Theresa, Countess of Portugal

Theresa, Countess of Portugal

Queen Theresa of Portugal, Countess of Portugal, (Portuguese Rainha Dona Teresa, Condessa de Portugal) (sometimes Infanta Teresa of León) (1080 – November 11, 1130), illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso VI of León and Castile and Ximena Moniz.

In 1094, her father married her to a French nobleman, Henry of Burgundy, nephew to the queen, a brother of the Duke of Burgundy, a descendant of the kings of France in the male line. Henry was providing military assistance to father-in-law against the Muslims on the Portuguese march. The County of Portugal, the southern part of the realm of the assassinated brother of the Leonese king, Garcia II of Galicia and Portugal, was Theresa's dowry, establishing Henry as Regent in the County of Portugal, her personal fief, till her coming of age.

At first, Henry was a vassal of his father-in-law, but when Alfonso VI died in 1109, leaving everything to his daughter Urraca of Castile, Henry invaded León, hoping to add it to his lands. When he died in 1112, Teresa was a very young widow, maybe aged eighteen years, and left to deal with the military and political situation. She took on the responsibility of government, and occupied herself at first mainly with her southern lands, that had only recently been reconquered from the Moors as far as the Mondego River. In recognizing her victory in defending Coimbra, she was called "Queen" by pope Paschal II and in light of this recognition, she appears in her documents as "Daughter of Alphonso and elected by God", explicitly being called queen in an 1117 document, leading some to refer to her as the first monarch of Portugal. [Marsilio Cassotti, "D. Teresa utilizou armas de homens" - Jornal de Notícias (pag.39), July 13, 2008]

In 1116, in an effort to expand her power, Teresa fought her half-sister and Queen, Urraca. They fought again in 1120, as she continued pursue a larger share in the Leonese inheritance, and allied herself as a widow to the most powerful Galician nobleman for that effect. This was Count of Trava, who had rejected his first wife to openly marry her, and served her on her southern border of the Mondego. In 1121, she was besieged and captured at Lanhoso, on her northern border with Galicia, fighting her sister Urraca. A negotiated peace was coordinated with aid from the Archbishops of Santiago de Compostela and Braga. The terms included that Theresa would go free and hold the county of Portugal as a fief of León, as she received it at first.

By 1128, the Archbishop of Braga and the main Portuguese feudal nobles had had enough of her persistent Galician alliance, which the first feared could favour the ecclesiastical pretensions of his new rival the Galician Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Diego Gelmírez, who had just started to assert his pretensions to an alleged discovery of relics of Saint James in his town, as his way to gain power and riches over the other cathedrals in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Portuguese lords rebelled, and the Queen was deposed after a short civil war. Her son and heir, Afonso, defeated Teresa's troops near Guimarães and lead her, along with the Count of Trava and their children, into exile in the kingdom of Galicia, near the Portuguese border, where the Trava founded the monastery of Toxas Altas. Teresa died soon afterwards in 1130, being succeeded by her son.


MATTOSO, José, "D. Afonso Henriques", Círculo de Leitores e Centro de Estudos dos Povos e Culturas de Expressão Portuguesa, 1st ed., Lisboa, 2006, ISBN 972-42-3867-9978-972-42-3867-8.

ee also

*History of Portugal
*Timeline of Portuguese history
**Second County of Portugal (11th to 12th century)

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