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King Sebastian of Portugal

Probably one of the most famous kings in Portuguese history.

King Sebastian of Portugal (20 January 1554 – 4 August 1578) is very popular amongst us volunteers so that it took me a little discussion so that I am finally the one who writes about “the desired”.

But why is he so famous? Was it because he invited the Jesuit order in 1569 to the island of Madeira after a huge French privateer attack in 1566 where French soldiers robbed and plundered the archipelago? Or because he was the youngest king Portugal ever had, who became king with just 3 years because his father Prince John died before he was born, his mother Joanna of Spain returned shortly after his birth to serve as regent of Spain while her brother Philip II of Spain was in England to marry, and his grandfather King John III of Portugal died in 1557? Or were the legal reforms, mainly the Lei das Armas a military organization model, the Celeiros Comuns (Communal Granaries) and to prevent native Brazilian Indians for mistreats in slavery he did so important and progressive? The answer is no! He became so popular because of the way he disappeared in a crusade against the moors in the battle of Alcácer Quibir in the north of Morocco, leaving Portugal behind with no heirs. This led to a crisis in Portugal.

The official reason for the crusade against the moors was the discharge of the Moorish king Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi by his uncle Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi with the support of the Ottomans. But Sebastian wanted mostly to protect the Portuguese interests in the region and distinguish himself with a successful crusade so he followed the call for help of King Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi. In the battle of the three kings near the town of Ksar-el-Kebir and Larache on 4 August 1578 the armies clashed and Sebastian’s and Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi’s troops were completely defeated. The former Moorish king died and Sebastian was last seen riding against the superior Moorish army. On the battlefield, 19.000-23.000 European soldiers and 6.000 Moorish soldiers fought, of whom 8.000 died and 15.000 were captured, against 60.000 men. Since several soldiers returned to Portugal, many Portuguese hoped that Sebastian survived the battle as well and would come to reclaim Portugal from Phillip the II of Spain and the I of Portugal who became King of Portugal because Sebastian did not have any heirs. The faith that Sebastian would come to save Portugal from the, in some Portuguese opinion not rightful reign by a Spanish king is called Sebastianism and the reason Sebastian is also called “the desired”.

The cause of the lack of heirs is that Sebastian never married although he had several offers which he refused. This leads to theories that Sebastian was either influenced by his strict Catholic education of the Jesuits so that he connected sex and woman with sin or that he was homosexual and therefore not interested in marriage which would also brought him the duty of creating an heir.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Julius Sax, a volunteer from Germany with interest in basketball, tennis, scouts, playing guitar, read and meet friends.


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.

European Voluntary Service

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.