The influence of the Moors and world exploration opening doors to the art forms of India and the Orient are evident in the tile designs augmenting architecture throughout Portugal. The photographs here are from Museu Nacional do Azulejo, the National Tile Museum.
The home of the tiles is the Convent and Church of Madre de Deus, founded in 1509 by Queen Dona Leonor (1458-1525). The gilded church and large collection of reliquaries containing remnants of saints seem fit for a queen, and the queen did indeed spend her retirement years there praying for the poor and presumably for the souls of deceased members of the royal family who played parts in the lethal jockeying for political power and rights to the throne.
Tile overload? Sorry, I have no power to resist them.
But, here, pause to take in some of the court conniving surrounding the family of Queen Leonor.
Leonor was only 12 years old when she wed Prince Joao (John) (1455-1495). She became queen consort when her husband rose to the throne as King John II in 1481.
Perhaps wisely so, King John II perceived many plots and conspiracies swirling about during the early years of his reign, and relatives of his wife were among the prime suspects. The King had her sister’s husband executed for treason and personally plunged in the sword ending the life of her older brother. The Bishop of Evora was imprisoned, where he succumbed to poison.
Their son Alonso (1475-1491) married into the royal family of neighboring Castille. Unfortunately, his in-laws, King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella, only had one feeble and frail son. They viewed Alonso’s marriage into the family as a potential threat to the sovereignty of Spain. Prince Alonso died under suspicious circumstances while out riding, contributing yet one more thorn to the relationship between the countries sharing the Iberian Peninsula.
This left the crown of Portugal without an heir apparent, and King John II lobbied hard to propel his illegitimate son into that role. Queen Leonor did not welcome those efforts and even appealed to the Pope for intervention.
King John II died unexpectedly early at only 40 years of age, quite possibly the victim of one of the poisonous plots he feared. The crown passed on to the Queen’s brother, Manuel I (1469-1521), as explorations were launching Portugal’s golden age.
1 thought on “Postcard from Lisboa, Portugal: Too Many Tiles and a Few Juicy Royal Tidbits”
I’d be panting, simply beside myself, seeing all those beautiful tiles! Thank you for sharing them.