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Afonso II of Portugal

Afonso II of Portugal, known as the Fat, third king of Portugal, was born in Coimbra in April 23 1185 and died in March 25 1233 in the same city. He was the son of Sancho I of Portugal by his wife, Dulce of Barcelona, princess of Aragon. Afonso succeeded his father in 1212.

As a king, Afonso II set a different approach of government. Hitherto, Sancho I his father and Afonso I his grandfather, were mostly concerned with military issues either against the neighbouring Castile or against the Moors in the South. Afonso II did not pursue territory enlargement policies and managed to insure peace with Castile during his reign. Despite this, some towns, like Alcacer do Sal in 1217, were conquered to the Moors by the particular initiative of noblemen. This does not mean that he was a weak or somehow coward man. The first years of his reign were marked instead by internal disturbances between the Afonso II and his brothers and sisters. The king managed to keep security within Portuguese borders only by outlawing and exiling his kin.

Since military issues were not a government priority, Afonso II established the state's administration and centralized power on himself. He designed the first set of Portuguese written laws. These were mainly concerned with private property, civil justice and minting. Afonso II also sent ambassadors to European kingdoms outside the Iberian Peninsula and begin amiable commercial relations with most of them.

Other reforms included the always delicate matters with the pope. In order to get the independence of Portugal recognized by the popes, his grandfather, Afonso I, had to legislate an enormous amount of privileges to the Church. These eventually created a state within the state. With Portugal position as a country firmly established, Afonso II endeavoured to weaken the power of the clergy and to apply a portion of the enormous revenues of the Catholic church to purposes of national utility. This actions led to a serious diplomatic conflict between the pope and Portugal. After being excommunicated for his audacities by Pope Honorius III, Afonso II promised to make amends to the church, but he died in 1233 before doing any serious attempts to fulfil his promise.

Afonso's descendants

See also: Kings of Portugal family tree

Preceded by:
Sancho I the Populator
List of Portuguese monarchs Succeeded by:
Sancho II

Initial text from 1911 encyclopedia -- Please update as needed --has been edited and wikified slightly, but not updated