How is life in England compared to Portugal

History of Portugal

Early settlement

In 2000 BC Iberians, presumably from Africa, settled in what is now Portugal and southern Spain. From the 7th century BC, Celts immigrated to the Iberian Peninsula. They first settled in the north, the Iberians in the south. Over time, however, the two ethnic groups merged to form the Celtiberians.

From the 3rd century BC, the Romans conquered the region. They left behind bridges, viaducts, cities and their language, from which Portuguese later developed. The Romans also gave the port of the settlement of Cale in northern Portugal on the banks of the Douro the name Porto Cale, from which the name for the city of Porto and the country of Portugal later developed.

From the 3rd century AD, Christianity gradually spread.

In the early 5th century, Germanic tribes devastated the entire Iberian Peninsula. While the Vandals soon moved on to North Africa, the Suebi and Visigoths settled permanently. They divided the area among themselves.

The Visigoth kingdom spanned most of present-day Spain and southern Portugal in the centuries that followed, while the Suebi Empire spanned northern Portugal and Spain.

In 711 the Islamic army conquered the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors introduced many agricultural innovations, such as terrace fields, irrigation systems and new plant species. From 1037 onwards, Christian descendants of the Visigoths gradually displaced the Moors from Portugal with the Reconquista.

King Alfonso VI of Castile transferred the administration of the county of Portugal to the House of Burgundy, to his son-in-law Heinrich. He and his son Afonso sought independence from Castile and declared the county an independent kingdom in 1139.

World power Portugal

The small country was actually able to assert itself as a nation and expanded its borders to the south. At the end of the 14th century, Portugal had just one million inhabitants. It is therefore all the more astonishing that Portugal rose to become a world power in the 15th century.

This was mainly thanks to Heinrich the Navigator. The son of King João I and Grand Master of the Order of Christ wanted to push back Islamic influence and spread Christianity. But he also wanted to find a sea route to India, because the spice trade and mineral resources were considered very profitable.

He invested large parts of the order's assets in scientific research and drove the development of the caravel, a new type of ship that was much lighter and more manoeuvrable than the galleys common at the time. This is how Heinrich founded the most glorious chapter in the history of Portugal.

Opening up the colonies

First the Portuguese opened up Madeira and the Azores, then Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique. Under King Manuel I, Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India in 1498.

Two years later, Pedro Alvares Cabral was given the management of the Indian fleet by the king and was commissioned to sail with 13 caravels to Calicut on the west coast of India. But the Atlantic currents drove him to South America, and so the Portuguese discovered Brazil by chance.

Portugal established other colonies in Brazil, East Timor, and Macau. But the era of Portugal's expansion ended abruptly with a rash expedition by the inexperienced King Dom Sebastião. In 1578 the childless Portuguese king died in North Africa when his army encountered an overwhelming Moorish force. Spain asserted claims to the throne and took power in Portugal for 60 years in 1580.

The rulers declared the country an autonomous Spanish province. Portugal lost its influence - and with the rise of England and the Netherlands as seafaring nations, it also lost its economic power.

The Portuguese nobility ended Spanish rule with a revolt and installed a new king in 1640.

Royalty and wealth

Spain responded to the new monarchy with a declaration of war. The new King João IV concluded military alliances with England, France and Switzerland in order to defend himself against an attack by the Spaniards. In return, England got the trading bases in Bombay and Tangier and was allowed to export English textiles to Portugal.

It was not until 1668 that Spain recognized Portugal's independence and received in return the city of Ceúta, which was located in Morocco and had been Portuguese until then. The discovery of gold mines in Brazil brought prosperity back to Portugal in the 18th century. During this time, King João V spent a lot of money on magnificent buildings. He had entire baroque buildings covered with gold.

The Portuguese entered into an economic, military and political alliance with England in 1703. But in doing so, Portugal turned against the allied countries France and Spain. Thus Portugal became a theater of war between England and France. In 1807 Napoleon occupied the city of Lisbon, and the Portuguese royal family moved their seat of government from Lisbon to Brazil in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

This move was unique in history until then. Never before had a colonial power relocated the capital of the empire to a colony. In years of ongoing wars between England and France, the English, with the help of the Portuguese, were able to defeat the French and drive them out of Portugal. Portugal was ruled from Brazil at this time, but as a British protectorate it was under the rule of the English.

The monarchy is shaken

In 1821 King João VI returned. reluctantly returned to Portugal to approve the liberal constitution and secure his claim to the throne. However, he left his son Pedro behind in Brazil for security reasons. However, only a year later, he declared Brazil independent and crowned himself Brazilian emperor. Portugal thus lost its most important colony and main source of income.

The difficult economic situation and the ongoing dependence on England caused displeasure among the population. In Africa, Portugal wanted to territorially expand and connect the colonies of Angola and Mozambique. But the English were planning a railway line from Cairo to Cape Town, and these plans were contrary to those of Portugal.

In 1890, England gave Portugal an ultimatum, demanding the cession of the Portuguese-occupied territories between Angola and Mozambique. King Carlos I bowed. The Portuguese were appalled, and a republican movement emerged which publicly demanded the abolition of the monarchy and which grew in power.

In 1908 the situation in Lisbon escalated. A group of Republicans assassinated the king and his sons. The king and his son, the heir to the throne, Prince Luís Filipe, died. The second-born son, Manuel II, became the new Portuguese king at the age of 18, but was only able to exercise his power for two years. A military revolt overthrew the monarchy in 1910 and Manuel II fled into exile in England.

First Republic and Estado Novo

In 1910 the monarchy ended in Portugal. The previously founded Partido da República proclaimed the first republic on October 5th. But it was marked by anarchy and chaos. In 16 years Portugal saw no fewer than 45 governments with eight presidents and 26 coup attempts.

In 1926 a military coup was successful for the first time and ended the short democratic era in Portugal. In the years that followed, one man made a steep career in government. The economics professor at the University of Coimbra, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, first became Minister of Finance in 1928 and Prime Minister in 1932. With his concept of a strong, new state, the so-called "Estado Novo", he initially ensured a balanced state budget.

In the decades that followed, it led Portugal into economic and political isolation. The people should remain underage and ignorant. In order to improve living standards, the dictator brought natural resources and agricultural products from the Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, the Cape Verde Islands, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor and Macau.

Political and economic relations with the colonies deteriorated noticeably in the 1960s and culminated in guerrilla wars as the colonies sought independence. After an accident in 1968, Salazar suffered a stroke and Marcello Caetano took over the official business of the Estado Novo. He had to struggle with the bloody conflicts in the colonies and an economically desolate situation.

In 1974 the dictatorship ended with a military coup which was later called "the Carnation Revolution". After some internal political turmoil and a brief attempt to introduce communism, Portugal became a democracy. Portugal granted its colonies independence and free elections were held in 1976, for the first time in more than 40 years.