The king who built the famous Pena Palace

Algarve historian Peter Kingdon Booker will be giving a talk on “Dom Fernando II, The German Consort”, known for his contribution to art and architecture in Portugal, on May 24 in the Lagoa municipal library (6pm) and on May 27 in the Tavira municipal library (11am).

In the mid-19th century, there was an amazing similarity between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves. Each country found itself ruled by a young Queen in need of a husband.

Both Queen Maria II of Portugal and Queen Victoria found their future spouses in the same German family, that of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

At the age of 18 in 1836, Queen Maria II married her Ferdinand (her third husband). And in 1840 at the age of 20, Queen Victoria married her first husband Albert, her own first cousin and the cousin of Ferdinand. Each of these marriages was both productive and short.

Victoria had nine children before Albert died in 1861, and Maria had seven children before in 1853 she pegged out in childbed.

Albert was regarded with suspicion by the political establishment in Britain and lent his weight to the abolition of slavery, the running of the Queen’s household and the organisation of the Great Exhibition.

Similarly, Ferdinand was excluded from the government of Portugal, even though he was king in title.

He was interested in art and architecture, and we owe to him the salvation of many of the buildings associated with the history of Portugal, such as the Mosteiro da Batalha and the Torre de Belém; and his own great contribution to Portugal’s heritage, the Pena Palace in Sintra.

Without Ferdinand’s enormous contribution to his adopted country, the built environment which illustrates Portuguese history would be very much poorer.

This talk is organised by the Algarve History Association.

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