Maria of Aragon

Published on 31 January 2023 at 22:59

Maria of Aragon 

As the fourth child of Isabella the 1st and Ferdinand of Castile and Aragon, Maria is often forgotten in history or added in as footnote. She was betrothed at a young age to James V king of Scotts, but when  her older sister Isabella died in childbirth Maria was sent to Portugal to take her place. She married Manuel I of Portugal and they fell quickly in love with each other. She was described and quiet and pious, the perfect queen of the time. She had 10 children and was very involved in their lives. Her grandson became Philip II of Spain. 


I really think that history has done Maria dirty big time. I really can't find much about her specifically. So, everything here as been cobbled together from other people's stories. She's surrounded by all these other people with huge personalities that she just gets lost even though she a princess of a powerful country and marries to become queen as Portugal in the full swing of the era of exploration. 

The Beginning 

Maria was born on June 29th 1482. Her mother, Isabella I had been pregnant with twins but the other child was still born, a girl they names Anne. When she was born, Isabella and Ferdinand were busy crusading. Isabella, being the badass she was, just pulled over to pop them out real fast. She stayed with her parents for most of her childhood. Back then it would have been typical for Royal couples to send their children away to be raised and educated by other powerful people. Isabella tried to always keep her children with her and they both valued education above anything. Maria and her sisters got a much better education than any woman in the time would have dreamt of getting. She was taught the usual feminine arts like dancing, sewing, music, even baking (which I thought was odd for a future queen, when would she ever need to cook) but she also learned things like math, history, philosophy, and languages. 


Being the daughter of the catholic monarchs definitely had its effects on Maria. For her entire life she was praised for her piety and good nature. Isabella was definitely a multifaceted person. She was teaching her daughters that there was godliness in being submissive and following her husband while also showing them how much of a strong leader she was. (keep in mind she was the regnant of Castile and did not allow Ferdinand to take the title of king). You can see with the youngest Catalina (who would become Katherine of Aragon) how she learned to juggle those two things, especially in the early days of her marriage when Henry VIII left her as regent. (I'll definitely write a blog about her for more details later). With Maria it seems that she learned to keep her head down and be the pious religion woman she talked about. 


Isabella's ultimate goal was to marry all of her children into strong marriages and create a religious dynasty that would allow her children to spread Catholicism widely. Her oldest daughter Isabella was married to Portugal, Juana was married to the son of the holy roman emperor, and Catalina was engaged to the heir of England. As it was through most of history, England and Scotland were fighting a lot so Isabella figured if she married Maria to King James IV then she and Catalina could help keep the peace between the two countries. This suggests to me that Catalina and Maria must have been close as children but again, I can't much about her. 

He oldest sister Isabella had married the heir of Portugal, he had died, and she had come home. Soon after, Manuel I "The Fortunate" became king. He wanted to Marry the widowed Isabella but she wanted to become a nun. Queen Isabella offered that he could marry Maria instead, as the only daughter without a set match. But Manuel refused immediately. He didn't want anyone but Isabella, so eventually she agreed to marry him. In their marriage contract it was agreed that if Isabella married him he would expel the Jewish population from Portugal and he agreed. All Jewish people were forced to either convert or leave the country. The kicker, if they left they weren't even allowed to take their children with them. 

Soon Isabella gave birth to a son and died, leaving Manuel in search of a new bride. He and Maria had met before at his wedding to Isabella but he must not have been very impressed because he still refused to marry her. Queen Isabella really needed the alliance not to fall apart so she offered a large dowry for the daughter and Manuel started to warm to the idea. In 1500 his and Isabella's son died and left him without an heir. This seemed to push him over the edge and the two were married a month later on October 30th in Alcacer do Sal. 

It seems like from here on she lived a quiet life. There doesn't seem to be any scandal or court intrigue that followed her in Portugal even though everyone in this time seems to have a juicy story.  

Portugal is now in full swing of conquering the new world and they are unbelievably rich. Manuel and Maria have a very steady and happy marriage. He loves her piety and together they fund churches and other charities. She supported the expulsion and persecution of the jews and muslims so this family is really batting 1000% on the racist ideology. 


Maria had 10 children, 8 of which lived to adulthood. 

Her oldest was named John and became the next king of Portugal as John III and had 10 children, was succeeded by his Grandson, Sebastian I 

the second, Isabella, married Charles III and became the holy roman Empress. She had 9 children. I will probably write an article about her here someday. 

The third was named Beatiz and she is also up for her own post someday. She had 9 kids but sadly only one survived to be an adult.v

The fourth, Luis, duke of beja. He was never married but he did have at least one illegitimate child. 

The fifth was named Ferdinand duke of guarda and had two children but neither survived into adulthood. 

The sixth was named Afonso and he became a cardinal with no recorded children. 

The seventh was named Henry, he became a cardinal and then followed Sebastian as king. He was known as "The Chaste" or "the cardinal king." He had no children. 

the eighth was a little girl who died at birth named Maria. 

The ninth was name Duarte and honestly I don't know where that name came from but I'm happy it's getting mixed up. He had three children 

The tenth and last child was Antonio who died at birth. 

If you kept track, that means Maria had at least 34 grand children. She should be remembered at least for building the dynasty her mother so wanted. 


Being almost constantly pregnant for 17 years took a huge toll on Maria's health and a few months after Antonio she died on March 7th, 1517 in Lisbon. She buried at the convent of the mother of god but was later moved to the Jeronimos Monastery of Santa Maria de Belem in Lisbon which she and her husband had founded together. She is now entombed beside Manuel. He was later married again but neither of his other wives are laid to rest with them. 

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