Habsburg Iberia Points West


The 16th century was a time of crisis and change for Portugal’s empire.
The Aviz dynasty, which ruled Portugal from 1385 until 1580, included a number of remarkable and wise monarchs.
When Sebastian died in Morocco, the throne was inherited by his great uncle, Cardinal Henrique.
He unsuccessfully petitioned Pope Gregory XIII for a dispensation to marry, in spite of his advanced age of 66, in a final effort to continue the Aviz line and avoid a foreign king ruling Portugal.
There were several claimants to the throne, all with equally legitimate claims.
Cardinal-King Henrique died in 1580 and what he had sought so hard to avoid came to pass.
The person in the strongest position (geographically, financially and strategically) to inherit was Philip II of Castile and he lost little time in consolidating his Portuguese supporters, buying more through generous payments and, ultimately, sending troops commanded by the Duke of Alba to invade Portugal, having himself crowned king in 1580.
He said: ‘I inherited it, I bought it, and I conquered it.’ This period (1580-1640), when Portugal was one of many Iberian kingdoms ruled from Madrid, became known as the Union of the Iberian Crowns.
At the same time, Brazil was in need of defence by its new monarch.
Sarmiento’s account is coloured by his dislike of Diego Flores de Valdés.
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