The Treaty of Windsor (1386) in a European context
By Malcolm Vale
Paper given at The Treaty of Windsor (1386) and 620 Years of Anglo-Portuguese Relations Conference, held at St. Peter´s College, University of Oxford (2006)
Introduction: In the early evening of Monday 14 August 1385, between 6 and 7 p.m., a crushing defeat was inflicted by a Portuguese army on a numerically far superior and better-equipped Castilian force. In the short space of just over one hour, the royal standard of Castile was overthrown, and the 20,000-or-so-strong army of King Juan I disintegrated under a hail of arrows and crossbow bolts, accompanied by hewing and cleaving with swords and axes, from about 7,000 troops under King John I of Portugal. Many of those who managed to flee the field were soon to be murdered, as they tried to escape overland, by the Portuguese peasantry, so Castilian casualty figures were very high. Although the setting sun that evening was in the eyes of the Portuguese and their allies, it was also to set, metaphorically, on the ambitions of the kingdom of Castile-Leon to crush its western neighbour. The victory at Aljubarrota has been described as among the most decisive engagements of medieval warfare. The independence of the small kingdom of Portugal was thereby preserved, in the face of aggression, and probable annexation, by its larger and mightier neighbour.