History of Portugal in 7 Minutes!


Portugal is an exciting and vibrant country. And this small western European nation definitely
had a storied past. People have inhabited this area since the
6th century BC and maybe even more. All the history that has taken place between
then and now packs quite a punch, so let’s take a closer look. Obviously, like everywhere else in Europe
it seems, the Romans occupied the area first but sometime after their demise in the 5th
century,  the Moors invaded.    Moors, or Moorish were medieval muslims from
the Morocco area of North Africa.    They came galavanting in in the year 711 and
took the whole Iberian peninsula and then some.
   Pockets of Christians in the north remained
and pushed back here and there over the next few hundred years.   The leader of one such ‘pocket’ pushed
a little harder than most and got the Moors back south and east and claimed himself the
first King of Portugal.   
At the same time the Spanish to the east were also pushing south and ‘eastwest’ disputes
with them started to pop up.   Subsequent Afonsos’ followed and kept the
march south going south and in 1249, Afonso III captured Faro, today’s capital city of
the Algarve.    They still had the problem though, of keeping
Spain’s ‘noses’ out of their new borders.   Portugal made friends with England and Spain
backed out  The new allies signed the Treaty of Windsor
which is still in effect today and utilized as recently as the Second World War. The Portuguese were now free to explore the
waters, and explore they did!Setting up colonies of trade all over the world.   The discovery of Brazil in 1500 would prove
to be most vital.  
With trading ports in India, China, South America and Africa, Portugal was an imposing
Empire.  However, things ‘hit the fan’ in 1578
when King Sebastian was killed in battle without an heir to his throne. The great empire was
all of a sudden in crisis and Spain’s King Philip II claimed the throne referencing some
obscure family lineage.  There was some opposition to this so an impatient
Philip, took advantage in Portugal’s time of weakness and invaded in 1580. Now there were some good and bad things about
this merger.   Bad being that they now shared enemies including
England.   And that the Dutch sniffed weakness and started
to seize more and more of Brazil.  
But good being that with Spain’s help they managed to defeat the Dutch and also, life
wasn’t so bad under the first two Spanish Kings, Portugal was still under their own
law, government, currency and still retained some status. When Philip IV came along however, things
got a bit nasty.  He figured he’d make Portugal a province of Spain and removed Portuguese
nobles from positions of power. In a twist of fate, Spain was pretty much
broke by this time from the Thirty Years War and sensing good timing, the nobleman nominated
John, the Duke of Braganza, to lead the resistance which came to be known as the Portuguese Restoration
War. The House Braganza still lay claim to the
throne today even though the monarch has been abolished for some time now. And because Spain helped them retain Brazil,
Portugal was able to draw upon its wealth to help fund the war which would last 28 years.
In 1668 Spain officially recognized Portugal as independent   20 years later gold is discovered in Brazil!
And boom! Portugal is rich beyond belief! And good thing too as on the morning of November
1st, 1755, a devastating earthquake struck.  The quake, the tsunamis and the fires that
resulted pretty much annihilated the country and everything in it, the castles, the treasures,
the art, in addition to the heavy loss of life. The king at the time was Joseph I and he had
appointed, this guy, we’ll call him Sebastian or better yet, by his title, Marquis of Pombal.
 Is was his swift reaction, his economic reform policies and financial restructuring
that allowed Portugal to rebuild quickly.  His strong leadership ensured the country
would not fall into ruin and hardship and statues and other tributes to him are everywhere. His cost control measures were not favoured
by the upper crust, nor was he a very nice guy otherwise so he was exiled. The years after the rebuild period also saw
an invasion by Napoleon, he actually took Lisbon for a couple of years but Portugal
called on their English buddies for help, Brazil’s independence followed in 1822. Some political jostling and rumblings in the
African colonies bring about Britain’s Ultimatum demanding the retreat of Portuguese troops
from the area known as the Pink Map so that Britain could connect Cairo to Cape Town by
rail  the fallout and the protests from this political
‘stiff arm’ basically collapsed the Portuguese monarchy. This brings us to WWI in which Portugal sides
with the allies.   But post war turmoil and unrest lead to a
coup in May of 1926 which gave power to the military and eventually saw the rise of Antonio
Salazar, and he took Portugal into a tough period of dictatorship, oppression and media
censorship.   He also led the country through the second
world war in which Portugal was technically neutral but did supply troops under the British
flag but also conducted trade with both sides. In the late 1960’s Salazar was forced to
retire due to a bathtub brain hemorrhage and turned the reins over to a slightly less radical
successor.   In 1974 the peaceful Carnation Revolution
removed the radicals from power without a single gunshot.  This opened the door to
bigger and better things but it was really January 1st, 1986 when Portugal joined the
Economic Community now known as the EU, that things really started to turn around.   Funds were made available to build roads,
schools, medical facilities and allowed for foreign investment.  This is what really
led to the Portugal we are able to visit and enjoy today.  So there you have, a brief history of Portugal  Thanks for watching!

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