Philippa of Lancaster, queen of Portugal (1360-1415)

Philippa of Lancaster, queen of Portugal (1360-1415)

By Manuela Santos Silva

The Rituals and Rhetoric of Queenship: Medieval to Early Modern, edited by Liz Oakley-Brown and Louise J. Wilkinson (Four Courts Press, 2009)

Introduction: Philippa (1360-1415), the English queen of the Portuguese, is most well known as the mother of scholarly progeny rather than for her own individual actions. Queen consort of King Joao I, the royal couple had six surviving children: Duarte I (1391-1438), Pedro, duke of Coimbra (1392-1449), Henrique (1394-1460), Isabella (1397-1471), Joao (1400-65), and Fernando (1402-43). Define as the ‘illustratious generation’, the royal children were curious about law, science and religion. Henrique – or Henry the Navigator as he is commonly called – dedicated his efforts, and even his fortune, to a quest for unknown lands and oceans. Pedro – Peter – her second son and a traveller, had a wide range of interests and knowledge. Duarte – or Edward – who became king in 1433 and died five years later, was probably the quietest of them all. Proficient in both Latin and Portuguese and the author of several books, Duarte was an intellectual, governing his realm through a well-structured bureaucracy, editing collections of laws and asking for written opinions from counsellors before taking decisions. Like his father, Duarte was fond of riding and hunting, and wrote a book on these subjects accordingly, yet he was also a highly religious man and, in this respect, his attitude is reminiscent of Philippa’s. While the remaining boys, Joao and Fernando, had notable roles to play in the formation of Portuguese policy, perhapsthe most important figure for the country’s foreign affairs was Phillipa and Joao’s daughter Isabella, who became duchess of Burgundy in 1430 after her marriage to Philip the Good.

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