Portugal - History



Portugal derives its name from ancient Portus Cale (now Oporto), at the mouth of the Douro River, where the Portuguese monarchy began. The country's early history is indistinguishable from that of the other Iberian peoples. Lusitanians were successively overrun by Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors (711). In 1094, Henry of Burgundy was given the county of Portugal by the king of Castile and León for his success against the Moors; his son, Alfonso I (Alfonso Henriques), became king and achieved independence for Portugal in 1143, beginning the Burgundy dynasty. By the mid-13th century, the present boundaries of Portugal were established, and Lisbon became the capital.

During the reign of King John (João) I, the founder of the powerful Aviz dynasty and husband of the English princess Philippa of Lancaster, the Portuguese defeated the Spanish in a war over the throne (1385), established a political alliance with England (by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386) that has endured to the present day, and inaugurated their most brilliant era. Prince Henry the Navigator (Henrique o Navegador), a son of John I, founded a nautical school at Sagres, where he gathered the world's best navigators, cosmographers, geographers, and astronomers and commenced a series of voyages and explorations that culminated in the formation of the Portuguese Empire. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the golden age of Portugal, Portuguese explorers sailed most of the world's seas; made the European discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, Brazil, and Labrador; founded Portugal's overseas provinces in western and eastern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Brazil; and poured the vast riches of the empire into the homeland. In 1580–81, Philip II of Spain, claiming the throne, conquered Portugal and acquired its empire, but national sovereignty was restored by the revolution of 1640 and the accession of John IV, founder of the Bragança dynasty, to the Portuguese throne. John IV ushered in Portugal's silver age, the 17th and 18th centuries, when the wealth of Brazil once more made Lisbon one of the most brilliant of European capitals. The city was largely destroyed by a great earthquake in 1755 but was subsequently rebuilt. During the Napoleonic wars, Portugal, faithful to its British alliance, was the base of British operations against the French in the Iberian Peninsula. The royal family, however, withdrew to Brazil, and from 1807 to 1821, Rio de Janeiro was the seat of the Portuguese monarchy. In 1822, Brazil, ruled by Pedro, the son of King John VI of Portugal, formally declared its independence; Pedro became Emperor Pedro I of Brazil but was deposed in 1831.

The Bragança dynasty, which had ruled Portugal since 1640, came to an end with the revolution of 1910, when the monarchy was replaced by a republican regime. Lack of stability under the new republic led to a military dictatorship in 1926. Marshal António Carmona served as president from 1926 to 1951. António de Oliveira Salazar, brought to the government in 1928 as minister of finance, emerged as Portugal's prime minister in 1932. In 1933, Salazar proclaimed a new constitution, which consolidated his regime and established Portugal as a corporative state. During World War II, Portugal supported the Allies but did not take part in combat; it subsequently became a member of NATO.

Despite its reduced status as a European power, Portugal attempted to maintain its overseas empire, especially its resource-rich African provinces. In 1961, Portugal surrendered Goa, Daman, and Diu to India. In the same year, uprisings in Angola began, organized by the Union of Angolan Peoples in protest against Portugal's oppressive policies in the territory. These uprisings led to serious disagreements between the UN and Portugal; following Portugal's refusal to heed its recommendations for liberalization of policies with a view toward eventual self-government, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 1965 calling for a worldwide economic and arms boycott of Portugal in order to force it to grant independence to its African dependencies. Subsequently, the Assembly passed a number of resolutions condemning Portugal for its policies in its African territories. Meanwhile, guerrilla movements in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau were met by a steadily increasing commitment of Portuguese troops and supplies.

Salazar, who served as prime minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968, died in July 1970 at the age of 81. When he was incapacitated in September 1968, he was succeeded by Marcello Caetano. The unwillingness of the Caetano regime to institute democratic and economic reforms, coupled with growing discontent over the continuance of the ever more costly colonial war in Africa, led to a military coup by the left-wing Armed Forces Movement in April 1974. Broad democratic liberties were immediately granted and opposition political parties legalized, while the corporate state apparatus was gradually dismantled. A decolonization program was also begun, resulting by November 1975 in the independence of all of Portugal's African provinces.

The first provisional coalition government came to power in May 1974, with Gen. António Sebastião Ribeiro de Spínola, whose book Portugal and the Future had played a key role in focusing antiwar sentiment among the military, as president. In September 1974, after a power struggle with the leftist forces, Gen. Spínola resigned and was replaced by Gen. Francisco da Costa Gomes. Following an unsuccessful right-wing coup attempt in March 1975, Gen. Spínola was forced to flee the country, along with a number of officers. The continued dissension between right and left—and between Communist and Socialist factions on the left—was evidenced by the numerous provisional governments that followed the coup. In April 1975, general elections were held for a Constituent Assembly, whose task was to draw up a new constitution. Legislative elections were held in April 1976 and presidential elections in June. Gen. António dos Santos Ramalho Eanes was elected president, and the leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party, Mário Alberto Nobre Lopes Soares, became prime minister. Mainly as a result of policy differences within the governing coalition, this administration fell in July 1978 and was replaced by a caretaker cabinet.

After a succession of different coalitions, the Socialist Party won a 35% plurality in the parliamentary elections of April 1983, and Soares was again named prime minister, forming a coalition government with the center-right Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democratico—PSD). Political turbulence increased after the election, and in 1984, urban terrorism appeared. In the following year, Portugal entered the EC, boosting the economy. Political instability continued, however, and a general election was called in October 1985. The vote brought the PSD to power with a slim plurality; Prof. Aníbal Cavaço Silva was able to form a minority government. In 1986, four candidates ran for president; none was able to win a majority, and in the ensuing runoff election, former prime minister Soares won a narrow victory to become the nation's first civilian president in 60 years. In 1987, the government lost a vote of confidence, and Soares called a general election; the PSD under Silva won a majority in the Assembly, achieving the first such government since democracy was restored in 1974.

The PSD was returned to power in 1991 and Mário Soares was reelected president for a second five-year term on 13 January 1991. Economic recession, government deficits, and regional development initiatives were major concerns in the 1990s.

Following the success of the Socialist Party (Partido Socialist—PS) in the legislative elections held in October 1995, Socialist Jorge Sampaio defeated Silva to succeed Soares as president on 14 January 1996. (Sampaio won reelection for a second five-year term in January 2001.) Antonio Guterres was reappointed prime minister. The goal of the Guterres government was to prepare Portugal for entry into the European economic and monetary union. Successive austerity measures were legislated, with the support of the center-right PSD, to guarantee Portugal's participation in the euro zone (this took place in 1999). The socialist government at the same time presided over a remarkable economic recovery after 1996. Thanks to strong economic growth and a real drop in unemployment, the PS retained power after the 10 October 1999 Assembly elections. Its program for the succeeding four years was to speed up Portugal's economic and bureaucratic modernization in order to attract investment and promote export-led growth.

The Socialist government's ability to manage a slowing economy deteriorated in Guterres' second term, and the PS suffered a major defeat in local elections held in December 2001. Guterres resigned, and early elections were held in March 2002. They resulted in a change in government, with the center-right PSD forming a coalition with the conservative Popular Party. PSD leader José Manuel Durão Barroso was named prime minister. Durão Barroso experienced his own troubles with the economy, as Portugal headed into a recession at the end of 2002 and into 2003. Portugal's economy was forecast to grow by 0.4% in 2003, the worst performance in the euro currency zone. As well, Portugal's budget deficit in 2002 was far above the 3% of GDP limit established by the EU's Growth and Stability Pact, putting it in jeopardy of punitive sanctions from the EU.

Portugal's overseas possession Macau was turned over to Chinese administration on 20 December 1999. Portugal supported independence for its former colony of East Timor; this was achieved in May 2002. Portugal took steps to normalize relations with Indonesia following the independence of East Timor.

Durão Barroso supported the US in its diplomatic and military efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in 2003, with or without a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to remove the Iraqi regime. The prime minister faced criticism from within parliament and among the Portuguese electorate for his stance.



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