It was difficult to recognize and recover his body in the middle of all the corpses who laid in the desert, unburied, at the mercy of animals and bandids and the inclemency of August in Morocco.
The Portuguese RF did all the best to recover the king's body but it prooved very difficult not only because it was extremely difficult to recognize him, but because the moorish king that won the battle was the enemy of D.Sebastião and the moorish king they wanted to defeat and so, he had no interest in help the king's removal.
D.Sebastião's uncle, Felipe II of Spain, who had an eye on the portuguese throne, move all the strings to have the alleged remains of his nephew brought back to Portugal by approaching the moorish king. Therefore there would be no doubts the king really had died in the battle, as nobody really saw him fall, nor even his closest friends and equerries.
There were legends that the king had survived and would return "in a foggy morning".
Some said he was appalled by the dimension of the defeat felt dishonored and had retreat, others, that he had been captured and "sold" to uncle Felipe.
One thing is certain. The alleged body of the king remained in Ceuta, a portuguese town in northern Africa, until 1582, and only then, when Felipe was already king of Portugal and wanted to demonstrate his legitimacy to the throne, was the body brought back to Portugal, to the Jeronimos Monastery, the Pantheon of the Aviz-Beja family.
Circa 100 years later, an epitaph was engraved in the king's tomb during D.Pedro II'r reign:
CONDITVR HOC TVMULO, SI VERA EST FAMA, SEBASTVS
QVEM TVLIT IN LIBICIS MORS PROPERATA PLAGIS
NEC DICAS FALLI REGEM QVI VIVERI CREDIT
PRO LEGE EXTINTO MORS QVASI VITA FVIT
In this tomb rests - if the fame is correct - Sebastian
Reaped by death in the sands of Africa
Tell no man he is wrong if he believes the King is alive
If he died for the Divine, death was his second life
Several historians have asked to open the tomb and compare the remains with other members of the royal family, but so far, nothing was authorized.
Several "D.Sebastião" 's appeared after Felipe became King of Portugal in 1580 and all were imprisonned and condemned to death.
All but one, who was imprisonned in Naples and died of old age.
The legend claims Felipe believed the napolitan prisonner was indeed his nephew, his sister Juana's son, and could never sentence him to death.
Who knows ?