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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Very Rare Afonso I
First King of Portugal

Triton XXI, Lot: 1130. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $3750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PORTUGAL, Kingdom. Afonso I o Conquistador (the Conqueror). 1139-1185. AR Mealha – Meio Dinheiro (17mm, 0.90 g, 12h). REX ALFOS, tree; cross pattée above / PORTVGA, cross pattée; star in first quarter, pellet in fourth. Gomes 01.01-08 var. (rev.); Vaz A1.05-06 var. (same); MEC 6, –. VF, toned. Very rare.

The first king of Portugal, Afonso I was the son of Henrique, the Burgundian Count of Portugal, and Teresa, the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI, King of Léon and Castile. Following Henrique’s death in 1112, Teresa ruled alone, since Afonso was an infant. Teresa’s political ambitions allied her with Fernando Pérez de Traba, a powerful Galician noble, who became de facto ruler of Portugal. This arrangement angered the Portuguese nobility, who sided with Afonso. Between 1127 and 1128, Afonso successfuly campaigned against his mother and her ally, her nephew Alfonso VII, King Léon and Castile. Defeating Fernando Pérez de Traba, Afonso exiled his mother and proclaimed himself Prince of Portugal. Afonso then turned his attention to the Almoravids, who controlled the southern Iberian Peninsula – including Lisbon and the southern districts of southern Portugal – for about a century. At the Battle of Ourique on 25 July 1139, he overwhelmed Almoravids and was proclaimed King of Portugal. The Kingdom of Léon and Castile, however, continued to view Afonso as a rebel, and the Almoravids refused to concede their lost territories. Throughout most of his reign, Afonso was involved in wars with his nephew, Alfonso VII, and his successor, Fernando II (who captured Afonso at Badajoz). Following the unsuccessful siege of Santarém by the Almohad Caliphate (who replaced the Almoravids) in 1184 – in which Fernando II came to the aid of the Portuguese and the Almohad Caliph subsequently perished of wounds received – Afonso himself died on 6 December 1185.