History of Portugal

From Academic Kids

The history of Portugal is that of the rise of a nation to great world power, followed by a decline in fortune, then a resurgence. Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal is a founding member of NATO and entered the European Community (now the European Union) in 1986.


Early History

Before the creation of the modern Portuguese state, Portugal was ruled by the Phoenicians (from 1104 BCE), Carthaginians (from 258 BCE), Romans (from 218 BCE), Lusitanians (native insurrection from 194 BCE), Suevi (from 409), Visigoths (from 416), Moors (from 711), and Asturians and Leonese (from 739).

Throughout the centuries which witnessed the conquest of Lusitania and destruction of Carthaginian power by Rome, the establishment and decline of Latin civilization, the invasion by Alani, Suevi and other barbarian races, the resettlement under Visigothic rule and the overthrow of the Visigoths by Arab and Berber tribes from Africa, without sign of national consciousness.

Naming of Portugal

Portugal's name derives from the Roman name Portus Cale (Latin for "Warm Port.") Cale was the name of an early settlement located at the mouth of the Douro River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean in the north of what is now Portugal. Around 200 BCE, the Romans took the Iberian Peninsula from the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War, and in the process conquered Cale and renamed it Portus Cale. During the Middle ages, the region around Cale became known by the Visigoths as Portucale. Portucale evolved into Portugale during the 7th and 8th centuries, and by the 9th century, the term "Portugale" was used extensively to refer to the region between the rivers Douro and Minho, the Minho flowing along what would become the northern border between Portugal and Spain.

Some historians believe that the "Cale" part of Portucale derived from the Greek word Kalles ("beautiful"), referring to the beauty of the Douro Valley where ancient Greek pioneers chose to settle. Other historians claim that the earliest settlers in the region were Phoenician and that the name Cale was derived from the Phoenician languages of those who settled along the Portuguese coast in the pre-Roman period.

In any case, the Portu part of the name Portucale would become Porto, the modern name for the city located on the site of the ancient city of Cale at the mouth of the Douro River. And port would become the name of the wine from the Douro Valley region around Porto. Today, Cale became Gaia (Vila Nova de Gaia), a city on the other side of the river. Many think that both cities should merge into one, due to their closeness and historical relation.

Early history

Portugal has been inhabited for at least 500,000 years, first by Neanderthals and then by modern humans coming from North Africa less than 100,000 years ago. [1] (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00011272-3CDE-1C75-9B81809EC588EF21) Early Greek explorers named the region "Ophiussa" (Greek for "land of serpents") because the natives worshipped serpents. In the early first millennium BCE, several waves of Celts invaded Portugal from central Europe and intermarried with the local Iberian people, forming the Celt-Iberian ethnic group. Two of the new tribes formed by the intermarrying were the Lusitanians, who lived between the Douro and Tagus rivers, and the Calaicians, who lived north of the Douro river with several other tribes. A Phoenician colony was established in southern Portugal, the Conii. The Celtics, a later wave of Celts, settled in Alentejo. In 238 BCE, the Carthaginians occupied the Iberian coasts.

Lusitania Romana

Main articles: Lusitania, Gallaecia.
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Ruins of the Roman city of Conimbriga, destroyed by the invading barbarians. Some survivors established a new city in the north, Coimbra.

In 219 BCE, the first Roman troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula. Within 200 years, almost the entire Peninsula was dominated, becoming part of the Roman Empire. The Carthaginians, Rome's adversary in the Punic Wars, were expelled from their colonies.

In Portuguese territory, the conquest started from the south, where the Romans found friendly natives, the Conii. Within several decades, the Romans had conquered the entire territory. In 194 BCE, a rebellion began in the north. The Lusitanians and other native tribes, under the leadership of Viriathus, successfully wrested control of all entire Portugal from the Romans. Rome sent numerous legions and its best generals to Lusitania to quell the rebellion, but to no avail — the Lusitanians gained more and more territory. The Roman leaders decided to change their strategy. They bribed an ambassador sent by Viriathus, convincing him to kill his own leader. Viriathus was assassinated, and the resistance was soon over.

Rome installed a colonial regime. During this period, Lusitania grew in prosperity and many Portuguese cities and towns were founded. In 27 BCE, Lusitania gained status of Roman Province. Later, a northern province of Lusitania was formed, known as Galecia, with capital in Bracara (Today's Braga).

Germanic kingdoms

In the 5th century, Germanic tribes, known as the barbarians, invaded the peninsula. One of these, the Suevi, stopped fighting and founded a kingdom whose domains were, approximately, in today's Portugal. They fixed their capital in Bracara. Later, the Visigoths conquered this kingdom, unifying the Peninsula.

Moorish rule and the Reconquista

An Islamic invasion took place in 711, destroying the Visigothic Kingdom. Many of the ousted nobles took refuge in the unconquered north Asturian highlands. From there they aimed to reconquer their lands from the Moors: this war of reconquest is known as the Reconquista.

After the Moors were, for the most part, driven out of power, most of the Iberian peninsula was briefly united under Christian rule. However, it quickly split apart after the death of Ferdinand the Great of Leon and Castile, whose domains were divided by his children.

Main article The Establishment of the Monarchy in Portugal.

Portugal gained its first independence (as Kingdom of Galicia and Portugal) in 1065 under the rule of Garcia. Because Garcia was a tyrant and the others wanted the lands of their brothers, Portuguese and Galician nobles rebelled and the country rejoined Leon and Castile.

Affirmation of Portugal

In 1095 Portugal separated almost definitely from the Kingdom of Galicia, Both under the rule of the kingdom of Leon, just like Castille (Burgos). Its territories consisting largely of mountain, moorland and forest, were bounded on the north by the Minho, on the south by the Mondego.

At the end of the 11th century, a knight from Burgundy named Henry became count of Portugal. Henry was a strong supporter of independence. Under his leadership, the County of Portucale and the County of Coimbra merged. Henry declared independence for Portugal while a civil war raged between Leon and Castile.

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Castle of Guimarães, prime symbol of Nationality. The Battle of São Mamede took place nearby in 1128.

Henry died without reaching his aims. His son, Afonso Henriques, took control of the county. The city of Braga, the unofficial Catholic centre of the Iberian peninsula, faced new competition from other regions. The lords of the cities of Coimbra and Porto (then Portucale) with the Braga's clergy demanded the independence of the renewed county.

Portugal traces its national origin to 24 June 1128 with the Battle of São Mamede. Afonso proclaimed himself first as Prince of Portugal and in 1139 as the first King of Portugal. By 1143, with the assistance of a representant of the Holy See at the conference of Zamora, Portugal was formally recognized as independent, with the prince recognized as Dux Portucalensis. In 1179, Afonso I was declared, by the pope, as King. After the Battle of São Mamede, the first capital of Portugal was Guimarães, from which the first King ruled. Later, when Portugal was already officially independent, he ruled from Coimbra.

Main article The Consolidation of the Monarchy in Portugal (1279-1415)

From 1249 to 1250, the Algarve was finally reconquered by Portugal from the Moors. In 1255, the capital shifted to Lisbon. Rio de Janeiro (a city in Brazil), was the Portuguese capital between 1808 and 1821. When Brazil declared its independence from Portugal, Lisbon regained its status as the capital of Portugal.

Portugal has always been turned towards the sea; its land-based treaties are notably stable. The border with Spain has remained almost unchanged since the 13th century. A 1373 treaty of alliance between England and Portugal that remains in effect to this day (with the United Kingdom). Since early times, fishing and overseas commerce have been the main economic activities. Henry the Navigator's interest in exploration together with some technological developments in navigation made Portugal's expansion possible and led to great advances in geographic knowledge.

Discoveries Odyssey: Glory of the Empire

Main article Portugal in the period of discoveries

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal eclipsed most other nations in terms of economic, political, and cultural influence and it had an extensive empire throughout the world.

July 25 1415, marked the beginning of the Portuguese Empire, when the Portuguese Armada along with King John I and his sons Prince Duarte (future king), Prince Pedro, Prince Henry the Navigator and Prince Afonso, also with the mythical Portuguese hero Nuno Alvares Pereira departed to Ceuta in North Africa, a rich trade Islamic centre. On August 21, the city was conquered by Portugal, and the long-lived Portuguese Empire was founded. Further steps were taken which expanded the Empire even more.

In 1418 two of the captains of Prince Henry the Navigator, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were driven by a storm to an island which they called Porto Santo, or Holy Port, in gratitude for their rescue from the shipwreck. In 1419, João Gonçalves Zarco disembarked on Madeira Island. Between 1427 and 1431 most of the Azorean islands were discovered.

In 1434, Gil Eanes turned the Cape Bojador South of Morocco. The trip marked the beginning of the Portuguese exploration of Africa. Before the turn, very little information was known in Europe about what lay around the cape. At the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th, those who tried to venture there became lost, which gave birth to legends of sea monsters. Some setbacks occurred: in 1436 the Canaries were recognized as Castilian by the Pope, earlier they were recognized as Portuguese. Also, in 1438 in a military expedition to Tangier, the Portuguese were defeated.

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Bartolomeu Dias turning the Tormentas Cape, renamed Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good-Hope), representing Portugal's hope of becoming a powerful and rich empire by reaching India.

However, the Portuguese did not give up their exploratory efforts. In 1448, on a small island known as Arguim off the coast of Mauritania an important castle was built, working as a feitoria (a tradepost) for commerce with inland Africa, some years before the first African gold was brought to Portugal, circumeventing the Arabic caravans that crossed the Sahara. Some time later, the caravels explored the Gulf of Guinea which lead to the discovery of several uninhabited islands: Cape Verde, Fernão Poo, São Tomé, Príncipe and Annobón. Finally, in 1471, the Portuguese captured Tangier, after years of trying. Eleven years later, the fortress of São Jorge da Mina in the Gulf was built. In 1483, Diogo Cão reached the Congo River.

In 1484, Portugal officially rejected Christopher Columbus' idea of reaching India from the west, because it was seen as unreasonable, and this began a long-lasting dispute which eventually resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas (in 1494) with Spain, which divided the (largely undiscovered) world equally between the Spanish and the Portuguese, along a north-south meridian line 370 leagues (1770 km/1100 miles) west of the Cape Verde islands, with all lands to the east belonging to Portugal and all lands to the west to Spain.

A remarkable achievement was the turning of the Cape of Good Hope by Bartholomew Diaz (Bartolomeu Dias) in 1487 and the richness of India was now nearby, hence the name of the cape. In 1489, the King of Bemobi gave his realms to the Portuguese King and became Christian. Between 1491 and 1494, Pêro de Barcelos and João Fernandes Lavrador explored North America. At the same time, Pêro da Covilhã reached Ethiopia. Vasco da Gama sailed for India, and arrived at Calicut on May 20 1498, returning in glory to Portugal the next year. The Monastery of Jerónimos was built, and dedicated to the discovery of the route to India. In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral sighted the Brazilian coast; ten years later, Afonso de Alburquerque conquered Goa, in India.

João da Nova discovered Ascension in 1501 and Saint Helena 1502; Tristão da Cunha was the first to sight the archipelago still known by his name 1506. In East Africa small Islamic states along the coast of Mozambique, Kilwa, Brava and Mombasa were destroyed or became subjects or allies of Portugal.

The two million Portuguese people ruled a vast empire with many millions of inhabitants in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. From 1514, the Portuguese had reached China and Japan. In the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, one of Cabral's ships discovered Madagascar (1501), which was partly explored by Tristão da Cunha (1507); Mauritius was discovered in 1507, Socotra occupied in 1506, and in the same year D. Lourenco d'Almeida visited Ceylon.

In the Red Sea Massawa was the most northerly point frequented by the Portuguese until 1541, when a fleet under Estevão da Gama penetrated as far as Suez. Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf, was seized by Alfonso d'Albuquerque (1515), who also entered into diplomatic relations with Persia.

On the Asiatic mainland the first trading-stations were established by Cabral at Cochin and Calicut (1501); more important, however, were the conquest of Goa (1510) and Malacca (1511) by Albuquerque, and the acquisition of Diu (1535) by Martim Afonso de Sousa. East of Malacca, Albuquerque sent Duarte Fernandes as envoy to Thailand (1511), and dispatched to the Moluccas two expeditions (1512, 1514), which founded the Portuguese dominion in the Malay Archipelago. Fernão Pires de Andrade visited Canton in 1517 and opened up trade with China, where in 1557 the Portuguese were permitted to occupy Macao. Japan, accidentally reached by three Portuguese traders in 1542, soon attracted large numbers of merchants and missionaries. In 1522 one of the ships in the expedition that Ferdinand Magellan organized in the Spanish service completed the first voyage around the world.

By the end of the 15th century, Portugal expelled some local Jews, along with those refugees that came from Castile and Aragon after 1492. However, lots of Jews were forcibly converted to Catholicism and remained as Conversos. Many remained as hiddenly Jewish and were persecuted by the Portuguese Inquisition. Those who fled reached such prominence in commerce that for centuries a "Portuguese" abroad was presumed a Jew of Portuguese descent.

In 1578, a very young king Sebastian died in battle without an heir (the body was not found), leading to a dynastic crisis. The Cardinal Henry became ruler, but died two years after. Portugal was worried about the maintenance of its independence and sought help to find a new king. Because Philip II of Spain was the son of a Portuguese princess, Spain invaded Portugal and the Spanish ruler became Philip I of Portugal in 1580; the Spanish and Portuguese Empires were under a single rule. Imposters claimed to be King Sebastian in 1584, 1585, 1595 and 1598. "Sebastianism", the myth that the young king will return to Portugal on a foggy day has prevailed until modern times, and most people even at the end of the 19th century believed in it.

Decline of the Empire

From the 16th century, Portugal gradually saw its wealth decreasing. Even if Portugal was officially an autonomous state, the country was a Spanish puppet and Portuguese colonies were attacked by Spain's opponents, especially the Dutch and English.

At home, life was calm and serene with the first two Spanish kings; they maintained Portugal's status, gave excellent positions to Portuguese nobles in the Spanish courts and Portugal maintained an independent law, currency and government. It was even proposed to move the Spanish capital to Lisbon. But Philip III tried to make Portugal a Spanish province, and Portuguese nobles lost power. Because of this, on December 1 1640, the native king, John IV, was acclaimed, and a Restoration war against Spain was made. Ceuta governors didn't accept the new king and maintained their allegiance to Spain.

In the 17th century the Portuguese emigrated in large numbers to Brazil. In 1709, John V prohibited emigration, since Portugal had lost a sizable fraction of its population. Brazil was elevated to a vice-kingdom and Amerindians gained total freedom.

Pombaline Era

Main article Sebastião de Melo, Marquis of Pombal

In 1738, Sebastião de Melo, the talented son of a Lisbon squire, began a diplomatic career as the Portuguese Ambassador in London and later in Vienna. The Consort Queen of Portugal, Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, was fond of de Melo; and after his first wife died, she arranged the widowed de Melo's second marriage to the daughter of the Austrian Field Marshal Leopold Josef, Count von Daun. King John V of Portugal, however, was not pleased and recalled de Melo to Portugal in 1749. John V died the following year and his son, Joseph I of Portugal was crowned. In contrast to his father, Joseph I was fond of de Melo, and with the Queen Mother's approval, he appointed de Melo as Minister of Foreign Affairs. As the King's confidence in de Melo increased, the King entrusted him with more control of the state.

By 1755, Sebastião de Melo was made Prime Minister. Impressed by British economic success he had witnessed while Ambassador, he successfully implemented similar economic policies in Portugal. He abolished slavery in the Portuguese colonies in India; reorganized the army and the navy; restructured the University of Coimbra, and ended discrimination against different Christian sects in Portugal.

But Sebastião de Melo's greatest reforms were economic and financial, with the creation of several companies and guilds to regulate every commercial activity. He demarcated the region for production of Port to insure the wine's quality, and his was the first attempt to control wine quality and production in Europe. He ruled with a strong hand by imposing strict law upon all classes of Portuguese society from the high nobility to the poorest working class, along with a widespread review of the country's tax system. These reforms gained him enemies in the upper classes, especially among the high nobility, who despised him as a social upstart.

Disaster fell upon Portugal in the morning of November 1, 1755, when Lisbon was struck by a violent earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale (see 1755 Lisbon earthquake). The city was razed to the ground by the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami and fires. Sebastião de Melo survived by a stroke of luck and then immediately embarked on rebuilding the city, with his famous quote: What now? we bury the dead and feed the living. Despite the calamity, Lisbon suffered no epidemics and within less than one year was already being rebuilt. The new downtown of Lisbon was designed to resist subsequent earthquakes. Architectural models were built for tests, and the effects of an earthquake was simulated by marching troops around the models. The buildings and big squares of the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon still remain as one of Lisbon's tourist attractions: They represent the world's first quake-proof buildings. Sebastião de Melo also made an important contribution to the study of seismology by designing an inquiry that was sent to every parish in the country.

Following the earthquake, Joseph I gave his Prime Minister even more power, and Sebastião de Melo became a powerful, progressive dictator. As his power grew, his enemies increased in number, and bitter disputes with the high nobility became frequent. In 1758 Joseph I was wounded in an attempted assassination. The Tavora family and the Duke of Aveiro were implicated and executed after a quick trial. The Jesuits were expelled from the country and their assets confiscated by the crown. Sebastião de Melo showed no mercy and prosecuted every person involved, even women and children. This was the final stroke that broke the power of the aristocracy and ensured the victory of the Minister against his enemies. Based upon his swift resolve, Joseph I made his loyal minister Count of Oeiras in 1759.

Following the Tavora affair, the new Count of Oeiras knew no opposition. Made Marquis of Pombal in 1770, he effectively ruled Portugal until Joseph I's death in 1779. His successor, Queen Maria I of Portugal, disliked the Marquis, and forbade him from coming within 20 miles of her, thus curtailing his influence.

Crises of the Nineteenth Century

In 1807 Portugal refused Napoleon's demand to accede to the Continental System of embargo against the United Kingdom; a French invasion under Marshal Junot followed, and Lisbon was captured on 1 December 1807. British intervention in the Peninsular War restored Portuguese independence, the last French troops being expelled in 1812. The war cost Portugal the province of Olivença, now governed by Spain.

The Kingdom of Brazil proclaimed its independence in 1822.

The death of John VI in 1826 led to a crisis of royal succession. His eldest son, Peter I of Brazil briefly became Peter IV of Portugal, but neither the Portuguese nor the Brazilians wanted a unified monarchy; consequently, Pedro abdicated the Portuguese crown in favor of his seven-year-old daughter, Maria da Glória, on the condition that when of age she marry his brother, Miguel. Dissatisfaction at Pedro's constitutional reforms led the "absolutist" faction of landowners and the church to proclaim Miguel as king in February 1828. This led to the Liberal Wars in which Pedro, with British assistance, eventually forced Miguel to abdicate and go into exile in 1834, and placed his daughter on throne as Queen Maria II.

The First Republic

The First Republic has, over the course of a recent past, lost many historians to the New State. As a result, it will be difficult to attempt a global synthesis of the republican period in view of the important gaps that still persist in our knowledge of its political history. As far as the October 1910 Revolution is concerned, a number of valuable studies have been made (Wheeler, 1972), first among which ranks Vasco Pulido Valente’s polemical thesis. This historian posited the Jacobin and urban nature of the revolution carried out by the Portuguese Republican Party (PRP) and claimed that the PRP had turned the republican regime into a de facto dictatorship (Pulido Valente, 1982). This vision clashes with an older interpretation of the First Republic as a progressive and increasingly democratic regime which presented a clear contrast to Salazar’s ensuing dictatorship (Oliveira Marques, 1991).

A republican Constitution was approved in 1911, inaugurating a parliamentary regime with reduced presidential powers and two chambers of parliament (Miranda, 2001). The Republic provoked important fractures within Portuguese society, notably among the essentially monarchist rural population, in the trade unions, and in the Church. Even the PRP had to endure the secession of its more moderate elements, who formed conservative republican parties like the Evolutionist party and the Republican Union. In spite of these splits the PRP, led by Afonso Costa, preserved its dominance, largely due to a brand of clientelist politics inherited from the monarchy (Lopes, 1994). In view of these tactics, a number of opposition forces were forced to resort to violence in order to enjoy the fruits of power. There are few recent studies of this period of the Republic’s existence, known as the ‘old’ Republic. Nevertheless, an essay by Vasco Pulido Valente should be consulted (1997a), as should the attempt to establish the political, social, and economic context made by M. Villaverde Cabral (1988).

The PRP viewed the outbreak of the First World War as a unique opportunity to achieve a number of goals: putting an end to the twin threats of a Spanish invasion of Portugal and of foreign occupation of the colonies and, at the internal level, creating a national consensus around the regime and even around the party (Teixeira, 1996a). These domestic objectives were not met, since participation in the conflict was not the subject of a national consensus and since it did not therefore serve to mobilise the population. Quite the opposite occurred: existing lines of political and ideological fracture were deepened by Portugal’s intervention in the First World War (Ribeiro de Meneses, 2000). The lack of consensus around Portugal’s intervention in turn made possible the appearance of two dictatorships, led by General Pimenta de Castro (January-May 1915) and Sidónio Pais (December 1917-December 1918).

Sidonismo, also known as Dezembrismo, has aroused a strong interest among historians, largely as a result of the elements of modernity that it contains (José Brandão, 1990; Ramalho, 1998; Ribeiro de Meneses, 1998, Armando Silva, 1999; Samara, 2003 and Santos, 2003). António José Telo has made clear the way in which this regime predated some of the political solutions invented by the totalitarian and fascist dictatorships of the 1920s and 1930s (Teixeira, 2000, pp. 11-24). Sidónio Pais undertook the rescue of traditional values, notably the Pátria, and attempted to rule in a charismatic fashion. A move was made to abolish traditional political parties and to alter the existing mode of national representation in parliament (which, it was claimed, exacerbated divisions within the Pátria) through the creation of a corporative Senate, the founding of a single party (the Partido Nacional Republicano), and the attribution of a mobilising function to the Leader. The State carved out an economically interventionist role for itself while, at the same time, repressing working-class movements and leftist republicans. Sidónio Pais also attempted to restore public order and to overcome, finally, some of the rifts of the recent past, making the Republic more acceptable to monarchists and Catholics.

The vacuum of power created by Sidónio Pais’ murder (Medina, 1994) on 14 December 1918 led the country to a brief civil war. The monarchy’s restoration was proclaimed in the north of Portugal on 19 January 1919 and, four days later, a monarchist insurrection broke out in Lisbon. A republican coalition government, led by José Relvas, coordinated the struggle against the monarchists by loyal army units and armed civilians. After a series of clashes the monarchists were definitively chased from Oporto on 13 February 1919. This military victory allowed the PRP to return to government and to emerge triumphant from the elections held later that year, having won the usual absolute majority.

It was during this restoration of the ‘old’ Republic that an attempted reform was carried out in order to provide the regime with greater stability. In August 1919 a conservative President was elected – António José de Almeida (whose Evolutionist party had come together in wartime with the PRP to form a flawed, because incomplete, Sacred Union) – and his office was given the power to dissolve Parliament. Relations with the Holy See, restored by Sidónio Pais, were preserved. The President used his new power to resolve a crisis of government in May 1921, naming a Liberal government (the Liberal party being the result of the postwar fusion of Evolutionists and Unionists) to prepare the forthcoming elections. These were held on 10 July 1921 with victory going, as was usually the case, to the party in power. However, Liberal government did not last long. On 19 October a military pronunciamento was carried out during which – and apparently against the wishes of the coup’s leaders – a number of prominent conservative figures, including Prime Minister António Granjo, were assassinated. This event, known as the ‘night of blood’ (Brandão, 1991) left a deep wound among political elites and public opinion. There could be no greater demonstration of the essential fragility of the Republic’s institutions and proof that the regime was democratic in name only, since it did not even admit the possibility of the rotation in power characteristic of the elitist regimes of the nineteenth century.

A new round of elections on 29 January 1922 inaugurated a fresh period of stability, since the PRP once again emerged from the contest with an absolute majority. Discontent with this situation had not, however, disappeared. Numerous accusations of corruption, and the manifest failure to resolve pressing social concerns wore down the more visible PRP leaders while making the opposition’s attacks more deadly. At the same time, moreover, all political parties suffered from growing internal faction-fighting, especially the PRP itself. The party system was fractured and discredited (Lopes, 1994; João Silva, 1997). This is clearly shown by the fact that regular PRP victories at the ballot box did not lead to stable government. Between 1910 and 1926 there were forty-five governments. The opposition of presidents to single-part governments, internal dissent within the PRP, the party’s almost non-existent internal discipline, and its constant and irrational desire to group together and lead all republican forces made any government’s task practically impossible. Many different formulas were attempted, including single-party governments, coalitions, and presidential executives, but none succeeded. Force was clearly the sole means open to the opposition if it wanted to enjoy the fruits of power (Schwartzman, 1989; Pinto, 2000).

By the mid-1920s the domestic and international scenes began to favour another authoritarian solution, wherein a strengthened executive might restore political and social order. Since the opposition’s constitutional route to power was blocked by the various means deployed by the PRP to protect itself, it turned to the army for support. The armed forces, whose political awareness had grown during the war, and many of whose leaders had not forgiven the PRP for sending it to a war it did not want to fight, seemed to represent, to conservative forces, the last bastion of ‘order’ against the ‘chaos’ that was taking over the country. Links were established between conservative figures and military officers, who added their own political and corporative demands to the already complex equation. The pronunciamento of 28 May 1926 enjoyed the support of most army units and even of most political parties. As had been the case in December 1917, the population of Lisbon did not rise to defend the Republic, leaving it at the mercy of the army (Ferreira, 1992a). There are few global and up-to-date studies of this turbulent third phase of the Republic’s existence (Marques, 1973; Telo, 1980 & 1984). Nevertheless, much has been written about the crisis and fall of the regime and the 28 May movement (Cruz, 1986; Cabral, 1993; Rosas, 1997; Martins, 1998; Pinto, 2000; Afonso, 2001). The First Republic continues to be the subject of an intense debate which is impossible to summarise in these pages. A recent historiographical balance sheet elaborated by Armando Malheiro da Silva (2000) is a good introduction into this debate. Nevertheless, one can distinguish three main interpretations. For some historians, the First Republic was a progressive and increasingly democratic regime. For others, it was essentially a prolongation of the liberal and elitist regimes of the nineteenth century. A third group, finally, chooses to highlight the regime’s revolutionary, Jacobin, and dictatorial nature.

New State

Although a stable period financially and economically, it saw the beginning of the end of the Portuguese Empire. India annexed Portuguese India, including Goa, in 1961. Independence movements also became active in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea, and an increasingly costly series of colonial wars failed to defeat the guerrillas. Despite the Salazar's incapacitation in 1968 and his death in 1970), and Marcelo Caetano's marcelist spring, discontent about the wars was one of the factors leading to the 1974 Revolution.

The Third Republic

The Carnation Revolution of 1974, an effectively bloodless left-wing military coup, installed the Third Republic. Broad democratic reforms were implemented. In 1975, Portugal granted independence to its Overseas Provinces (Províncias Ultramarinas in Portuguese) in Africa (Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe). In that same year, Indonesia invaded and annexed the Portuguese province of Portuguese Timor (East Timor) in Asia before independence could be granted. The Asian dependency of Macau, after an agreement in 1986, was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. Portugal applied international pressure to secure East Timor's independence from Indonesia, as East Timor was still legally a Portuguese dependency, and recognized as such by the United Nations. After a referendum in 1999, East Timor voted for independence and Portugal recognized its independence in 2002.

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Treaty of Accession of Portugal to the European Communities

With the 1975-76 independence of its colonies (except Macau, because it hadn't any independentist movement), the 560 year old Portuguese Empire had already effectively ended. With it, 15 years of war effort also came to an end. Also many Portuguese returned from the colonies, coming to comprise a sizeable sector of the population and starting an economic recovery, thus opening new paths for the country's future just as others closed. In 1986, Portugal entered the European Economic Community.


The history of the nation comprises eleven periods.

868 establishment of the 1st County of Portugal, by count Vímara Peres, after the reconquest from the Moors of the region North of the Douro River.
1065 Independence of the Kingdom of Galicia and Portugal under the rule of Garcia
1072 Lost of independence
1095 Establishment of the 2nd County of Portugal, by Count Henry.
10951279 A Portuguese kingdom was established independent from Leon and extended southwards until it reached its present continental limits.
1128 "Independence" of Portugal
1143 Recognition of the "independence" of Portugal
12791415 The monarchy was gradually consolidated in spite of resistance from the Church, the nobles and the rival kingdom of Castile.
14151499 A period of crusades and discoveries, culminating in the discovery of an ocean-route to India (1497—1499).
14991580 Portugal acquired an empire stretching from Brazil eastward to the Moluccas, reached the zenith of its prosperity and entered upon a period of swift decline.
15811640 Spanish kings ruled over Portugal
16401755 The chief event of these years was the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy.
17551826 The reforms of the Marquis of Pombal and the Peninsular War prepared the country for a change from absolutism to constitutional monarchy.
18261910 Portugal was a constitutional Monarchy, and Brazil becomes independent.
19101926 The Republic was established.
19161918 Portugal contributes to the Great War on the Allies' side.
19261974 Portugal was under a dictatorial regime.
1974 A democratic regime was established.
1986 Portugal joins the European Communities (EEC later EU).

See also: Portuguese monarchs, Kings of Portugal family tree, List of Prime Ministers of Portugal, Presidents of Portugal, Timeline of Portuguese history, Monuments of Portugal, History of Europe.cs:Dějiny Portugalska de:Geschichte Portugals fr:Histoire du Portugal it:Storia del Portogallo ja:ポルトガルの歴史 pt:História de Portugal ru:История Португалии sv:Portugals historia


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