Ancient History: Pre-Celts and Celts
Portugal’s beginnings are shared with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula in south-western Europe. The name Portugal derives from the Romano-Celtic name Portus Cale. The region was settled by the Pre-Celts, giving rise to peoples such as the Gallaecans, Lusitanians, Celts and Cytes, visited by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, incorporated into the Roman Republics as Lusitania after 45 BC until 298 AD and part of Gallaecia, settled again by the Suevi, Buris and Visigoths and conquered by the Moors. Other influences include remains of 5th century Alanian settlements found in Alenquer (formerly Germanic Alankerk, from Alan+kerk; meaning Temple of Alan), Coimbra and Lisbon.
The region of present-day Portugal was first settled by Neanderthals, then by Homo sapiens, who roamed the boundless territory in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. These were subsistence societies that, although they did not establish prosperous settlements, created organised societies. Neolithic Portugal experimented with the domestication of herd animals, the cultivation of certain cereals and river or sea fishing.
Some researchers believe that at the beginning of the first millennium BC, several waves of Celts from Central Europe entered Portugal and mixed with the native population, creating different ethnic groups and numerous tribes.
Among these tribes, the most important were the Calician or Gallaeci from northern Portugal, the Lusitanians from central Portugal, the Celtites from the Alentejo and the Cynetes or Conii from the Algarve. The smaller tribes or subdivisions included the Bracari, Coelerni, Equaesi, Grovii, Interamici, Leuni, Luanqui, Limici, Narbasi, Nemetati, Paesuri, Quaquerni, Seurbi, Tamagani, Tapoli, Turduli, Turduli Veteres, Turdulorum Oppida, Turodi and Zoelae. Some small semi-permanent trading colonies on the coast (such as Tavira) were also founded in the Algarve region by Phoenicians-Carthaginians.
Roman Lusitania and Gallaecia
The Romans first invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC. In the last days of Julius Caesar, almost the entire peninsula had been annexed by the Roman Republic. The Carthaginians, Rome’s adversaries in the Punic Wars, were driven out of their coastal colonies.
The Roman conquest of what is now part of modern Portugal took almost two hundred years and cost the lives of many young soldiers and those condemned to certain death in the slave mines if they were not sold as slaves to other parts of the empire. It suffered a severe setback in 150 BC when a rebellion began in the north. The Lusitanians and other native tribes took control of all of western Iberia under the leadership of Viriathus.
Rome sends many legions and its best generals to Lusitania to suppress the uprising, but in vain the Lusitanians continue to conquer territory. The Roman rulers decided to change their strategy. They bribed Viriathus’ allies to kill him. In 139 BC, Viriathus was murdered and Tautalus became leader.
Rome established a colonial regime. The complete Romanisation of Lusitania did not take place until the Visigothic period.
In 27 BC, Lusitania was given the status of a Roman province. Later, a province was formed in the north of Lusitania, known as Gallaecia, with Bracara Augusta, now Braga, as its capital. There are still many ruins of castros (hill forts) throughout modern Portugal and remains of the Castro culture. Many Roman sites are scattered across modern Portugal, and some urban remains are quite significant, such as Conímbriga and Mirobriga. The former is not only one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal, but is also classified as a national monument. Conímbriga is 16 km from Coimbra, which in turn was the ancient Aeminium). The site also has a museum displaying the objects found by archaeologists during their excavations.
Numerous works of art such as baths, temples, bridges, roads, a circus, theatres and secular houses have been preserved throughout the country. Coins, some of which were minted in Lusitanian clay, and numerous pieces of pottery have also been found. Contemporary historians include Paulus Orosius (c. 375-418) and Hydatius (c. 400-469), Bishop of Aquae Flaviae, who wrote about the last years of Roman rule and the arrival of Germanic tribes.
The Germanic kingdoms: Swabia and Visigoths
At the beginning of the 5th century, Germanic tribes, namely the Suevi and the Vandals (Silingi and Hasdingi), together with their allies, the Sarmatians and the Alans, invaded the Iberian Peninsula and formed their empire there. The Kingdom of the Suevi was a post-Roman Germanic kingdom established in the ancient Roman provinces of Gallaecia-Lusitania.
Around 410 and during the 6th century it became an officially declared kingdom, with King Hermeric making a peace treaty with the Gallaecans before handing over his lands to his son Rechila. In 448 Rechila died and left the expanding state to Rechiar.
In 500, the Visigothic kingdom settled in Iberia, in the centre of Toledo. The Visigoths finally conquered the Suevi and their capital Bracara (now Braga in Portugal) in 584-585, after the last two Suevic kings, Audeca and Malaric, were defeated in succession. The former Suevic kingdom then became the sixth province of the Visigothic kingdom of Hispania.
For the next 300 years and in 700, the entire Iberian Peninsula was ruled by the Visigoths. This period lasted until 711, when King Roderic (Rodrigo) was killed while opposing a Moorish invasion from the south. Of the various Germanic groups that settled in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, the Suebi left the strongest lasting cultural legacy in what is now Portugal, Galicia and Asturias.
The Islamic period and the Reconquista
What is now mainland Portugal and most of what is now Spain were part of the Umayyad Caliphate. This occupation lasted from a century in the north (actually for a few decades and only later as a region claimed mainly for military and administrative purposes) to about four and five centuries respectively in most of the centre and the south (711 AD – 1249 AD), after the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Umayyad Caliphate in 711 AD.
After defeating the Visigoths in just a few months, the Umayyad Caliphate began to develop rapidly on the peninsula. From 711, the lands that now form Portugal were part of the vast Damascus Empire of the Umayyad Caliphate, which stretched from the Indus River on the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan) to southern France, until it collapsed in 750, when the western part of the empire gained its independence under Abd-ar-Rahman I with the creation of the Emirate of Cordoba. After almost two centuries, the Emirate became the Caliphate of Cordoba in 929, until it was broken up into no less than 23 small kingdoms, the so-called Taifa kingdoms, a century later in 1031.
The governors of the taifas each proclaimed themselves emirs of their provinces and established diplomatic relations with the northern Christian kingdoms. Most of Portugal fell into the hands of the Badajoz taifa of the Aftasid dynasty and, after a brief period of a short-lived Lisbon taifa, under the rule of the Seville taifa of the Abbadine dynasty in 1022. The Taifa period ended with the conquest of Morocco by the Almoravids in 1086, who won a decisive victory at the Battle of Sagrajas. A century later, in 1147, the second period of Taifa followed by the Almohads, also from Marrakech.
Al-Andalus was divided into different districts called Kura. Gharb Al-Andalus consisted for the most part of ten kuras, each with its own capital and governor. The most important cities at that time in Portugal were Beja, Silves, Alcácer do Sal, Santarém and Lisbon.
The Muslim population of the region consists mainly of Iberian natives who converted to Islam (the “Muwallad” or “Muladi”) and Berbers. The Arabs were mainly nobles from Oman; and although they were few in number, they formed the elite of the population. The Berbers originally came from the Atlas and Rif mountains in North Africa and were essentially nomadic. The area that now makes up Portugal was part of various Muslim states, including the Emirate of Cordoba, the Taifas of Badajoz and the Almohad and Almoravid empires.
An Asturian Visigothic nobleman named Pelagio de Asturias was elected chieftain by many displaced Visigoths in 718 AD. Pelagius called on the remnants of the Christian Visigothic armies to rebel against the Moors and regroup in the unconquered highlands of northern Asturias, better known as the Cantabrian Mountains, in what is now a small mountainous region in north-western Spain, adjacent to the Bay of Biscay.
Pelagius’ plan was to use the Cantabrian Mountains as a refuge and protection from invading Moors. He then wanted to regroup the Christian armies of the Iberian Peninsula and use the Cantabrian Mountains as a springboard to reconquer their lands. In doing so, Pelagius was proclaimed king after defeating the Moors at the Battle of Covadonga in 722 AD, thus founding the Christian Kingdom of Asturias and beginning the Christian war of reconquest known in Portuguese as the Reconquista Cristã.
At the end of the 9th century, the region of Portugal between the Minho and Douro rivers was liberated or reconquered from the Moors by Vimara Peres on the orders of King Alfonso III of Asturias. Seeing that the region had previously had two large cities – Portus Cale on the coast and Braga inland, with many towns now abandoned – he decided to repopulate and rebuild it with Portuguese and Galician refugees and other Christians.
Vimara Peres organised the region he liberated from the Moors and elevated it to the status of a county, which he named after the region’s main port city, “Portus Cale” or modern Oporto. One of the first cities Vimara Peres founded at that time was Vimaranes, now known as Guimarães – the “birthplace of the Portuguese nation” or the “cradle city” (Cidade Berço in Portuguese).
After the incorporation of the County of Portugal into one of the many counties that made up the Kingdom of Asturias, King Alfonso III of Asturias knighted Vimara Peres as the first Count of Portus Cale (Portugal) in 868 AD. The region was then known as Portucale, Portugale and at the same time as Portugália – the County of Portugal.
Later, the Kingdom of Asturias was divided into several Christian kingdoms in northern Spain due to dynastic divisions of inheritance among the king’s descendants. With the forced abdication of Alfonso III “the Great” of Asturias by his sons in 910, the Kingdom of Asturias was divided into three separate kingdoms of León, Galicia and Asturias. The three kingdoms were finally reunited in 924 (León and Galicia in 914, Asturias later) under the crown of León.
During the century of intra-Christian struggles for the supremacy of the northern Christian kingdoms, the County of Portugal formed the southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia. The Kingdom of Galicia sometimes existed independently for short periods, but generally it was an important part of the Kingdom of Leon. Throughout this time, the inhabitants of the County of Portugal, as Galicians, fought to maintain the autonomy of Galicia with its own language and culture (Galician-Portuguese) from that of the Kingdom of Leon, whenever the status of the Kingdom of Galicia changed from that of the Kingdom of Leon. Due to political division, Galicia-Portugal lost its unity when the County of Portugal separated from the Kingdom of Galicia (a dependent kingdom of Leon) to create the Kingdom of Portugal.
In 1093, Alfonso VI of León and Castile ceded the county to Henry of Burgundy and married it to his daughter Teresa of León, for her role in the reconquest of the Moorish territories. Henry founded his new county in Bracara Augusta (now Braga), the capital of the ancient Roman province and former capital of several kingdoms during the first millennium.
Independence and the Afonsine Era
On 24 June 1128, the Battle of São Mamede took place near Guimarães. Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, defeated his mother, Countess Teresa, and her lover Fernão Peres de Trava and established himself as sole ruler. Afonso then turned his arms against the Moors in the south.
Afonso’s campaigns were successful and on 25 July 1139 he won a crushing victory at the Battle of Ourique, and immediately afterwards he was unanimously proclaimed King of Portugal by his soldiers. It is traditionally believed that on this occasion the County of Portugal, fief of the Kingdom of León, was transformed into an independent Kingdom of Portugal.
Afonso then created the first Portuguese Cortesat Lamego, where he was crowned by the Archbishop of Braga, although the validity of the Cortes de Lamego as a myth created during the Portuguese Restoration War is disputed. Afonso was recognised by King Alfonso VII of León and Castile in 1143 and by Pope Alexander III in 1179.
During the Reconquista, Christians reconquered the Iberian Peninsula from Moorish rule. Afonso Henriques and his successors, supported by military monastic orders, pushed south to drive out the Moors. At that time, Portugal covered about half of its present area. In 1249, the Reconquista ended with the conquest of the Algarve and the complete expulsion of the last Moorish settlements on the south coast, giving Portugal its present borders, with some exceptions.
In one of these situations of conflict with the Kingdom of Castile, Dinis I of Portugal signed the Treaty of Alcañices (1297) with King Fernando IV of Castile (who, when he was still a minor, was represented by his mother, Queen Maria de Molina), which stipulated that Portugal abrogated the treaties concluded against the Kingdom of Castile in order to support the child Juan de Castilla. Among other things, this treaty established the border between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of León, which included the disputed city of Olivenza.
During the reigns of Dinis I, Afonso IV and Pedro I, peace prevailed for the most part with the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.
In 1348 and 1349, Portugal, like the rest of Europe, was struck by the Black Death. In 1373, Portugal formed an alliance with England that is the oldest in the world. Over time, this alliance went far beyond geopolitical and military cooperation (protecting the interests of both nations in Africa, the Americas and Asia against their French, Spanish and Dutch rivals) and helped maintain strong commercial and cultural ties between the two former European allies. The English influence is still visible today, especially in the Porto area.
The Joanine Era and the Age of Discovery
In 1383, John I of Castile, husband of Beatrice of Portugal and son-in-law of Ferdinand I of Portugal, claimed the throne of Portugal. A faction of lesser nobles and commoners, led by John of Aviz (later King John I of Portugal) and commanded by General Nuno Álvares Pereira, defeated the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarrota. With this battle, the House of Aviz became the sovereign House of Portugal.
Portugal spearheaded the European exploration of the world and the Age of Discovery. Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King João I, became the main sponsor and patron of this enterprise. During this time, Portugal explored the Atlantic Ocean and discovered several Atlantic archipelagos such as the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde, explored the African coast, colonised parts of Africa, discovered an eastern route to India via the Cape of Good Hope, discovered Brazil, explored the Indian Ocean, established trade routes in large parts of South Asia and sent the first direct European maritime trade and diplomatic missions to China and Japan.
In 1415, Portugal acquired the first of its overseas colonies with the conquest of Ceuta, the first flourishing Islamic trading centre in North Africa. This was followed by the first discoveries in the Atlantic: Madeira and the Azores, which gave rise to the first colonisation movements.
In the 15th century, Portuguese explorers sailed along the African coasts, establishing trading posts for many common goods of the time, from gold to slaves, in search of a route to India and its spices, which were coveted in Europe.
The Treaty of Tordesillas, which was intended to settle the dispute that had arisen after the return of Christopher Columbus, was concluded by Pope Alexander VI as mediator between Portugal and Spain. It was signed on 7 June 1494 and divided the newly discovered territories outside Europe between the two countries along a meridian 370 nautical miles west of the Cape Verde Islands (off the west coast of Africa).
In 1498, Vasco de Gama reached India, bringing economic prosperity to Portugal and its 1.7 million inhabitants and helping to usher in the Portuguese Renaissance. In 1500, Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real reached what is now Canada and founded the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, long before the French and English in the 17th century and one of the many Portuguese settlements in the Americas.
In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil and claimed it for Portugal. Ten years later, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in India, Muscat and Ormuzin in the Strait of Persia, and Malacca, which became a state in Malaysia. Thus, the Portuguese empire dominated trade in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic. Portuguese sailors set out to reach East Asia, sailing eastwards from Europe and landing in places such as Taiwan, Japan, the island of Timor and the Moluccas.
Although it has long been believed that the Dutch were the first Europeans to arrive in Australia, there is also evidence that the Portuguese may have discovered Australia in 1521.
The Treaty of Saragossa, signed between Portugal and Spain on 22 April 1529, establishes the antimeridian at the demarcation line laid down in the Treaty of Tordesillas.
All these factors made Portugal one of the most important economic, military and political powers in the world from the 15th to the end of the 16th century.
Iberian Union, Restoration and Beginning of the Brigantine Era
Portugal’s sovereignty was interrupted between 1580 and 1640 when the last two kings of the House of Aviz – King Sebastian, who fell at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in Morocco, and his great uncle and successor, King Henry of Portugal – died without heirs, leading to the Portuguese Succession Crisis of 1580.
Subsequently, Philip II of Spain claimed the throne, becoming Philip I of Portugal. Although Portugal did not lose its formal independence, it was ruled by the same monarch who ruled the Spanish Empire and briefly formed a union of kingdoms. At that time, Spain was a geographical territory. The union of the two crowns deprived Portugal of an independent foreign policy and led to its participation in the 80-year war between Spain and the Netherlands.
The war led to deteriorating relations with Portugal’s oldest ally, England, and the loss of Hormuz, a strategic trading post between Iran and Oman. The war between the Netherlands and Portugal from 1595 to 1663 was mainly about the invasion of many Portuguese colonies and trading interests in Brazil, Africa, India and the Far East by Dutch companies, resulting in the loss of the Portuguese trading monopoly in the Indian Sea.
In 1640, John IV led a revolt supported by disgruntled nobles and was proclaimed king. The Restoration War between Portugal and the Spanish Empire following the 1640 revolt ended the sixty-year period of the Iberian Union under the House of Habsburg. This was the beginning of the House of Bragança, which ruled Portugal until 1910.
The eldest son of King John IV, he came to reign under the name of Afonso VI, but his physical and mental disabilities left him under the yoke of Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa, 3rd Count of Castelo Melhor. During a coup d’état organised by the king’s wife, Marie-Françoise of Savoy, and her brother, Pedro, Duke of Beja, King Afonso VI was declared mentally incapacitated and exiled first to the Azores and then to the royal palace of Sintra near Lisbon. After Afonso’s death, Pedro ascended the throne as King Pedro II. Pedro’s reign saw the consolidation of national independence, imperial expansion and investment in domestic production.
Pedro II’s son, John V, enjoyed a reign marked by an influx of gold into the royal treasury, largely fed by the royal fifth (a tax on precious metals), which came from the Portuguese colonies of Brazil and Maranhão. Acting as an absolute monarch, John almost exhausted his country’s tax revenues on ambitious architectural works, including the Mafra Palace, and on commissions and additions to his important art and literature collections.
Official estimates – and most estimates to date – put the number of Portuguese immigrants to colonial Brazil during the gold rush in the 18th century at 600,000, a figure that represents one of the largest movements of European people to their colonies in the Americas during the colonial period.
The Pombalian Era and the Enlightenment
In 1738 Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal, began a diplomatic career as Portuguese ambassador in London and later in Vienna. The King’s consort of Portugal, Archduchess Maria Anna Josefa of Austria, was very fond of Melo; and after the death of his first wife, she arranged the second marriage of Melo’s widow to the daughter of the Austrian Marshal Leopold Josef, Count of Daun. However, King John V of Portugal was not satisfied and recalled Melo to Portugal in 1749. John V died the following year and his son, Joseph I of Portugal, was crowned. Unlike his father, Joseph I was very fond of Melo and, with the consent of the Queen Mother, he appointed Melo Foreign Minister.
As the king’s confidence in de Melo grew, the king gave him greater control over the state. In 1755, Sebastião de Melo was appointed prime minister. Impressed by the British economic successes he had witnessed as ambassador, he successfully implemented a similar economic policy in Portugal. He abolished slavery in Portugal and in the Portuguese colonies in India, reorganised the army and the navy, restructured the University of Coimbra and put an end to discrimination against the various Christian sects in Portugal.
But Sebastião de Melo’s greatest reforms were economic and financial, with the creation of several societies and guilds to regulate all commercial activity. He demarcated the area of port wine production to ensure the quality of the wine, and it was the first attempt to control the quality and production of wine in Europe. He ruled with an iron fist, imposing strict law on all classes of Portuguese society, from the high nobility to the poorest working class, and overhauling the country’s tax system. These reforms earned him enemies among the upper classes, especially the high nobility, who despised him as a social upstart.
On the morning of 1 November 1755, Lisbon was struck by a violent earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale, and the city was razed to the ground by the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent fires. Sebastião de Melo survived by a stroke of luck and immediately set about rebuilding the city, with his famous quote: “And now? We bury the dead and take care of the living”.
Despite the disaster and the large number of casualties, Lisbon was spared epidemics and was already in reconstruction after less than a year. Lisbon’s new city centre was designed to withstand subsequent earthquakes. Architectural models were built for testing and the effects of an earthquake were simulated by marching troops around the models. The buildings and large squares in the centre of Pombaline are still one of Lisbon’s tourist attractions. Sebastião de Melo also made an important contribution to the study of seismology by designing a survey that was sent to all the municipalities in the country.
After the earthquake, Joseph I gave his prime minister even more power, and Sebastião de Melo became a powerful and progressive dictator. As his power grew, so did the number of his enemies, and there were frequent bitter disputes with the higher nobility. In 1758, Joseph I was wounded in an assassination attempt. The Távora family and the Duke of Aveiro were accused and executed after a speedy trial. The Jesuits were expelled from the country and their property confiscated by the Crown. Sebastião de Melo prosecuted everyone involved, including the women and children. This was the final blow that broke the power of the aristocracy. Joseph I made his loyal minister Count of Oeiras in 1759.
In 1762, Spain invaded Portuguese territory as part of the Seven Years’ War, but by 1763 the pre-war status quo between Spain and Portugal had been restored.
After the Távora affair, the new Count of Oeiras knew no opposition. Appointed “Marquis de Pombal” in 1770, he effectively ruled Portugal until the death of Joseph I in 1779. However, historians also claim that Pombal’s “Enlightenment”, although far-reaching, was primarily a mechanism to strengthen autocracy at the expense of individual freedom, and above all an apparatus used to crush opposition, suppress criticism and promote colonial economic exploitation, as well as to tighten book censorship and consolidate personal control and profit.
The Napoleonic Era
The new ruler, Queen Maria I of Portugal, did not like the Marquis because of his accumulated power and never forgave him for the brutality with which he had dispersed the Távora family. Pombal died at his estate in Pombal in 1782.
In the autumn of 1807, Napoleon sent French troops through Spain to invade Portugal. From 1807 to 1811, British Portuguese troops successfully fought the French invasion of Portugal, while the Portuguese royal family and nobility, including Marie I, settled on Portuguese territory in Brazil, then a colony of the Portuguese Empire in South America. This episode is known as the transfer of the Portuguese court to Brazil.
With Napoleon’s occupation, Portugal began a slow but inexorable decline that lasted until the 20th century. This decline was accelerated by the independence of the largest colonial possession, Brazil, in 1822. In 1807, as Napoleon’s army moved closer to Lisbon, Prince Regent João VI of Portugal moved his court to Brazil and established Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the Portuguese Empire. In 1815, Brazil was declared a kingdom and the Kingdom of Portugal was united with it, creating a pluricontinental state, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve.
After the change of status and the arrival of the Portuguese royal family, the Brazilian administrative, civil, economic, military, educational and scientific apparatus was expanded and greatly modernised. The Portuguese and the British troops allied with them fought the French invasion of Portugal, and by 1815 the situation in Europe had cooled down enough for João VI to return safely to Lisbon. However, the King of Portugal remained in Brazil until the liberal revolution of 1820, which began in Porto, demanded his return to Lisbon in 1821.
He returned to Portugal, but left his son Pedro in charge of Brazil. When the Portuguese government tried to restore the Kingdom of Brazil to a subordinate status the following year, his son Pedro, with the overwhelming support of the Brazilian elite, declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal. The Cisplatina (today’s sovereign state of Uruguay), in the south, was one of the last extensions of Brazilian territory under Portuguese rule.
Brazil’s independence was recognised in 1825 when Emperor Pedro I conferred the honorary title of “Emperor of Brazil” on his father. The death of John VI in 1826 raised serious questions about his succession. Although Pedro was his heir and briefly ruled as Pedro IV, his status as Brazilian monarch was seen by both nations as an obstacle to maintaining the Portuguese throne. Pedro abdicated in favour of his daughter Maria II. But Pedro’s brother, Infante Miguel, laid claim to the throne in protest. After a failed marriage proposal by Miguel and Maria, Miguel took power as King Miguel I in 1828. To defend his daughter’s right to the throne, Pedro launched the Liberal Wars to resettle his daughter and establish a constitutional monarchy in Portugal. The war ended in 1834 with the defeat of Miguel, the promulgation of a constitution and the reinstatement of Queen Mary II.
Queen Maria II and King Ferdinand II’s son, King Pedro Vmoderni modernised the country during his short reign (1853-1861). During his reign, roads, telegraphs and railways were built and improvements were made to the health system. His popularity soared when he visited hospitals during the cholera epidemic of 1853-1856 to distribute gifts and comfort the sick. Pedro’s reign was short-lived as he died of cholera in 1861 after a series of deaths in the royal family, including his two brothers, Infante Fernando and Infante João, Duke of Beja, and his wife, Stephanie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. As he remained childless, his brother, Luís I of Portugal, ascended the throne and continued the modernisation.
At the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, Portugal had already lost its territory in South America and all its bases in Asia, with few exceptions. Luanda, Benguela, Bissau, Lourenço Marques, Porto Amboim and the island of Mozambique were among the oldest port cities Portugal founded in its African territories. During this phase, Portuguese colonialism sought to develop its outposts in Africa into territories of national size to compete with other European powers.
With the Berlin Conference of 1884, the boundaries of Portuguese territories in Africa were officially established at Portugal’s request, in order to protect centuries-old Portuguese interests on the continent from the rivalries brought about by the rush to Africa. Portuguese African towns such as Nova Lisboa, Sá da Bandeira, Silva Porto, Malanje, Tete, Vila Junqueiro, Vila Pery and Vila Cabral were founded or redeveloped inland during this period and beyond. New coastal towns such as Beira, Moçâmedes, Lobito, João Belo, Nacala and Porto Amélia were also founded. Even before the beginning of the twentieth century, the construction of railways such as the Benguela Railway in Angola and the Beira Railway in Mozambique began to connect the coastal areas and some inland regions.
Other episodes from this period of Portuguese presence in Africa include the British ultimatum of 1890. This forced the Portuguese army to withdraw from the areas between the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola (most of present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia), which had been claimed by Portugal and included in its “pink map”, which ran counter to British efforts to create a railway from Cape Town to Cairo.
The Portuguese territories in Africa were Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Portuguese Guinea, Angola and Mozambique. The small fortress of São João Baptista de Ajudá, on the coast of Dahomey, was also under Portuguese rule. In addition, Portugal still ruled the Asian territories of Portuguese India, Portuguese Timor and Macao.
On 1 February 1908, King Dom Carlos I of Portugal and his heir to the throne, the Royal Prince Dom Luís Filipe, Duke of Bragança, were assassinated in Lisbon. During his reign, Portugal was twice declared bankrupt – on 14 June 1892 and again on 10 May 1902 – leading to social unrest, economic disruption, protests, revolts and criticism of the monarchy. Manuel II of Portugal became the new king, but was eventually overthrown by the revolution of 5 October 1910, which abolished the regime and established republicanism in Portugal.
First Republic and Estado Novo
Political instability and economic weakness provided fertile ground for chaos and unrest during the First Portuguese Republic. These conditions led to the failure of the Northern Monarchy, the coup d’état of 28 May 1926 and the establishment of the National Dictatorship (Ditadura Nacional). This led to the establishment of the right-wing dictatorship of the Estado Novo under António de Oliveira Salazar in 1933.
Portugal was one of only five European countries to remain neutral during the Second World War. From the 1940s to the 1960s, Portugal was a founding member of NATO, the OECD and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Gradually, new projects were launched for economic development and the resettlement of the continent’s Portuguese citizens in Africa’s overseas provinces, with Angola and Mozambique, the largest and richest overseas territories, as the main targets of these initiatives. These actions were used to reaffirm Portugal’s status as a transcontinental nation rather than a colonial empire.
After Indian independence in 1947, the pro-Indian inhabitants of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, with the support of the Indian government and the help of pro-independence organisations, separated the areas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli from Portuguese rule in 1954. The annexation of São João Baptista de Ajudá by the Republic of Dahomey in 1961 was the beginning of a process that led to the final dissolution of the centuries-old Portuguese empire.
According to the 1921 census, São João Baptista de Ajudá had 5 inhabitants and at the time of the ultimatum of the Dahomey government it had only 2 inhabitants representing Portuguese sovereignty.
Another forced withdrawal from overseas territories took place in December 1961 when Portugal refused to cede the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu. As a result, the Portuguese army and navy were involved in an armed conflict with the Indian forces in their colony of Portuguese India.
The operations led to the defeat and surrender of the limited Portuguese defensive garrison, which had to surrender to a much larger force. The result was the loss of the remaining Portuguese territories on the Indian subcontinent. The Portuguese regime refused to recognise Indian sovereignty over the annexed territories, which continued to be represented in the Portuguese National Assembly until the military coup of 1974.
Also in the early 1960s, independence movements in the Portuguese overseas provinces (Angola, Mozambique and Guinea in Africa) led to the Portuguese colonial war (1961-1974).
Throughout the period of the colonial war, Portugal had to contend with growing dissent, arms embargoes and other punitive sanctions imposed by much of the international community. However, the authoritarian and conservative Estado Novo regime, first installed and ruled by António de Oliveira Salazar and led by Marcelo Caetano from 1968 onwards, sought to maintain a vast intercontinental empire that spanned several centuries and covered a total area of 2 168 071 km2.
The Carnation Revolution and European Integration
The Portuguese government and army resisted the decolonisation of its overseas territories until April 1974, when a bloodless leftist military coup in Lisbon, known as the “Carnation Revolution”, paved the way for the independence of overseas territories in Africa and Asia and the restoration of democracy after a two-year transition period known as PREC (Processo Revolucionário Em Curso). This period was marked by social unrest and power struggles between political forces of the left and right. The withdrawal from the overseas territories and the acceptance of their independence terms by the representatives of the Portuguese head of state for the overseas negotiations that were to lead to the creation of independent states in 1975 led to a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens from Portugal’s African territories (mainly Angola and Mozambique).
More than one million Portuguese have fled the former Portuguese provinces, as white settlers are generally not considered part of the new identities of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. Mário Soares and António de Almeida Santos were responsible for organising the independence of Portugal’s overseas territories. By 1975, all Portuguese territories in Africa were independent and Portugal held its first democratic elections in 50 years.
Portugal continued to be governed by a Junta de Salvação Nacional until the Portuguese general elections of 1976. It was won by the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) and Mário Soares, its leader, became Prime Minister of the first constitutional government on 23 July. Mário Soares was Prime Minister from 1976 to 1978 and then from 1983 to 1985. In this capacity, Soares has sought to restore the economic growth and development achieved before the Carnation Revolution in the last decade of the previous regime. He initiated the process of joining the European Economic Community (EEC) by starting accession negotiations as early as 1977.
Portugal vacillates between socialism and adherence to the neoliberal model. Agrarian reform and nationalisations are carried out; the Portuguese Constitution (adopted in 1976) is rewritten to reflect socialist and communist principles. Until the constitutional revisions of 1982 and 1989, the constitution was a highly ideologically charged document with numerous references to socialism, workers’ rights and the desirability of a socialist economy. The economic situation in Portugal after the transition to democracy forced the government to continue with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-controlled stabilisation programmes in 1977-78 and 1983-85.
In 1986, Portugal joined the European Economic Community (EEC), which later became the European Union (EU). In the following years, the Portuguese economy grew significantly thanks to the EEC/EU structural and cohesion funds and easier access to foreign markets for Portuguese companies.
Portugal’s last overseas territory, Macau, was peacefully handed over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1999 under the 1987 Joint Declaration, which set out the terms for the handover of Macau from Portugal to the PRC. In 2002, East Timor’s independence was officially recognised by Portugal, following an incomplete decolonisation process initiated by the 1975 Carnation Revolution but interrupted by an armed invasion and occupation by Indonesia.
On 26 March 1995, Portugal began to apply the rules of the Schengen area by abolishing border controls with other members of the Schengen area, while tightening border controls with non-member states. In 1996, the country co-founded the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), based in Lisbon. Expo ’98 was held in Portugal and in 1999 the country was one of the founding countries of the Euro and the Eurozone.
On 5 July 2004, the then Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Barroso was appointed President of the European Commission, the most powerful office in the European Union. On 1 December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon, signed by the Member States of the European Union in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon on 13 December 2007, entered into force. It strengthens the effectiveness and democratic legitimacy of the Union and improves the coherence of its actions.
In 2011, the economic turmoil and unsustainable increase in borrowing costs following the financial crisis of the late 2000s led the country to negotiate a loan with the IMF and the European Union through the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) and the European Financial Stabilisation Facility (EFSF) to help the country stabilise its finances.