Folklore – Dom Sebastião, the Portuguese King Arthur?

Hello, everyone! How are you all doing? Well, I hope! I’m alive, and still getting used to this whole 2023 thing. I’m also still sorting out my job situation, but everything will eventually fall into place, I hope.

With that out of the way, I thought I’d share a tiny tidbit of folklore I have always been fond of. I first heard of it in Literature classes, and it was all so fascinating I thought I’d share it. So sit down and grab your favorite beverage.

Dom Sebastião (Dom was a title commonly used for noblemen in the Portuguese language, mostly for king and princes – nowadays it’s still used for Catholic bishops and abbots) was the King of Portugal from 1557 to 1578, when he vanished during the battle of Alcácer Quibir, in Morocco. He was an only child, and his father died before he was born, meaning his birth and survival were extremely important for the country.

He rose to the throne at the age of 14, despite having rights to it from the age of three when his grandfather, the king, passed away. Dom Sebastião wasn’t particularly well versed in the art of war, but he felt he had to go to Morocco in order to protect Portuguese interests in the country against the encroaching Turkish armies.

It all came to a head on August 4th, 1578, when the battle of Alcácer Quibir came to pass, and the Portuguese army was defeated. That included the death of disappearing of Dom Sebastião. He was last seen alive refusing to surrender. His last recorded words were “Royal freedom shall only be lost with the loss of one’s life”. Once those words were said, the Turkish army went on the attack and Dom Sebastião was surrounded until he could no longer be seen, meaning there were no actual Portuguese witnesses to the moment of his death.

Some bodies have been found and given as Dom Sebastião’s body, but there was never actual proof of identity, thus giving rise to the legend of Dom Sebastião as “the sleeping king”, a Messianic figure who shall rise to aid Portugal in its darkest hour.

A fun fact is that in Brazil, at the end of the 19th century, a group of dissidents with a strong religious component, during the War of Canudos (I can talk about this one in the future if you think it’s interesting), believed Dom Sebastião would come to their aid and help them re-establish a Monarchy here.

There is a lot more historical stuff, but who cares about that? Just kidding, but I wanted to share the folklore part. I may talk more about Portuguese and Brazilian history at some point.

That’s all for today! See you all soon!


2 thoughts on “Folklore – Dom Sebastião, the Portuguese King Arthur?”

  1. This is a cool myth/legend. Did he die that day? Was he spared? Was there divine intervention so that he might return some day and return Portugal to its former glory? The story is a bit inspiring. He went down fighting for his country. Great share. Keep them coming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess we’ll all know what actually happened when he comes back! I know I would love to know! And I agree, it’s pretty inspiring that he gave his life for his country! And I will be sure to keep more of the myths coming!

      Liked by 1 person

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