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.