terça-feira, 3 de julho de 2007
Born on January 20.th 1554, Sebastian died on August 4.th 1578. He was grandson and successor of John III, and was under the regency first of his grandmother Catarina and then of his uncle Henry – a cardinal and later king – until declared of age in 1568.
Weak and sickly, Sebastian was imbued by his Jesuit upbringing with fanatic religious fervor, which he combined with a tremendous admiration for the military. Thus he viewed himself as a Christian knight and became determined to win glory by fighting the Muslim infidels in Africa.
An appeal for help from a pretender to the Moroccan throne gave Sebastian his opportunity. Having secured in 1576 a promise of aid from Philip II of Spain, who was his uncle, he spent vast sums of money in preparation for an expedition against Morocco.
In 1578, Sebastian set out with a large force of foreign mercenaries (but no Spanish) and landed in Morocco. His headstrong desire to command and his lack of experience led to defeat in the Battle of the Three Kings at Ksar el Kebir/Alcácer-Quibir. His army was wiped out, and he himself was killed. However, it was not known at the time that he was dead, and rumor had it that he had been captured. The legend that he would return persisted, and Sebastianism (a messianic religious belief) lasted well into the 19.th century.
His uncle Henry succeeded him and was the last of the Aviz kings. The crown then went to Philip II, and Spanish control of Portugal began and lasted until 1640.
According to the legend that turned into a myth as time went by, King Sebastian would return on a misty morning to save Portugal in its darkest hour. His historical nickname is therefore "o Desejado" (the one wished for).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
© 2004, Columbia University Press.
All rights reserved.
This is the beginning of one of the most "productive", recurring themes in Portuguese culture, namely in Portuguese literature.
Up to the present day, no major Portuguese writer, poet, playwright could ever help referring to this topic in his/her work.
In "La Raya Quebrada" (The Broken Border), a Spanish documentary on the relations between Portugal and Spain through History, it is said of King Sebastian that "he was deprived of the desire for women". A pearl shaped euphemism…