From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Kingdom of Portugal
Reino de Portugal
Portugal flag.png
Largest CityLisbon
Population10 million
Government TypeConstitutional Monarchy

Portugal, officially the Kingdom of Portugal (Portuguese: Reino de Portugal), is a country located in the westernmost region of the Iberian Peninsula. The majority of the country is located in continental Europe, where it only borders Spain. The kingdom is composed of six continental provinces and two overseas provinces in the Atlantic: Madeira and Azores.


Premodern history

Portugal was established in 1143, after the signature of the Treaty of Zamora, but the kingdom was only recognized by the papacy in 1179. The nation developed to its modern borders during the process of the Reconquista, a series of wars among the Christian kingdoms of Europe and the Muslim caliphates in the Iberian peninsula. Since the conquest of Algarve in 1249, Portuguese territory didn’t suffer significant changes, thus making the country borders one of the most stable in Europe.

Portugal was the first medieval European nation to start sailing across the Atlantic in the search of resources in distant lands. The many voyages of Portuguese ships started what is called the Age of Discoveries. Portuguese caravels crossed the seas, making use of the best scientific and practical knowledge of the time. During the centuries XIV, XV and XVI sailed to Africa, to the far East and to the depths of the South American continent. In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral reached the coast of Brazil, a thing that changed the history of the tiny Iberian nation, and put the kingdom among the powers of Europe for centuries.

Long 18th century

Portuguese role in the Great Silesian War (1750-1755)

During the Great Silesian War, from 1750 to 1755, Portugal sided with Britain and her allies, such as Austria. The country didn’t fight directly in the conflict due its geographic isolation from the core of the war, and its lack of interest in Central European affairs, assuming a position just for political and diplomatic reasons during the half-decade conflict.

Portugal during the French Revolution and Augustine Wars

During the events of the French Revolution and the Augustine Wars, Portugal, just like the majority of other European monarchies at the time, saw the Augustine regime over France as a threat to the Ancien Regime and the status quo of Europe. Thus the country allied itself with the other monarchies against France.

Far away from the effective fighting and not being the great power the nation once was, France didn’t put her eyes on the Iberian nation, therefore, the country wasn’t invaded. During the conflict, Portugal upgraded the defenses near the Spanish border, sent a few hundred soldiers to fight alongside British ones, and helped the royal navy to patrol the European coast.

The 1807 proposal:

Around half way on the conflict, in 1807, fearing at some moment in the future the French would invade through Spain, the counselors of king Dom Afonso VII proposed to move the kingdom capital to Rio de Janeiro temporarily, so if the Portuguese territories in Europe fall, the king and the court would take refugee in Brazil. The idea was thrown away later and never got out of paper.

Rise of constitutionalism

Spring of Nations

In the early 1830s, revolutionaries inspired by the French Revolution decades prior started a rebellion in Spain. Motivated by the liberal, nationalist and republican ideals, those revolutionaries advocated the reform of the Spanish monarchy and the end of absolutism. Soon these revolutions reached Portugal.

Since the French Revolution, the Portuguese bourgeoisie along a part of the military got invested in spreading the liberal ideals across the country. The wealthy members of the bourgeoisie had monetary power, but lacked political representation. Nobility titles could be bought, but they were generally low ranking and not seen as legit, by the nobility that achieved the titles by blood. So the idea of having political positions was amusing to them. Some parts of the military also got interested in the political representativity as a way of social ascension.

In 1834, riots inspired by those in Spain started to occur in Portuguese urban centers, and with part of the military supporting the ideals of reformation, the government feared the start of a bloody civil-war in the country. So, in May of 1834, the assembly to discuss the instauration of a constitutional monarchy over Portugal took place.

The 1834 constitution

After months of discussion, the main articles of the constitution were: Abolishment of absolutism; creation of the independent executive, legislative and judicial powers; political representativity for the literated, male and over 20 years old population; the church would still has voice in nationwide decisions; the monarch would have the role to keep the harmony among the other three powers. The 1834 constitution wasn’t as liberal as the French revolutionary one, the Church and the Estate were still united, the monarch could still have voice in decisions and dissolve the parliament in cases of crisis. These small characteristics of the Ancien Regime were considered to gain support from the catholic Portuguese society and have harmony among the institutions of the nation.

End of the American colonial empire

Independence of Bahia and the Riograndense Republic

The Bahia Republic and the Riograndense Republic, respectively, gained independence from Portugal in 1845 and 1846. The two nations were the first to break from the colony of Brazil during the ramifications of the Spring of Nations in Latin America.

Independence of Equador

In 1877, Equador was recognized as independent by Portugal after a war started by large landowners. Three years prior, in 1874, Portugal abolished slavery in all of its territory. The economy of Equador, at the time, was sole based on plantations and slave labor, thus the end of slavery was seen as threat to profit by the large plantation owners. After many disagreements with the crown, the rural elite of the colony rebelled.

Creation of the Autonomous Territory of Brazil

By the late 19th century, only the region around Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, southern Mato Grosso and Paraná were still under Portuguese colonial rule. In 1878, after the failure to end the revolt in Equador, Portugal feared that their last bit of Brazil would break up as well very soon. To prevent this to happen, Brazil ceased to be a colony in this year, and was elevated to the title of Autonomous Territory of Brazil.

During the period as an autonomous territory, Brazil, for the first time, could hold elections and had a constitution mirroring the Portuguese one. Brazilians could now vote for the Brazilian parliament in Rio de Janeiro, province presidents and for the public offices of their municipalities. The only exception was the Governor of Brazil title, which was directly appointed by the crown. The Governor also had the power to dissolve the parliament if this decision was seen as necessary.

Mid to late-19th century

Coffee empire

Coffee was first brought to Brazil in the early 18th century, not for large-scale cultivation and export, but only to be traded in the inner market of the colony. Was only in the early 19th century that the cultivation of coffee would become the main economic activity of the colony, and gave Portugal a monopoly over the high demand of the grains from nations across the globe. This scenario, for the most part, is the result of coffee turning into a luxury drink in Europe and North America.

The coffee economic boom fit like a glove for the Portuguese economy and the landowners in Brazil. Since the late 18th century, the gold exports, Brazil’s main source of income, have gone down due to the end of the mineral in more superficial deposits. During the gold rush, many plantations were closed and their owners shifted to exploration of mines, then when mining ceased, the colony and, therefore Portugal, suffered from a heavy economic crisis. So when coffee became a highly demanded drink in other continents, Portugal saw this as an opportunity to recover from this decades-long crisis.

For about a century, this region became the core of Brazil and the Portuguese colonial empire, but when foreign nations' demand for coffee decreased in the late 19th century, once again, the single activity based economy entered a recession. The end of the coffee based economy also opened the opportunity to Brazilian industrialization and rise of nationalism.

Failed Communard Revolution

In the 1870s, Europe was shaken once again by a wave of revolutions, The Communard Revolutions. Although France and Spain were the two that most suffered the effects of such unrest, Central Europe, Italy and Portugal had their own attempts of revolutionary take over. In 1875, the Sociedade Comunarde de Portugal (Communard Society of Portugal) was formed in the city of Coimbra, and started to plan a coup to end the Portuguese Monarchy.

Communardism had arrived in Portugal already in the mid-19th century, and was popular among part of the academic community in Coimbra and Lisbon. At that time, Europe was facing a rapid process of economic growth and industrialization, but this reality didn’t arrive in Portugal with the same strength as it did in other western nations, so the country kept focused on an agrarian based economy, especially focused on coffee exportation. The communards saw this situation as a result of the conservative Portuguese government, which still had some characteristics of the old absolutist regime. According to many publications, the only way for Portugal to rise as a power again, was to end the monarchy once and for all.

Differently from the cases in France and Spain, the Communard Society of Portugal didn’t last long. After the revolutions beginning in the neighboring nations, Portuguese parliament quickly approved the instaurantion of censorship over communard papers and the prohibition of public demonstrations. The citizens were also advised to tell authorities any suspicion of revolutionary activities. Soon later, the members of the Communard Society of Portugal got arrested for the crime of conspiracy and rebellion. The imprisonment of the group was seen by sympathizers as an atrocious action, soon riots started to happen first in Coimbra and days later in Lisbon. Both were unsuccessful.

Portuguese imperialism in the 19th century

Kingdom of Portugal and colonial holdings in 1900. The Autonomous Territory of Brazil is also shown.

In 1900, the Portuguese colonial holdings consisted of large chunks of land in continental Africa and city ports across the Gulf of Guinea, islands in North Atlantic, Madagasikara, India and the Canton coast.

Portuguese Southern Africa
Gulf of Guinea
Portuguese India
Portuguese on the Far-East

United kingdom with Brazil

The Luso-Brazilian Compromise (1922)

The end of the colonial rule in Carolina sparked once again the feeling of nationalism and independence in Brazil, many republican authors, republican associations and communard societies across Brazil started to advocate for the end of Portuguese rule in the continent. These ideals gained more force after Brazil got hit directly by the economic crisis in Europe during most of the 1920s.

The economic crisis hit Brazil severely, coffee customers across the world, Brazil’s most important economic partners, started to reduce the purchase of the product, thus the many coffee plantations started to suffer from overproduction and devaluation of the prices. Many businesses closed and unemployment skyrocketed. In this context, opposition to the semi-colonial government of Brazil started to gain force. Many saw the problem as consequences of the crown heavily influencing the political and economic decisions, and from August 1922 to November of the same year, protests demanding more political freedoms, and in the most radical cases, total independence, started to happen.

On November the 2nd, 1922, in a radio broadcast, the province president of São Paulo declared revolt. The province of Minas Gerais followed the same strategy soon later in the same day. The presidents of the two provinces had been in secret talks since September of 1922, the plan was to send an ultimatum to the crown. To prevent a bloody conflict in the continent, the rebel provinces stated openage to dialogue with the crown.

Portugal wasn’t in shape to fight a war thousands of kilometers away, and in telegram, agreed to discuss terms with the new Brazilian Government, which already comprised four of the six provinces of Brazil. On November 25th, Portuguese envoys and the Brazilian Independent Government gathered in Rio de Janeiro to solve the situation diplomatically.

On December 4th, the Luso-Brazilian Compromise, or Treaty of Rio, established the dual monarchy of Portugal and Brazil. The main terms of the treaty were:

  • The creation of a new Brazilian constitution;
  • The Kingdom of Brazil would consists of every Portuguese territory in South America, while the Kingdom of Portugal would consists of the rest of the empire;
  • Abolition of the title of Governor of Brazil and creation of the title of Prime Minister;
  • Brazilians could be elected to all political offices;
  • Establishment of a single citizenship. Luso-Brazilian;
  • A common Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for diplomacy and foreign policy, comprised from both Portuguese and Brazilian integrants;
  • Brazil would engage in every conflict which Portugal is involved;

List of leaders

List of monarchs

House of Braganza

House of Habsburg

  • Philip IV (1771-1780)

See also