Crato, Dom António, prior of

(1531-1595)
   Briefly, the 18th king of Portugal and a frustrated, exiled claimant to the Portuguese throne. Antonio, known to history as the Prior of Crato, was for part of the summer of 1580 the king of Portugal, before the Castilian forces of King Phillip II defeated Antonio's weak forces and impelled him into exile. The illegitimate son of the infante, Luís, second son of King Manuel I of Portugal and a woman commoner who may have been a New Christian, Antonio's legitimacy as a royal heir was always in doubt. After his father's death in 1555, Antônio abandoned his religious vocation and pursued the life of administrator, warrior, and anti-Muslim crusader in Morocco. Joining two Portuguese expeditions to Morocco (1574 and 1578), Antônio became a prisoner of war after the disastrous battle of Alcácer- Quivir (1578).
   Freed by payment of a ransom, Antônio returned to Portugal to pursue his claim to the throne, following both the death of King Sebastian and that of Cardinal Henrique. Although Antônio was acclaimed king of Portugal in the cities of Santarém, Lisbon, and Coimbra, and ruled a portion of Portugal in summer 1580, his followers were defeated by Phillip II's army in the battle of Alcântara, 25 August 1580. Hidden by his followers for months, Antônio escaped to exile first in England and then in France. An expedition led by England's Francis Drake in 1589, with the mission to drive out the Spaniards and to restore the Prior of Crato to Portugal's throne, failed. Once more, Antônio fled to exile in France, where he died in Paris in 1595.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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