Country in southwestern Europe, on the Atlantic Ocean, bounded north and east by Spain.
The 1976 constitution, revised in 1982, provides for a president, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term, renewable only once in succession, and a single-chamber 230-member assembly, elected through a party list system of proportional representation and serving a four-year term. The president, an active politician rather than a figurehead, appoints a prime minister who chooses a council of ministers. The prime minister and council of ministers are responsible to the assembly. A council of state, chaired by the president, acts as a supreme national advisory body. The relationship between president and prime minister is similar to the ‘dual executive’ in France.
Portugal shares much of its early history with that of the whole Iberian peninsula (see Spain: history to 1492). The dominance of Carthage in the south in the 3rd century BC gave place to that of Rome in the following century. Lusitania, comprising that part of Portugal south of the River Tagus, was formed into a Roman province during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (31 BC-AD 14), and the country prospered under Roman rule.
In the 5th century AD the area of what was to become Portugal was overrun by two Germanic tribes in succession, the Suebi (Suevi) and the Visigoths, and then in the 8th century by the Muslim Moors from North Africa. By the 11th century the north of the country was subject to León, while the south was still ruled by the Moors.
The creation of Portugal
Ferdinand (I) the Great, king of Castile, began the reconquest of the northwest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors in the mid-11th century, a process continued by his son Alfonso VI of Castile-León. Alfonso VI arranged for the marriage of his illegitimate daughter to the brother of the duke of Burgundy, and their son, Afonso I, had by 1140 established Portugal as his kingdom on a basis of de facto independence, and established the Burgundian line. In 1179 Pope Alexander III acknowledged Afonso as king in return for an annual tribute. However, it was not until the late 13th century that the kingdom of Portugal was acknowledged by the kings of Castile-León. In 1147 Afonso captured Santarém from the Moors, and, with the assistance of English and German crusaders bound for the Holy Land, he also captured Lisbon.
The early kings
Afonso I was succeeded by Sancho I (ruled 1185-1211), who was engaged during the earlier part of his reign in war with the Moors and with Alfonso IX of León, and later, by his encouragement of local self-government, won for himself the title of O Povoador (founder of cities). He opposed the claims of Pope Innocent III, but in 1210 submitted to papal authority.
Afonso II, the Fat (ruled 1211-23), is notable as the first king to summon the Portuguese Cortes (parliament). The Cortes, an assembly representing nobles, clergy, and cities, went on to secure control of taxation. Sancho II (ruled 1223-48) drove the Moors from Alentejo, and won many successes in the Algarve. He was forced to abdicate in favour of his brother, Afonso III (ruled 1248-79), who proclaimed himself king. Afonso III expelled the Moors from the Algarve, united it with his other territories in 1253, and strengthened his kingdom by his marriage to the daughter of Alfonso X of Castile. Thus the kingdom of Portugal reached its present European boundaries.
The later Middle Ages
Afonso III's son Diniz (ruled 1279-1325) devoted himself to the constitutional and social reconstruction of the kingdom. He encouraged agriculture, shipbuilding, and commerce, and was a patron of learning, founding the University of Coimbra (initially in Lisbon) in 1290. He negotiated a commercial treaty with England in 1294 and founded a Portuguese navy.
Afonso IV (ruled 1325-57) was chiefly occupied in wars with the Castilians and Moors, while his successor Pedro I, the Justicer (ruled 1357-67), endeavoured to lessen the power of the nobility and clergy. The claim of Ferdinand (1367-83) to the throne of Castile was contested by Henry of Trastamara. Ferdinand allied himself with the Aragonese and Moors and with England (the alliance with England dating from 1373).
On Ferdinand's death the Burgundian line established by Afonso I in the 12th century came to an end. In order to preserve Portugal's independence of Castile, the Cortes asserted its right to elect the new king, choosing John I (ruled 1385-1433), an illegitimate brother of Ferdinand and the first king of the house of Aviz. In 1385 the united Portuguese and English forces defeated the Castilians at Aljubarrota, securing Portugal's independence. The Anglo-Portuguese alliance was confirmed by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, and John cemented the friendship between the two countries in 1387 by marrying Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt (son of Edward III of England).
The era of exploration and expansion
It was during the reign of John I that the great period of Portuguese exploration and overseas expansion began, during which Portugal became for a while the greatest maritime country in the world.
This period began with the capture of Ceuta on the northwest coast of Africa in 1415 by John's fourth son Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460). Henry established a school for navigators in 1419, and under his patronage Portuguese sailors sailed around Cape Bojador (or Boujdour, in what is now the Western Sahara) in 1434, and discovered Madeira and the Azores in 1442, Senegal in 1445, and the Cape Verde Islands in 1446. The first consignment of African slaves was brought to Lisbon in 1434.
Exploration continued down the African coast in search of a route to India; in 1486 Bartolomeu Diaz sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1497 Vasco da Gama reached India. In 1494, by the Treaty of Tordesillas, Spain and Portugal agreed on the division between them of the uncharted world.
In 1500 King Manuel I (ruled 1495-1521) assumed the title of ‘Lord of the conquest, navigation, and commerce of India, Ethiopia, Arabia and Persia’; in the same year Pedro Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal, and Portuguese settlements were made on the west coast of India. Gaspar and Miguel Côrte-Real reached Greenland in 1500-01, and new colonies were established in east and north Africa. Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa (1510) in India and Malacca (now Melaka) in the Malay Peninsula (1511). Portuguese domination of the East Indies (modern Indonesia) was established in 1512-14, and commercial exchange began with China in 1517 and Japan in 1542. Portugal's commercial enterprise knew no limits, and Lisbon was recognized as the centre of European trade with southern and eastern Asia.
Spanish domination and rule
Portugal's pre-eminent position was not maintained. Alternative routes were opened up to the east by Portugal's rivals, while Portugal remained relatively weak and vulnerable. In addition, the commercial classes in Portugal were weak by comparison with the feudal nobility and the church.
Portugal's subsequent decline was at least partially due to its adoption of a fanatically orthodox Roman Catholicism, largely under the influence of Spain. This resulted in the persecution and, from 1497, the expulsion of the Jews, largely at the behest of Spain, which had expelled its own Jews in 1492. The Jews had contributed greatly to the wealth of the country, and many settled in the Netherlands, where their experience of the Portuguese trade was to prove invaluable.
During the reign of John III (ruled 1521-57) Catholic orthodoxy was rigorously imposed on the country, largely at the instigation of John's wife Catherine, the sister of the ardently Catholic Charles V, king of Spain and Holy Roman emperor. In 1536 the Inquisition was introduced, and from 1540 all education was in the hands of the Jesuits.
In 1578 the Portuguese army suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Alcazarquivir, during an ill-advised crusade against the Moors of Morocco. The zealously religious King Sebastian, the young grandson of John III, died in the battle. Sebastian was succeeded by his uncle, the senile Cardinal Henry, last of the Aviz dynasty, who died in 1580.
Among the many claimants to the crown was Philip II of Spain, who marched into the country and had himself crowned king. From 1580 to 1640 Portugal remained under Spanish suzerainty, thus becoming involved in the Dutch Revolt in the Spanish Netherlands and the Thirty Years' War in Germany. England and the Netherlands seized the Portuguese possessions in South America and the East Indies, although the Dutch seizure of Brazil was only temporary.
After several insurrections, Portugal regained its independence, and John, Duke of Braganza, a descendant of Manuel I, was crowned John IV in 1640. England recognized the Braganza dynasty in 1662 when Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza, who brought in her dowry Bombay and Tangier. This confirmed the friendly relations between the two countries, which already dated back 500 years.
Portugal became involved in colonial wars with the Netherlands in Brazil and Angola, and a more serious conflict with Spain, which did not recognize Portugal's independence. In the reign of Afonso VI (1656-83), son of John IV, the Spanish were defeated at Elvas in 1659, Ameixial in 1663, Ciudad Rodrigo in 1664, and Montes Claros in 1665. The war concluded with the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668, by which Spain finally recognized Portugal's independence.
The reforms of Pombal
The Anglo-Portuguese alliance was renewed by the Methuen Treaty (1703), and Portugal became involved in the War of the Spanish Succession as Britain's ally. However, Portugal had lost many of its colonies (a notable exception being Brazil, where gold and diamonds were discovered in the last decade of the 17th century), and was no longer one of the chief powers in Europe.
The Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782), chief minister throughout the reign of Joseph I (1750-77), tried to restore the kingdom to its former position by strengthening the monarchy and encouraging colonial development. His name is associated particularly with the rebuilding of the city of Lisbon, destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755. Pombal, an advocate of enlightened despotism, expelled the Jesuits in 1759, organized education, encouraged industry and commerce, and reformed the army. However, his autocratic methods alienated many, and on the accession of the mad Queen Maria I, Pombal was deprived of office in 1777. In 1799, Maria's son, John, was appointed regent.
The Napoleonic period
Following the French Revolution and outbreak of the Revolutionary Wars, in 1793 Portugal allied itself with Britain and Spain against France. In 1807 Napoleon sent a French army to invade Portugal and the royal family left the country for Brazil. Portugal then became a battleground in the struggle between the French and the British during the Peninsular War, until the French were finally ousted from Portugal in 1811.
Portugal in the 19th century
In 1816, on the death of Maria I, John VI succeeded to the throne, but remained in Brazil, appointing the British army officer Marshal Beresford as his viceroy. The discontent that this caused among his subjects resulted in a revolution in 1820 and the establishment of a more democratic form of government. John hurried back to Lisbon, and promised to obey the ‘constitution of 1822’. Meanwhile Brazil had obtained complete independence in 1822, with John's son having declared himself constitutional emperor as Pedro I of Brazil.
On the death of John VI in 1826, Pedro, who was now Pedro IV of Portugal, established the basis of the constitution that remained in force until 1910, and then, returning to Brazil, abdicated in favour of his seven-year-old daughter, Maria da Gloria, who ruled with her uncle Miguel as regent. The latter headed a reactionary movement, and with the aid of the nobility, military, and clergy proclaimed himself king in 1828.
A period of civil war followed, between the supporters of the autocratic Miguel and those of the more democratically and constitutionally minded Pedro. With the help of British troops, the constitutional party emerged victorious in 1834, and Pedro reinstated his daughter. However, political instability continued for much of the following two decades.
Maria's son, Pedro V (ruled 1853-61), was succeeded by his brother Luiz I (ruled 1861-89). He in turn was succeeded by Carlos I.
Towards the end of the 19th century Portugal was obliged to cede some of its territory in east and west Africa, giving up its claim to Nyasaland (modern Malawi) after a British ultimatum in 1890.
The foundation of the republic
Carlos I and the crown prince were assassinated in 1908. His second son, Manuel II, was dethroned in a revolution in October 1910, and a republic was proclaimed on 5 October.
The provisional government was under the presidency of Teófilo Braga, who was succeeded in 1911 by Manuel de Arriaga, the first president of the constitutional republic. A royalist counter-revolution under Paiva Couceiro in 1911 was suppressed, as was a leftist revolution in 1912. After three ineffective coalition cabinets, Afonso Costa, head of the majority democratic party, became prime minister. He ruled as a veiled dictator, although he respected parliamentary forms of government to some degree, effectively ruling by patronage.
Portugal in World War I
In 1914 Costa was succeeded by the more moderate Bernardino Machado. When World War I broke out, Machado, who favoured the Allies, was succeeded by Azevedo Coutinho. The non-interventionist president, Arriaga, allowed the Germans to engineer a neutralist coup in 1915, which made Gen Pimenta de Castro a dictator, but he was quickly overthrown.
Costa returned to power, and, because he allowed the Allies the benefit of interned shipping, Germany declared war on Portugal on 9 March 1916. Portugal's chief theatre of war was in Africa (where its colony of Mozambique bordered German East Africa), while Gen Tamagnini commanded the Portuguese Expeditionary Force (numbering 40,000 men) in France. In 1917 Costa was ousted by a coup led by the pro-German Sidónio Pais, who was assassinated in 1918.
Domestically, Portugal remained unstable after World War I; its economic situation was chronically bad, and corruption was rife. Government followed government until a military coup in 1926, and in 1928 Gen Carmona became president. Carmona appointed as his finance minister Dr António de Oliveira Salazar, who stabilized the economy. President Carmona continued his dictatorship despite protests against it, leading to revolt and revolution in Madeira and the Azores. In 1932 Salazar became prime minister, with dictatorial powers, while Carmona remained as president until his death in 1951.
During World War II Portugal remained neutral, but in 1943, under the treaty of 1373, it granted Britain facilities to set up air and naval bases in the Azores. Britain returned these bases in 1946. Portugal became a founder-member of NATO in 1949.
The assembly set up under the constitution of 1933 provided a form of safety valve, but with the excesses of the later monarchy and of the republic still in his mind, Salazar was not prepared to entrust any substantial measure of power to an elected body, and that of the assembly was very limited. The constitution established Portugal as a corporative state, somewhat along the lines of Fascist Italy, and although social conditions were improved, this was at the cost of personal liberties.
The constitution of 1933 adhered steadfastly to the idea that Portugal's overseas empire was an integral part of the nation. However, its remaining possession in India, Goa, was annexed by India in 1961, and during the 1960s, while Britain and France granted independence to their African colonies, Portugal refused to consider such a move. This resulted in the formation of armed liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau), and Portugal became involved in long and costly colonial wars. The increasingly heavy demands made on the national budget by these wars limited the supply of capital for investment at home. In Africa itself Portugal's only friends were white-ruled South Africa, and, after the unilateral declaration of independence there in 1965, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
The 1974 revolution
Salazar's successor as premier in 1968, Marcelo Caetano, did not depart much from Salazar's policies. Domestic repression of workers' unions and of all criticism of the regime was exercised by the much-feared security police (PIDE).
On 25 April 1974 the Caetano regime was overthrown in a coup by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) under the leadership of Gen António Ribeiro de Spínola, a critic of the regime's African policies. The MFA's stated aim was to ‘save the nation from government’. One month later Spinola became president of the Junta of National Salvation, with a military colleague replacing the civilian prime minister.
Events moved rapidly in the first few months of the revolution. The African colonies were granted their independence; the following year Portugal also withdrew from East Timor (which was annexed by Indonesia in 1976). Political parties burgeoned, with the socialists and communists proving to be the best organized. Ministers of the former regime were purged, the PIDE dismantled, and business concerns nationalized.
After disagreements within the junta, Spínola resigned in September 1974 and fled the country. He was replaced by Gen Francisco da Costa Gomes. The leaders of the Armed Forces Movement drew ever closer politically to the Communist Party led by Alvaro Cunhal, and President Gomes narrowly avoided a communist coup by collaborating with the leader of the moderate Socialist Party (PS), Mario Soares.
National elections for the constituent assembly held in April 1975 (after the Armed Forces Movement had announced in advance their intention to retain control, whatever the outcome) gave the Socialist Party 38% of the vote and the Popular Democratic Party of Francisco Sá Caneiro 25% - a clear victory for more moderate policies. The military government's exclusion of the leaders of these parties from power exacerbated political tensions as Portugal entered its second year of post-Salazar rule.
In April 1976 further elections were held. The PS won 36% of the vote, and Soares formed a minority government. The fact that law-and-order policies appealed to the majority of Portuguese was confirmed in the summer of 1976 by the election of the army chief, Gen António Ramalho Eanes, to the presidency, with the support of centre and left-of-centre parties. The government headed by Soares faced a critical economic and political situation, and in December 1977 it was defeated in the assembly. The government survived precariously until Soares resigned in 1978.
A period of political instability followed, with five prime ministers in two and a half years, until in December 1980 President Eanes invited Francisco Balsemão, a cofounder of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), to form a centre-party coalition.
The 1982 constitution
Balsemão survived many challenges to his leadership, and in 1982 the assembly approved his new constitution, which reduced the powers of the president and moved the country towards a fully civilian government.
The PS won the largest number of seats in the 1983 elections and Soares formed a coalition with the PSD, led by former finance minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva. The coalition collapsed in 1985, and after an inconclusive election Cavaco Silva formed a minority PSD government. He increased economic growth and raised living standards, and favoured a free market and privatization.
In the 1986 presidential election Mario Soares became Portugal's first civilian president for 60 years. In the same year Portugal entered the European Community.
In July 1987 the PSD won an absolute majority in parliament, with the left-of-centre Democratic Renewal Party and the communists both losing seats. In June 1989 parliament approved a series of measures that denationalized major industries and renounced the socialist economy. In January 1991 Soares was reelected to a five-year term, and in October the PSD won the general election with a slightly reduced majority.
Socialists returned to power
Cavaco Silva stepped down as PSD leader prior to the October 1995 general election and was succeeded by former defence minister Fernando Nogueira. The elections were won by the PS, which had adopted a centre-left stance. Its leader Antonio Guterres formed a new minority PS administration, which pledged itself to continue the drive for closer European integration. In January 1996, PS candidate Jorge Sampaio won the presidential election. The PS Party easily won a second consecutive term at general elections in October 1999, and Sampaio was re-elected in January 2001, although only 50% of eligible voters turned out. In July 2000, the parliament voted to decriminalize the possession and use of drugs such as heroin and cannabis, treating drug use as an illness instead.
In January 2001, a cattle slaughter programme was instituted in response to the growing problem of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), with 500 cases having been reported since 1998.
In March 2001, a bridge over the River Douro collapsed, killing around 70 bus and car passengers. The minister for public works, Jorge Coelho, who was warned the bridge was in a defective state the preceding year, resigned.
On 1 January 2002, euro notes and coins were introduced as the national currency.
Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues became leader of PS in January 2002, two months before a scheduled general election. Guterres announced he would stay on as caretaker prime minister until then. The PSD; Social Democratic Party won the elections in March with a margin of just over 2% of the vote, but no overall majority of seats in parliament. The slim majority threw into doubt the ability of newly-elected prime minister José Manuel Durão Barroso to form a stable government on his own, and there was immediate speculation that he might seek an alliance with the right-wing PP. When Barroso named his ministers in early April, three were from the PP including its leader, Paulo Portas, as defence minister.
Barroso resigned in July 2004 in order to become president of the European Union, and was succeeded by Pedro Santana Lopes. However, the socialists were victorious in the elections of February 2005, and José Sócrates became prime minister.
In January 2006, former prime minister Cavaco Silva was elected president.
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