This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5 -- Feast of Ferdinand the Saint Prince

Patron Saint of Little Brothers
 I hate it when this happens.  I posted this yesterday, but then learned that his feast is June 5, not June 4.  Thus, here he is again. 

I am trying to be sympathetic with Prince Ferdinand.  It must have been tough for him, being the youngest of six impressive children.  His oldest brother, Edward, was the successor to their father, King Joao I.  Another brother, Henry the Navigator, was brilliant and daring.  Count Pedro, Joao's favorite, was the best traveled prince of that era and had numerous lands under his control.  Isabella, his sister, was married to the Duke of Burgundy, a vast and powerful region that nearly became its own kingdom.  Young Joao had several territories under his control, but was also constable of all Portugal.  And even the half-brother, Alfonso, was the first Duke of Braganza as well as the eighth count of Barcelos.  I don't know for a fact that young Ferdinand was consumed by envy, but you could hardly blame him if he was.

Ferdinand's coat of arms
Ferdinand got a couple of postage-stamp-sized territories.  He was appointed commander of the Order of Aviz, the royal order of knights in Portugal.  That doesn't suck, but if you are the part of the illustrious generation, you want more.  Or rather, moor -- as in, you'd like to boot those Berber bastards out of Spain and claim the land they have for yourself.  After all, Big Brother Henry says it is a good idea, and everyone is always saying how smart Henry is.

Duarte (King Edward) wasn't very keen on it.  He might have asked Ferdinand why he had declined the cardinal's hat that Pope Eugene IV offered.  Securing the Church for the family would have been a bright jewel in the crown, but Ferdinand (to his credit) hadn't heard the call and so he declined.  The Church had enough young princes trying to use it for political advantage.

I admire that about Ferdinand; it helps me be sympathetic to him.  He laid a siege of Tangiers, but the Sultan's regional governor, Abu Zakariya Yahya al-Wattasi, surrounded the Portuguese army with a larger one.  Trapped, unable to break through, and cut off from supplies, Ferdinand was starved into submission.  King Duarte agreed to swap the city of Ceuta in exchange for his army -- the army came home, but Ferdinand was packed off to Fez as a hostage.  The Portuguese Cortes (parliament) refused to ratify the treaty, so Ferdinand's status in Fez was downgraded to felon.  Ugly got uglier as Duarte ordered the city to be surrendered anyway, but his emissary was intercepted by Genoese pirates.  Ferdinand died after six years hard in Fez.  

He tried, failed, suffered, and died.  His older brother, Duarte, regretted both the attempt and his own inability to free his little brother.  Duarte slipped into depression and died prematurely.  Grim end to the story, but sainthood brightens the story, right?

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