Rui Gomes de Briteiros
Trovador medieval

Nationality: Portuguesa

Biographical Note:

Portuguese troubadour, active in the first half of the 13th century. Originating from a lineage of knights established in the region of Longos, Guimarães, Rui Gomes carries one of the clearest paths of social ascension of the Portuguese 13th century, a path, furthermore, continued by his descendants, two of which equally troubadours (his son Mem Rodrigues and his grandson João Mendes de Briteiros).
Born at the end of the 12th century, since a document shows him already an adult in 1220, Rui Gomes was the son of Gomes Mendes de Longos or de Briteiros and Urraca Gomes da Silva. In 1226, we find him in the court of Leon, as vassal to prince Dom Pedro Sanches, brother of King. Afonso II (and in litigation with him for having taken the side of his sisters, princesses Teresa and Mafalda, in the question of the infringement of their father’s will, a litigation that would lead him to exile in the Leonese court). With the departure of Dom Pedro Sanches to Aragon at the end of that decade, Rui Gomes returns to Portugal, being around that time the protagonist of a clamorous episode (one that left its mark in the satirical songs), the alleged kidnapping of the rich heiress Elvira Anes de Sousa or da Maia, with whom he effectively marries. If that kidnapping actually happened (which is questioned by Leontina Ventura and Resende de Oliveira1, especially because there is no mention of it in the Livro Velho de Linhagens, only in the following books), it is possible that Rui Gomes was again forced to leave Portugal for a while, there being, however, some reports of his presence in the kingdom in 1238. His destiny in the following years is unknown, but he possibly passed by the Castillian court in 1241 or 1242, judging by his participation in the set of songs addressed to the “moor” João Fernandes, probably composed in that context.
Those are also the years of the worsening of the conflict that led to the Portuguese civil war and the deposition of Sancho II (1245-48), and during which Rui Gomes becomes one of the most ardent supporters of the Count of Boulogne, promptly joining him in Paris, where he is one of the witnesses to the important document where Dom Afonso swears to accept the regency of the kingdom. After the outcome of the civil war, with the new monarch’s ascent to the throne (1248), he rewards his loyalty by elevating him to the category of rico-homem (high nobility) and bestowing him the title of mordomo-mor, a role he performed, however, for a short time, since he must have died before 1250, maybe during the military operations that led to the conquest of Algarve.


1 Ventura, Leontina e Oliveira, António Resende de (2003), "Os Briteiros (séculos XII-XIV) 4. Produção Trovadoresca", in Os Reinos Ibéricos na Idade Média. Livro de Homenagem ao Professor Doutor Humberto Carlos Baquero Moreno, coord. Luís Adão da Fonseca et al, vol. II , Porto, Livraria Civilização.

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