João I reigned as the 10th king of Portugal, succeeding Fernando I in 1385. As the naturalized son of Pedro I and a Galician noblewomen, his ascension to the throne represented the beginning of the Aviz dynasty. His coronation came during a time of conflict with the Castilian crown, who had sought authority over Portugal during a period of anarchy following the death of Fernando. It could be said that turbulent relations with Portugal’s Iberian neighbours defined João’s reign.
João is commonly referred to as ‘the good’ or ‘the great’ by the Portuguese, due primarily to his victories over the Moroccan Marinid Empire in Ceuta as part of the Reconquista. This accomplishment, combined with the death of rival claimant to the Portuguese throne Juan I, ensured peace with Castile. However, this was not before João had helped provoke war between the two nations.
In 1387 João married Philippa of Lancaster in a political act intended to protect his claim to the Portuguese throne. Philippa was the daughter of John of Gaunt, the uncle of the King of England, who himself had a claim on the Castilian throne. By marrying Philippa João strengthened the existing Anglo-Portuguese alliance and entered into John of Gaunt’s campaign against Castile. This proved a poor political move. John of Gaunt had a history of military failures, notably leading the disastrous 1373 Great Chevauchée in France. His efforts in Iberia ended similarly, with many English troops succumbing to disease before an eventual retreat. João I demonstrated poor judgement by placing such faith in an unreliable ally, and it is possible that if it were not for the death of Juan I of Castile in 1390, Portugal would have fallen to Spanish rule far earlier than 1581.
It is safe to say that João’s great successes were in peacetime. His marriage to Philippa of Lancaster resulted in the flourishing of the House of Aviz, most notably their son Prince Henry the Navigator. João’s victory in Ceuta also gave the Portuguese a foothold in the Atlantic from which to launch the Portuguese Discoveries, which resulted in the discovery of Madeira and a golden age of Portuguese prosperity.
Josef Butler is a volunteer from London. History and Politics graduate from the University of Leicester. Currently living in Funchal and collaborating with University of Madeira Students’ Union as part of the History Tellers programme.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.