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Duke of Braganza

The Duchy of Bragança or Braganza is one of the most important titles of the Portuguese Royal Family. Since the accession to the throne of the Dynasty of Bragança, in 1640, the heir of the Portuguese Crown is the Duke of Bragança, a tradition that lasted even after the instauration of the Republic in October 5 1910.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Dukes of Bragança
3 External link


The duchy of Bragança was created in 1442 by king Afonso V of Portugal for his uncle Afonso, count of Barcelos (natural son of John I of Portugal). Along with Coimbra and Viseu (in 1414) it is one of the first duchies of Portugal.

The Braganças soon became the most powerful house of the kingdom, due to the enrichment policies of Afonso, the first duke. He always sought royal favour with his father (king João I) and his younger brother (king Duarte). When his six-year-old nephew became king Afonso V of Portugal he was his most cherished councillor. This would provoke a short civil war against his brother Pedro, Duke of Coimbra that ended in his death in the battle of Alfarrobeira in 1449.

The growing power of the Braganças would be suppressed in the next generation. King John II of Portugal was very strict on were royal power should be and not to keen on allowing the development of a country inside his own. He executed the third duke, Fernando II, for treason, based on letters wrote to the king of Castile. Later the king annexed the Bragança lands and riches to the crown and exiled the four-year-old heir, Jaime, in Castile.

João II's successor, king Manuel I of Portugal was uncle of Jaime and, in 1500 he recalled his nephew to Portugal, returning to him the titles and (part of) the lands of Bragança. The house was once again at the peak. Jaime of Bragança ordered the construction of a monumental Palace at Vila Viçosa, that would become one of the royal palaces in the 17th century.

The sixth duke, João, married princess Catarina of Portugal and sired the courageous seventh duke Teodósio, that fought actively in the battle of Alcacer Quibir (1578) only ten-years-old.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese kingdom was at crisis. King Sebastian I of Portugal disappeared from the face of the Earth in Africa in 1578. He was childless and the crown was transferred to his great-uncle Cardinal Henry I of Portugal an old man, without sons himself. On his death in 1580, king Philip II of Spain became Philip I of Portugal and the country lost his independence.

In 1640, the wise policies of Philip II in respect of Portugal were over. The country was over taxed and the Spanish king no longer had the trust of Portuguese nobility and was especially loathed by the powerful Portuguese guild of merchants. Portugal was on the verge of rebellion and a new Portuguese king was to be found. The choice fell upon the eight duke João II of Bragança. The duke was a modest man without particular ambitions to the crown. Legend says that was his wife, Leonor of Guzman, daughter of the duke of Medina-Sidónia, who forced him to accept the offer saying I rather be Queen for a day that duchess for a lifetime. He accepted to be the head of the rebellion and became João IV of Portugal in December 1 1640.

After the accession of the Braganças to the throne, the duchy was the traditional title of the heir of the crown, as Prince of Wales is in the United Kingdom.

In February 1 1908, king Carlos I of Portugal was murdered with his oldest son and heir, Luis Filipe of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, 21st duke of Bragança. He was succeeded by Manuel II of Portugal but for a shortime: in October 5 1910, the Republic was instituted and the king exiled to England. After this, the duchy of Bragança passed to Miguel II, son of the exiled king Miguel I of Portugal, living himself in the Austrian Empire. His branch of the Bragança family became heir to the crown in 1932 when Manuel II dies without children. The Braganças were authorized to return to the country in 1950 and ever since live in Portugal.

Presently the duke of Bragança, and Portuguese heir, is Duarte Pio of Bragança (born 1945). Unlike several European countries (example Italy and Greece) that continue to forbid the presence of the royal houses heirs in their lands, Portugal always knew to separate the affairs. The duke of Bragança is a man cherished by the (very Republican) Portuguese, who look at him as living representative of the country's history.

Dukes of Bragança

Note: dates are birth and death; the intermediate date represents accession as duke

External link