Ferdinand I of Portugal - Encyclopedia

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FERDINAND I., king of Portugal (1345-1383), sometimes referred to as el Gentil (the Gentleman), son of Pedro I. of Portugal (who is not to be confounded with his Spanish contemporary Pedro the Cruel), succeeded his father in 1367. On the death of Pedro of Castile in 1369, Ferdinand, as greatgrandson of Sancho IV. by the female line, laid claim to the vacant throne, for which the kings of Aragon and Navarre, and afterwards the duke of Lancaster (married in 1370 to Constance, the eldest daughter of Pedro), also became competitors. Meanwhile Henry of Trastamara, the brother (illegitimate) and conqueror of Pedro, had assumed the crown and taken the field. After one or two indecisive campaigns, all parties were ready to accept the mediation of Pope Gregory XI. The conditions of the treaty, ratified in 1371, included a marriage between Ferdinand and Leonora of Castile. But before the union could take place the former had become passionately attached to Leonora Tellez, the wife of one of his own courtiers, and having procured a dissolution of her previous marriage, he lost no time in making her his queen. This strange conduct, although it raised a serious insurrection in Portugal, did not at once result in a war with Henry; but the outward concord was soon disturbed by the intrigues of the duke of Lancaster, who prevailed on Ferdinand to enter into a secret treaty for the expulsion of Henry from his throne. The war which followed was unsuccessful; and peace was again made in 1373. On the death of Henry in 1379, the duke of Lancaster once more put forward his claims, and again found an ally in Portugal; but, according to the Continental annalists, the English proved as offensive to their companions in arms as to their enemies in the field; and Ferdinand made a peace for himself at Badajoz in 1382, it being stipulated that Beatrix, the heiress of Ferdinand, should marry King John of Castile, and thus secure the ultimate union of the crowns. Ferdinand left no male issue when he died on the 2 2nd of October 1383, and the direct Burgundian line, which had been in possession of the throne since the days of Count Henry (about 1112), became extinct. The stipulations of the treaty of Badajoz were set aside, and John, grand-master of the order of Aviz, Ferdinand's illegitimate brother, was proclaimed. This led to a war which lasted for several years.

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