Manuel I (May 31, 1469 – December 13, 1521), known as the Fortunate was King of Portugal from 1495 to 1521. A member of the House of Aviz, Manuel was Duke of Beja and Viseu prior to succeeding his cousin, João II of Portugal, as monarch.
Manuel was the ninth child of Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu and Beatriz of Portugal. His father, Ferdinand, was the son of Duarte, King of Portugal and the brother of Afonso V of Portugal, while his mother, Beatriz, was granddaughter of King João I of Portugal. In addition, his sister Eleanor of Viseu was the wife of King João II of Portugal.
As King Manuel ruled over a period of intensive expansion of the Portuguese Empire owing to the numerous Portuguese discoveries made during his reign. His sponsorship of Vasco da Gama led to the Portuguese discovery of the sea route to India in 1498, resulting in the creation of the Portuguese India Armadas, which guaranteed Portugal’s monopoly on the spice trade.
Manuel began the Portuguese colonization of the Americas and Portuguese India, and oversaw the establishment of a vast trade empire across Africa and Asia. He was also the first monarch to bear the title: By the Grace of God, King of Portugal and the Algarves, and the Sea from Both Sides of Africa, Lord of Guinea and the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce in Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India.
Manuel was a very religious man and invested a large amount of Portuguese income to send missionaries to the new colonies, among them Francisco Álvares, and sponsor the construction of religious buildings, such as the Monastery of Jerónimos. Manuel also endeavoured to promote another crusade against the Turks.
His relationship with the Portuguese Jews started out well. At the outset of his reign, he released all the Jews who had been made captive during the reign of João II. Unfortunately for the Jews, he decided that he wanted to marry Infanta Isabella of Aragon, then heiress of the future united crown of Spain (and widow of his nephew Prince Afonso).
Infanta Isabella’s parents were Fernando II of Aragon and Isabella of Cashad and they had expelled the Jews in 1492 and refused to marry their daughter to the king of a country that still tolerated their presence. In the marriage contract, Manuel I agreed to persecute the Jews of Portugal.
On December 5, 1496, it was decreed that all Jews either convert to Christianity or leave the country without their children. However, those expelled could only leave the country in ships specified by the king. When those who chose expulsion arrived at the port in Lisbon, they were met by clerics and soldiers who tried to use coercion and promises in order to baptize them and prevent them from leaving the country.
This period of time technically ended the presence of Jews in Portugal. Afterwards, all converted Jews and their descendants would be referred to as “New Christians”, and they were given a grace period of thirty years in which no inquiries into their faith would be allowed; this was later extended to end in 1534.
During the course of the Lisbon massacre of 1506, people invaded the Jewish Quarter and murdered thousands of accused Jews; the leaders of the riot were executed by Manuel.
The Lisbon massacre (alternatively known as the Lisbon pogrom or the 1506 Easter Slaughter) took place in April, 1506, in Lisbon in the Kingdom of Portugal. A crowd of Catholics, and foreign sailors who were anchored in the Tagus, persecuted, tortured, killed, and burnt at the stake hundreds of people who were accused of being Jews, and consequently deemed guilty of deicide and heresy.
Ironically Manuel I was awarded the Golden Rose by Pope Julius II in 1506 and by Pope Leo X in 1514. Manuel I became the first individual to receive more than one Golden Rose after Emperor Sigismund von Luxembourg.
The Golden Rose is a gold ornament, which popes of the Catholic Church have traditionally blessed annually. It is occasionally conferred as a token of reverence or affection. Recipients have included churches and sanctuaries, royalty, military figures, and governments.