Royal Cardinal


Henry (or Henrique) born on January 31, 1512 and died on January 31, 1580 reigned as King of Portugal and the Algarves and at the same time was a Cardinal of the Church. He ruled in Portugal between 1578 and 1580 and was known, for obvious reasons,  as “Henry the Chaste”.

Henry was the fifth son of King Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon and the younger brother of King John III. He was not expected to succeed to the Portuguese throne since he was a younger son. Ordained as a priest in order to promote Portuguese interests within the Church then dominated by the Spanish he, not surprisingly as the son of a king, rose fast through the hierarchy, becoming in quick succession Archbishop Braga, then Archbishop of Évora and eventually of Lisbon before receiving the red hat in 1545, along with the Titular Roman church of Quattro Coronati.

Henry served as regent for his grandnephew, Sebastian, after 1557, and then succeeded him as king after Sebastian was killed at the Battle of Alcázarquibir. Henry renounced his clerical offices on his own volition and sought to marry for the continuation of the House of Avis, but Pope Gregory XIII, closely tied to the Habsburgs who controlled Spain, did not release him from his vows. The Cardinal-King died in Almeirim without having appointed a Council of Regency to choose a successor.  Philip II of Spain who had a strong dynastic claim was elected King of Portugal at the Portuguese Cortes of Tomar in 1581.

For his arms he bore the royal arms of Portugal ensigned with a crown and a cardinal’s hat. (NOTE: the number of tassels was not fixed at 30 until the late 19th Century and prior to that cardinals often employed varying numbers of tassels on their galeri)


2 thoughts on “Royal Cardinal

  1. Perpignan

    Musing on this interesting post, I wonder if you could consider other royal princes of the Church since they give rise to such interesting heraldry : Henry IX of York, Fernando de Austria, Luís de Borbón, Reginald Pole, Charles de Bourbon-Vendome (Charles X), Vincenzo and Sigismondo and Maurizio di Savoia, Fryderyk Jagiellonczyk, Jan Olbracht Waza and Jan Kazimeirz Wasa, Franz Xavier von Habsburg, Conrad von Wittelsbach, Eitel Friedrich von Hohenzollern and a whole spate of Gonzagas (Valenti, Ferdinando, Francisco, Ercole, Scipione) all come to mind without researching. There must be some great pics somewhere ?


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