The First Queens of Portugal and the Building of the Realm

Miriam Shadis, Ohio University,

This essay will examine the patronage practices of the first queens of Portugal, from the hereditary Queen Teresa (d. 1130) to the queens Mafalda and Dulce (wives of Afonso Enriques and Sancho I respectively). Their patronage followed the trajectory of other royal patronage in Iberia and the wider European Continent: the introduction of the Cistercian Order (especially women's houses), linked to a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and then patronage of the new Mendicant Orders in the early thirteenth century. The “queenship,” however, of royal daughters (acknowledged as heirs and queens by their fathers) played an even greater role in the integration of the church and state of the new realm of Portugal, as these women founded, patronized or joined a number of monasteries there.

This study addresses a serious lacuna in scholarship on the relationship of the “making” of art and architecture to the “making” of the state, examining the foundation of the kingdom of Portugal as the context for the production of material culture, primarily religious architecture. While the conclusions of this work in progress are not yet firm, it appears that the common goal of state formation and the establishment of a ruling lineage created an arena in which men and women – rulers, religious, artists and architects – collaborated in vision and practice. Nonetheless, the result was often “feminine,” with royal daughters as directors, reformers and members of new foundations, creating a religio-political space for royal women.