (Spanish: Felipe; Portuguese: Filipe, pronounced [fiˈlipɨ]), who ruled Portugal between 1581 and 1640 under the Iberian Union, a dynastic union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal. The dynasty's kings were Philip I, Philip II and Philip III.

The history of Portugal from the 1580 succession crisis to the House of Braganza monarchs was a period of transition. At its beginning, under the House of Aviz, the Portuguese Empire spice trade was near its height. It continued to enjoy widespread influence after Vasco da Gama reached the East Indies by sailing around Africa in 1497–1498. Vasco da Gama's achievement completed the exploratory efforts inaugurated by Henry the Navigator, and opened an oceanic route for the profitable spice trade into Europe that bypassed the Middle East.

Throughout the 17th century, the increasing predations and beleaguering of Portuguese trading posts in the East by the Dutch, English and French, and their rapidly growing intrusion into the Atlantic slave trade undermined Portugal's near monopoly on the lucrative oceanic spice and slave trades. This sent the Portuguese spice trade into a long decline. To a lesser extent, the diversion of wealth from Portugal by the Habsburg monarchy to help support the Catholic side of the Thirty Years' War also created strains within the union, although Portugal did benefit from Spanish military power in helping to retain Brazil and in disrupting Dutch trade. These events, and those that occurred at the end of the House of Aviz and the period of the Iberian Union, led Portugal to a state of dependency on its colonies, first India and then Brazil.

The continuity in the administrative system

Spanish Habsburgs' family tree and connection with Portugal royal house of Aviz
Spanish Habsburgs' family tree and connection with Portugal royal house of Aviz

Due to complexity in the management of government affairs, the Spanish Monarch established auxiliary bodies called Councils (Consejos), dedicated to providing advice toward resolution of problems. The Councils needed a permanent seat, and so King Philip II of Spain established in 1562 the permanent capital in Madrid, seat of the Royal Court and of the administrative staff.[1][2][3][4] During a brief period (1601–1606), the whole administrative staff held court in Valladolid.[5]

Administrative correspondence originated from different Councils and was delivered by each Council Secretary to Madrid for the attention of the Crown. The king would later assemble the secretaries to request the Council's opinion. The meetings of the Councils took place in the royal palace, and they did not count on the presence of the king habitually. In this polisynodial system[6] stood out for its importance, the Consejo de Estado (Council of State).

Relating to the particular government of the kingdom of Portugal itself. During the union of the kingdom of Portugal to the Spanish monarchy, the Spanish Habsburgs on the whole respected the pledges made at Thomar in 1581 to allow considerable Portuguese autonomy and to respected the territories of its empire. Public offices were reserved for Portuguese subjects at home and overseas. The king was represented at Lisbon sometimes by a governor and sometimes by a viceroy. So, Spain left the administration of Portugal and its empire largely to the Portuguese themselves, under general supervision from Madrid channeled through a viceroy in Lisbon. Important matters, however, were referred to Madrid, where they came before the Council of Portugal. In the kingdom of Portugal, the polisynodial system is reinforced:

Nevertheless, the political conjuncture needed urgent reactions, and in this context a system of meetings appeared for specific issues, as the Junta for the reform of the Council of Portugal (1606–1607, 1610), the Junta for the classification of the debts to the treasury (since 1627) or the Juntas for the organization of the navies of succor of Brazil (since 1637)...[7]

The Portuguese Empire challenged

Main article: Dutch–Portuguese War

The union of the two crowns deprived Portugal of a separate foreign policy, and Spain's enemies became Portugal's. England had been an ally of Portugal since the Treaty of Windsor in 1386. War between Spain and England led to a deterioration of the relations with Portugal's oldest ally, and the loss of Hormuz. English help provided by Elizabeth I of England in a rebellion against the kings assured the survival of the alliance. War with the Dutch led to invasions of many countries in Asia, including Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka), and commercial interests in Japan, Africa (Mina), and South America. Even though the Portuguese were unable to capture the entire island of Ceylon, they were able to keep the coastal regions of Ceylon under their control for a considerable time. Brazil was partially conquered by both France and the Seventeen Provinces.

In the 17th century, taking advantage of this period of Portuguese weakness, many Portuguese territories in Brazil were occupied by the Dutch who gained access to the sugarcane plantations. John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen was appointed as the governor of the Dutch possessions in Brazil in 1637 by the Dutch West India Company. He landed at Recife, the port of Pernambuco, in January 1637. By a series of successful expeditions, he gradually extended the Dutch possessions from Sergipe on the south to São Luís de Maranhão in the north. He likewise conquered the Portuguese possessions of Elmina Castle, Saint Thomas, and Luanda, Angola, on the west coast of Africa. After the dissolution of the Iberian Union in 1640, Portugal would reestablish its authority over the lost territories of the Portuguese Empire. The Dutch intrusion into Brazil was long-lasting and troublesome for Portugal. The Seventeen Provinces captured a large portion of the Brazilian coast including Bahia (and its capital Salvador), Pernambuco (and its capital Recife), Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, and Sergipe, while Dutch privateers sacked Portuguese ships in both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The large area of Bahia and its city, the strategically important Salvador, was recovered quickly by a powerful Iberian military expedition in 1625. This laid the foundations for the recovery of remaining Dutch controlled areas. The other smaller, less developed areas were recovered in stages and relieved of Dutch piracy in the next two decades by local resistance and Portuguese expeditions.

On the other hand, the Iberian Union opened to both countries a worldwide span of control, as Portugal dominated the African and Asian coasts that surrounded the Indian Ocean, and Spain the Pacific Ocean and both sides of Central and South America, while both shared the Atlantic Ocean space.

Decline of the Habsburg Empire and revolt of Portugal

John IV of Portugal (João IV)
John IV of Portugal (João IV)

When Philip II of Portugal (Philip III of Spain) died, he was succeeded by Philip III (and IV of Spain) who had a different approach on Portuguese issues. Taxes raised affected mainly the Portuguese merchants (Carmo Reis 1987). The Portuguese nobility began to lose its importance at the Spanish Cortes, and government posts in Portugal were occupied by Spaniards. Ultimately, Philip III tried to make Portugal a royal province, and Portuguese nobles lost all of their power.

This situation culminated in a revolution by the nobility and high bourgeoisie on December 1, 1640, 60 years after the crowning of Philip I. The plot was planned by Antão Vaz de Almada, Miguel de Almeida and João Pinto Ribeiro. They, together with several associates, killed Secretary of State Miguel de Vasconcelos and imprisoned the king's cousin, the Duchess of Mantua, who had governed Portugal in his name. The moment was well chosen, as Philip's troops were at the time fighting the Thirty Years' War and also facing a revolution in Catalonia.

The support of the people became apparent almost immediately and soon John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was acclaimed King of Portugal throughout the country as John IV. By December 2, 1640, John had already sent a letter to the Municipal Chamber of Évora as sovereign of the country.

Restoration War

Afonso VI, second King of the House of Braganza.

Main article: Portuguese Restoration War

The subsequent Portuguese Restoration War against Philip III (Portuguese: Guerra da Restauração) consisted mainly of small skirmishes near the border. The most significant battles being the Battle of Montijo on May 26, 1644, the Battle of the Lines of Elvas (1659), the Battle of Ameixial (1663), the Battle of Castelo Rodrigo (1664), and the Battle of Montes Claros (1665); the Portuguese were victorious in all of these battles.

Several decisions made by John IV to strengthen his forces made these victories possible. On December 11, 1640, the Council of War was created to organize all the operations.[8] Next, the king created the Junta of the Frontiers, to take care of the fortresses near the border, the hypothetical defense of Lisbon, and the garrisons and sea ports. In December 1641, a tenancy was created to assure upgrades on all fortresses that would be paid with regional taxes. John IV also organized the army, established the Military Laws of King Sebastian, and developed intense diplomatic activity focused on restoring good relations with England.

After gaining several decisive victories, John quickly tried to make peace. His demand that Philip recognize the new ruling dynasty in Portugal was not fulfilled until the reign of his son Afonso VI during the regency of Afonso's brother Infante Pedro (later King Pedro II of Portugal).

Origins of the House of Braganza

The Portuguese Royal House of Braganza began with John IV. The dukes of the House of Braganza were a branch of the House of Aviz created by King Afonso V for his half-uncle Afonso, 8th Count of Barcelos, illegitimate son of John I, first monarch of the House of Aviz. The Braganzas soon became one of the most powerful families of the kingdom and for the next decades would inter-marry with the main line of the Portuguese royal family. In 1565, John, 6th Duke of Braganza married Princess Catherine, granddaughter of King Manuel I. This connection with the Royal Family proved determinant in the rise of the House of Braganza to a Royal House. Catherine was one of the strongest claimants of the throne during the succession crisis of 1580 but lost the struggle to her cousin Philip II of Spain. Eventually Catherine's grandson became John IV of Portugal as he was held to be the legitimate heir.

John IV was a beloved monarch, a patron of fine art and music, and a proficient composer and writer on musical subjects. He collected one of the largest libraries in the world.[9] Among his writings is a defense of Palestrina and a Defense of Modern Music (Lisbon, 1649). Abroad, the Dutch took Malacca (January 1641) and the Sultan of Oman captured Muscat (1648). By 1654, however, most of Brazil was back in Portuguese hands and had effectively ceased to be a viable Dutch colony. John died in 1656, and his widow, Luisa of Guzman, married their daughter Catherine to Charles II of England in 1661 while she was regent for their son Afonso VI. Her dowry consisted of Tangier, Bombay and £1,000,000 sterling, making it the largest dowry ever brought by a queen consort. John IV was succeeded by his son Afonso VI.

Monarchs of the House of Habsburg

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Philip I
  • the Prudent
(1527-05-21)21 May 1527 – 13 September 1598(1598-09-13) (aged 71)25 March 158113 September 1598Grandson of Manuel IHabsburg
Philip I of Portugal
Philip II
  • the Pious
(1578-04-14)14 April 1578 – 31 March 1621(1621-03-31) (aged 42)13 September 159831 March 1621Son of Philip IHabsburg
Philip II of Portugal
Philip III
  • the Oppressor
(1605-04-08)8 April 1605 – 17 September 1665(1665-09-17) (aged 60)31 March 16211 December 1640
Son of Philip IIHabsburg
Philip III of Portugal

Coats of arms of Titles held by the House of Habsburg

Coat of Arms Title Time Held Coat of Arms Title Time Held
Ornamented Royal Coat of Arms of Portugal (Philip I).svg
King of Portugal 1581–1640
COA Reino de Algarve 1666.jpg
King of the Algarve 1581–1640


  1. ^ Anthony Ham (2006). Lonely Planet Madrid. p. 48. ISBN 9781740598590. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  2. ^ John Horace Parry (1990). The Spanish seaborne empire. University of California Press. p. 196. ISBN 9780520071407.
  3. ^ Stephen J. Lee (1984). Aspects of European history, 1494–1789. Routledge. ISBN 9780415027847.
  4. ^ Torbjørn L. Knutsen (1999). The rise and fall of world orders. Manchester University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780719040580.
  5. ^ Alastair Boyd (2002). The Companion guide to Madrid and central Spain. Companion Guides. p. 103. ISBN 9781900639378.
  6. ^ Stephen J. Lee (1984). Aspects of European history, 1494–1789. Routledge. p. 40. ISBN 9780415027847.
  7. ^ Julio Valdeón Baruque (1990). Revueltas y revoluciones en la historia. Universidad de Salamanca. p. 70. ISBN 9788474815863.
  8. ^ (Mattoso Vol. VIII, 1993)
  9. ^ (Madeira & Aguiar, 2003)


See also

*Royal House*Philippine dynastyCadet branch of the House of Aviz Preceded byHouse of Aviz Ruling House of the Kingdom of Portugal 1580–1640 Succeeded byHouse of Braganza