Portugal History

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History[edit | edit source]

Portugal is one of the oldest states in Europe. It is also the most western country in Europe. Alfonso Henriques, the Count of Portugal, gained independence from the King of Leon-Castile of Spain, and became the country’s first king. He and his successors extended the kingdom southward, securing the present-day boundaries by 1249.

Inspired by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), Portuguese explorers ranged to Latin America, Africa, and Asia, opening up trade routes and establishing colonies in Brazil, along the African coast, and in the Indies. This empire lasted for several hundred years.

Dynastic disputes weakened the kingdom and, from 1580-1640, Portugal was controlled by Spain. Then, a revolt brought the House of Bragança to the throne. It ruled Portugal for nearly three hundred years.

During the Napoleonic era, Portugal was ruled from Brazil, where the court had fled. The British under the Duke of wellington,and a group of Portuguese guerillas expelled the French invaders from Portugal. Brazil itself gained independence from Portugal in 1821.

In 1910, Portugal became a republic but it was politically unstable and in 1932 a military government appointed Antonio Salazar as the prime minister. He and his successor, Marcelo Caetano, 1968, ruled Portugal as an authoritarian corporate state for 42 years. The establishment of a republic saw the institution of civil registration.

In the 1960s, economic stagnation at home and wars of independence in Portugal’s African territories became a drain on the country’s prosperity. During 1974-75 most of the Portuguese overseas possessions gained independence. Professional dissatisfaction within the military led to the formation of a clandestine movement to overthrow the state and establish a provisional military government. The new government was temporarily influenced by communist and leftist forces. However, votes cast in a popular election in 1975 went overwhelming to three democratic parties. The communists responded by attempting to minimize the role of political parties. In the end they failed and a new constitution took effect on April 25, 1976. The elected government was a democratic entity for the first time since the 1920s.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1348 - 1349 Portugal, like the rest of Europe, was devastated by the Black Death
1373 - Portugal made an alliance with England, which is the longest-standing alliance in the world
1568 – 1648 A revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands
1755 - Lisbon was struck by a violent earthquake with an estimated moment magnitude of 8.5–9. The city was razed to the ground by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and ensuing fires
1822 – 1824 The Independence of Brazil comprised a series of political and military events, most of which involved disputes between Brazil and Portugal regarding the call for independence presented by the Brazilian Empire
1890 - The British Ultimatum was an ultimatum issued by the British government delivered to Portugal. The ultimatum forced the retreat of Portuguese military forces from areas which had been claimed by Portugal on the basis of historical discovery and recent exploration, but which the United Kingdom claimed on the basis of occupation
1947 - After India attained independence, it separated the territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli from Portuguese rule in 1954
1961 - São João Baptista de Ajudá's annexation by the Republic of Dahomey was the start of a process that led to the final dissolution of the centuries-old Portuguese Empire

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