Afonso II

From New World Encyclopedia
Afonso II
King of Portugal
Afonso II of Portugal
Seventeenth century painting of Afonso II.
Reign March 26, 1212—March 25, 1223
Full name Afonso Sanches of Portugal
Titles Infante of Portugal (1185–1212)
Born April 23, 1185
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Died March 25, 1223
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Buried Santa Cruz Monastery, Coimbra, District of Coimbra, Portugal
Predecessor Sancho I of Portugal
Heirs Infante Sancho (future Sancho II) (1212–1223)
Successor Sancho II of Portugal
Consort Infanta Urraca of Castile
Issue Infante Sancho (future Sancho II) (1207–1248)
Infante Afonso (1210–1279)
Infanta Leonor, Queen of Denmark (1211–1231)
Infante Fernando, Lord of Serpa (a. 1217–c. 1243)
Infante Vicente (1219)
Royal House Capetian House of Burgundy
Father Sancho I of Portugal
Mother Dulce Berenguer of Barcelona, Infanta of Aragon

Afonso II, King of Portugal (Portuguese pron. IPA /ɐ'fõsu/; English Alphonzo), or Affonso (Archaic Portuguese), Alfonso or Alphonso (Portuguese-Galician) or Alphonsus (Latin version), nicknamed "the Fat" (Portueguese o Gordo), third king of Portugal, was born in Coimbra on April 23, 1185 and died on March 25, 1223 in the same city. He was the second but eldest surviving son of Sancho I of Portugal by his wife, Dulce Berenguer of Barcelona, Infanta of Aragon. Afonso succeeded his father in 1212. Afonso's father gave a generous patrimony to the Church, so much in fact the monarchy inherited by Afonso II was almost impoverished. Afonso established a commission to look into the issue of land title and required feudal lords to apply for letters of confirmation. In the process the commission discovered many abuses – borders had been illegally extended and the correct taxes were not being paid, at considerable cost to the crown. It is interesting to note, the commission did not seek evidence from the aristocrats but from local people. Afonso II may well have set out primarily to restore his own fortunes but in the process he also challenged the wealth, and possibly the priorities, of the Church.

Portuguese Royalty
House of Burgundy
Afonso Henriques (Afonso I)
Children include
  • Infanta Mafalda
  • Infanta Urraca, Queen of Léon
  • Infante Sancho (future Sancho I)
  • Infanta Teresa, Countess of Flanders and Duchess of Burgundy
Sancho I
Children include
  • Infanta Teresa, Queen of Castile
  • Infanta Sancha, Lady of Alenquer
  • Infanta Constança
  • Infante Afonso (future Afonso II)
  • Infante Pedro, Count of Urgell
  • Infante Fernando, Count of Flanders
  • Infanta Branca, Lady of Guadalajara
  • Infanta Berengária, Queen of Denmark
  • Infanta Mafalda, Queen of Castile
Afonso II
Children include
  • Infante Sancho (future Sancho II)
  • Infante Afonso, Count of Boulogne (future Afonso III)
  • Infanta Leonor, Queen of Denmark
  • Infante Fernando, Lord of Serpa
Sancho II
Afonso III
Children include
  • Infanta Branca, Viscountess of Huelgas
  • Infante Dinis (future Denis I)
  • Infante Afonso, Lord of Portalegre
  • Infanta Maria
  • Infanta Sancha
Children include
  • Infanta Constança, Queen of Castile
  • Infante Afonso (future Afonso IV)
Afonso IV
Children include
  • Infanta Maria, Queen of Castile
  • Infante Pedro (future Peter I)
  • Infanta Leonor, Queen of Aragon
Peter I
Children include
  • Infanta Maria, Marchioness of Tortosa
  • Infante Fernando (future Ferdinand I)
  • Infanta Beatriz, Countess of Alburquerque
  • Infante João, Duke of Valencia de Campos
  • Infante Dinis, Lord of Cifuentes
  • John, Grand Master of the Order of Aviz (future John I) (natural son)
Ferdinand I
Children include
  • Infanta Beatrice, Queen of Castile and Leon (future Beatrice I of Portugal)
Beatrice (disputed queen)
Children include
  • Infante Miguel of Castile and Portugal


As a king, Afonso II set a different approach of government. His father, Sancho I, and his grandfather Afonso I, were mostly concerned with military issues either against the neighboring Kingdom of Castile or against the Moorish lands in the south. Afonso did not pursue territory enlargement policies and managed to insure peace with Castile during his reign. Despite this, some towns, like Alcácer do Sal in 1217, were conquered from the Moors by the private initiative of noblemen. No inference is meant to convey that he was a weak or somehow cowardly man. The first years of his reign were marked by internal disturbances between Afonso and his brothers and sisters. As king he managed to keep security within Portuguese borders only by outlawing and exiling his kin.

Because military issues were not a government priority, Afonso 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 also sent ambassadors to European kingdoms outside the Iberian Peninsula and began amiable commercial relations with most of them.

Other reforms instituted by Alfonso I included the always delicate matters with the pope. In order to get the independence of Portugal recognized by Rome, his grandfather, Afonso I legislated enormous privileges to the Church. These boons eventually created a state within the state. With Portugal's position as a country firmly established, Afonso II endeavored to weaken the power of the clergy and to apply a portion of the enormous revenues of the Roman Catholic church to purposes of national utility. These actions led to a serious diplomatic conflict between Rome and Portugal. After being excommunicated for his perceived audacities by Pope Honorius III, Afonso II promised to make amends to the church, but he died in 1223 before making any serious attempts to do so.


Afonso II was the third king of Portugal, ruling from 1211 to 1231. In addition to pursuing the reconquest of the South from the Moors, he is best remembered for challenging the Church over land rights. Afonso II may well have set out primarily to restore his own fortunes but in the process he also challenged the wealth, and possibly the priorities, of the Roman Catholic Church. Alfonso II was not alone, there were others who criticized the wealth and privileges of the church and they, like Afonso, were excommunicated for their views. Alfonso viewed temporal power, wealth, and the secularization of the medieval church as contrary to God's will. As much as Afonso II may have created an opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal to rethink its priorities, he died before the restitution Rome commanded was paid.


Afonso's ancestors in three generations
Afonso II of Portugal Father:
Sancho I of Portugal
Father's father:
Afonso I of Portugal
Father's father's father:
Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal
Father's father's mother:
Teresa of León, Countess of Portugal
Father's mother:
Maud of Savoy
Father's mother's father:
Amadeus III of Savoy
Father's mother's mother:
Mahaut of Albon
Dulce Berenguer of Barcelona
Mother's father:
Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona
Mother's father's father:
Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona
Mother's father's mother:
Douce of Gévaudaun
Mother's mother:
Petronila of Aragon
Mother's mother's father:
Ramiro II of Aragon
Mother's mother's mother:
Agnes of Aquitaine

Marriage and descendants

Afonso married Infanta Urraca of Castile, daughter of Alfonso VIII, King of Castile, and Leonora of Aquitaine, in 1208.

Name Birth Death Notes
By Urraca of Castile (1186-1220; married in 1208)
Infante Sancho September 8, 1207 January 4, 1248 Succeeded him as Sancho II, 4th King of Portugal.
Infante Afonso May 5, 1210 February 16, 1279 Succeeded his brother Sancho as Afonso III, 5th King of Portugal.
Infanta Leonor (Eleanor) 1211 1231 Married Prince Valdemar, son of Valdemar II of Denmark and Margaret of Bohemia, daughter of Ottokar I of Bohemia.
Infante Fernando c. 1217 c. 1243 Lord of Serpa.
Vicente 1219 1219  
Natural offspring
João Afonso ? 1234 Natural son.
Pedro Afonso c. 1210 ? Natural son.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Amaral, Diogo Freitas do. D. Afonso Henriques: biografia. Colecção Figuras de todos os tempos, 3. Lisboa: Bertrand Editora, 2000. ISBN 9722511572
  • Anderson, James Maxwell. The History of Portugal. The Greenwood histories of the modern nations. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 9780313311062
  • Marques, Antonio Henrique R. de Oliveira. History of Portugal. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. ISBN 9780231031592
  • Mattoso, José. D. Afonso Henriques. Lisboa, Portugal: Circulo de Leitores, 2006. ISBN 9789724238678
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

House of Burgundy
Cadet Branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 23 April 1185; Died: 25 March 1223

Preceded by:
Sancho I
King of Portugal
1211 – 1223
Succeeded by: Sancho II


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