History of Portugal

History of Portugal

segunda-feira, 5 de abril de 2010

From Foz Côa to Julius Caesar 

The Iberian Peninsula

The Iberian Peninsula is a geographic unit that contains a number of distinct regions based on climate and geomorphology, such as Andalusia, Castile, Galicia, and Lusitania. Lusitania, which now encompasses the modern nation-state of Portugal, is generally set off from the other regions of the peninsula by areas of higher elevation that run parallel to the Atlantic coast, greater rainfall, and a more moderate climate.

It was this regional distinctiveness, as well as the internal geography of Lusitania--largely open to the south but hemmed in by mountains on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on the west--that gave rise to a culturally and socially distinct people, the Portuguese, and later to an independent nation-state, Portugal.

Early Inhabitants

Lusitania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. Implements made by humans have been found at widely scattered sites. The Ice Ages did not touch Lusitania, and it was only after the disappearance of the Paleolithic hunting cultures that a warmer climate gave rise to a river-centered culture.

At the end of the Paleolithic period, about 7000 B.C., the valley of the Tagus River (Portuguese, Rio Tejo was populated by hunting and fishing tribes, who lived at the mouths of the river's tributaries.

These people left huge kitchen middens containing the remains of shellfish and crustaceans, as well as the bones of oxen, deer, sheep, horses, pigs, wild dogs, badgers, and cats. Later, perhaps about 3000 B.C., Neolithic peoples constructed crude dwellings and began to practice agriculture.

They used polished stone tools, made ceramics, and practiced a cult of the dead, building many funerary monuments called dolmens.

By the end of the Neolithic period, about 2000 B.C., regions of cultural differentiation began to appear among the Stone Age inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, one of these being the western Megalithic culture.

Present-day Portugal is thus rich in Megalithic neocropolises, the best known of which are at Palmela, Alcalar, Reguengos, and Monsaraz.

The Paleolithic and Neolithic periods were followed by the Bronze Age and the Iron Age (probably between 1500 and 1000 B.C.).

Citania Briteiros 
During this time, the Iberian Peninsula was colonized by various peoples. One of the oldest were the LÌgures, about whom little is known. Another were the Iberos, thought to have come from North Africa. The Iberos were a sedentary people who used a primitive plow, wheeled carts, had writing, and made offerings to the dead.

Engraving of Foz Côa

The oldest engraving of Foz Côa (until March 95) belonged to the" Solutrense médio antigo" with more or less 20 000 years. One of them is named the "Canada do Inferno". They are the more evident probe of the human living in the portuguese territory, at the ancient times.( The "Cultura Solutrense" is placed near the 18 000 BC to 15 000 BC)

Phoenicians and Celtic People

In the twelfth century B.C., Phoenicians arrived on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula in search of metals and founded trading posts at Cádiz, Málaga, and Seville. They traded with the peoples of the interior, taking out silver, copper, and tin and bringing in eastern trade goods.

Between the eighth century and sixth century B.C., successive waves of Celtic peoples from central Europe invaded the western part of the peninsula, where the topography and climate were well suited to their herding-farming way of life. They settled there in large numbers and blended in with the indigenous Iberos, giving rise to a new people known as Celtiberians.

Their settlements were hilltop forts called castros, of which there are many vestiges in northern Portugal.


Later, during the seventh century B.C., Greeks arrived and founded several colonies, including Sargunto on the Mediterranean coast and Alcácer do Sal on the Atlantic coast. During the fifth century B.C., the Carthaginians replaced the Phoenicians and closed the Straits of Gibraltar to the Greeks.

The Carthaginians undertook the conquest of the peninsula but were only able to permanently occupy the territory in the south originally controlled by their Phoenician and Greek predecessors.

The Carthaginian occupation lasted until the defeat of Carthage by the Romans in the third century B.C.


The Romans made the former Carthaginian territory into a new province of their expanding empire and conquered and occupied the entire peninsula. This invasion was resisted by the indigenous peoples, the stiffest resistance coming from the Lusitanians who lived in the western part of the peninsula.

The Lusitanians were led by warrior chieftains, the most powerful of whom was Viriato.

Viriato held up the Roman invasion for several decades until he was murdered in his bed by three of his own people who had been bribed by the Romans.

Death of Viriato
His death brought the Lusitanian resistance to an end, and Rome relatively quickly

conquered and occupied the entire peninsula. The Portuguese have claimed Viriato as the country's first great national hero.

domingo, 4 de abril de 2010

The Lusitania - Romanization

Romanization of Hispania or Iberia

Lusitanian Resistance 

Campaigns Viriato against the Romans in 147 BC opposes the surrender of the Lusitanian to Vetílio Caio, who had surrounded the valley of Betis in Turdetania. After he defeats the Romans in Ronda Gorge, which separates the plain of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia coastline, making the enemy ranks an astonishing slaughter, having been killed Vetílio. Then the Lusitianian destroy the troops of Cayo Plautius , taking Segóbriga and the Unimano Claudius , who in 146 BC was the governor of Hispania Citerior. In 145 BC the Lusitanians defeat the Roman troops of Caio Nigidius again. But after the death of Viriato the roman army have no more serious resistance and conquest Lusitania.

Maximum against Viriato
Praetorian Cavalry

In 145 BC Fabius Maximus, brother of Scipion "The African" is appointed consul in Hispania Citerior and is in charge of the campaign against Viriato  commanding two legions. has some success at first but Viriato recovers and returns 143-142 AC to defeat the Romans in Baecula and forces them to take refuge in Cordoba. 

Simultaneously, following the example of the chief Lusitanian tribes celtibéricas rebelled against Roman arrogance, sparking a fight that ended in 133 BC with the fall of Numancia.

Viriato now had an army depleted and tired of fighting. His star is erased. The new governor Fifth Servílio Scipion reinforced with the troops of Popílio Lenas, had vastly superior forces.Viriato was compelled to sue for peace, and deliver to the Romans the main rebels, among whom was Astolpas, his own father-in-law.

After the conquest was completed, the Romans gathered the indigenous peoples into jurisdictions, each with a Roman center of administration and justice. Olissipo (present-day Lisbon-- Lisboa in Portuguese), served as the administrative center of Roman Portugal until the founding of Emerita (present-day Mérida, Spain) in A.D. 25.

By the beginning of the first century A.D., Romanization was well underway in southern Portugal.

A senate was established at Ebora (present-day Évora); schools of Greek and Latin were opened; industries such as brick making, tile making, and iron smelting were developed; military roads and bridges were built to connect administrative centers; and monuments, such as the Temple of Diana in Évora, were erected.

Gradually, Roman civilization was extended to northern Portugal, as well. The Lusitanians were forced out of their hilltop fortifications and settled in bottom lands in Roman towns (citânias).

Hispania was the name given by the Romans to the whole of the Iberian Peninsula (modern Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Gibraltar and a very small southern part of France. Iberia was the name given by the Greeks.

Infantry of the Roman Army
The citânias

The citânias were one of the most important institutions imposed on Lusitania during the Roman occupation. It was in the citânias that the Lusitanians acquired Roman civilization: they learned Latin, the lingua franca of the peninsula and the basis of modern Portuguese; they were introduced to Roman administration and religion; and in the third century, when Rome converted to Christianity, so did the Lusitanians. All in all, the Roman occupation left a profound cultural, economic, and administrative imprint on the entire Iberian Peninsula that remains to the present day.

Citânia of Sanfins
Hispania was divided  in three Provinces in the times of August - Baetica, Tarraconensis, and Lusitania.

Road Map of the Roman Hispania

Romanization - The Romans exerted great influence on the lifestyle of the peninsular peoples .. Most of these people lived in settlements or citânias, organized into tribes and had a degree of rudimentary civilization. With the Romans, developed the cultivation of vines, wheat, olive and fruit trees.

New industries emerged and developed others such as pottery, forges, mines and salt fish. Released to the language and the Roman numerals. In summary, civilized up.

Also there are numerous ruins of towns, cities, monuments, aqueducts to supply water, fortifications, roads and bridges scattered throughout the Roman Portugal.

Roman bridge in Chaves (Aquae Flaviae in Roman times)

In the Iberian Peninsula, Romanization occurred concurrently with the achievement, having progressed from the Mediterranean coast to the interior and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. For this process of acculturation were determining the expansion of Latin and the founding of several cities, with the agents, in principle, the legionaries and traders.

The first, when they mixed with native populations, constituted families by fixing their uses and customs, while the seconds were conditioned on economic life, in terms of production and consumption. Although there has been a homogeneous society in the peninsula during the six centuries of Romanization were recorded moments of development more or less pronounced, reducing undoubtedly ethnic differences of the primitive settlement.

Roman road
The industry has developed, especially the pottery, mining, weaving, quarrying, which also helped to develop trade, emerging markets and fairs, with the circulation of money and supported an extensive road network (the famous "Roman roads "that there are still many traces in the present) that connected the main centers throughout the Empire.

The Roman influence was felt also in religion and artistic manifestations. It was, therefore, a profound influence, especially the south, won first place.

The main actors were the mercenaries who came to the Peninsula, large military contingents Romans camped here, the action of some military chiefs, immigration from the Romans to the Peninsula, granting Roman citizenship.

The Latin language was eventually imposed as the official language, functioning as binding factor and communication between the various peoples. The villages, normally built in the mountains, began to emerge to the valleys or plains, dwelling houses of brick covered with tile. 

As examples of cities that have arisen with the Romans, we Braga (Bracara Augusta), Beja (Pax Iulia), Santiago de Setúbal (Miróbriga) Conímbriga and Chaves (Aquae Flaviae)

Lisbon, Portugal's capital was under Roman rule 614 years, from 205 BC to 409 AD. Julius Caesar gave him the dignity of  "mucipium" with the name of Felicitas Julia. In 409 AD it was conquered by the Alans, who were expelled by the Suevi and reconquered by the Visigoths.

sexta-feira, 2 de abril de 2010

Germanic and Muslim Invasions

Germanic Invasions
In 406 the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by Germanic peoples consisting of Vandals, Swabians, and Alans, a non-Germanic people of Iranian stock who had attached themselves to the Vandals. Within two years, the invaders had spread to the west coast. The Swabians were primarily herders and were drawn to Galicia because the climate was similar to what they had left behind.

The Vandals settled to the north of Galicia but soon left with the remnants of the Alans for the east. After the departure of the Vandals, the Swabians moved southward and settled among the Luso-Romans, who put up no resistance and assimilated them easily. The urban life of the citânias gave way to the Swabian custom of dispersed houses and smallholdings, a pattern that is reflected today in the land tenure pattern of northern Portugal.

Roman administration disappeared. The capital of Swabian hegemony was present-day Braga, but some Swabian kings lived in the Roman city of Cale (present-day Porto) at the mouth of the Douro River. The city was a customs post between Galicia and Lusitania. Gradually, the city came to be called Portucale, a compound of portus (port) and Cale. This name also referred to the vast territory to the immediate north and south of the banks of the river upstream from the city.

With large parts of the peninsula now outside their control, the Romans commissioned the Visigoths, the most highly Romanized of the Germanic peoples, to restore Rome's hegemony in 415. The Visigoths forced the Vandals to sail for North Africa and defeated the Swabians. The Swabian kings and their Visigothic overlords held commissions to govern in the name of the emperor; their kingdoms were thus part of the Roman Empire.

Latin remained the language of government and commerce. The Visigoths, who had been converted to Christianity in the fifth century, decided to organize themselves into an independent kingdom with their capital at Toledo. The kingdom was based on the principle of absolute monarchy, each sovereign being elected by an assembly of nobles. Visigothic kings convoked great councils made up of bishops and nobles to assist in deciding ecclesiastical and civil matters.

Visigoths gradually fused with the Swabians and Hispano-Romans into a single politico-religious entity that lasted until the eighth century, when the Iberian Peninsula fell under Muslim domination.

Muslim DominationIn 711 Iberia was invaded by a Muslim army commanded by Tariq ibn Ziyad. The last Visigothic king, Rodrigo, tried to repel this invasion but was defeated. The Muslims advanced to Córdoba and then to Toledo, the Visigothic capital. The last resistance of the Visigoths was made at Mérida, which fell in June 713 after a long siege.

In the spring of 714, a Muslim army commanded by Musa ibn Nusair marched to Saragossa and then to León and Astorga. Évora, Santarém, and Coimbra fell by 716. Thus, within five years, the Muslims had conquered and occupied the entire peninsula. Only a wedge of wet, mountainous territory in the extreme northwest called Astúrias remained under Christian control.

In Lusitania land was divided among Muslim troops. However, bad crops and a dislike for the wet climate put an end to the short-lived Muslim colonization along the Douro River. Muslims preferred the dry country below the Tagus River because it was more familiar, especially the Algarve, an area of present-day Portugal where the Muslim imprint remains the strongest.

The Muslim aristocracy settled in towns and revived urban life; others fanned out across the countryside as small farmers. The Visigothic peasants readily converted to Islam, having only been superficially Christianized. Some Visigothic nobles continued to practice Christianity, but most converted to Islam and were confirmed by the Muslims as local governors. Jews, who were always an important element in the urban population, continued to exercise a significant role in commerce and scholarship.

Muslim Army
Al Andalus

Al Andalus, as Islamic Iberia was known, flourished for 250 years, under the Caliphate of Córdoba. Nothing in Europe approached Córdoba's wealth, power, culture, or the brilliance of its court. The caliphs founded schools and libraries; they cultivated the sciences, especially mathematics; they introduced arabesque decoration into local architecture; they explored mines; they developed commerce and industry; and they built irrigation systems, which transformed many arid areas into orchards and gardens. Finally, the Muslim domination introduced more than 600 Arabic words into the Portuguese language.

Mosque of Cordoba
The Golden Age of Muslim domination ended in the eleventh century when local nobles, who had become rich and powerful, began to carve up the caliphate into independent regional city-states (taifas), the most important being the emirates of Badajoz, Mérida, Lisbon, and Évora. These internecine struggles provided an opportunity for small groups of Visigothic Christians, who had taken refuge in the mountainous northwest of the peninsula, to go on the offensive against the Muslims, thus beginning the Christian reconquest of Iberia.

Arab culture in Peninsula

Society and demographics. Aspects of everyday life

The population of Al-Andalus was very heterogeneous and consists of Arabs and Berbers (and some other Muslims), Mozarabic (Spanish-Goths are that under Muslim rule retained the Christian religion-Mozarabic rite, but adopted the ways of life foreign Muslims) and Jews. Besides these, there was another group, the muladis, who were Christians who had converted to Islam.

The Mozarabic and the Jews freedom of worship, but in exchange for this freedom were required to pay two taxes: the personal tax capitation (Gizia), and property tax on income of land (carage). These two groups had their own authorities, enjoyed freedom of movement and could be judged according to their right.

Public baths

In rural and urban public baths existed (hammam), which functioned not only as places of hygiene, but also for socializing. The Islamic baths had a structure inherited from the Roman baths, with several rooms with cold water pools, warm and hot.

Arab public baths

Them worked masseurs, barbers, having custody clothes, makeup artists, etc.. The morning was reserved for men and women in the afternoon. With the Christian reconquest many of these baths were closed to be understood that they were amenable to local political conspiracies, as well as sexual intercourse.


Bread was the staple diet of al-Andalus, also consuming meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. The foods were cooked with the use of herbs such as "oregano", rosemary and peppermint (the latter is also used in tea) and spices (ginger, pepper, cumin ...). The fat used was olive oil (az-zait), where the one produced in the region of Coimbra was famous.

Cheesecakes (qayyata) of Sintra
The sweets were also appreciated, as cheesecakes (qayyata), rice pudding covered with  cinnamon and  various pastries made ​​with dried fruit and honey, which are still characteristic of the cuisine of certain regions of the peninsula.


The arrival of Islamic civilization to the Iberian peninsula would cause major economic. An essentially rural economy went up for a markedly urban economy.

One of the most important Muslim city is the suq or market. The markets would know a renaissance in the peninsula during the Islamic period. Them performed up trade in various products, mainly of metal products and other handicraft products. The workshops and tents of al-Andalus, where they produced these works were owned by the state. The main products of trade were silks, cotton, wool fabrics. Some luxury items produced in the al-Andalus would be exported to Christian Europe, and even to the Maghreb to the Middle

quinta-feira, 1 de abril de 2010

Christian Reconquest -  The  Portucalense county

Christian Reconquest

Although their empire had been defeated by the Muslim onslaught, individual Visigothic nobles resisted, taking refuge in the mountain stronghold of Astúrias. As early as 737, the Visigothic noble Pelayo took the offensive and defeated the Muslims at Covadonga, for which he was proclaimed king of Astúrias, later León.

Subsequent kings of Astúrias-León, who claimed succession from Visigothic monarchs, were able to retake Braga, Porto, Viseu, and Guimarães in northern Portugal, where they settled Christians around strongholds. For 200 years, this region was a buffer zone across which the frontier between Christians and Muslims shifted back and forth with the ebb and flow of attack and counterattack.

The Count Henry of Burgundy

The creation of Portugal as an independent monarchy is clearly associated with the organization of the military frontier against the Muslims in this area. This buffer zone between Christian and Muslim territory was constantly being reorganized under counts appointed by the kings of León. The territory known as Portucalense was made a province of León and placed under the control of counts, who governed with a substantial degree of autonomy because of the province's separation from León by rugged mountains.

In 1096 Alfonso VI, king of León, gave hereditary title to the province of Portucalense and Coimbra as dowry to the crusader-knight Henry, brother of the duke of Burgundy, upon his marriage to the king's illegitimate but favorite daughter, Teresa. Although Henry was to be sovereign in Portucalense, it was recognized by all parties that he held this province as a vassal of the Leonese king.

Teresa, "Portucalensis Regina"
Henry set up his court at Guimarães near Braga. He surrounded himself with local barons, appointed them to the chief provincial offices, and rewarded them with lands. Bound by the usual ties of vassal to suzerain, Henry was expected to be loyal to Alfonso and render him service whenever required.

Until Alfonso's death in 1109, Henry dutifully carried out his feudal obligations by attending royal councils and providing military assistance in the king's campaigns against the Muslims. Alfonso's death plunged the kingdom of León into a civil war among Aragonese, Galician, and Castilian barons who desired the crown.

Count Henry carefully stayed neutral during this struggle and gradually stopped fulfilling his feudal obligations. When he died in 1112, his wife, Teresa, inherited the county and initially followed her husband's policy of nonalignment.

The victor in the struggle for the Leonese crown was Alfonso VII, who, when he ascended the throne, decided to assert his suzerainity over Teresa, his aunt, and her consort, a Galician nobleman named Fernando Peres. Teresa refused to do homage and was forced into submission after a six-week war in 1127.

Her barons, who saw their fortunes and independence declining, took this opportunity to align themselves with her son and the heir to the province, Afonso Henriques, who had armed himself as a knight. Supported by the barons and lower nobility, Afonso Henriques rebelled against his mother's rule. On July 24, 1128, he defeated Teresa's army at São Mamede near Guimarães and expelled her to Galicia, where she died in exile. Afonso Henriques thus gained control of the province of Portucalense, or Portugal, as it was known in the vernacular.

terça-feira, 30 de março de 2010

Christian Reconquest - Dinasty of Burgundy

Afonso Henriques Becomes King

After the peace of Tuy, Afonso Henriques temporarily turned his attention to the Muslim threat in the south. In 1139 he struck deep into the heart of Al Andalus and defeated a Muslim army at Ourique, a place in the Alentejo. After this battle, Afonso Henriques began to be referred to in documents as king.

In 1140 he renewed his claim on southern Galicia, which he invaded. This again sparked a reaction by Alfonso VII who, in return, marched on Portugal. The two armies met at Arcos de Valdevez and engaged in a joust won by the Portuguese knights.

Afonso Henriques's self-proclamation as king was finally recognized in 1143 at the Conference of Samora when Alfonso VII recognized him as such, although, because he was an emperor, Alfonso VII still considered Afonso Henriques his vassal

Afonso Henriques was a brilliant military commander and during his reign reconquered more Muslim territory than any other of the Christian kings on the peninsula. He established his capital at Coimbra, and as early as 1135 he built a castle at Leiria. In 1147 he took advantage of a series of religious rebellions among the Muslims, and, with the help of a passing fleet of English, Flemish, and German crusaders bound for Palestine, captured Lisbon after a seventeen-week siege.

Continued internecine fighting among the Muslims, Lisbon's strategic location, and additional help from passing fleets of crusaders eventually allowed Afonso Henriques to advance across the Tagus and capture and hold large sections of the Alentejo. As a result of this vigorous prosecution of the reconquest, the pope officially recognized Afonso Henriques as king of Portugal in 1179 and granted him all conquered lands over which neighboring kings could not prove rights.

At his death in 1185, Afonso Henriques had carved out an officially recognized Christian kingdom that extended well into Muslim Iberia.

Sancho I - The Populator (r.1185-1211) and Afonso II (1211-23)
Sancho I (r.1185-1211), Afonso Henriques's son and heir, continued to enlarge the realm. In 1189 he captured the Muslim castle at Alvor, the city of Silves, and the castle at Albufeira. These territories however, were retaken by the Muslims and had to be reconquered by his son and heir, Afonso II (r.1211-23). With the help of his brother-in-law, Alfonso VIII of Castile, Afonso retook territory in the Alentejo, fighting major battles at Navas de Tolosa in 1212 and Alcácer do Sal in 1217.

Sancho II (r.1223-48) and Afonso III (1248-79)

Conquered additional territory in the Alentejo and carried the reconquest into the Algarve, where Muslim armies were defeated at Tavira and Cacela in 1238. The reconquest was completed by Afonso III (r.1248-79) in 1249 when he attacked and defeated an isolated enclave of Muslims ensconced at Faro in the Algarve. This last battle, which extended Portuguese territory to the sea, established the approximate territorial limits Portugal has had ever since .

The rapid advance of Afonso Henriques from Coimbra to Lisbon created a vast, relatively uninhabited tract of land between north and south. The repopulation of this deserted territory with Christian settlers began immediately. Afonso Henriques invited many of the crusaders to remain after the siege of Lisbon and granted them lands, especially at Atouguia and Lourinhã, as payment for their help. In addition, Sancho I directed most of his time and energy to settling the new monarchy, for which he is known as The Populator (O Povoador).

He sent agents abroad, especially to Burgundy, the land of his ancestors, to recruit colonists, who settled at various places, but especially at Vila dos Francos (present-day Azambuja). Such communities spread rapidly throughout the realm thanks to the protection of the king, who saw in them not only a way to populate the kingdom but also a way to diminish the power of the nobility.

The vacant territory between north and south was also filled by various monastic orders, including the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Benedictines. The Roman Catholic Church granted charters to the orders to build monasteries and cultivate the surrounding land. The most successful of these orders were the Benedictines, who built a monastery at Alcobaça and planted the surrounding land in orchards that remain to this day. This monastery grew to over 5,000 monks and occupied a huge territory stretching from Leiria in the north to Óbidos in the south, including the port-town of Pederneira (present-day Nazaré).

In the valley of the Tagus and to the south, settling communities of unarmed colonists was too dangerous; therefore, early Portuguese kings called upon religious-military orders to fortify, cultivate, and defend this territory. Founded in the early twelfth century to wage war against infidels and protect pilgrims, these religious orders of knights had become powerful in the Holy Land and in many areas of Europe.

Several orders of knight-monks were given huge tracts of land in the Tagus Valley and the Alentejo as recompense for their military service to the king at a time when he had no standing army on which to rely. The most successful of these knight-monks was the Order of the Templars, which was granted territory on the Zêzere River (Rio Zêzere), a tributary of the Tagus, where they built a fortified monastery in Templar fashion at Tomar.

The Templar domain gradually grew to encompass territory from Tomar in the north to Santarém in the south and as far west as the lands of the Benedictines at Alcobaça. As more territory in the Alentejo was reconquered, additional orders were granted tracts of land to defend and cultivate. The Order of the Hospitallers was given land surrounding Crato; the Order of the Calatravans (later Avis) was established at Évora; and the Order of the Knights of Saint James was given lands at Palmela.

Political and Social Organization

Afonso Henriques and subsequent Portuguese kings ruled by divine right until a constitutional monarchy was established in the early nineteenth century. The early kings were assisted by a royal council composed of the king's closest advisers and friends from among the higher nobility and clergy. The royal council was staffed by a number of functionaries, such as the chancellor, who kept the royal seal and was the highest official in the land; the notary, who gave advice on legal matters; the scribe, who wrote the king's letters and documents (many early kings were illiterate); and the majordomo, who commanded the king's household guard.

When questions of exceptional importance arose, the king would convoke the cortes, an expanded royal council that brought together representatives of the three estates of the realm: nobility, clergy, and commoners. The first such cortes was called in 1211 at Coimbra in order to legitimate the succession of Afonso II, Afonso Henriques's grandson, to the throne, as well as to approve certain laws of the realm.

After the Cortes of Leiria, which was convoked in 1254 by Afonso III, representatives of the self-governing settler communities began to attend. Cortes were convoked at the king's will and were limited to advising on issues raised by the king and presenting petitions and complaints.

Resolutions passed by the cortes did not have the force of law unless they were countersigned by the king. Later, the cortes came to limit the power of the king somewhat, but gradually the monarchy became absolute. The cortes was convoked less and less frequently, and in 1697 it stopped being called altogether.

As to territorial administration, northern Portugal was subdivided into estates (terras), each a quasi-autonomous political and economic unit of feudal suzerainity governed by a nobleman (donatário) whose title to the land was confirmed by the king. Religious administration was carried out by the Roman Catholic Church, which divided the north into bishoprics and parishes. In the south, administration was the responsibility of the military orders: Templars, Hospitallers, Calatravans, and Knights of Saint James. In the center, administration fell to the monastic orders: Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans.

The towns and communities of settlers, as well as a certain amount of land around them, were owned by the king, who was responsible for regulating them. The settler communities (concelhos) were each recognized by a royal franchise, which granted local privileges, set taxes, specified rights of self-government, and controlled the relationship among the crown, the concelho, and the donatário, if the community was located within a terra. Each concelho governed itself through an assembly chosen from among its resident "good men" (homens-bons); that is, freemen not subject to the jurisdiction of the church, the local donatário, or the special statutes governing Muslims and Jews.

Each concelho was administered by a local magistrate, who was assisted by several assessors selected from among the homens-bons of the assembly. The tutelary power of the king was represented by an official (alcalde) appointed by the king, who was empowered to intervene in local matters on the king's behalf when necessary to ensure justice and good administration. The degree of self-government of these communities gradually declined as the monarchy became increasingly centralized. During its formative stages, Portugal had three social classes: clergy, nobility, and commoners.

By virtue of the religious fervor of the times, the clergy was the predominant class. It was the most learned, the wealthiest, and occupied the highest office in the realm: the chancellorship. The clergy comprised two categories; the bishops and parish priests of the regular church hierarchy and the abbots and monks of the religious and military orders. These two categories were divided into the higher clergy (bishops and abbots) and low clergy (priests and monks). The clergy enjoyed various privileges and rights, such as judgment in ecclesiastical courts according to canon law, exemption from taxes, and the right to asylum from civil authorities within their churches.

The next social class, the nobility, owed its privileged position above all to its collaboration with the king in the reconquest. The highest level among the nobility was made up of the "rich men" (homens-ricos) who owned the largest feudal estates, had private armies, and had jurisdiction over great expanses of territory. Below them were the lesser nobility, who held smaller estates and were entrusted with the defense of castles and towns but did not have private armies or administrative jurisdiction.

Below the lesser nobility were the highest class of free commoners, the villein-knights, who maintained their own horses and weaponry, serving the king as required. These knights were often encouraged to settle in or near the colonial communities of the frontier where they were granted special privileges and organized raids against the Muslims for their own profit.

The commoners formed the bottom of the social strata. Among them the serfs were the lowest group. The most numerous group, they were bound by heredity to the estates of the crown, nobility, and clergy, where they were occupied in agriculture, stockraising, and village crafts. Serfs could become free by serving as colonists in the underpopulated territories in the south.

The second lowest group consisted of the clients, that is, freemen who did not own property and received protection from an overlord in exchange for service. Above the clients were the villein-knights, who formed a stratum that merged the commoners with the nobility.
Finally, outside the basic social structure were the slaves, usually Muslim captives, who tilled the lands of the military orders in the Alentejo.

Control of the Royal Patrimony

Disputes over land ownership became an increasing source of conflict between the crown and the upper nobility and clergy. Land ownership was important because the crown's main source of revenue was taxes from the great estates and tithes from lands owned directly by the king. But in medieval Portugal, hereditary title to land did not exist in any developed legal form.

As the original grants of land were obscured by passing years, many of the upper nobility and clergy of the church came to believe that they held their land by hereditary right. Thus, each time a new king ascended the throne, the crown had to review land grants and titles in order to assert its authority and reclaim land removed from the king's patrimony.

The first king to confront this problem was Afonso II, who discovered when he ascended the throne in 1211 that his father, Sancho I, had willed much of the royal patrimony to the church. In 1216, after a lengthy legal battle between the crown and the Holy See over various provisions of Sancho's will, the pope recognized Afonso II's right to maintain the royal patrimony intact. From 1216 until 1221, the Portuguese crown asserted this general right by requiring those who had received donations from previous kings to apply for letters of confirmation.

The crown thus created the power to review grants to nobles and ecclesiastical bodies. The process of confirmation was carried a step further when the king appointed royal commissions authorized to investigate land ownership, especially in the north where much of the feudal land tenure predated the creation of the monarchy. These inquiries, as they were called, gathered evidence from the oldest, most experienced residents in each locale without consulting local nobles or church officials. They revealed a large number of abuses and improper extensions of boundaries, as well as conspiracies to defraud the crown of income.

The first inquiry found that the church was the biggest expropriator of royal property. The archbishop of Braga, angered by the activities of the commissions, excommunicated Afonso II in 1219. The king responded by seizing church property and forcing the archbishop to flee Portugal for Rome. In 1220 the pope confirmed the king's excommunication and relieved him of his oath of fealty to the Holy See. This dispute between church and crown ended temporarily when the excommunicated king died in 1223 and his chancellor arranged an ecclesiastical burial in exchange for the return of the seized church property and the promise that future inquiries would respect canon law.

Dinis (r.1279-1325)

The conflict between the church and crown concerning property was finally resolved during the reign of King Dinis (r.1279-1325). In 1284 Dinis launched a new round of inquiries and in the following year promulgated deamortization laws, which prohibited the church and religious orders from buying property and required that they sell all property purchased since the beginning of his reign. For this action against the church, Dinis, like his father and grandfather, was excommunicated. This time, however, the king refused to pledge obedience to the pope and established once and for all the power of the Portuguese crown to regulate and control the royal patrimony.

This power allowed Dinis to nationalize the most powerful and wealthy of the military-religious orders. The Calatravans, founded in Castile, had in effect become Portuguese when the town of Avis was bestowed upon them by Afonso and they became known as the Order of Avis. In 1288 the Knights of Saint James, also of Castilian origin, became Portuguese when the order elected its own master.

In 1312, as the result of an investigation into the activities of the Templars, Pope Clement V suppressed this order and transferred their vast properties in Portugal to the Hospitallers. Dinis was able to prevail upon the pope to give this wealth to a newly founded Portuguese military-religious order called the Order of Christ, which was initially situated at Castro Marim but was later moved to Tomar.

After nationalization, most of these orders became chivalric bodies of quasi-celibate landowners. The Order of Avis, however, remained on a war footing and contributed significantly to Portugal's independence from Castile. The Order of Christ also remained a military-religious order, and its wealth was later used by Prince Henry the Navigator to pay for the voyages of discovery.

Development of the Realm - King Dinis the Farmer
Having established the boundaries of the national territory, asserted their authority over the church and nobility, and gained control over the resources of the military orders, Portuguese kings began to turn their attention to the economic, cultural, and political development of the realm. This was especially true of King Dinis, who is referred to by the Portuguese as The Farmer (O Lavrador) because of his policies designed to encourage agricultural development. He decreed that nobles would not lose their standing if they drained wetlands, settled colonists, and planted pine forests. The pine forests were to produce timber for the shipbuilding industry, which Dinis also encouraged, the crown having already at that time begun to look toward the sea for future fields of conquest.

Dinis chartered many settlements of colonists on lands conquered from the Muslims and authorized the holding of fairs and markets in each of these, thereby creating a national economy. He laid the basis for Portugal's naval tradition by bringing the Genoese, Emmanuele Pessagno (Manuel Peçanha in Portuguese) to Portugal in 1317 to be the hereditary admiral of the Portuguese navy. Maritime commerce was encouraged when Dinis negotiated an agreement with Edward II of England in 1303 that permitted Portuguese ships to enter English ports and guaranteed security and trading privileges for Portuguese merchants.

Dinis provided the impetus for the development of Portuguese as a national language when he decreed that all official documents of the realm were to be written in the vernacular. Finally, Dinis stimulated learning when, in 1290, he founded an academic center similar to the "General Studies" centers that had been created in León and Aragon. In 1308 this center was moved to Coimbra where it remained, except for a brief time between from 1521 to 1537, and became the University of Coimbra, Portugal's premier institution of higher learning.

Afonso IV (r.1325-1357) Pedro I (

Afonso IV (r.1325-1357) continued his father's development policies. He also improved the administration of justice by dismissing corrupt local judges and replacing them with judges he appointed. When a large Muslim army landed on the peninsula in 1340, Afonso IV allied himself with the king of Castile, Alfonso XI, and the king of Aragon in order to do battle against this threat to the Christian kingdoms.

Afonso sent a fleet commanded by Manuel Peçanha to Cádiz and marched overland himself to meet the Muslim army, which was destroyed at the Battle of Salado.

Fernando I (r. 1367-83)

When Afonso's grandson and heir, Fernando I (r.1367-83), ascended the throne, the economic productivity of the country had been so greatly disrupted by the plague that ravaged the country in 1348 and 1349 that he found it necessary to take measures to stimulate food production. In 1375 he promulgated a decree, called the Law of the Sesmarias, which obliged all landowners to cultivate unused land or sell or rent it to someone who would. The law also obligated all who had no useful occupation to work the land.

This decree had its intended effect and led to the rebuilding of the country's wealth. Fernando also stimulated the development of the Portuguese merchant fleet by allowing all shipbuilders who constructed ships of more than 100 tons to cut timber from the royal forests and by exempting the owners of these ships from the full tax on the exports and imports of their first voyage. He also established a maritime insurance company into which owners of merchant ships of more than fifty tons paid 2 percent of their profits and from which they received compensation for shipwrecks.

segunda-feira, 29 de março de 2010

The house of avis (1385 - 1580)


When Fernando died in 1383, he left no male heir to the throne. His only daughter, Beatriz, was married to Juan I, king of Castile. The marriage writ stipulated that their offspring would inherit the Portuguese crown if Fernando left no male heir and that, until any children were born, Portugal would be ruled by a regency of Fernando's widow, Leonor Teles. When Fernando died, Leonor assumed the regency in accordance with the marriage writ. The assumption of the regency by the queen was badly received in many Portuguese cities because Leonor was a Castilian and considered an interloper who intended to usurp the Portuguese crown for Castile and end Portugal's independence.

Leonor's principal rival for control of the throne was João, the master of the Order of Avis and illegitimate son of Fernando's father, Pedro I (r.1357-67). On December 6, 1383, João broke into the royal palace and murdered Count Andeiro, a Galician who had been Fernando's chancellor. Leonor Teles fled to the town of Alenquer, the property of the queens of Portugal. She appealed to Juan I for help, and he invaded Portugal in January 1384. Leonor abdicated as regent. In Lisbon the people proclaimed João to be the governor and defender of the realm. João immediately began to prepare an army and sent a mission to England to recruit soldiers for his cause.

Wars with Castile

The bourgeoisie of Lisbon, enriched by commerce, decided to support João and donated substantial sums for war expenses. Money also arrived from the bourgeoisie in Porto, Coimbra, and Évora.

The majority of the nobility, among whom national sentiment was not well developed and feudal customs based on oaths of vassalage were still obeyed, took the side of Juan of Castile, which gave him the support of fifty castles. A few nobles, however, including Álvaro Pais, João Afonso, and Nun'Álvares Pereira, were more attuned to national sentiment and sided with João.

King D. João I - (1385-1433) - "O de Boa Memória"

In March 1384, Juan marched on Lisbon, which he besieged by land and sea. In April, in the Alentejo, Nun'Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilians at the Battle of Atoleiros, a victory that resulted from the new military tactic of forming defensive squares from dismounted cavalry because the Portuguese had far fewer troops than the enemy. The siege of Lisbon was broken after seven months by an outbreak of the plague in the Castilian camp, and Juan retreated to Seville to prepare another invasion the following year.

The retreat of the Castilians gave João an opportunity to legitimate his claim to the throne. In March 1385, a cortes was summoned to resolve the succession. João's case was argued by João das Regras, who attacked the claims of the various pretenders to the throne. On April 6, the opposition ended and João was proclaimed king as João I (r. 1385-1433). The new king named Nun'Álvares Pereira constable of Portugal. At the same time, a contingent of English longbowmen began to arrive.

Nun'Álvares Pereira marched north in order to obtain the submission of Braga, Guimarães, and other places loyal to Juan, who responded by sending an army to attack Viseu. The Portuguese routed this Castilian force at Rancoso using the same new military tactic that brought them victory at Atoleiros. Juan, nonetheless, was still intent on besieging Lisbon and led his army southward.

João I and Nun'Álvares Pereira decided to engage Juan's army before it arrived in the capital. The two armies met on the plain of Aljubarrota about sixty kilometers north of Lisbon on August 14, 1385. Using the same tactic of defensive squares of dismounted cavalry that had brought them success in previous battles, a force of 7,000 Portuguese annihilated and scattered a Castilian army of 32,000 in little more than thirty minutes of combat. Although additional battles were fought and final peace was not made with Castile until October 1411, the Battle of Aljubarrota secured the independence of Portugal for almost two centuries.

Battle of Aljubarrota

Social Revolution

The crisis of 1383-85 that brought João I to the throne was not only a dynastic revolution; it was a social one, as well. João I distrusted the old aristocracy that had opposed his rise to power and promoted the growth of a new generation of nobility by confiscating the titles and properties of the old and distributing them to the new, thus forming a new nobility based on service to the king.

João rewarded the urban bourgeoisie that had supported his cause by giving it positions and influence and by allowing it to send representatives to the king's royal council. Artisans grouped themselves according to professions into guilds and were permitted to send delegates to the governing chamber of Lisbon, where they were actively involved in the administration of the capital and other cities.

The king also surrounded himself with skilled legalists who professionalized royal administration and extended royal jurisdiction at the expense of the old aristocracy. This new class of bureaucrats, having studied Roman law at the university, defended the Caesarist principle that the will of the king had the force of law. This belief encouraged the later development of absolutism in Portugal and pitted the king against the landed nobility, especially the old aristocracy that wished to regain its lost power and privilege.

Intradynastic Struggle

The future of the House of Avis seemed assured by the presence of João's five legitimate sons, but the king also provided for his illegitimate children as he had been provided for by his father. João conferred on his bastard son Afonso the hereditary title of duke of Bragança and endowed him with lands and properties that amounted to the creation of a state within a state supported by a huge reserve of armed retainers.

The House of Bragança accumulated wealth to rival that of the crown and eventually assumed the leadership of the old aristocracy in opposition to Avis

D. Duarte I " O Eloquente"(1433- 1438)

When João I died in 1433, the crown was assumed by his eldest son, Duarte, who died five years later of the plague. Before his death, Duarte convoked a cortes in order to legitimate the compilation of Portuguese royal law, but the work was not completed until the reign of his son, Afonso, and is, therefore, named the Afonsine Ordinances.

He also declared that the grants of land so lavishly awarded by his father to his supporters would have to be confirmed, as was the custom at the start of each reign.

D. Afonso V ( 1438 -1481 ) - "O Africano"

Afonso was six years old when his father died and his mother, Queen Leonor of Aragon, assumed the regency. There was opposition to the assumption of all authority by a woman, and Leonor agreed that Duarte's brother, Pedro, should become regent.
This was opposed by Afonso, duke of Bragança, the eldest illegitimate son of João I. Both men aspired to gain influence over the young king by marrying him to their daughters. The populace of Lisbon strongly favored Pedro and acknowledged him as regent.

Pedro received confirmation for his regency by summoning the cortes at Évora and paved the way for his continuance in power by arranging the marriage of his daughter Isabel to the young king, who, when he reached his majority in 1446, agreed to the match and asked his uncle to continue the regency

The duke of Bragança reasserted his ambitions and was able to influence the young king to dismiss Pedro by convincing him that his uncle was plotting to seize the throne. Pedro was banished to his estates. When rumors of a plot against him surfaced, he decided to resist and marched on Lisbon, where he had the support of the populace.

Pedro was met by the troops of the king and the duke of Bragança at the Battle of Alfarrobeira on May 24, 1449, where he was killed and his army defeated. This battle resulted in the enlargement of the property and wealth of the illegitimate line of the House of Avis, which allowed it to enjoy enormous influence over the pliable Afonso V until his death in 1481.

Assertion of Royal Supremacy

D. João II (1481-1495)- "O Príncipe Perfeito"

When Afonso's son and heir, João II (r.1481-95), assumed the throne, the power of the Braganças and their supporters had reached its height. The new king, who was more resolute than his father, convoked a cortes at Évora, where he imposed a new written oath by which nobles swore upon their knees to give up to the king any castle or town they held from the crown.

At Évora commoners complained about the abuses of the nobility and asked for the abolition of private justice and the correction of abuses in the collection of taxes. The king ordered that all nobles present their titles of privilege and that his constables be admitted to their estates in order to investigate complaints concerning administration.

These measures provoked a reaction by the nobility led by the powerful Fernando, duke of Bragança, who conspired against the king with the help of the king of Castile. Upon learning of the intrigues of Fernando, the king accused the duke of treason and tried him at a special court in Évora. He was sentenced to death and beheaded in the main square on June 29, 1484.

The king confiscated his properties and those of his accomplices, some of whom were also killed, while others fled Portugal. A second conspiracy was hatched by the duke of Viseu, but it, too, was discovered, and the duke was killed, perhaps by the king himself, in Setúbal. These events established the supremacy of the crown over the nobility once and for all

The maritime expansion of Portugal was the result of the threat to Mediterranean commerce that had developed very rapidly after the crusades, especially the trade in spices. Spices traveled by various overland routes from Asia to the Levant, where they were loaded aboard Genoese and Venetian ships and brought to Europe. Gradually, this trade became threatened by pirates and the Turks, who closed off most of the overland routes and subjected the spices to heavy taxes. Europeans sought alternative routes to Asia in order to circumvent these difficulties.
The Portuguese led the way in this quest for a number of reasons.

First, Portugal's location on the southwesternmost edge of the European landmass placed the country at the maritime crossroads between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Second, Portugal was by the fifteenth century a compact, unified kingdom led by an energetic, military aristocracy, which, having no more territory on the peninsula to conquer, sought new fields of action overseas.

Third, Portuguese kings were motivated by a deeply held belief that their role in history was as the standard-bearers of Christianity against the Muslims.

Fourth, Portugal's kings had, since the founding of the monarchy, encouraged maritime activities. Dinis founded the Portuguese navy, and Fernando encouraged the construction of larger ships and founded a system of maritime insurance.

Finally, Portugal led the world in nautical science, having perfected the astrolabe and quadrant and developed the lantine-rigged caravel, all of which made navigating and sailing the high seas possible.

Prince Henry the Navigator

Portugal's maritime expansion began in 1415 when João I seized Ceuta in Morocco, the western depot for the spice trade. The military campaign against Ceuta was launched for several reasons. First, war in Morocco was seen as a new crusade against the Muslims that would stand Portugal well with the church. Second, there was a need to suppress Moroccan pirates who were threatening Portuguese ships.
Third, the Portuguese wanted the economic benefit that controlling Ceuta's vast market would bring to the crown. Finally, the campaign against Ceuta was seen as preparatory to an attack on Muslims still holding Granada. The possession of Ceuta allowed the Portuguese to dominate the Straits of Gibraltar.

After the conquest of Ceuta, Prince Henry the Navigator, who had participated in the campaign as an armed knight, settled at Sagres on the extreme end of Cape St. Vincent, where in 1418 he founded a naval school. He continued to direct Portugal's early maritime activity. As the master of the Order of Christ,

Prince Henry was able to draw on the vast resources of this group to equip ships and pay the expenses of the early maritime expeditions. Prince Henry was motivated by scientific curiosity and religious fervor, seeing the voyages as a continuation of the crusades against the Muslims and the conversion of new peoples to Christianity, as well as by the desire to open a sea route to India.

Shortly after establishing his school, two of Prince Henry's captains discovered the island of Porto Santo, and the following year the Madeira Islands were discovered. In 1427 Diogo de Silves, sailing west, discovered the Azores archipelago, also uninhabited. Both Madeira and Porto Santo were colonized immediately and divided into captaincies. These were distributed to Prince Henry's captains, who in turn had the power to distribute land to settlers according to the Law of the Sesmarias.

Prince Henry's plan required the circumnavigation of Africa. His early voyages stayed close to the African coast. After repeated attempts, Gil Eanes finally rounded Cape Bojador on the west coast of Africa in present-day Western Sahara in 1434, a psychological, as well as physical, barrier that was thought to be the outer boundary of the knowable world. After passing Cape Bojador, the exploration of the coast southward proceeded very rapidly. In 1436 Gil Eanes and Afonso Baldaia arrived at the Senegal River, which they called the River of Gold when two Africans they had captured were ransomed with gold dust. In 1443 Nuno Tristão arrived at the Bay of Arguin off the coast of present-day Mauritania.

These voyages returned African slaves to Portugal, which sparked an interest in the commercial value of the explorations, and a factory was established at Arguin as an entrepôt for human cargo. In 1444 Dinis Dias discovered the Cape Verde Islands, then heavily forested, and Nuno Tristão explored the mouth of the Senegal River. In 1445 Cape Verde was rounded, and in 1456 Portuguese arrived at the coast of present-day Guinea. The following year, they reached present-day Sierra Leone. Thus, when Prince Henry died in 1460, the Portuguese had explored the coast of Africa down to Sierra Leone and discovered the archipelagoes of Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands.

During the reign of João II, the crown once again took an active role in the search for a sea route to India. In 1481 the king ordered a fort constructed at Mina de Ouro to protect this potential source of wealth. Diogo Cão sailed further down the African coast in the period 1482-84. In 1487 a new expedition led by Bartolomeu Dias sailed south beyond the tip of Africa and, after having lost sight of land for a month, turned north and made landfall on a northeast-running coastline, which was named Terra dos Vaqueiros after the native herders and cows that were seen on shore. Dias had rounded the Cape of Good Hope without seeing it and proved that the Atlantic connected to the Indian Ocean.
In the meantime, João sent Pêro da Covilhã and Afonso de Paiva, who were versed in warfare, diplomacy, and Arabic, on a mission in search of the mythical Christian kingdom of Prester John. Departing from Santarém, they traveled to Barcelona, Naples, and the island of Rhodes, and, disguised as merchants, entered Alexandria. Passing through Cairo, they made their way to Aden, where they separated and agreed to meet later in Cairo at a certain date.

Afonso de Paiva went to Ethiopia, and Pêro da Covilhã headed for Calicut and Goa in India by way of Ormuz, returning to Cairo via Sofala in Mozambique on the east coast of Africa. In Cairo he learned from two emissaries sent by João II that Afonso de Paiva had died. One of the emissaries returned to Portugal with a letter containing the information Pêro da Covilhã had collected on his travels. Da Covilhã then left for Ethiopia where he was received by the emperor but not allowed to leave.

He settled in Ethiopia, married, and raised a family. The information provided in his letter complemented the information from the expedition of Bartolomeu Dias and convinced João II that it was possible to reach India by sailing around the southern end of Africa. He died during preparations for this voyage in 1494.

D. Manuel I (1495-1521) "O Afortunado"

Manuel I assumed the throne in 1495 and completed the preparations for the voyage to India. On July 8, 1497, a fleet of four ships commanded by Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém on the outskirts of Lisbon. The expedition was very carefully organized, each ship having the best captains and pilots, as well as handpicked crews.
They carried the most up-to-date nautical charts and navigational instruments. Vasco da Gama's fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope on November 27, 1497, and made landfall at Natal in present-day South Africa on December 25.

Vasco da Gama

The fleet then proceeded along the east coast of Africa and landed at Quelimane in present-day Mozambique in January 1498, followed by Mombasa in present-day Kenya. An Arab pilot directed the fleet to India.

After sailing for a month, the fleet reached Calicut on the Malabar coast in southwest India. In August, after sailing to Goa, the fleet left for Portugal, arriving in September 1499, two years and two days after the departure

In 1500 Manuel organized a large fleet of thirteen ships for a second voyage to India. This fleet was commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral and included Bartolomeu Dias, various nobles, priests, and some 1,200 men. The fleet sailed southwest for a month, and on April 22 sighted land, the coast of present-day Brazil. Cabral sent a ship back to Lisbon to report to Manuel his discovery, which he called Vera Cruz.
The fleet recrossed the Atlantic and sailed to India around Africa where it arrived on September 13, 1500. After four months in India, Cabral sailed for Lisbon in January 1501, having left a contingent of Portuguese to maintain a factory at Cochin on the Malabar coast.

Colonization of Brazil

The growth of Portuguese interests in the Americas was slow, the king being absorbed with establishing Portuguese hegemony in Asia. In addition, the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, arranged by Pope Alexander VI, divided the unexplored world between Spain and Portugal and forbade Portugal from exploring beyond a meridian drawn 1,600 kilometers miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. In 1502 Fernão Noronha was given a three-year commercial monopoly on dyewood in return for exploring 300 leagues (about 1,500 kilometers) of the Brazilian coast each year.

During the last years of Manuel I's reign, the first colonists were sent to Brazil to establish a sugar industry. Additional colonists were sent during the reign of João III, and, in 1530, Martim Afonso de Sousa was named major captain of Brazil and invested with the power to distribute land among captains or donatários, much as had been done in Madeira when it was colonized a century before. These captaincies were large strips of land that extended from the coast into the interior. The captains settled colonists in their respective captaincies and were required to provide them protection and justice.

As the captaincies were independent of one another, they were unable to defend themselves from foreign pirates. Consequently, João III appointed a governor general with authority over the captaincies. The first governor general, Tomé de Sousa, was appointed in 1549 and established his capital at São Salvador da Baía. He defeated French pirates in a naval engagement in the bay of Rio de Janeiro. Intensified colonization under de Sousa began in the form of coastal settlements and spread to the interior. The colonists cultivated indigenous crops, especially manioc, and introduced new ones such as wheat, rice, grapes, oranges, and sugarcane from Madeira and São Tomé. Sugar soon became Brazil's most important export.

Empire in Asia

Having discovered the sea route to India, Manuel organized successive fleets to that region in order to establish Portuguese commercial hegemony. In 1505 Francisco de Almeida left Lisbon with a fleet of 22 ships and 2,500 men, 1,500 of whom were soldiers. Invested with the title of viceroy of India, Almeida was instructed to conclude alliances with Indian rulers, set up factories, and build forts on the east coast of Africa, which he did at Mombasa and at Kilwa in present-day Tanzania before arriving in India.

After his arrival, he fortified the island of Angediva and Cochin. He imposed a system of licenses on trading vessels that threatened to ruin the Muslim traders, who reacted by seeking spices in Malacca in present-day Malaysia and the Sunda Islands in the Malay Archipelago and sailing directly to the Persian Gulf, bypassing India.

Almeida sought to suppress this trade and secure Portuguese commercial hegemony. He was joined in this effort by two more fleets sent from Lisbon, one under the command of Tristão da Cunha and the other under Afonso de Albuquerque, who had been appointed Almeida's successor as viceroy. Cunha explored Madagascar and the coast of east Africa, occupied the island of Socotra (now part of Yemen), and built a fort at the mouth of the Red Sea, before sailing to India. Albuquerque ravaged the Oman coast and attacked Ormuz, the great entrepôt at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where he began constructing a fort.

The great sea battle of Diu

The activities of the Portuguese motivated the Muslims to take military action. The sultan of Egypt, allied with the Venetians and Turks, organized a large armada that crossed the Indian Ocean to Diu, where it was engaged by a Portuguese fleet. On February 2, 1509, a great sea battle was fought and the sultan's armada destroyed. This victory assured Portuguese commercial and military hegemony over India and allowed Portugal to extend its empire to the Far East.

Afonso de Albuquerque "The Great"

Albuquerque established his capital at Goa, which he attacked and occupied in 1510. In 1511 he departed for the conquest of Malacca, the emporium for the spice trade and trade with China, which he accomplished in August of that year.
After returning to Goa, Albuquerque made plans to occupy strategic positions in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

On his first expedition, he failed to take Aden and returned to Goa. His second expedition, which was to be his last, attempted to reduce Ormuz and Aden, as well as conquer Mecca.

During this expedition, Albuquerque fell ill and returned to Goa, where he died in 1515.

Ferdinand Magellan

(Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães, (Spring 1480 – April 27, 1521, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines) was a Portuguese maritime explorer who, while in the service of the Spanish Crown, tried to find a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. He thereby became the first person to lead an expedition across the Pacific Ocean. This was also the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the Earth in history. Although he did not complete the entire voyage (he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines), Magellan had earlier traveled eastward to the Spice Inslands, so he became one of the first individuals to cross all of the meridians of the Globe.

Magellan was the first European to enter the Pacific from the eponymous Strait of Magellan, which he discovered. He was also the first European to reach the archipelago of what is now known as the Philippines, which was unknown to the western world before his landing. Arab traders had established commerce within the archipelago centuries earlier.

Of the 237 men who set out on five ships to circumnavigate the earth in 1519, only 18completed the circumnavigation of the globe and managed to return to Spain in 1522. They were led by the Basque navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano, who took over command of the expedition after Magellan's death. Seventeen other men arrived later in Spain, twelve men captured by the Portuguese in Cape Verde some weeks earlier, and between 1525 and 1527 five survivors of the Trinidad.

Counter-Reformation and Overseas Evangelization

The eruption of the Protestant Reformation in the first decades of the sixteenth century brought forth a Roman Catholic response, the Counter-Reformation, a determined campaign to strengthen the Roman Catholic Church and restore religious unity to Europe. One of Rome's key instruments to purify doctrine and root out heresy was the Inquisition. The Counter-Reformation soon reached Portugal and Joao III was granted permission to establish the Court of Inquisition in 1536.

The court did not began its work until 1539 when the first inquisitor general was replaced by a religious zealot, the archbishop of Évora, who stood for public confession and immediate execution. As elsewhere, the Inquisition in Portugal dealt with all forms of heresy, corruption, and disbelief, but its main victims were the so-called New Christians, Jews who had converted to Christianity after Manuel I had ordered in 1497 the expulsion from Portugal of all Jews who refused to accept the Christian faith.

Many Portuguese believed that the New Christians secretly practiced Judaism at home and the Inquisition was used to stop such an "abomination." Courts of the Inquisition functioned in larger settlements around Portugal. The first auto-da-fé, or public burning of a heretic, took place in 1540 in Lisbon. In the next 150 years, an estimated 1,400 people perished in this manner in Portugal.

Another of Rome's strongest weapons in the CounterReformation was the Society of Jesus, a religious order founded by Ignatius de Loyola in 1539. The order was dedicated to furthering the cause of Catholicism and propagating its teachings in missions among nonbelievers. In 1540 three of Loyola's followers, Simão Rodrigues, who was Portuguese; Paulo Camerte, who was Italian; and Francisco Xavier, who was Spanish; arrived in Portugal. Simão Rodrigues became the tutor of the king's son and later founded Jesuit schools at Coimbra and Évora. By 1555 the Jesuits had control of all secondary education in the realm and by 1558 had established a university in Évora.

João III invited the Jesuits to carry out their apostolic mission in the lands of Portugal's overseas empire. Francisco Xavier left Portugal in 1541 for India as a result of the king's request. He arrived in Goa in 1542 and immediately began prosletyizing among the indigenous inhabitants, converting many thousands. From Goa he went to Cochin and Ceylon; in 1545 he traveled to Malacca, and in 1549, to Japan, where he stayed for two years. After returning to Goa, in 1552 he went to China, where he died.

Evangelization began in Brazil in 1549 with the arrival of six Jesuits led by Father Manuel de Nóbrega, who accompanied Tomé de Sousa, the first governor general. They built a church at São Salvador da Baía, as well as schools at Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. They evangelized northern and southern Brazil. In the south, Father José Anchieta opened a school for Indians and authored the first grammar in a native language, Tupí-Guaraní. The Jesuits built churches, schools, and seminaries. They settled the indigenous inhabitants in villages and defended them against attempts to enslave them.

D. João III - (1521- 1557)

When Manuel I died in 1521, his son and heir, João III, sent expeditions to the islands of Celebes, Borneo, Java, and Timor, all part of the Malay Archipelago.

Relations were established with Japan after the visits of Francisco Xavier and Fernão Mendes Pinto in 1549. Portuguese captains founded factories in China and took possession of Macau in 1557


Portugal's empire in Asia made its monarchy the richest in Europe and made Lisbon the commercial capital of the world. This prosperity was more apparent than real, however, because the newfound wealth did not transform the social structure, nor was it used to lay the basis for further economic development. The country's industry was weakened because the profits from Asian monopolies were used to import manufactured goods.

As the empire in Asia was a state-run enterprise, no middle class or commercial sector independent of the crown of any consequence emerged as it had in other parts of Europe. Moreover, the persecution of the Jews, who possessed vital technical skills, robbed the country of an important force for modernity and reinforced feudal elements. Adding to the drain on the economy was the large amount of money spent on sumptuous palaces and churches.

Because the wealth from the discoveries did not produce a middle class of competent, trained individuals to whom the affairs of state gradually fell, leadership in Portugal remained in the hands of the king and the military aristocracy. Moreover, the imperial system had intensified the already centralized system of government, which meant that the quality of national policy was closely tied to the abilities of the top leadership, especially the king himself. Unfortunately, the House of Avis did not produce a king of great merit after João II, and Portugal entered a long period of imperial decline.

Dynastic Crisis

When João III died in 1557, the only surviving heir to the throne was his three-year-old son, Sebastião, who took over the government at the age of fourteen. Sickly and poorly educated, Sebastião proved to be mentally unstable, and as he grew to young manhood he developed a fanatical obsession with launching a great crusade against the Muslims in North Africa, thus reviving the Moroccan policy of Afonso V.

In 1578, when he was twenty-four years old, Sebastião organized an army of 24,000 and assembled a large fleet that left Portugal on August 4 for Alcázarquivir. Sebastião's army, poorly equipped and incompetently led, was defeated, and the king, presumed killed in battle, was never seen again. A large number of the nobility were captured and held for ransom.

This defeat, the most disastrous in Portuguese military history, swept away the flower of the aristocratic leadership and drained the coffers of the treasury in order to pay ransoms. Worse, it resulted in the death of a king who had no descendants, plunging Portugal into a period of confusion and intrigue over the succession.

With Sebastião's death, the crown fell to his uncle, Henrique, the last surviving son of Manuel I. This solved the succession crisis only temporarily because Henrique was an infirm and aged cardinal who was unable to obtain dispensation from the pope to marry. There were several pretenders to the throne, one of whom was Philip II of Spain, nephew of João III.

When Henrique died in 1580, a powerful Spanish army commanded by the duke of Alba invaded Portugal and marched on Lisbon. This force routed the army of rival contender, António, prior of Crato and the illegitimate son of João III's son Luís. Portugal was annexed by Spain, and Philip II was declared Filipe I of Portugal.