Denis, called the Farmer King (Rei Lavrador) and the Poet King (Rei Poeta), was King of Portugal and the Algarve. The eldest son of Afonso III of Portugal by his second wife, Beatrice of Castile and grandson of king Alfonso X of Castile (known as the Wise), Denis succeeded his father in 1279.
Culture was an interest of King Denis. He had a troubador with a fondness for literature and wrote several books himself, with topics ranging from administration to hunting, science and poetry. His best known is the Cantigas de Amigo which are a collection of songs on love and satire, which helped contribute to the troubador poetry of the Iberian Peninsula. All told, 137 of his songs (more than any other poet), in the three principal genres of Galician-Portuguese lyric, are preserved in the two early 16th-century manuscripts, the Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional, the Cancioneiro da Vaticana. A spectacular find in 1990 by American scholar Harvey Sharrer brought to light thePergaminho Sharrer, which contains, albeit in fragmentary form, seven cantigas d'amor by King Denis with musical notation. The same poems are found in the same order in the two previously known codices. In his day, Lisbon was one of Europe's centers of culture and knowledge. The University of Lisbon (today's University of Coimbra) was founded by his decree Magna Charta Privilegiorum, the first Portuguese University. He was also a troubadour.