The municipality of Avis has held the Iberian Medieval Festival of Avis since 2003. The event takes place on the second weekend in May (10th,11th,12th). The connection of Avis to the Order of St. Benedict of Avis and the Joanine Dynasty, or House of Aviz, makes this event a milestone in the national cultural scene.
During these three days, the historical centre of Avis becomes the stage for historical reenactment that intends to portray life in the Middle Ages. We travel in time and are taken to a universe filled with dances and merriment, horseback tournaments, street artists, and fire jugglers that add to the natural scenery left to us by the Order of Avis.
Craftsmen, merchants and innkeepers coming from all over the country with colourful stalls give a boost to the town’s ambiance.
This is a true living history lesson which unravels the arts, sounds and tastes of other times.
On the Iberian character of the Medieval Festival
There are many episodes in which Portuguese and Spanish History cross paths and the Military Order of Avis is no exception. That is the reason why the Festival assumed an Iberian character, embodied namely in the protocol of mutual cooperation established in 2016 with the Fundación Bodas de Isabel, in Teruel.
This year’s theme
The Festival’s theme relates facts of local, national and international history in which there was intervention of the Order of Avis or Joanine Dynasty. These facts are reported in historical documents or in scientific publications with interconnection between history and art. This year’s Festival focuses on the figure of D. João, who was Master of the Order of Avis and later King of Portugal. D. João I played a crucial role in the development of our country and its foreign relations. The Iberian Medieval Festival of Avis depicts the great historical period between 1391 and 1475. The first period portrayed at the event takes the visitors back to the 14th century when a papal bull confirmed King João as king of Portugal and reinstated his marriage with D. Filipa de Lencastre. But the end of that century was marked by constant wars with Castile, the capture of Badajoz, Salvatierra de Miño, Sotomayor and Tui, and the siege of Valença de Alcântara. However, with the new century, peace came by the hand of the one who had once been Master of Avis, and on 6th October, 1402, the Treaty of Segovia was signed. Peace with neighbouring people allowed us to look strategically at the country. We thus enter the second period portrayed at the Festival, which is dedicated to the preparation of the Armada that would later turn a new page in the history of Portugal and the world: the Portuguese Discoveries. This period was also marked by the death of Queen D. Filipa de Lencastre, who had been responsible for bringing great mental and cultural innovation to the Portuguese court. She was a loving mother who always supported her sons, Princes Duarte, Pedro and Henrique, in the establishment of a new era.
Before her death, D. Filipa called for her sons and armed them Knights of Christ, then she broke a wooden cross in different parts and gave one piece to each one of her sons. The longest one was destined to D. João. D. Filipa ordered three gold swords inlaid with precious stones and handed them to her three sons: the sword of the defense of the people was given to D. Duarte, the sword of the ladies and maidens was given to D. Pedro, and the sword of the nobility was given to D. Henrique.
A week after the death of the Queen, the Armada left for Ceuta. The disembark in Ceuta and the capture of the land is the last event portrayed in the Iberian Medieval Festival of Avis.