Queen Dona Leonor the Founder of the city of Caldas da Rainha
Queen D. Leonor The "Perfect"
The most important figure of our city is, nothing more, nothing less, Queen D. Leonor (1458-1525), our founder and responsible for the construction of the Thermal Hospital, around and in function of which it developed to what is today the our city, and whose name it refers to D. Leonor.
Introducing you to our patron, D. Leonor was born in Beja in 1458 and before becoming Queen by marriage (1481) with the future King D. João II… her cousin (yes, they read well, they were right cousins!), we said that D. Leonor before her marriage to Príncipe Perfeito was already a princess of the House of Avis, since she was the great-granddaughter of King D. João I (1385-1433), the Mestre de Avis, and also the granddaughter of the first Duke of Bragança , D. Afonso, who in turn was married to D. Beatriz Pereira, daughter of D. Nuno Alvares Pereira, Constable of the Kingdom and right hand of D. João I, among others, at the Battle of Aljubarrota… we were also confused, but the policy of marriages between relatives required it!
Queen Dona Leonor the Founder
To confuse a little more, we can also say that our D. Leonor was only the third and last queen consort (through marriage to the heir to the throne) born in Portugal and that she was also the first representative of the national royalty to belong to the Casa Bragança, which came to represent Portugal as a Royal House after the Restoration of Independence in 1640.
Just to feed this confusion a little more, with the death of D. João II in 1495, and without him and D. Leonor having left an heir to the throne, in fact they had a son who died at a young age in a horse accident, who took the throne was the brother… of D. Leonor… and cousin of D. João II, King D. Manuel I (1495-1527), who would also have an important role in the history of our land.
When our dignified founder was introduced and her complex genealogical connections were overcome, it is important to understand why this connection exists between D. Leonor and Caldas da Rainha and how it was defined.
Well then, legend has it that on the day of funeral celebrations in honor of D. Afonso V, father of D. João II… and uncle and father-in-law of D. Leonor, taking place at the Monastery of Batalha, on the way from Óbidos to the Battle, the Queen crossed with a group of people who were bathing in puddles near the road and that when asking to ask what it was, she was told that the waters helped these people to feel better about themselves. your physical or health difficulties.
Queen Dona Leonar and The history of a Thermal Hospital that is said to be the first in the world
From there until the construction of what is considered by many to be the first Thermal Hospital in the world was a small step, having D. Leonor paid for the construction of the same, starting the works in 1484.
The well-deserved Queen was also responsible for writing the respective regulation that became known as the Queen's Commitment, published in 1512, where it was defined that the institution would serve to support the kingdom's poor and disadvantaged free of charge.
That same year, the aforementioned D. Manuel I, Leonor's brother, would assign the town charter to Caldas da Rainha, which would enshrine the rapid growth of the place, the affirmation of its importance and above all its independence from the municipality of Óbidos, to which it had belonged until then under the name of Caldas de Óbidos.
It is seen that our existence is due to the work and generosity of D. Leonor and for that reason, in addition to the name of the city referring to the genesis of this connection, many other forms of homage and thanks to the queen have been promoted over the centuries and some can be seen and visited.
Being the Thermal Hospital the reason for the foundation of the city and the main legacy of D. Leonor, as it could not fail to be the institution uses the queen's name as the official designation, the same being possible to stand out in relation to the square where the Hospital is built and that also presents a toponymy in order to honor our founder.
In addition to these two places, there is also the “Rainha”, the central point of all homage to D. Leonor and where there is a statue by Francisco Franco, inaugurated in 1935, representing the founder of the city and which since it was placed there the attention to the official toponymy of the place that intends to honor the Count of Fontalva, an important personality of the beginning of the 20th century and that has passed into the background since the “Queen” was “inhabiting” her square.
Largo do Conde de Fontalva
It is precisely in this square and next to the statue of D. Leonor that the official acts of May 15th, city day, municipal holiday are celebrated and that serve as thanks and recognition to D. Leonor and all the attention he gave to this land and its waters.
The outline of the statue of the Queen, made in plaster, can also be contemplated, since it is part of the collection of statuary in the permanent collection of the José Malhoa Museum, whose visit is indispensable, not only for the quantity and quality of the art exhibited there but also for being built right in the center of Parque D. Carlos I.
Also included in the permanent collection of the José Malhoa Museum, in this case in the painting collection is the representation of Queen D. Leonor painted by José Malhoa himself, a natural painter from Caldas da Rainha, who, at the invitation of António Montez, in 1924, made that painting with the triple objective of paying homage to D. Leonor, bringing José Malhoa back to his homeland and decorating the noble hall of the Industrial and Commercial Association at that time.
There is no doubt about the importance of D. Leonor to our land and there is also no hesitation in saying that Caldas da Rainha has shown his thanks and recognition to D. Leonor for his generous attitude for over 500 years ago.