| Up to the Middle
Ages, the history of Portugal is inseparable from that of Spain. Present-day
Portugal became a part of the Roman province of Lusitania in the 2nd century
BC. In the 5th century AD control of the region passed to the Visigoths,
and in the 8th century it was included in the area of Moorish Muslim conquest.
In 997 the territory between the Douro and Minho rivers (now northern Portugal)
was retaken from the Moors by Bermudo II, king of León, and in 1064
the reconquest was completed as far south as present-day Coimbra by Ferdinand
I, king of Castile and León. The reconquered districts were then
organized into a feudal county, composed of Spanish fiefs. Portugal later
derived its name from the northernmost fief, the Comitatus Portaculenis,
which extended around the old Roman seaport of Portus Cale (present-day
In 1093 Henry of Bourgogne came to the assistance of Castile when it was invaded by the Moors. In gratitude Alfonso I of Castile made Henry count of Portugal. On the death of Alfonso in 1109, Count Henry, and later his widow, Teresa, refused to continue feudal allegiance to León. He invaded León and began a series of peninsular wars, but with little success. In 1128 his son, Afonso Henriques, rebelled against his mother. In 1139 Afonso Henriques declared Portugal independent from the Spanish kingdom of Castile and León, and took the title Afonso I. Four years later, through the Treaty of Zamora, King Alfonso VII of León accepted Portugal's sovereignty and Afonso's position as king. Portugal was recognized as independent by the pope in 1179.
The Medieval Kingdom of Portugal
Afonso I, aided by the Templars and other military orders sworn to fight the Moors, extended the border of the new kingdom as far south as the Tagus River. His son Sancho I, who reigned from 1185 to 1211, encouraged Christians to settle in the reconquered area by establishing self-governing municipalities there. The Cistercian monks occupied the land and promoted efficient agricultural methods. In the late 12th century, the Almohads, a Muslim dynasty from North Africa, temporarily halted the Christians' southward movement, but after their defeat in 1212 at Las Navas de Tolosa in Castile the reconquest continued.
King Alfonso III, who reigned from 1248 to 1279, completed the expulsion of the Moors from the Algarve and moved the capital of Portugal from Coimbra to Lisbon. He also began the practice of governing with the aid of a Cortes (representative assembly), which included members of the nobility, the clergy, and the citizens, and he increased the power of the monarchy at the expense of the church. His son Diniz, called the Farmer King because of his encouragement of agriculture, founded the nation's first university at Coimbra and was responsible for the development of the Portuguese navy. In 1294 he signed a commercial treaty with England, beginning a sequence of alliances between the two countries. Diniz's successor, Alfonso IV, joined with Alfonso XI of Castile to win a major victory over the Moors at the Battle of the Salado River in 1340. In this period the royal houses of Castile and Portugal frequently intermarried, repeatedly raising the possibility that one of the kingdoms might be absorbed by the other.
After the death of Ferdinand I, the last of the legitimate descendants of Henry of Burgundy, his illegitimate half brother John I secured the Portuguese throne in 1385, after two years of civil war. His branch of the Bourguignon line became known as the house of Aviz. John's reign was one of the most notable in Portuguese history. He successfully defended the kingdom against Castilian attack and in 1385 defeated Castile decisively in the Battle of Aljubarrota. In 1386 England and Portugal allied themselves permanently by the Treaty of Windsor. The greatest fame of John's reign, however, rests on the work done under the direction of his son Henry the Navigator, prince of Portugal, in exploring the African coast for an eastward route to the Indies. A century of exploration and conquest began, which made Portugal one of the greatest colonial powers in the world. In 1418 and 1419 Portuguese navigators explored Madeira and in 1427 discovered the Azores. A successful Portuguese military campaign in Morocco resulted in the capture of Ceuta in 1415.
The Era of Portuguese Expansion
Madeira and the Azores rapidly became important centers of sugar production, and the capture of Ceuta gave Portugal a foothold in Africa, providing the impetus for further exploration of the African coast. Using the caravel, a new type of light sailing vessel especially adapted for Atlantic voyages, Portuguese mariners sailed as far south as Cape Verde in 1444, and by 1460 they had reached Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, John I's successors, King Duarte (reigned 1433-38) and Alfonso V, sent further expeditions to Morocco, capturing the cities of Tangier and Arzila (Asilah).
The Reign of John II
King John II restored the prestige the monarchy had lost at home during the reigns of his two predecessors, subjecting the turbulent nobles to his authority. Abroad, he founded (1482) a Portuguese stronghold at Elmina, in present-day Ghana, and established relations with the kingdom of the Kongo (in present-day Angola). In 1488, Bartholomeu Dias became the first to sail around the southern end of Africa, opening the sea route to the Orient. After Christopher Columbus's voyage to America in 1492, Portugal and Spain concluded the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), allocating to Portugal all undiscovered lands east of a line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. See Demarcation, Line of.
Emanuel and His Successors (1495-1580)
Under King Emanuel, Portuguese power reached its height. From 1497 to 1499 Vasco da Gama made the first voyage to India following the route discovered by Dias, and inaugurated a lucrative trade in spices and other luxuries between Europe and South Asia. Led by Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese occupied Goa, India, in 1510, Malacca (now Melaka, Malaysia) in 1511, the Moluccas (in present-day Indonesia) in 1512-14, and Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf in 1515. During the same period they opened up trade with China and established relations with Ethiopia. As other Portuguese kings had done, Emanuel dreamed of uniting Portugal and Spain under his rule and successively married two daughters of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I. Under pressure from his Spanish relations, he followed their example by expelling Jews and Muslims from his domains in 1497, thus depriving Portugal of much of its middle class. His son, John III, promoted the settlement of Brazil and (again influenced by the example of Spain) introduced (1536) the Inquisition into Portugal to enforce religious uniformity. By the time he died in 1557, Portugal had begun to decline as a political and commercial power. This trend continued under King Sebastian, who was killed during another expedition against Morocco in 1578. On the death of his successor, King Henry, in 1580, the Aviz dynasty came to an end.
The Habsburg and Braganza Dynasties
When Henry died, seven claimants disputed the succession to the throne. The most powerful was Philip II, king of Spain, who in 1580 became Philip I of Portugal. The annexation of Portugal to the Spanish Habsburg monarchy subjected it to the heavy expenses of Spanish wars in a period known as the Sixty Years' Captivity. After 1600, Portuguese domination of trade with the East Indies was lost to the Dutch and the English. Under Philip I, Portugal enjoyed considerable autonomy, but his successors, Philip II (Philip III of Spain) and Philip III (Philip IV of Spain), treated it as a Spanish province, provoking widespread discontent. After unsuccessful revolts in 1634 and 1637, Portuguese conspirators with the support of France won independence for their kingdom in 1640. John, duke of Braganza, was elected John IV, first king of the house of Braganza, which ruled Portugal as long as the monarchy endured.
John IV and His Successors (1640-1816)
King John expelled the Dutch from Brazil, which they had occupied in 1630, and renewed the traditional tie with England. Although further weakened by conflicts with Spain in the second half of the 17th century, Portugal recovered a measure of prosperity in the 18th century, after gold and diamonds were discovered in Brazil. Between 1683 and 1750, during the reigns of Pedro II and John V, British merchants came to dominate Portuguese trade; the monarchy became more despotic and the Cortes fell into disuse. During the reign (1750-77) of Joseph Emanuel, the kingdom was controlled by the chief-minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Mello, marquês de Pombal, considered one of the greatest statesmen in modern Portuguese history. Although a ruthless dictator, he worked to weaken the power of the privileged nobility and the church, encouraged industry and education, and ended the foreign monopoly of trade. Pombal was dismissed, however, at the accession of Joseph Emanuel's daughter Maria I in 1777. During the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Portugal sided with Britain against France.
In 1807, when the armies of Napoleon threatened Portugal, the royal family withdrew to Brazil and made Rio de Janeiro the seat of government. A French army occupied Portugal but was defeated in 1808 by a British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington. By the Convention of Sintra (August 30, 1808), the French left the country, but they reinvaded a year later. Wellington again checked the French advance, and by 1811 Portugal was free of French influence. The Portuguese royal family chose, however, to remain in Brazil, which in 1815 was made a separate kingdom. In 1816 John VI succeeded to the two thrones, ruling Portugal through a council of regency.
The Constitutional Monarchy
In 1820 the Portuguese army headed a revolution designed to bring about a constitutional government. King John, who agreed to return to Portugal as constitutional monarch, made his son, Dom Pedro, regent of Brazil. Brazil proclaimed itself independent in 1822, and Pedro was made constitutional emperor Pedro I of that country. In Portugal, meanwhile, Pedro's brother, Dom Miguel, appealed to the supporters of absolute monarchy to overthrow the constitutionalists, and an insurrection led by the prince almost succeeded on April 30, 1824. King John managed to remain in power, however, and Miguel went into exile in Vienna.
In 1826 Pedro I of Brazil succeeded to the throne of Portugal as Pedro IV. He put into effect a constitutional charter, providing for a parliamentary regime based on authorization of the monarchy rather than on popular will. He then abdicated in favor of his daughter, Maria II, called Maria da Gloria, a 7-year-old child. Miguel returned from Vienna in 1828 and, ruling as regent for Maria II, seized the throne. A period of acute civil strife followed. With the help of England, France, and Spain, Maria was restored to the throne in 1834.
Political conflict characterized her reign as the Liberals, who supported the 1822 constitution, opposed the Chartists, who supported the 1826 charter. Under her successors-Pedro V, who reigned from 1853 to 1861, and Louis, who reigned from 1861 to 1889-political strife became less pronounced.
Republican and radical movements grew during the reign of Carlos I, and the appointment of João Franco, an antirepublican dictator, as prime minister in 1906 served to increase their strength. In 1908 Carlos and his eldest son were assassinated in Lisbon. The second son of Carlos ascended the throne as Manuel II, and although he restored constitutional government, his corruption equaled that of his father. In October 1910 the army and navy led a revolution that deposed Manuel and established a republic. A liberal constitution was put into effect in 1911, and one of its provisions separated church from state. Manuel José de Arriaga was elected first president of the Portuguese republic.
For the next 15 years Portugal was shaken by political chaos. Ministry succeeded ministry, with an average duration of four months in office. Early in 1916 during World War I, Portugal, honoring its alliance with Great Britain, seized German ships in the harbor of Lisbon. On March 9 Germany declared war. Portuguese troops fought in France and in Africa. Internal disorder and political turbulence, however, continued, and in 1919 a Royalist uprising added to the confusion. In May 1926, an army coup deposed the 40th ministry since the proclamation of the republic. Within a few days of their success the military leaders selected General António de Fragoso Carmona to head the new government. In 1928 Carmona was elected president in an election in which he was the sole candidate. In the same year he appointed António de Oliveira Salazar, a professor of economics at the University of Coimbra, as minister of finance. Salazar was given extraordinary powers in order to put Portuguese finances on a sound basis.
The Salazar Regime
Salazar was successful in this task and rapidly became the most powerful political figure in Portugal. Profoundly religious, he restored much of the power of the church. In 1930 he founded the União Nacional (National Union), a political organization based on authoritarian principles. He became prime minister and dictator in 1932 and was influential in the promulgation of a new constitution in 1933. Portugal became a corporative state with a planned economy, its new regime being called the Estado Novo (New State). No opposition was countenanced. In 1936, with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, Salazar supported the insurgents, led by General Francisco Franco. In 1939 Portugal signed a friendship and nonaggression pact with Spain, to which, on July 29, 1940, was added a protocol designed to ensure the neutrality of both countries during World War II. In October 1943, however, when the Axis powers were weakening, Portugal allowed the Allies to base planes and ships in the Azores.
The planned economy was considerably disturbed during the war years. The fishing industry declined, exports lessened, and refugees crowded the country. Moreover, the Japanese advance in the East Indies threatened Portuguese overseas territories in Asia, and Timor was captured in 1942. By the end of the war, unemployment and poverty were widespread. Political opposition to Salazar was suppressed, however, and National Union candidates monopolized the elections of November 1945. In May 1947, after crushing an attempted revolt, the government deported numerous labor leaders and army officers to the Cape Verde Islands. Marshal Carmona was reelected to the presidency without opposition in February 1949. He died in April 1951 and was succeeded in July by General Francisco Lopes, a supporter of Salazar.
During the 1950s, Portugal developed close relations with the United States, and in 1958 Salazar allowed an opposition candidate, Humberto Delgado, to run for the presidency, but he was defeated by the government's candidate, Rear Admiral Américo Deus Tomás. Tomás was reelected in 1965 and 1971.
In the 1960s, Portugal faced opposition to its rule in the overseas territories. India annexed Portuguese Goa in 1961. In Africa, rebellion broke out in Angola in early 1961, in Portuguese Guinea in late 1962, and in Mozambique in the fall of 1964. The government mounted intensive military campaigns against each African rebellion. It also passed measures to improve political and economic conditions within the territories. In 1961 Portugal extended Portuguese citizenship to Africans in the territories; however, heavy fighting continued throughout the decade and into the 1970s. During these years the United Nations condemned Portugal for waging "colonial wars."
In the mid-1960s a number of foreign loans helped to finance major irrigation and construction projects, and some economic growth was gradually realized. Although several student demonstrations occurred during this period, political opposition to the Salazar regime remained uncoordinated.
On September 29, 1968, Marcello Caetano, a law professor and businessman and a longtime associate of Salazar, became prime minister, succeeding Salazar, who had been incapacitated by a cerebral stroke. Although Caetano called for reforms when he took office, he continued Salazar's repressive policies, especially in Africa.
A series of military and political advances made by African liberation movements threatened Portugal's economic stability and led to the overthrow of the Caetano government by a group of Portuguese army officers on April 25, 1974. A seven-man junta, under Gen António de Spinola, was installed and promised democracy at home and peace for the African territories. During 1974 and 1975, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Cape Verde Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Angola became independent, and in 1975 and 1976 Portuguese Timor was occupied by Indonesian forces. The return of troops and European settlers to Portugal from the newly independent nations aggravated Portugal's own problems of unemployment and political unrest.
On September 30, 1974, Spinola resigned the presidency, warning of growing Communist influence. He was replaced by General Francisco da Costa Gomes. Vasco Gonçalves, who had become prime minister in July, remained in office. Early in 1975, the Movement of the Armed Forces (Movimento das Forças Armadas, or MFA) assumed a formal role in the government, and steps were taken to reorganize the armed forces. The provisional government passed a law establishing a single trade union confederation and began to reform the economic and social life of Portugal. Among the first actions to be undertaken were the nationalization of certain types of heavy industry and banking, and the expropriation and redistribution of large agricultural holdings. In March a right-wing coup attempt, reportedly directed by Spinola, was suppressed. In April the Socialists led in the voting for a constituent assembly.
Gonçalves formed a new government, but it proved unstable. After a series of clashes between Socialists and Communists, followed by violent anti-Communist demonstrations, especially in the north, the MFA established a triumvirate consisting of Costa Gomes, Gonçalves, and General Otelo de Carvalho, Portugal's security chief. In September, at the army's insistence, Gonçalves was replaced as prime minister by Vice Admiral José de Azevedo. Under the Azevedo government, relative stability was restored, and a new investment code was adopted to attract foreign capital. In parliamentary elections in April 1976, the Socialists won a plurality of the vote, and their leader, Mário Soares, became prime minister. In June General António Ramalho Eanes was elected president of Portugal. The country experienced severe economic problems during the next two years, and in mid-1978 Soares was dismissed. After the fall of two successive interim governments, the conservative Democratic Alliance, headed by Francisco Manuel de Sá Carneiro, won a clear majority in parliamentary elections held in December 1979. Sá Carneiro took office as premier in January 1980, but was killed in a plane crash the following December. He was succeeded in January 1981 by Francisco Pinto Balsemão, another conservative. On his initiative, the military Council of the Revolution was abolished in 1982 by constitutional amendment. Parliamentary elections in April 1983 brought Soares back into power as prime minister. Soares's government introduced an austerity program and conducted negotiations leading toward Portugal's entry into the European Community (now called the European Union). Elections in October 1985 led to the formation of a minority government under a Social Democrat, Aníbal Cavaco Silva. Soares returned as president following elections in 1986; Portugal entered the European Community the same year. In the 1987 elections the Social Democrats won control of parliament, the first time a single party held the majority since 1975. President Soares won another term in January 1991, and the Social Democrats held their majority in parliamentary elections in October. In 1992 mass student demonstrations against university entrance examinations resulted in the resignation of the minister of education, public-service employees struck for wage increases, and doctors staged a two-day strike to protest government plans to privatize some health services.
The popularity of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) gradually declined in 1993 and 1994, until it lost its majority to the Socialist Party in the general elections of October 1995. Socialist Party leader Antonio Guterres became premier, ending the ten-year rule of the PSD. In January 1996 former premier Aníbal Cavaco Silva ran for president on the PSD ticket and was soundly defeated by the Socialist candidate Jorge Sampaio, marking the first time since the democratic reforms of 1974 that both premier and president had represented the same party.
In foreign affairs, Portugal improved its relations with the government of Spain in the late 1980s. Negotiations with the People's Republic of China resulted in a 1987 agreement to transfer Macau, Portugal's overseas territory, to Chinese control in December 1999; Portugal had given Macau increased administrative and economic independence in the late 1970s. Beginning in 1988, Portugal played a significant role in the effort to restore peace to Angola, a former Portuguese possession, and participated in negotiations for peace in Mozambique. In April 1993 foreign ministers of Portugal and Indonesia met with mediators in Rome to begin discussions on the former Portuguese colony of East Timor (see Timor). The Indonesian government, which annexed East Timor in 1976, considers it a province, while the Portuguese government insists that East Timor is entitled to self-determination.
In July 1996 Portugal and six of its former colonies formed the Commonwealth of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (known by its Portuguese acronym, CPLP) in Lisbon. The CPLP seeks to preserve the Portuguese language, coordinate diplomatic efforts, and improve cooperation among its members. Many observers believed that a significant factor motivating its creation was Portugal's desire to maintain influence in its former colonies. The group's members are Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe.