When King Ferdinand died, his daughter Beatriz, wife of the king of Castille, inherited the Portuguese throne. The people rebelled at the prospect of Castillian domination and proclaimed John, half brother of Ferdinand, king of Portugal.
In 1385, a Castillian army with 31,000 men marched towards Lisbon to enforce the rights of Queen Beatriz. A Portuguese army with 6,500 men marched to their encounter. The battle, one of the most important in medieval warfare, took place in Aljubarrota, near the town of Leiria. The Portuguese chose their positions carefully, digging ditches that prevented the Castilian cavalry from advancing. Against all odds, Portugal emerged victorious.
King John went on to marry Philippa of Lancaster and have seven children who brought Portugal great glory. One of them is Henry the Navigator.
To express his gratitude for the miraculous victory at Aljubarrota, King John built the Monastery of Batalha. If you’re traveling in the center of Portugal, don’t miss the chance to visit this beautiful monument that marks the beginning of Portugal’s golden age.