King Dinis (1261 - 1325)
The sixth King of Portugal. Dinis was the son of Afonso III and Beatriz of Castile. He was born on 9 October 1261 and died in Santarém on 7 January 1325. He was crowned in Lisbon in 1279 and had one of the longest reigns of Portuguese monarchs - 46 years.
Known for his intelligence, Dinis was the driving force behind important reforms in mediaeval Portugal.
He did away with privileges and favours that undermined the authority of the crown and, in 1282, established that judicial recourse could be made only before the crown and the Cortes or assemblies of the kingdom.
In 1284 he set up the Inquirições Dionisinas (royal commissions leading to edicts issued by the crown). The documentation of the commissions includes a document alluding to the settlement of Tomar and the foundation of the Castle during the reign of Afonso Henriques.
When Dinis ascended to the throne, Portugal was in dispute with the Vatican over abuses by the clergy in relation to properties of the crown. He established a Concordat with the Holy See, after which differences were settled between the Portuguese monarchy and the Portuguese church.
He supported the Portuguese Knights of the Order of St. James in their desire to separate from their Castilian master. He complied with the papal order for the disbandment of the Order of the Temple and founded, a short while later, the Religious and Military Order of the Poor Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Order of Christ, which inherited many of the men and assets of the Order of the Temple in Portugal.
Dinis went to war with Castile to gain the towns of Moura and Serpa and land beyond the Guadiana river, as well as a redrawing of the Ribacoa boundaries.
Although he was a great driving force behind Portugal's building a navy, it was in agriculture, the exploitation of which was mostly in the hands of the religious orders, that he sought to involve the people by facilitating the distribution of property and founding settlements.
He travelled to many towns and cities in Portugal, consolidating royal rights, strengthening justice and organising defences.
Dinis also developed town markets and fostered the export of agricultural produce to Flanders, France and England, establishing a treaty with the latter in 1308. These trading agreements also included salt and fish preserves.
He also advanced the mining industry, producing silver, tin and iron. In return he demanded a fifth of the ore and a tenth of pure iron for the crown.
King Dinis was also a great force in advancing the national culture. He established the Magna Charta Priveligiorum, which founded the first university in Portugal, and translated many literary works. His court was one of the most notable literary centres in the Iberian Peninsula.