A natural son of João II of Portugal, Jorge could have become king after the freakish death of Afonso the other sole male son and half brother, but was not recognized as a legitimate heir in time; the throne passed to Manuel I, producing a rift among the aristocracy that brought many explorer and armada captains to the side of Jorge, including Vasco da Gama and his officers.
Born in 1481, his mother was Ana de Mendonça, mistress of the king; he was educated away from the royal court until the death of his half brother, who was the legitimate heir to the Portuguese throne[1.179].
The king faced then a dilemma because hos cousin Manuel was the next in line, he didn't have any daughter to marry, nor a legitimate son to follow. So, he would have to do with Jorge because he did not trust his cousin, whom he considered to be little more than a harmless idiot and an enemy, since he had killed part of Manuel's family but let him live based on his apparent lack of intellectual prowess.
Petitions to the Pope, Alexander VI in order to bring legitimacy to Jorge as heir were rejected, and so João had to face reality: Manuel would be king. Nevertheless, he attempted to amass as much power as possible for João in order not to give in to his cousin, and since everybody tried to avoid troubles, and even a civil war, a settlement was finally made.
As a consequence of this, Jorge married Beatriz de Vilhena[1.180], a daughter of Álvaro de Bragança[1.183], one of the aristocrats that João despised but could not do without.
After Manuel I became king of Portugal, Jorge de Lencastre continued to be an influential figure in the kingdom but over the years, he somewhat lost power for various reasons, being one of the most important ones that Manuel I dedicated quite a bit of his resources to erode Jorge's position.
Many influential figures allied with Jorge de Lencastre as a political figure, including Vasco da Gama and his lieutenants, as well as many navigators and explorers (see Ancestors of the Skowronek Family in Portuguese Naval Expeditions). Jews also supported him.
Later on Jorge de Lencastre and Vasco da Gama clashed and the Duke began losing some of his allies. But they played a very important role by keeping the expeditions to India under a perspective of efficient management, since they believed that these were not renewed crusades but commercial ventures, and treated them as such, contrary to what the king and many at the court believed.
Jorge de Lencastre leaded the Order of Santiago and the Order of Aviz; the king, on the other hand, tried to promote his own Order of Christ, often to the detriment of the former two, mainly by recruiting some of its valuable members and passing decrees to their disadvantage.
After the death of Manuel I in 1521, Jorge de Lencastre had to keep struggling against João II, the new king, who, in turn, after Jorge's death, secured the two orders for himself by ruling that only kings would be from there on leading them, and by extinguishing the title of Duke of Coimbra.
Leaders often need to attract people that enjoy some degree of reputation or have some level of power both for publicity as well as practical purposes. Jorge de Lencastre certainly managed to do that, but that very fact served as a warning to his cousin Manuel I who was trying to secure his own position as king of Portugal and the Algarve. The case was not terminal, in the sense that seeing his position threatened, he could have had him arrested, or even assassinated. Instead, he opted to slowly erode the position that Jorge had in practical terms, particularly regarding the two orders that he had under his aegis.
Jorge was indeed a competitor but Manuel an later his son were successful in weakening his position without causing actual physical harm. Over many years Jorge lost control over his two Orders and most of his allies. Nevertheless, the Lancaster name and its Portuguese variants continued to carry significant prestige: His children and grandchildren mostly became religious figures or were suitably married into other families at a stage of relative decadence of the influence of the Lancaster clan within the royalty.
Family, descendants and traits:
It is within this context that we see the marriage of Ana de Lancastre with Bartholomew de Sampayo y Belmonte, their move to Amsterdam as representatives of the Portuguese in some sort of mission, and then the germanization of their family name from de Belmonte into van Schoenenberg and its subsequent variations.
It seems that for purely political reasons Jorge de Lencastre was somewhat ridiculed by official and court historians, but independent accounts and official proceedings from the orders he administered seem to show a competent leader.
Furthermore: When analyzing historical accounts of autocratic regimes care should be taken as not to take every word written for granted. What we have explained elsewhere about Spanish and Portuguese history regarding the time in which Jews were expelled, many families' especially among the aristocracy, where maaried with people of Jewish origin and suddenly they had to hide such facts for survival reasons. Even whole towns like Belmonte had to keep secrets in this regard, so it is no wonder that records that were too visible were destroyed or altered.
Take for example the case of the Lancastre family: One of its members during its earlier generations after Jorge became the chief inquisitor in Portugal, while Ana de Lancastre, grand daughter of Jorge, married Bartholomew van Schoenenberg, who was a Jew.
He had several sons and daughters with Beatriz:
João de Lencastre[1.181], 1st Duke of Aveiro
Afonso de Lencastre[1.182], Comendador-mor of São Tiago
Luís de Lencastre[1.174], Comendador-mor of Aviz
Jaime de Lencastre[1.185], Prior of São Pedro de Torres Vedras, 1st General-inquisitor of the kingdom
Helena de Lencastre[1.184], Comendadeira of the Royal Monastery of Santos
Maria de Lencastre[1.187], religious in the Monastery of Saint John in Setúbal (Soror Maria Madalena)
Filipa de Lencastre[1.188], Prior of the Monastery of Saint John in Setúbal
Isabel de Lencastre[1.186], religious in the Monastery of Saint John in Setúbal and after that in the Royal Monastery of Santos.
And he also had several sons outside his marriage. Ana de Lancastre, the wife of Dom Iago de Sampayo y Belmonte, from whom we descend (see Dom Iago de Sampayo y Belmonte), was arguably the daughter of Luis de Lencastre, son of Jorge, according to existing registers, albeit there are some indications that there was a second Ana de Lancastre, daughter of Afonso de Lencastre also a son of Jorge, and Violante Henriques, who might be our direct ancestor; this is something that we still have to find out. The fact remains that Jorge was the father of the father of Ana, and Ana is our 12th great grandmother, who married Bartholomew de Sampayo y Belmonte, a Jew, while her uncle, Jaime de Lencastre, became the first general inquisitor of Portugal.
Jorge de Lencastre,
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