Se Deus quiser, há-de brilhar! - Uma História do Império Português (Updated 07/05)

Prologue: Roots of an Empire
Prologue: The roots of an Empire


Se Deus quiser, há-de brilhar,
De novo a Coroa sobre as Lusas armas!
Que a nossa Pátria soube, sempre honrar,
Que a nossa Pátria soube, sempre honrar!

The Kingdom of Portugal is a byproduct of the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Founded in its multicultural roots in its Celtic, Roman, Germanic and Islamic past in 1139 by an ambitious son of a bastard who doubled the size, it was one of the first to complete its reconquest by two centuries in 1249. From there it became an obscure, small realm on the fringes of Western Europe until it became an unlikely player in global expansion through not only gold, god and glory, but from sheer luck and determination.

Portuguese sailors began charting the Atlantic islands and the African coast in the early 15th century, using recent developments in mapmaking, navigational and maritime technology like the caravel, establishing forts and feitorias as they went, in order to find the sea route and the source for the lucrative Spice Trade.

A replica model of a Portuguese Caravel

Over the course of four centuries, the Portuguese built an empire spanning from from the northern island of Bacalhau to the rocky Cabo da Boa Esperança, from the tropical rainforests of the Amazonas to the islands of Ateroa.

It’s not only the spices and the exploration that mattered. It is 1475 AD, and King Afonso V has set his sights on maintaining Portugal’s place and reputation in the Iberian Peninsula [1].

The Kingdom of Portugal and its possessions, 1475
[1] The POD will be somewhere in the War of Castilian Succession, stay tuned :)
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Chapter 1 - The Reign of Afonso V
Chapter 1 - The Reign of Afonso V

Note: This chapter explains the background of the Portuguese King Afonso V and his OTL reign prior to the POD, in order to get a better understanding of Portugal’s situation prior to the War of the Castilian Succession.

A contemporary portrait of King Afonso V, hand-colored sketch from the journal of Georg von Ehingen, a German Swabian knight who briefly served him in Ceuta in 1458-59

King Afonso V’s personality was viewed as a complex and intriguing one. Having one of the longest reigns out of any ruler in the House of Avis, he assumed the throne in 1438 when he was 6 years old, succeeding his father Duarte I, and grew up with a humanist education under his regent Pedro, the Duke of Coimbra. From there, he acquired a taste for the arts (particularly books and music) and became the first Portuguese king to form a royal library. He was ambitious, with a fascination for crusading, becoming a hermit and plotting to one day rule the Iberian Peninsula, still displaying a mentality of the medieval era just as when the Western world begins to slowly transition into the Renaissance in the late 15th century.

The first two Dukes of Bragança, Afonso I and his son, Fernando I

Afonso V’s reign was also a time when nobles began to have more freedom as royal lands, offices and benefits were transferred to the nobles more frequently, with the position of the Portuguese nobility strengthened, mostly in the hands of just a few, like Prince Henry the Navigator and the first Dukes of Bragança like Afonso I, the illegitimate son of Afonso V’s grandfather King João I and the founder of the House of Bragança and his son Fernando I. The Dukes of Bragança were advocates for the rights of the nobility in this time. Other magnates prospered during the king’s reign, as shown in the progression of titles such as the marquis and viscount, in addition to existing titles like the duke and the count. For example, Afonso’s brother, Infante Fernando was given the title of the Duke of Beja in 1453 and of Viseu in 1460, and the Duke of Bragança’s oldest son was given the title of the Duke of Guimarães and his other two sons marquis of Montemor-o-Novo and count of Faro respectively. Such was the royal estate that was greatly depleted at the time.

In the scope of foreign policy, Afonso V turned to consolidating Portugal’s holdings in Morocco. His grandfather had propelled Portugal’s greatness in the Conquest of Ceuta in 1415, and now he wanted to emulate it in order to secure a foothold in the Tingitana Peninsula. The king's army conquered Alcácer Ceguer in 1458 and Arzila in August 24, 1471. The strategic port of Tânger followed suit four days later after its garrison fled upon the news of the conquest of Arzila.

The Conquest of Arzila in 1471, from the Pastrana series of tapestries

In his role in Portugal’s early stages of the Age of Discovery, Afonso V continued to support the exploration of the Atlantic Ocean led by Prince Henry the Navigator. In 1445, Henry set up a trading post on the island of Arguim, which became a source for gum arabic and slaves for Portugal. Ten years later, 800 slaves were shipped from Arguim to Portugal every year. However, after Henry’s death in 1460, King Afonso V did nothing to continue his work. In this part, he was passive king, and chose not to pursue on revising the existing laws of the Kingdom, nor did he do anything to develop commerce, instead focusing on continuing the legacy of his father and grandfather, especially when it comes to consolidating on its Moroccan possessions.

The fort of Arguim island, sketch from circa 1660 AD

In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas, which granted the Kingdom of Portugal the right to conquer and subjugate Saracens and pagans to “perpetual servitude.” Two years later, this was reinforced with another papal bull Romanus Pontifex, which gives Portugal dominion over the lands south of the Cabo Bojador, and to prevent other nations from infringing Portugal's rights of trade and colonization in these regions, especially in context with the Portuguese and Castilian competition for the discovery of the new lands, in addition to the reaffirmation of the Dum Diversas papal bull.
I hope they are able to conquer some of morrco and keep it putting them on a better powerbase vs spain than otl
I hope they are able to conquer some of morrco and keep it putting them on a better powerbase vs spain than otl

I feel like doing more Moroccan conquests in the future will be a drain on Portugal's resources. Maybe they can do more in a century and a half or two, but my take on Portugal's Moroccan possessions is that they are limited to Ceuta and the Tangier peninsula with Mazagão as an important waystop, in order to divest more into further colonization outside of Metropolitan Portugal.


I feel like doing more Moroccan conquests in the future will be a drain on Portugal's resources. Maybe they can do more in a century and a half or two, but my take on Portugal's Moroccan possessions is that they are limited to Ceuta and the Tangier peninsula with Mazagão as an important waystop, in order to divest more into further colonization outside of Metropolitan Portugal.
Unfortunately that was a fault of Portuguese thinking, they did little to nothing to develop the country and promote trade. We squandered the largest empire in world.

So unless a different mentality appears we will end up with problem we had in the 16th century too many wars, too many enemies and not enough people.

Maybe interjecting in the Castile civil war will result in Portugal gaining few provinces such as parts of Galicia, Leon or even Andalusia.

As for Morocco only a fractured country could help the Portuguese really gain a large foothold that encompasses more than city or fort.
Have to agree with Lusitania. There are many factors going against Portugal in their quest to become a world power but the two biggest is their relatively small population and lack of traction. Something has to come up that forces them to take their empire more seriously and they need to increase their population as much as possible if they want a chance to compete with the likes of Britain, Spain, or France.

Morocco is honestly not that valuable for the time being and too much work to maintain. With the exception of the North African port cities like Tangier, Portugal should invest more in fully colonizing the New World and coming back to North Africa at a later date.


Of course when talking about making a bad situation worse is the upcoming expulsion of Portuguese Jews and Muslims even those who had converted. The Portuguese under threat of its larger neighbor followed their example and expelled all non Catholics. Who went to Netherlands and Ottoman Empire enriching both countries.

How to stop this, how to prevent handicapping the country and enriching its rivals?
Footnote - layout of my timeline + Bonus pics
I am still in the process of writing my next chapter (here's a hint - expect Portugal to double its size by the end of the War of Castilian Succession) so here is how my timeline will be laid out:
  • Chapters - this will pertain to Portugal and its colonies itself
  • Interludes - chapters regarding countries other than Portugal, I know that there are butterflies abound but if anyone can help me out, it will be great, feedback is greatly appreciated
  • Footnotes - personal status of my timeline, and perhaps maps and flags
In the meantime, here are some pics that I would like to share. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to mass at the Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in San Jose. San Jose, as well as the adjacent city of Santa Clara is home to a large community of Portuguese people, mostly from the Azores who did agricultural work in the Santa Clara Valley in California before the rise of the Silicon Valley tech industry. The church was modeled after a baroque church in Braga, and the interior is very unique for a church here in the area. The strong Azorean presence can be seen with an altar dedicated to the Cult of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres.

Hah! I noticed the reference to the song :3 nice taste. Subscribed.

Thanks! "Deus, Pátria, Rei" is one of my favorite Portuguese monarchist musical pieces and I always loved it to the point where I loop the song whenever I play EU4 as Portugal, the others being the "Hino da Carta" and the "Hino da Maria da Fonte."

In addition, I also enjoyed listening to some Estado Novo-era pieces like the famous "Angola é Nossa" due to its recent memeical context, especially in Portuguese history memes and the Kaiserreich mod, as well as some fado music from the Colonial War.
Thanks! "Deus, Pátria, Rei" is one of my favorite Portuguese monarchist musical pieces and I always loved it to the point where I loop the song whenever I play EU4 as Portugal, the others being the "Hino da Carta" and the "Hino da Maria da Fonte."

In addition, I also enjoyed listening to some Estado Novo-era pieces like the famous "Angola é Nossa" due to its recent memeical context, especially in Portuguese history memes and the Kaiserreich mod, as well as some fado music from the Colonial War.

You can find a clip of Angola é nossa in my channel. I also made clips from the Brazilian new state. A song that you might like that is not there however, it is called "O maps está errado" Made when the Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek visited Portugal on 1957. The lyrics goes as:

"The map is wrong,
This cannot be right!
Brazil and Portugal,
Are not far, they are close!

Remove the ocean,
End the confusion!
Brazil and Portugal
Are two in the same heart!"

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Chapter 2 - Triumph at Toro
Chapter 2 - Triumph at Toro
Note: Finally, after going through a minor 2-week writer’s block while trying to visualize my POD, in addition to starting another semester at college, here is the next chapter. I felt very anxious about writing this chapter, given that this is my first TL. Feel free to give any feedback and suggestions.

Despite the transfer of power to the nobility and the prominent Moroccan conquests he had taken in his reign such as the conquest of Tânger, what Afonso V was mostly known for today was the doubling of Portugal’s size. The origin of Portugal’s last main expansion in mainland continental Europe was the fight for the Castilian throne.

During his reign, Afonso V abandoned the policy of avoiding dynastic interference with its main neighbor to the west, the Kingdom of Castile. The first occurrence happened in 1447 when Isabel, the daughter of João, Constable of Portugal and the son of João I; the second one occurring eight years later in 1455 when Afonso’s sister Joana married the weak King Enrique IV of Castile. This union produced a daughter who would play a key role in the expansion of the kingdom, Joana, known as “a Beltraneja.”

Joana a Beltraneja
Shortly before his death in 1474, Enrique IV bequeathed his kingdom to Joana and called on Afonso V, who was a widower after the death of his first wife Isabel of Coimbra, to marry her and assume the Castillan throne. However, Joana’s succession was disputed by Enrique’s sister, Isabel and her husband Fernando, the prince of Aragon and heir to the Aragonese throne after his father, Juan II. Isabel’s supporters believed that Joana was the daughter not of Enrique, but of one Castilian nobleman under the name of Beltrán de la Cueva, the 1st Duke of Alburquerque.

However, shortly before the invasion of Castile, Afonso V had a different thing in mind: if Portugal wanted to become one of the greatest European powers for centuries to come, it needs to expand with more land and manpower. Under his humanist upbringing, he remembered the genealogy of his predecessors, dating back to the first count of Portugal, Vímara Peres.

The first County of Portugal existed from the mid-ninth to the mid-eleventh centuries as a vassal of the Kingdom of Astúrias and later the Kingdoms of Galiza and Leão, until Nuno Mendes rebelled for greater autonomy in 1071 and became king of both Galiza and Portugal, and then subsequently defeated by his former liege, Garcia II in the Battle of Pedroso. The second iteration of the county, which succeeded as the modern-day Kingdom of Portugal was founded by Henry of Burgundy in 1096, the son-in-law of King Alfonso VI of León and Castile and the father of the first king of Portugal, Afonso I. Afonso, however, never managed to get back Galiza in order to get support from the crusaders in order to expand Portugal, especially during the Siege of Lisboa in 1147.

The borders of the second County of Portugal, 1096
Afonso V believed that Portugal would be a very prestigious kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula if he managed to snatch the lands of his former overlords, especially Galiza, which was the main origin of the modern Portuguese state, despite being in the hands of Castile. He then decided to use his claims to Castillan throne as an excuse to push for Portugal’s expansion beyond its current borders, in addition to the justice of his niece’s cause, moved by his honor to uphold the power of the House of Avis and persuaded by Castilian exiles.

With that being said, he entered Castile in May of 1475 as the head of a small army and proceeded to Palencia. From there, he married Joana and then applied for a Papal dispensation to claim the Castilllan throne. Despite widespread opposition from the Castilian nobility and a lack of aggressiveness by Afonso V, the “Miracle of Lusitania” came a year later on March 1 at the town of Toro in Leão.

Both Joana’s and Isabel’s forces have numbered up to 8,000 men, with a third of them being cavalry. On the Portuguese side, Afonso V led the middle, with Prince João leading on the left with harquebusiers and most of the cavalry, and the Archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña leading the left. On the Castilian side, Fernando led the middle, with the 1st Duke of Alba on his left, and six different divisions under different commanders on his right.

The Battle of Toro, 1476
The battle started when Fernando’s right wing advanced against Prince João, but the elite Portuguese knights were too powerful and soon routed the right flank from the battlefield. In the meantime, the center wing was the focus of the eventual climax of the battle, Fernando closed with Afonso in the center, and two hours into the fighting one of Afonso’s knights stabbed Fernando [1], who eventually died from his injuries a day later. Seeing Fernando lying on the ground, the pandemonium eventually spread to the left wing led by the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza, with all hope lost. In the end Afonso’s center finally had the advantage, with his son proved victorious on the left side.

Toro proved to be a major political victory for the House of Avis, with more nobles supporting the cause of Joana. On July 1476, Afonso V of Portugal departed towards France to convince Louis XI (he already made an alliance in an opportunity to weaken the possibility of a potential union of Castile and Aragon on September 23, 1475) to involve France to a greater extent. Louis then agreed to this deal, sending a small contingent to assist the Portuguese, especially towards Navarre [2]. In the months before Afonso's visit to France, between March and June 1476, French troops captained by Alain I of Albret crossed the border at Fuenterrabía, taking advantage of the situation in Navarre with Castile weakened after the death of Fernando at Toro [3]. In the summer of the same year, a large Castilan fleet of 35 ships led by Pedro de Covides was defeated by small Portuguese fleet near Elmina off the Gulf of Guinea [4], giving the Portuguese an advantage over its position in the Atlantic, with a large amount of gold captured by the Portuguese was enough to strengthen Afonso’s position during the war.

Minor skirmishes against Isabel’s forces persisted until January of 1477, when a war-weary Isabel of Castile sued for peace and met with Afonso V in the town of Mérida in the southern part of the Kingdom of León. The terms of the treaty were [5]:
  • Queen Isabel will abdicate the Castilian throne in favour of Joana a Beltraneja as Juana I, and her husband King Afonso V of Portugal jure uxoris as Alfonso XII. Isabel of Castile must also recognize Juana as a legitimate daughter of Henry IV and the rightful Queen of Castile,.
  • The Kingdoms of Galicia and León (now Galiza and Leão) are to be transferred to King Afonso V of Portugal's domain, and to be given to Prince João and his son Infante Afonso per line of succession to Afonso V upon his death.
  • Isabel's recognition of her own rights as heiress presumptive are to be upheld until Juana has children. Upon Juana I's death, the Castilian succession will go to the offsprings made between Joana and Afonso V.
  • The Atlantic territories between both Castile and Portugal are to be shared and their respective spheres of influence are delimited, with Portugal having the upper hand.
  • All territories and shores disputed between Portugal and Castile will stay under Portuguese control; Guinea with its gold mines, Madeira, the Açores and Cape Verde. Portugal also won the exclusive right of conquering the Kingdom of Fez.
  • Portugal’s rights over the Canary Islands (As Ilhas Canárias) were recognised while Portugal won the exclusive right of navigating, conquering and trading in all the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, Portugal attained hegemony in the Atlantic not only for its known territories but also for those discovered in the future.
  • In addition, Castile must also cede the rock of Gibraltar to Portugal, giving the Kingdom a strategic naval choke point with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait. It would eventually become one of the Portuguese Navy’s most important bases
  • France and Portugal will guarantee the Kingdom of Navarre
  • Castile was given a war compensation (in the form of Afonso’s gold captured from the Castillans in Guinea)
  • The supporters of Isabel and Fernando who were taken prisoner by the Portuguese are to be pardoned.
With the treaty ratified, Portugal is now in a bigger position to dominate as one of the main powers in the Iberian peninsula, leaving a weakened Aragon and a rump Castile ruled by Juana I. Isabel and her daughter of the same name, Isabel fled Castile upon abdication to Palermo, Sicily where Isabel's daughter assumed the Sicilian throne upon Fernando's death, with Isabel herself as the queen dowager [6]. With his new wife Joana, Afonso V spent the last four years of his reign consolidating on Portugal’s new conquests until his death in 1481. Today, he is referred to his sobriquet “o Lusitano” (The Lusitanian) for doubling the size of Portugal [7].

D. Afonso V “o Lusitano” (r. 1438-1481)

The Kingdom of Portugal and its neighbors after the Treaty of Mérida, 1477. What is not shown is its insular possessions, plus the Canary Islands.
[1] Here's your POD: Ferdinand of Aragon is fatally wounded at the Battle of Toro, leading to an Avis/La Beltraneja victory in the War of Castilian succession, making Portugal a dominant player in the Iberian Peninsula and giving it a stronger starting position for a bigger and stronger Portuguese Empire.
[2] OTL Louis XI refused to intervene further in Castile, as he was focused on defeating his main enemy, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. But again, the victory at Toro changed all of that.
[3] OTL they were repelled, and Ferdinand took advantage of the situation to secure his position Navarre. With Ferdinand defeated at Toro, this is the beginning of a domino effect across Castile.
[4] With Isabel's supporters getting desperate after their defeat at Toro, the battle occurred 2 years earlier than OTL
[5] Basically a reverse Treaty of Alcáçovas with Portugal gaining the upper hand. Thanks to @Lusitania for the suggestion!
[6] Unlike the Aragonese throne, the Sicilian throne allows female inheritance.
[7] OTL Afonso V was known as "o Africano" (The African) for his conquests in Morocco.
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