"Infante" (masculine) or "infanta" (feminine), also
anglicisedas "infant", was the title and rank given in the medievalEuropean kingdoms of Aragon, Castile, Galicia, Navarre, León, and Portugal to a son or daughter, and to a grandson or granddaughter in the male line of a reigning monarch (and also to a princess's children if she was the heir apparent to the throne), and their woman consorts. Male consorts had not, and have no right to the title, style and rank.
The name derives from the same root as "
infant," but this means simply "child" in Romance languages (cfr. French "Enfants de France"), and in this case indicates that the Infante or Infanta is the child of the monarch. Like the "Enfants de France", all "Infantes" in the different kingdoms were and are always royal princes, in the general meaning of the word.
"Infante" had no feminine form at first in Portugal, and may be related in Portuguese to the Portuguese lower nobility, the
infanções, who were also the younger children with no prospects of heritage in the noble houses they were born to, just distinguished in law by some prerogatives, but almost no patrimony.
Afterwards, the word "Infanta" emerged in Portugal as a feminised form applied to the Portuguese princesses after the 16th and 17th centuries. Also, after
Edward of Portugal, in the 15th century, the heir apparent and his older son, or daughter, were styled just as "Prince" and "Princess". The first Prince in Portugal was the future Afonso V, his eldest son, maybe adopting the French royal style by an English influence brought by queen Philippa of England.
After the ascension of the
House of Braganzato the royalty, it was added the title "Most Serene" ("Sereníssimo") to the title of Infante - as well as "Sereníssima" to Infanta -, since the complete name of this house was "Most Serene House of Braganza" ("Sereníssima Casa de Bragança"), a style granted by the Pope. The style, however, does not seem to be used with the title of Prince Royal.
The current Infantes of Portugal (presently a republic) are close relatives of
Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, head of the Portuguese Royal House:
*Maria Francisca, Infanta de Portugal - Duarte Pio 2nd child;
Infante Dinis, Duke of Porto- Duarte Pio 3rd child;
Infante Miguel, Duke of Viseu- Duarte Pio 2nd brother;
Infante Henrique, Duke of Coimbra- Duarte Pio 3rd brother.
Afonso de Santa Maria, Prince of Beira, Duarte Pio eldest son, as heir apparent to the Portuguese Royal House, is styled
Prince of Beira, not Infante.
After its independence from Portugal (
1822), Brazilian monarchy kept the use of "Infante" to indicate the siblings of the heir apparent. However, its use was gradually decreased since the official style for them was , distinguishing the Brazilian Infantes from the Imperial Prince of Brazil, the heir apparent, and the Prince of Grão-Pará, his/her eldest born son (or daughter). It should be noted that the Brazilian title of "Prince of Brazil" must not be confused with the former Portuguese homonym title.
In contemporary Spain, distantly related princes of the blood of the Spanish royal family are also granted the title. Note that "infante" is also used for a hereditary title of nobility, as in "los infantes de Carrión" in "The Lay of the Cid".
The current Infantas of Spain are:
Infanta Leonor of Spain(eldest daughter of Felipe and Letizia, Princes of Asturias);
Infanta Sofia of Spain(younger daughter of Felipe and Letizia, Princes of Asturias);
Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo(eldest daughter of Juan Carlos and Sofía, Kings of Spain);
Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca(youngest daughter of Juan Carlos and Sofía, Kings of Spain);
Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz(eldest sister of King Juan Carlos of Spain;
Infanta Margarita, Duchess of Soria(younger sister of King Juan Carlos of Spain;
Carlos de Borbón, Duke of Calabria and King Juan Carlos' cousin, also holds the title of Infante of Spain.
Prince Felipe, son of King Juan Carlos, as
heir apparentto the Spanish throne, is styled Prince of Asturias, not Infante.
Infanta de Castile
Prince Royal of Portugal
Prince of Beira
Prince of Brazil
Prince of Asturias
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