Country Explorer


You are here: Home > Portugal

Portugal history

Early to late antiquity

When the Romans from the beginning of the 2nd century BC. conquered the Iberian Peninsula, the Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians already settled there. The Romans were exposed in the 5th century by the Germanic Suebi who founded the "Portucale" empire on the west coast of the peninsula. The Germanic tribes had to give way to the Visigoths in 585, among whom the Christianization of the Iberian peoples began.

Middle ages

Portugal historyThe Moorish invasion of the Strait of Gibraltar started in 711. It only took seven years for the Moors to conquer the entire Iberian Peninsula. Under their four centuries of rule, art, science and commerce flourished. In the course of the "Reconquista" the Moors were pushed back by Christian rulers from northern Spain. In 1095 the county of Portucalia in northern Portugal was handed over by the Castilian king as a fief to Henrique (Heinrich) of Burgundy, whose son Alfonso inflicted a devastating defeat on the Moorish army in 1139 and declared himself king of Portugal.

Around the year 1250 the Moors were finally exposed from Portugal, the country received its national borders, which, apart from a few minor changes, corresponded to today's. In the 14th century, the Portuguese bourgeoisie successfully resisted Spanish domination by a Castilian regent (so-called "Civil Revolution" 1383-85). The Portuguese received support for their own heir to the throne, João (Johann) I., from England (Windsor Treaty 1386).

According to AbbreviationFinder, the era of seafarers and discoveries began in the following century, in Portugal linked to the name of Henry the Seafarer (1394-1460), who in 1415 took possession of an area in what is now Morocco for Portugal in 1415. He became governor of the Algarve and in the following years gathered around Sagres the best seafarers, scientists and shipbuilders with whom he developed a new, revolutionary (because much faster) type of ship, the caravel. The nautical and geographic research in Sagres was the basis for the numerous expeditions of the Portuguese in the coming decades.

Modern times

While the Spanish sailors sailed west, Bartolomeu Diaz sailed around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. In 1498 Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicut, India. With the now cheaper import of the treasures of the Orient (these included above all the extremely valuable spices and precious metals), Lisbon became the center of trade for the whole of Europe and Portugal as a powerful and prosperous country.

Portugal had colonies and trading bases around the world in the 16th century: Brazil was discovered by Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500, and according to the Tordesillas Treaty (1494), in which the western hemisphere was divided at 46 degrees longitude into a Portuguese and a Spanish domain the country belonged to Portugal. Other areas were, for example, in Africa Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mocambique, in Asia in addition to India Ceylon, Sumatra, the Spice Islands, the Moluccas, to Shanghai and Nagasaki, the Portuguese trade extended.

Several factors were responsible for the fact that the Portuguese world power position was not long-lasting: The Inquisition drove the most economically active group out of the country with the Jews, and in the fight against the neighboring great power Spain, which from 1578 held the Portuguese throne for 60 years Portugal was once again dependent on the support of England. In return, England was involved in Portuguese overseas trade, and Portugal had to give up trading bases to the Netherlands and England. The state coffers emptied by the wars with Spain were only refilled with gold discoveries in Brazil (1695). The alliance with England proved itself again for Portugal when the country was occupied by Napoleon's troops in 1807 and could only be liberated with the help of English troops.

18th and 19th centuries

When the Portuguese royal family returned from Brazil in 1820, many things had changed in the country due to a strong liberal movement: a constitution that included freedom of the press, the conversion of the absolute to a constitutional monarchy and universal suffrage was adopted by the returning king João VI. accepted. The king's son, who refused to recognize the constitution, stayed in Brazil and declared the country independent. Portugal lost its most important colony. In the course of the nineteenth century there was a civil war in Portugal between liberals who wanted a republic and the so-called Miguelists who called for a return to absolutism. Industrialization also starts very slowly in Portugal.

20th century

The republic was proclaimed in 1910, but it was short-lived: in 15 years, 44 governments and 8 presidents failed to bring the country's increasingly unstable social and economic situation under control. A military coup in May 1926 was the beginning of a 48-year dictatorship associated with the name Ant¨®nio de Oliveira Salazar. First Minister of Finance, Salazar became Prime Minister of Portugal in 1932 (until 1968). His rigorous austerity measures at the expense of low-income earners initially stabilized the economy, but left large gaps in education and social services. Salazar ruled strictly based on fascist Italy and Germany. A one-party system,Secret police and surveillance apparatus consistently oppressed opposition forces and dissenters and were the cornerstones of Salazar's "Estado Novo". The economy was characterized by equally consistent exploitation of the Portuguese colonies, little progress was made in industrialization, and the rural population in particular became increasingly impoverished.

Portugal supports the Spanish General Franco in the Spanish Civil War, remained neutral in World War II and was accepted into NATO in 1949. At the beginning of the 1960s, efforts to achieve independence led to revolts and unrest in some of the Portuguese colonies, which resulted in the declaration of independence (eg Angola 1961, Guinea-Bissau 1963, Mozambique 1964). The military operations placed a heavy financial burden on the Portuguese state budget. Salazar had to resign in 1968, opposition forces became increasingly important.

In 1974 there was the so-called "Carnation Revolution" (so-called because it was mostly bloodless and the soldiers' rifles were decorated with red carnations), carried out by the MFA (Movement of the Armed Forces), a group of left -wing officers. Power in Portugal was initially taken over by a military council. As the first measure, the colonies were officially released (except for Macau, which was returned to China in 1999). Parties and unions were founded and the military council was dissolved in 1982. Large landowners were expropriated, banks, insurance companies and large companies were nationalized.

The Partido Socialista (PS) and the Partido Social-Democrata (PSD) emerged as the most important parties in the country. Initially, there was a series of changing governments and coalitions, before the Social Democratic Party first established itself as the strongest political force in the mid-1980s. Some measures from the post-revolutionary period were revoked, for example the goal of a classless society was removed from the constitution and many companies were privatized again.

In 1986 Portugal joined the European Community.

In 1996, the lawyer Jorge Sampaio became a socialist head of state. Sampaio was an active opponent of the dictatorship, until 1992 party leader of the PS and mayor of Lisbon. In 1999 the socialists were once again the strongest party, with the prime minister, Antonio Guterres. The growth rates showed, among other things, that the country's economic situation had been stabilized; 1998 eg 4.2%. At just over 5%, the unemployment rate was also well below the EU average (around 10%). In January 2001, the socialist Jorge Sampaio was confirmed as president. However, the extremely low turnout of under 50% (the election was completely boycotted in nine places) showed the growing political disaffection among the population.

The worsening economic situation led to loss-making local elections for the socialists in December 2001; Prime Minister Guterres resigned. After the early parliamentary elections in March 2002, Jos¨¦ Manuel Durão Barroso became prime minister of the conservative Social Democrats (PSD). In May 2005, socialist Jos¨¦ S¨®crates (PS) was elected new prime minister. He initiated numerous structural reforms (debt reduction, improving the competitiveness of the economy, modernizing public education, justice and healthcare). An¨ªbal Cavaco Silva has been president since 2006. Ever since the S¨®crates government had to apply for and break through grants from the European bailout fund in April 2011, the country has been under a rigorous austerity policy.The new conservative government of Pedro Passos Coelho ( PSD) passed several austerity packages.

Africa - Asia - Central America - Europe - Caribbean - Middle East - North America - Oceania - South America


Country Explorer Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved