The son of Afonso III of Portugal and Beatrice of Castile, Denis was the 6th King of Portugal. Having been crowned in 1279, he ruled Portugal intelligently and progressively until 1325 (†).
His reign was a period of significant political and administrative reforms but also of particularly notable artistic and cultural influences.
In 1282, he married Elisabeth of Aragon, who is now known as the Holy Queen due to her being associated with the Miracle of the Roses, which is said to have happened to her.
King Denis left behind a notable legacy in Leiria, leading to him being known as the “Farmer King” or “Poet King”; a legacy that can still be seen to this day, him having been responsible for the silting and domestication of the river (River Lis Fields), as well as the expansion of the Leiria Pine Forest, which provided the raw materials used to make ships in the Age of Discovery.
These actions proved essential to developing the economy of the small village of Lis.
In terms of the king’s cultural legacy, he signed the document instituting the founding of the first-ever Portuguese university in São Simão Palace, in Leiria, on the 1st March 1290, in addition to his dabblings as a troubadour, having written almost one hundred and fifty poems.
You’ll be hard pushed to find a Portuguese person unfamiliar with his poem “Oh flowers, oh flowers of green pine trees”.
Finally, one mark left behind by the king that is still visible in the city to this day is Leiria castle keep, a key feature in both the geopolitical and military strategies laid out by the king during his reign.