King Duarte (1391 - 1438)
The eleventh King of Portugal, Duarte was the son of João I and Philippa of Lancaster. He was born in Viseu on 31 October 1391. His reign was short but decisive, lasting only five years. He strongly advanced the internal administration and maritime expansion, through his North African campaign.
At the level of internal political affairs, Duarte passed the Lei Mental, a set of laws of major importance for governance of the realm. He convened the national assemblies or Cortes five times during his reign (in Santarém in 1433 and 1434; in Évora in 1435 and 1436; and in Leiria in 1438), revealing his constant concern with consulting public opinion.
Duarte's reign was marked by the rounding of Cape Bojador by Gil Eanes, a feat that opened up the African coast to more rapid exploration and dynamised maritime expansion.
With the support of his queen, Leonor (Eleanor) of Aragon, and his brothers Fernando and Henrique, Dinis launched a campaign of expansion in North Africa against the advice of other members of his family.
The military debacle at Tangier and the resulting death of Fernando in captivity in Morocco, affected Duarte and all his family drastically.
Duarte died at the Convent of Christ in Tomar on 13 September 1438. He was laid to rest in the pantheon of the Aviz dynasty in the Monastery of Batalha.