Portugal History - History

Portugal History - History

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Portugal's independence dates back to the 12th century, although its tribal roots extend back beyond Roman times. The borders of Portugal as they are today were already in place by 1267. The Spanish monarchy managed to retain its independence into the 20th century (except for a 60-year period when the country was ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs. A nation with a deep connection to the sea, Portugal attained an empire for itself thanks to the exploits of its explorers. Regions under the control of Portugal included the Azores, the west African coast, parts of southern Asia, Brazil. What checked the Portuguese empire was the rise of two other great powers: the Netherlands and Spain. In 1910, the Kingdom of Portugal took the then-unusual step of becoming a republic. But changing the political status of the country has some devastating consequences: a succession of 8 presidents, 44 governments, and a reeling economy. The military responded with a takeover and the ensuing dictatorship endured for decades. Antonio Salazar, the civilian dictator chosen by the military, ruled Portugal with little leniency but with enough skill to keep his country out of World War II as a neutral country, although he supported Britain. Post-war, Portugal joined NATO and helped found the European Free Trade Association. But strains were felt in the mother country when Portugal's last colonies -- Portugal, Mozambique and Guinea -- began nationalist agitation and full-fledged revolt against it. Salazar's passing was hastened by the wars and political turmoil. Between 1974 and 1987, there were 16 governments formed. Under a Socialist constitution adopted in 1976, Portugal attempted to create economic changes to such a degree that a recession resulted. In the 1980s, attempts made to annul some of those 1970s changes (like the nationalizations of certain large industries and banks, for example) were blocked. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Portugal has managed to make economic progress such that it no longer held the dubious distinction of being the poorest country in Europe.


Portugal Vs Germany Head To Head Record, History Between The Two Teams And Euros Stats

Portugal vs Germany H2H record

Two European heavyweights collide in Group F as Portugal lock horns with Germany at Allianz Arena on Saturday, June 19. The matchday 2 Euro 2020 clash between the two giants is scheduled to commence at 6:00 PM local time (9:30 PM IST). Here's a look at the Portugal vs Germany head to head record and previous meetings ahead of their crunch clash on Friday.

Portugal — History and Culture

Many different groups have occupied Portugal throughout the centuries, leaving their mark on the unique culture of Europe’s oldest nation-state. Family is of the utmost importance to most Portuguese, and many people combine their Roman-Catholic religion with ancient superstitions such as evil eyes and moon cycles.


Portugal’s oldest documented human settlers lived during the middle of the Ice Age about 30,000 BC. Around 700 BC, the Celts became the first of many groups to invade and conquer the land. During the centuries to come, Portugal would be occupied by the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, in that order. One of the most lasting souvenirs from the Moorish era is the famous Castelo de São Jorge (Edificio das Antigas Prisões, 1100-129 Lisbon) towering over the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills.

A relatively peaceful period lasted from 711 AD to the 11th century. King Ferdinand I of León and Castile drove the Moors out of most of present-day Portugal. They were officially declared an independent nation in 1143 in the northern city of Guimarães, with King Alfonso Henriques elected the first monarch.

Lisbon became Portugal’s national capital in 1255 and home to the country’s first university in 1290. After João of Aviz expelled the Castilians from Spain in 1385, he became King João I. During the next two centuries, Portugal not only grew into one of the world’s most powerful maritime nations, but established colonies such as Brazil in South America, Malacca in Indonesia, Goa in India, and Macau in China. This golden age is best seen at Lisbon’s Maritime Museum (Praça do Império, 1400-206 Lisbon).

Portugal’s period of conquest and discovery ended after King Philip II of Spain declared himself king of Portugal during the late 16th century. Although a 1640 coup established the Duke of Braganza as King Joao IV, Spain did not formally recognize their reclaimed independence until the 1668 Treaty of Lisbon.

Although Portugal lost its domination over the lucrative Asian spice trade to the Dutch, the country’s fortune changed following early 18th century gold and diamond discoveries in Brazil. The huge 1755 earthquake and resulting tsunami completely destroyed much of Lisbon and killed thousands of people. The British, with whom Portugal had a centuries-long alliance, helped keep Napoleon’s forces out during the end of the 18th century so they could begin to rebuild.

King Manuel II, Portugal’s last reigning monarch, went into exile after a democratic republic replaced the government in 1910. A 1926 military coup placed dictator António de Oliveira Salazar in power where he remained until 1968. Salazar’s successor, Marcello Caetano, was deposed in a bloodless 1974 coup known as the Carnation Revolution, and Portugal has been a modern free nation ever since.


Like citizens of many other Mediterranean Sea nations, the Portuguese take great pride in their food, family and fashion. Men in berets and women in black shawls still believe in evil eyes and other ancient superstitions in rural villages. Many Portuguese are very conservative and very polite during the day, but let loose after the sun sets in Europe’s liveliest nightclubs. The Portuguese drinking age was only recently raised to 18.

Fado is the best known musical genre, which is melancholy guitar. Centuries of talented Portuguese artists are displayed not only in the galleries, but also in the elaborately illustrated azulejos decorating many walls and buildings, as well as the calçada tiles on Portugal’s cobblestone streets. There is even a National Tile Museum in Lisbon to see this unique art form.

Visigoths Conquer the Sueves 585

Juan de Barroeta/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Kingdom of the Sueves was fully conquered in 585 CE by the Visigoths, leaving them dominant in the Iberian Peninsula and in full control of what we now call Portugal.

Short history of Portugal

Portugal’s often unknown history is highly interesting, considering it was the first global empire and that it used to be one of the biggest empires in the world.

Pre-Roman history, 400 BC - 140 BC

It is said that Lisbon, one of the oldest European capitals, was founded 400 years before the Roman era. Remnants of Celtic and other tribes have been found on Portuguese territory, indicating that this assertion could be true. Also, settlements in coastal areas that were founded by Phoenicians-Carthaginians have been located.

Roman era, 140 BC - 452 AD

When Romanization took place, what we know as Portugal was known as Lusitania, which is why speakers of Portuguese are still known as lusophones. The Romans occupied Lusitania from approximately 140 BC and made it a province famous for mining and agriculture, especially the production of a sweet wine. The region Lusitania is actually said to owe its name to the Roman god Lusus, son of Bacchus, the god of wine. Romans also brought Latin to Lusitania and thereby laid the foundation for the future national language.

Middle Ages, 452 - 1279

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribe of Visigoths took over the Iberian Peninsula. They established the strong institution of the Church in their kingdom, still an important part of Portuguese culture. Soon after that came the Arabic invasion and occupation, a time in which many Arabic words entered and formed Portuguese. The peninsula was occupied by Moors for more than 800 years, of which Portugal was occupied for approximately 500 (711-1249). After the partial peninsular Reconquista, Portugal finally became a kingdom independent of Spain in 1279. The borders established then are still the same today.

Imperial era, 1279 - 1578

Portugal evolved into a powerful nation and naval power during this period. Famous explorers are Vasco da Gama (discovered the route to India), Fernando Magellan (circumnavigated the world), and Bartolome Dias (sailed around Africa). Portugal made many discoveries and established colonies all over the world. The most famous one is Brazil, but it also established colonies in Africa, such as Mozambique and Angola, and on other continents. Portugal also developed into the first global power and one of the biggest empires at that time, with Spain being one of its biggest rivals.

Decline and Restoration

In 1578, King Sebastian I died in a war in Africa without leaving an heir. This led to a two-year crisis that was followed by a steady decline of the Portuguese empire. Portugal had to fight many wars in Europe and at the same time suppress resistance movements in its colonies.

From 1640-1668 Portugal fought the Restoration War, which resulted in the restoration of the King and fending off the Spanish king trying to take over Portugal. Portugal began to regain some of its power.

Napoleon and the First Republic

Portugal had always maintained a good relationship with the British Empire and when Portugal refused to give in to Napoleon, which resulted in a military attack and assumption, the British helped restore Portuguese independence in 1812. Many crises followed, which is why during the 19th century the ruler of Brazil became the King of Portugal, and Rio de Janeiro Portugal’s capital for 13 years (1808-1821). In 1910, the First Portuguese Republic was established after a Republican revolution that also brought on the King’s resignation. It was ended in 1926, in a coup d’etat that resulted in a military dictatorship.

Dictatorship and the Carnation Revolution

In 1933, the Second Republic, also known as Estado Novo (New State), was established by António Oliveira de Salazar. Salazar’s dictatorship was marked by nationalism and isolation (his motto: “Proudly alone”) which saved Portugal from taking part in both World Wars. He always tried to keep Portugal’s colonies under his rule and many Portuguese had to fight Portugal’s Colonial Wars. This led to the end of Salazar’s dictatorship on April 25, 1974, when the peaceful Carnation Revolution, a military coup d’état, took place.

Democracy and EU membership

Portugal was led into democracy, the first elections took place in 1975. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union (EU). José Barroso, one of Portugal’s most popular politicians and former Prime Minister, presided over the European Commission from 2004 to 2014.

Ancient History

Early Portugal was shaped by the Romans for over 600 years, the Visigoths for the next two centuries and African Muslims (the Moors) for almost 800 years. Portugal was recognised as a separate kingdom in 1143 under the rule of King Afonso I and with the help of Christian military groups, the last remnants of Muslim power were defeated by 1249.

The Age of Discoveries
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese sailors embarked to explore the unknown world. Successful expeditions were made to Africa and the Americas, and Vasco da Gama’s passage to India opened up a sea route to the empires of the east. The Age of Discoveries was a time of tremendous wealth and the Portuguese Empire expanded worldwide, establishing colonies in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea (presently Guinea-Bissau), Brazil, Goa, Macau and East Timor. With the success of these voyages, Portugal emerged as one of the richest countries in the world and a major European power in terms of economic, political and cultural influence.

Decline of the Empire
Over the next 300 years, Portugal was occupied by the Spanish, invaded by the French and endured trade rivalries with British and Dutch fleets. Internal struggles and disputes over sovereign succession caused Portugal to lose much of its wealth and status. In 1755, the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake destroyed much of the capital as well as areas of the Algarve. The cumulative turmoil caused by centuries of invasion and civil conflict ushered in an era of social discontent, political instability and economic decline.

Republic, Repression and Revolution
In 1910, the monarchy was overthrown by military forces and Portugal declared as a Republic. António de Oliveira Salazar was appointed Prime Minister in 1932 and soon devolved into a fascist dictator. Portugal was transformed under his rigidly authoritarian Estado Novo (New State), which controlled the media and elections, as well as the civil liberties of the population.

On 25 April 1974, the regime was overthrown by a peaceful, left-wing military coup, known as the Carnation Revolution. Portugal’s Liberation Day is commemorated with streets named “Rua 25 de Abril” in nearly every town.

Modern Portugal, a founding member of NATO and a member of the European Union, has evolved into a country with a stable democracy and vibrant cultural life.

Brief History of Portuguese Wine

Portuguese wine history goes back to at least 2000 BC when vines were cultivated by the Tartessians in the valleys of Tejo and Sado. The Phoenicians arrived to this Iberian Peninsula around the 10th century BC and are known to have cultivated different grape varieties and introduced wine-making techniques. Most of these activities were around the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Phoenician colonies marked in yellow in the fourth century BC
In the following centuries, the region was occupied by the Celts, Ancient Greeks and Romans who expanded the wine cultivation and wine-making further north of the Iberian Peninsula.

Creation of the Independent Kingdom of Portugal

Portugal was part of the Kingdom of León until 1139 when Dom Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself as the King of Portugal after being victorious in the Battle of Ourique, against a contingent of Moorish forces which governed parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

In 1128, Dom Afonso had defeated his own mother Dona Teresa, daughter of the King of León, who had close ties with Galician nobles, which had alarmed Portuguese nobles who were against the prospect of a union with Galicia, and hence, supported Dom Afonso.

In 1143, by the Treaty of Zamora, the Kingdom of León recognized Portugal as an independent kingdom and Afonso I became the first King of Portugal .

Influence of the Cistercian Monks

Of particular importance for the development of viticulture in the Iberian Peninsula were the Benedictine and the Cistercian monks. The Cistercian monks who build monasteries and churches at the base of the fertile hillsides between the Távora and Varosa rivers cultivated vineyards, shared wine-making knowledge with members of its congregations and instilled rules and traditions that benefited the Douro region.

Roman Bridge over the river Varosa and surrounding vineyards in Tarouca
The São João de Tarouca Monastery, in the town of Tarouca, is a historic Cistercian monastery from the 12th century.

Influence of the British Wine Market

The marriage of King John I from Portugal with Philippa of Lancaster in 1386 created a diplomatic alliance between Portugal and England. The Treaty of Windsor established a pact of mutual support between the two countries which opened the door for trade. Under the terms of the treaty, each country gave the merchants of the other the right to reside in its territory and trade on equal terms with its own subjects. This allowed many English merchants to settle in Portugal and wine was one of the beneficiary of this trade agreement in the long run.

Marriage of King John I with Philippa of Lancaster
The 1703 Methuen Treaty between Portugal and England which granted proportionally lower duties on Portuguese wine in exchange for the import of English textiles into Portugal had a beneficial effect on Portuguese wine. This treaty gave Portuguese wine a favorable treatment over French wine in the lucrative British wine market. Port wine in particular was the main beneficiary of this treaty as it appealed to the taste of the British consumer.

The Rapid Growth of Port Wine Production and Export

The second decade of the 18th century was the start of rapid growth in shipments of Port wine and a period of great prosperity for both the producers in the Douro Valley and the Port wine shippers in Porto. The rapid growth also resulted in fraudulent practices and over production as there were no rules or quality control regulations that monitored the wine production. This changed in 1756 when Marquês de Pombal, Portugal’s prime minister established state control over the Port wine trade in the form of a company, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro also known as the Real Companhia Velha.

Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro
Between 1757 and 1761 the first comprehensive classification of the Douro Valley vineyards was carried out, and it must be noted, it was almost a century before a similar exercise was carried out in Bordeaux France.

By the end of the 18th century, Port wine was exported to many places including the Russian Imperial Court and it represented around 50% of all Portuguese exports.

Double disaster caused by American Plagues Oidium and Phylloxera

The first major disaster to Portuguese viticulture came from a fungus called Oidium which was first noted in Europe in 1845 and later spread to Portugal. Oidium which had previously affected American vineyards, destroyed many Portuguese vineyards and the wine production decreased significantly until a treatment using sulfur was found a few years later.

The second biggest disaster for the Portuguese wine industry occurred around 1870 when a severe disease destroyed many of the vineyards in Portugal. The disease was created by the phylloxera pest that is originally native to eastern North America. Phylloxera was inadvertently introduced to Europe by botanists in Victorian England who had collected specimens of American vines in the 1850s.

A brief stop to the destruction was achieved by grafting the European wine-producing vines onto the resistant roots of native American varieties but the destruction caused an economic damage to Portugal and ruined many vineyard owners.

Influence of the European Union

Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 which opened the doors for new investments and liberalized its restrictive wine trade and production practices.

Porto, one of the oldest European centers
European loans and grants helped upgrade the wineries and vineyards besides the general infrastructure across the country.

When Portugal Ruled the Seas

Globalization began, you might say, a bit before the turn of the 16th century, in Portugal. At least that's the conclusion one is likely to reach after visiting a vast exhibition, more than four years in the making, at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. The show, like the nation that is its subject, has brought together art and ideas from nearly all parts of the world.

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It was Portugal that kicked off what has come to be known as the Age of Discovery, in the mid-1400s. The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal was the first to significantly probe the Atlantic Ocean, colonizing the Azores and other nearby islands, then braving the west coast of Africa. In 1488, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was the first to sail around the southern tip of Africa, and in 1498 his countryman Vasco da Gama repeated the experiment, making it as far as India. Portugal would establish ports as far west as Brazil, as far east as Japan, and along the coasts of Africa, India and China.

It was a "culturally exciting moment," says Jay Levenson of the Museum of Modern Art, guest curator of the exhibition. "All these cultures that had been separated by huge expanses of sea suddenly had a mechanism of learning about each other."

The exhibition, "Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th & 17th Centuries," is the Sackler's largest to date, with some 250 objects from more than 100 lenders occupying the entire museum and spilling over into the neighboring National Museum of African Art. In a room full of maps, the first world map presented (from the early 1490s) is way off the mark (with an imaginary land bridge from southern Africa to Asia), but as subsequent efforts reflect the discoveries of Portuguese navigators, the continents morph into the shapes we recognize today.

Another room is largely devoted to the kinds of objects that made their way into a Kunstkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, in which a wealthy European would display exotica fashioned out of materials from distant lands—ostrich shell drinking cups, tortoiseshell dishes, mother-of-pearl caskets. Each object, be it an African copper bracelet that made its way to a European collection or Flemish paintings of Portugal's fleet, points to Portugal's global influence.

It would be a serious error to think that Portugal's global ambitions were purely benevolent, or even economic, says UCLA historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam: "The Portuguese drive was not simply to explore and trade. It was also to deploy maritime violence, which they knew they were good at, in order to tax and subvert the trade of others, and to build a political structure, whether you want to call it an empire or not, overseas." Indeed, the exhibition catalog offers troubling reminders of misdeeds and even atrocities committed in Portugal's name: the boatful of Muslims set ablaze by the ruthless Vasco da Gama, the African slaves imported to fuel Brazil's economy.

When different cultures have encountered each other for the first time, there has often been misunderstanding, bigotry, even hostility, and the Portuguese were not alone in this regard. The Japanese called the Portuguese who landed on their shores "Southern Barbarians" (since they arrived mostly from the south). Some of the most intriguing objects in the exhibit are brass medallions depicting the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Not long after Portuguese missionaries converted many Japanese to Christianity, Japanese military rulers began persecuting the converts, forcing them to tread on these fumi-e ("pictures to step on") to show they had renounced the barbarians' religion.

With such cultural tensions on display in often exquisite works of art, "Encompassing the Globe" has been a critical favorite. The New York Times called it a "tour de force," and the Washington Post found the exhibition "fascinating" in its depiction of "the tense, difficult and sometimes brutal birth of the modern world." The exhibition closes September 16, and opens October 27 at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Brussels, a seat of the European Union, now headed by Portugal.

The president of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, declares in a forward to the exhibition catalog, "The routes that the Portuguese created to connect the continents and oceans are the foundation of the world we inhabit today." For better or worse, one is tempted to add.

Former intern David Zaz is a fellow at Moment Magazine.

About David Zax

David Zax is a freelance journalist and a contributing editor for Technology Review (where he also pens a gadget blog).

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Twentieth-century Lisbon

After the First Republic ended in 1926, the anti-democratic conservative party took power installing the New State (Estado Novo) led by Anónio de Oliveira Salazar. His regime would last until the 25 April 1974, when a military coup driven by General Spinola finally installed the Third Republic. The bloodless coup is known as the “Carnation Revolution”, and over the following years Lisbon was greatly transformed by immigration and rapid growth.

During World War II, Lisbon became a refuge for many exiles from the various countries occupied by the Axis powers. From Lisbon, they would sail to the United States or Great Britain.

In 1986, Portugal became a member of the European Union and twelve years later, in 1998, Lisbon hosted the World Expo, which altered this beautiful city’s urban landscape.

Marquis of Pombal statue Vasco da Gama's tomb


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