The poet Luis de Camoes called the sons of the King D.João I the “illustrious Generation”, to pay tribute to the influence that they had in the Portuguese history.
They were Dom Duarte, the future monarch, Dom Pedro that would succeed him as regent of the kingdom ,Dom Herique the Navigator, Dom João ,the Royal Warden and the martyr Dom Fernando, the Holy Prince.
Dom Pedro, the Duke of Coimbra, is one of the less known members of the royal family, notwithstanding the fact that he was the instrument to far-reaching changes in the Portuguese kingdom.
It was during the regency of Dom Pedro regency, after the death of his brother, King Dom Duarte,that the strategy of the Portuguese Discoveries was formulated.
Dom Padro was called the “Wandering Prince” because in the early stage of his life he travelled extensively through Europe and the Middle East in various diplomatic and military missions.
It was the exposure to other cultures and civilizations that created in Dom Pedro the desire to open Portugal to the rest of the world.
Dom Pedro fought in the Crusades against the Turks
His military experience, which started with his father and brothers in the conquest of Ceuta in 1415,would take him to participate in the Crusades against the Turks and to Northern Europe ,fighting to defend the Holy Roman Empire.
The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund was so impressed by his bravery in combat that he bestowed him the title of Duke of the Italian province of Treviso.
During the years that he travelled Europe Dom Pedro led various diplomatic missions to England ,France, Venice and to the Roman Empire of Constantinople.
He also frequented several universities and contacted the most eminent academics and philosophers of his time, during a period when Europe was going through great changes from a Medieval society to the beginning of the cultural Renaissance.
Dom Pedro returned to Portugal after the death of his brother Dom Duarte, to become the Regent of the kingdom for about ten years, while the future Dom Afonso V was still a minor.
During his government the Portuguese expansion policy changed, from a belligerent conquest of North African Mediterranean fortresses, to a broader vision of exploring the oceans and the discovery of unknown territories.
The structural and financial support that he granted to his brother Infant Dom Henrique was paramount to the successes of the Sagres Nautical School and the subsequent Portuguese Discoveries.
The most remarkable testimony of Dom Pedro intellectual brilliancy is the book ”Tratado da Virtuosa Benfeitoria”, that he wrote the about exercise of power to govern with fairness and integrity ,which was reflected in the legislative and economic reforms that were implemented during his mandate ,aiming at social justice and the protection of the lower classes from the arbitrary power of the ruling elites.
When the king Afonso V came to power the conspiracy and intrigue of the nobility led to Dom Pedro’s downfall in inglorious death in the battle of Alfarrobeira, the Lisbon suburb of Alverca.