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Sancho I of Portugal (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsɐ̃ʃu]), nicknamed "the Populator" (Portuguese: "o Povoador"), King of Portugal (Coimbra, 11 November 1154[1]  26 March 1211[2][3]) was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fifth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father and was crowned in Coimbra when he was 31 years old on 9 December 1185.[4] He used the title King of Silves from 1189 until he lost the territory to Almohad control in 1191.[5]

Sancho I of Portugal
King Sancho in the Castilian manuscript Compendium of Chronicles of Kings (...) (c. 1312-1325)
King of Portugal
Reign6 December 1185  26 March 1211
Coronation9 December 1185
PredecessorAfonso I
SuccessorAfonso II
11 November 1154
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Died26 March 1211(1211-03-26) (aged 56)
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal
Santa Cruz Monastery, Coimbra
Dulce of Aragon
(m. 1174; died 1198)
Among others...
  • Teresa, Queen of León
  • Sancha, Lady of Alenquer
  • Afonso II, King of Portugal
  • Peter I, Count of Urgell
  • Ferdinand, Count of Flanders
  • Mafalda, Queen of Castile
  • Branca, Lady of Guadalajara
  • Berengaria, Queen of Denmark
HousePortuguese House of Burgundy
FatherAfonso I of Portugal
MotherMatilda of Savoy
ReligionRoman Catholic

Early life

Golden coin with the effigy of Sancho I
Golden coin with the effigy of Sancho I

Sancho was baptized with the name Martin (Martinho) since he was born on the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours.[6][7] On 15 August 1170, he was knighted by his father, King Afonso I,[8] and from then on he became his second in command, both administratively and militarily. At this time, the independence of Portugal (declared in 1139) was not firmly established. The kings of León and Castile were trying to re-annex the country and the Roman Catholic Church was late in giving its blessing and approval. Due to this situation Afonso I had to search for allies within the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal made an alliance with the Crown of Aragon and together they fought Castile and León. To secure the agreement, Sancho married Dulce,[9][10] younger sister of King Alfonso II of Aragon, in 1174. Aragon was thus the first Iberian kingdom to recognize the independence of Portugal.


With the death of Afonso I in 1185, Sancho I became the second king of Portugal. Coimbra was the centre of his kingdom; Sancho terminated the exhausting and generally pointless wars against his neighbours for control of the Galician borderlands. Instead, he turned all his attentions to the south. With the help of some soldiers on their way to join the Third Crusade, he sacked Alvor and took Silves in 1189, an event recounted in detail by an eyewitness in De itinere navali.[11] Silves was an important city of the South, an administrative and commercial town with population estimates around 20,000 people. Sancho ordered the fortification of the city and built a castle which is today an important monument of Portuguese heritage. At the time he also styled himself "By the Grace of God, King of Portugal and Silves (Dei Gratiæ, Rex Portugalliæ et Silbis). However, military attention soon had to be turned again to the North, where León and Castile threatened again the Portuguese borders. Silves was again lost to the Moors in 1191.[12]

Sé Cathedral of Guarda and the statue of Dom Sancho I
Sé Cathedral of Guarda and the statue of Dom Sancho I

Sancho I dedicated much of his reign to political and administrative organization of the new kingdom. He accumulated a national treasure, supported new industries and the middle class of merchants. Moreover, he created several new towns and villages (like Guarda in 1199[13]) and took great care in populating remote areas in the northern Christian regions of Portugal – hence the nickname "the Populator".[14] The king was also known for his love of knowledge and literature. Sancho I wrote several books of poems and used the royal treasure to send Portuguese students to European universities. He died in Coimbra, aged 56.

Marriage and issue

Sancho married Dulce of Aragon, daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona and Petronilla, Queen of Aragon. Eleven children were born from this marriage, nine of whom reached adulthood:

Sepulchre of King Sancho I at the Monastery of Santa Cruz (Coimbra).
Sepulchre of King Sancho I at the Monastery of Santa Cruz (Coimbra).

Children out of wedlock

With Maria Aires de Fornelos, daughter of Aires Nunes de Fornelos and Maior Pais, who was buried at the Monastery of Santo Tirso in accordance with her last will, Sancho had two children, both born before his marriage to Dulce of Aragon:[24][25][lower-alpha 3]

After Dulce's death, he had an affair with María Pais de Ribeira "a Ribeiriña" for whom he is often said to have written and dedicated a cantiga de amigo, A Ribeirinha, composed in 1199, the oldest text known in Portuguese poetry.[25] That is contested nowadays by the Portuguese historian António de Resende Oliveira, who claims this cantiga was composed by Alfonso X of Castile or perhaps Sancho II of Portugal.[30] At least six children were born of this relationship:[31][32]

Sancho had a son with Maria Moniz de Ribeira, daughter of Munio Osorio, tenente of the comarca of Cabreira and Ribera,and of Maria Nunes of Grijó,:[38]


  1. The necrology of Santa Cruz de Coimbra records the death "VII Id Mar" of "dominus Raimundus filius domini regis Sancii et reginæ donnæ Dulciæ"; A. Brandaõ: Quarta Parte da Monarchia Lusitana, Lisbon 1632, Liber XII cap. XXI, p. 33. He was presumably not alive in Mar 1189, the date of his father's charter in which he is not named. Raimundo was probably not his parents' oldest son as naming the first son after his maternal grandfather was unusual. If that is correct, the known dates of birth of his siblings indicate that Raimundo was born either in 1186 or after 1189.
  2. The Nobiliario of Pedro Conde de Barcelos names "D. Alonso Sanchez, El Infante D. Pedro, El Infante D. Fernando Conde de Flandes, El Infante D. Enrique" as the sons of "D. Sancho Rey de Portugal" and his wife "D. Aldonça"; Pedro Barcelos, Tit. VII, Reyes de Portugal, 3 p. 30. He was presumably born after, or only shortly before, his father's charter dated March 1189. Sousa says that the necrology of Santa Cruz de Coimbra records the death 8 December of Infante dom Henrique, but he does not quote the wording in the source or provide a citation reference.[21]
  3. Maria later married Gil Vasques de Soverosa with whom, in 1175, jointly with the two children she had with Sancho appears in the Monastery of Santo Tirso making a donation to some relatives.[26]


  1. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 79.
  2. Carvalho Correia 2008, p. 179.
  3. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 84.
  4. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 80.
  5. Álvarez Palenzuela 2013, p. 66.
  6. Mattoso 2014, p. 226.
  7. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 71.
  8. Mattoso 2014, p. 363.
  9. Mattoso 2014, pp. 290 and 334.
  10. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 83.
  11. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 82.
  12. Caetano de Souza 1735, p. 83.
  13. Evans, David (2004). Portugal. New Holland Publishers. pp. 195. ISBN 9781860111266.
  14. Caetano de Souza 1735, pp. 80–81.
  15. Mattoso 2014, p. 334.
  16. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 84.
  17. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, pp. 84 and 89.
  18. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 89.
  19. Caetano de Souza 1735, pp. 88–89.
  20. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 85.
  21. Caetano de Souza 1735, pp. 87.
  22. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, pp. 85 and 92.
  23. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, pp. 85 and 93.
  24. Carvalho Correia 2008, p. 180.
  25. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 94.
  26. Carvalho Correia 2008, p. 21.
  27. Carvalho Correia 2008, pp. 178, 180–182.
  28. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1997, p. 166.
  29. Carvalho Correia 2008, pp. 180–182.
  30. Branco, Maria João (2006). D. Sancho I (1st ed.). Lisbon: Temas e Debates. p. 45. ISBN 9724235173.
  31. Carvalho Correia 2008, p. 187.
  32. Rodrigues Oliveira 2010, p. 44.
  33. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, pp. 223–224.
  34. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, p. 223.
  35. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, p. 224.
  36. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, pp. 224–225.
  37. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, p. 225.
  38. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, pp. 168 and 261.
  39. Sotto Mayor Pizarro 1987, p. 168.


Sancho I of Portugal
House of Burgundy
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 11 November 1154 Died: 26 March 1211
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Afonso I
King of Portugal
Succeeded by
Afonso II

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