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Inhabited since prehistoric times, Portugal was reached by Phoenician and later Carthaginian traders in the first millennium BC, there meeting Celtic tribes that had pushed into Iberia across the Pyrenees. Over the following centuries, the Romans, Suebi and Visigoths ruled the peninsula; but the history of Portugal might be said to begin with the Muslim invasion in 711 AD. During the Reconquista, Portugal was born as an independent Christian kingdom in 1143. Spearheading the "Age of Discovery," in the 15th and 16th centuries Portugal would establish the first global empire, stretching from South America to Africa to the Far East. The 1800s saw the dismantling of that empire, Brazilian independence in 1822 being the most serious blow to the power and prestige of Portugal.

After the 1910 revolution which ended the monarchy, Portugal suffered through a succession of juntas and dictatorships until democratic elections were finally held in 1975. A new constitution in 1976 and membership in the EEC in 1986 insured that it would remain a progressive democracy. The erroneous view that Portugal has been no more than an outpost on the fringe of Europe was summarized by American journalist Richard H. Davis, who wrote, "Portugal is a high hill with a white watch tower on it flying signal flags. It is apparently inhabited by one man who lives in a long row of yellow houses with red roofs, and populated by sheep who do grand acts of balancing on the side of the hill." But, with its rich history and culture, and now one of the world's most globalized nations, Portugal is much, much more.

Climate and Terrain[]

The modern nation of Portugal occupies a portion of the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, as well as two archipelagos in the Atlantic: Madeira and the Azores. Not a large country, it nevertheless offers a diversity of terrain, ranging from the low-lying coast to rolling plains in the south to the Estrela Mountains, rising to 1981 m (6500 feet) at their highest point. The Azores lie 1640 km (1019 miles) west of Lisbon, straddling the mid-Atlantic Ridge; Madeira is 974 km (605 miles) southwest of Lisbon. Three rivers arise in the Meseta, the central plateau of Spain, and flow through Portugal to the Atlantic; these are the Douro in the north, the Tejo in the center, and the Guadiana along the southeastern border. Portugal's climate is Mediterranean.

Despite cooler temperatures in the mountains, it is one of Europe's warmest countries. Average annual rainfall ranges from 3000 mm (118 inches) in the northern mountains to less than 300 mm (12 inches) along a stretch of the Douro. The archipelagos have a climate classified as Maritime Temperate, although Madeira is considerably drier than the Azores. With humans having been settled in the area for thousands of years, little is left of the original flora and fauna. The most notable vegetation is the several species of pine and oak. Portugal has the usual mammalian and avian species common across Iberia. On the other hand, Portuguese waters are among the richest in the world in terms of biodiversity, with thousands of species of fish including several of sardine, tuna and mackerel.

Ancient History[]

A distinct human culture emerges in Portugal in the Mesolithic period, c. 5500 BC. Within 2000 years, Neolithic tribes from Andalusia moved into Portugal, bringing agriculture, pottery and the working of soft metals. At some point prior to 500 BC, Iron-Age Celtic peoples crossed into Iberia from the north, supplanting the Neolithic inhabitants. Around the same time, voyagers from Phoenicia and Carthage established trading posts and settlements. When Rome gained control of the peninsula in 201 BC as result of the Second Punic War, the Lusitani federation resisted Roman rule from its fortresses in the west until the Celtic tribes were at last suppressed around 140 BC. In 25 BC, Caesar Augustus founded Augusta Emerita (modern Mérida) as the capital of the province of Lusitania, which encompassed all of Portugal.

As the Western Roman Empire declined, a Germanic tribe, the Suebi, crossed from Gaul into Iberia. There they settled in southern Galicia, annexed Lusitania, and overran the rest of the peninsula. They in turn were supplanted by the Visigoths, who after a period left Iberia for North Africa. By 550 AD the Suebic kingdom had been restored and its king converted to Catholicism; but the Gothic kingdom was weak and divided, plagued by decades of unrest. When Muslim forces invaded in 711 AD, the only serious resistance was centered on Mérida. Within two decades, the Moors overran most of Portugal and Galicia. In 756, Abd al-Rahman I established the Umayyad caliphate at Cordoba.

Muslim Iberia & Reconquista[]

Portugal would remain under Muslim rule for the next five-and-a-half centuries. In 1031 AD the Caliphate of Cordoba was dissolved into 23 separate "taifa" kingdoms, each with its own emir answerable to Damascus. Most of Portugal fell under the Taifa of Badajoz, but incessant warfare among the taifa led to conquest by the Almoravids from Morocco in 1086, who were in turn supplanted by the Almohad dynasty in 1147. The Moorish rule of al-Andalus, the Muslim portion of Iberia, was by turns enlightened and ruthless. Only the northern kingdom of Asturias remained Christian, defeating the Moors several times to retain its independence.

Fifty years after Charles Martel turned back the Muslims at the Battle of Tours, Charlemagne opened the Christian effort to reclaim Iberia in his invasion of 778 AD. Making common cause with Asturias, the Franks and Teutonic Knights would spend the next 500 years slowly pushing the Moors back until by 1300 the only Muslim holdings in the peninsula were centered on the Emirate of Granada on the Mediterranean coast. In doing so, the crusaders created a number of Christian kingdoms in Iberia: Navarre in 824; Leon in 910; Aragon in 1035; Castile in 1037 ... and Portugal in 1139 AD.

Founding of Portugal[]

The county of Portugal, a fiefdom of the Kingdom of Léon, was awarded to D. Henrique by the king for his service in the efforts to drive back the Muslims. In 1128, the newly created Count of Portugal defeated his mother's forces to insure his sole reign. For the next decade, his son, Afonso Henriques conducted a continuous campaign against the Moors until, at the Battle of Ourique in July 1139, he won a decisive victory. Immediately after, he was unanimously proclaimed King D. Afonso Henriques of Portugal by his soldiers. Afonso Henriques established his Cortes at Lamego, where he was officially crowned by the Archbishop of Braga. The new kingdom was recognized as an independent Christian state by the King of Leon and Castile in 1143, and by Pope Alexander III in 1179.

D. Afonso Henriques and his successors continued their push southward against the Moors. In 1249, Portugal's Reconquista ended with the capture of the Algarve region, giving the country its present mainland borders. Following the Reconquista, Iberia was largely peaceful, and the kingdom prospered both economically and culturally. In 1383, John I of Castile, son-in-law to the aging king of Portugal, claimed the throne after his demise. A faction of lesser Portuguese nobles and commoners, led by John of Aviz (later King John I), half-brother of the last king, defeated the Castilians and the House of Aviz ascended to rule Portugal.


John I of Portugal soon found an outlet for the restless among his adventurous sons. Long a maritime people, the Portuguese would be leaders in the voyages of exploration, in the process building a globe-spanning empire. The empire began modestly enough with the conquest of its first overseas outpost, the Muslim city of Ceuta on the north coast of Africa in 1415 AD. Under the patronage and direction of John's third son, Infante Henry - better known as Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) - Portuguese captains would soon after discover Madeira and the Azores, sparking the first wave of Portuguese colonization. Throughout the rest of the century, the Portuguese would sail south along the African coast, claiming territories, as they sought a route around it to India and the East.

Vasco de Gama final opened a sea route to India in 1498, bringing the wealth of the East to Portugal. Two years later, the errant fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral would discover and claim the land of Brazil for the crown. A decade after that, Afonso de Albuquerque would conquer Goa in India, Ormuz on the Persian Strait, and Malacca in Malaysia. Other Portuguese merchants would establish trading posts along the shores of India, Taiwan, Japan and Timor. By the beginning of the 16th century, the small nation of Portugal held dominion over the sea lanes of the Indian and South Atlantic oceans, making its economic, military and political power the rival of any in Europe.


The Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 would lead to a union of Spain and Portugal under Philip II of Spain; although still a sovereign nation, this union deprived Portugal of a separate foreign policy, which in turn led to its embroilment in Spanish wars in Europe and abroad. Spurred by the diversion of income from its overseas colonies and trade to Spanish coffers, in 1640 AD an uprising of Portuguese nobles would restore independence to Portugal, in the form of the House of Bragança, which would supply rulers for both Portugal and Brazil.

For the next 150 years, Portugal would remain largely untroubled by the politics of Europe. With the exception of a brief Spanish invasion during the Seven Years' War, the Portuguese crown and people were content to enjoy the fruits of their colonial empire and peace. That is, until French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte intervened. Portugal had managed, despite being allied with Great Britain for over four centuries, to remain out of the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1807, after the Prince Regent Joao - serving in place of his incapacitated mother Maria I - refused to join the Continental Blockade, which banned British imports to Europe, French and Spanish troops invaded Portugal. Unable to resist, in November, the prince along with the administration and court (about 10,000 people) fled across the Atlantic to Brazil.

Although Portugal would be liberated by guerrillas and Anglo-Portuguese forces under the command of Wellington, the five-year occupation and the relocation of the government would herald a slow but inexorable decline that lasted into the 20th century. The erosion of the colonial empire, most significantly the independence of Brazil in 1822, would cripple Portugal's economy. With the exception of colonial affairs and revolts, the government largely maintained an unofficial policy of isolationism. The nation fell behind other European countries both socially and technologically. Agriculture, including the fishing industry, and tourism became the major sources of income; Portugal came to be increasingly viewed as a "sleepy backwater of Europe."

Revolution and Republic[]

Twice during this period, in 1892 AD and again in 1902, the Government was forced to declare Portugal bankrupt. In both cases, the announcements were followed by protests, riots, social turmoil, localized revolts, and widespread republican propaganda. This culminated in the assassination in February 1908 of the king and the heir apparent, his son Luis Filipe. King Carlos' second son, Manuel II would assume the crown, but was unable to improve conditions (he reigned 2 years). In October 1910, a revolution would discard the monarchy and establish a republic. But economic instability, social chaos, and political unrest were fertile grounds for radicalism. In response, a 1926 coup d'état led by the military established the Ditadura Nacional ("National Dictatorship"). Governed by a series of military juntas, Portugal's fortunes and influence continued to slip. Beginning in 1960, independence movements in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea resulted in the Portuguese Colonial War (1961-1974). As a result, Portugal faced trade and arms embargoes and other punitive sanctions by the international community.

A New Order[]

The junta devoted blood and money Portugal could ill-afford in its efforts to resist decolonization. Facing a tide of dissent, both external and internal, the junta was finally swept away by the Carnation Revolution, a relatively bloodless left-wing military coup in April 1974. The revolution led to independence for the remaining overseas territories, as well as the restoration of democracy after a two-year transition period. The Portuguese constitution was rewritten in 1976 AD to accommodate both socialist and communist principles. Since then, the government has swung between neosocialism and neoliberalism. Land reforms and nationalizations were undertaken, and Portugal was obliged to twice allow International Monetary Fund stabilization programs to recover economically. In 1986, Portugal joined the EEC, and subsequently the European Union. In 1999, the last Portuguese colony, Macau, was handed over to the People's Republic of China. Through such efforts, Portugal has once again been integrated into Europe and taken its place among the fraternity of the world's nations.

Portuguese Trivia[]

In 1373 AD, the kings of Portugal and England signed a treaty of alliance; ratified by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, the pact remains in force, making it the oldest continuous alliance in the world.

The "Great Lisbon Earthquake" (now estimated to be a 9 on the Richter Scale) and ensuing tidal waves in 1755 AD razed the city and devastated much of central and southern Portugal, causing damage and death as far away as North Africa. The death toll in Lisbon alone has been placed as high as 100,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

Fado is a music genre that originated in Lisbon in the 1820s, although its roots reach further back; it was recently added to the "World's Intangible Cultural Heritage" list by UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural organization.

Maria I[]


In a dynasty characterized by tragedy and madness for centuries, Maria I is undoubtedly the best known to the world, and perhaps the best beloved by the Portuguese people. As Queen of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves, she was known as Maria the Pious while ruling in Portugal, or Maria the Mad after fleeing to Brazil in 1807 from Napoleon's invasion. Incapacitated by her growing madness, Maria I died in Rio de Janeiro in 1816.

Early life[]

Maria, raised and educated at court with her 3 younger sisters, devoted her greatest attention to religion and theology. Enthralled by the ritual and clarity of faith, Maria spent long hours in prayer and devotions. Accounts by court visitors note that she was graceful although tall, with sharp features but a warm smile. However, as early as her teens, she suffered from bouts of melancholy and nervous agitation, which occasionally confined her to her bed.

As Maria grew to adulthood, she wed Pedro III, the younger brother of her father. Despite their age difference - Maria was 25 and Pedro 42 at the time of their wedding - the marriage was stable and happy. Both were very pious, attending mass several times a day together. Pedro had his palace at Queluz torn down and constructed a new one in the style of Versailles, which Maria admired; the couple took up residence there in 1764 AD. Maria would give birth to seven children over the years, although only three survived to adulthood.


In 1776 AD, the king Jose I suffered a stroke, dying in February 1777. Following the earthquake and tidal wave that had devastated Lisbon and Portugal's coast in 1755, and an assassination attempt in 1778, Jose had increasingly left the governing of the nation in the ruthless hands of his secretary of state, the Marquess of Pombal, whose methods of reform were brutal and came at the cost of civil liberties and personal freedoms. Maria's first act upon coming to the throne was to dismiss him from the government, primarily because of his unstinting anti-Jesuit policies.

The next few years saw Portugal gradually embroiled in the affairs of Europe. In the face of the French Revolution, the country forged an alliance with Great Britain. In July 1782, Portugal joined the League of Armed Neutrality in hopes of remaining outside the spreading conflict of the Napoleonic Wars. Maria and her consort spent these years as patrons of the arts, especially interested in promoting religious works and in construction projects.


The queen had long suffered from religious mania and melancholia, but her mental state was first acknowledged in early 1786 AD when she had to be carried back to her apartments in a fit of delirium after a religious ceremony. Her state worsened when later that year her husband died after a short illness, followed two years later by her eldest son, and her only surviving daughter Mariana. That same year, the queen's long-time confessor also passed away. The cumulative effect of these events was to topple Maria I into complete madness.

In 1792, the council of ministers concluded that their queen was insane, and requested that her only surviving son, Joao, "assume the direction of public affairs." In 1799, he would take on the mantle of Prince Regent of Portugal as his mother was unfit to rule. Maria I was confined to the palace, occasionally roaming the corridors wailing "Ai Jesus" and calling for her dead husband and children.

Escape to Brazil[]

In 1807 AD, the government's refusal to join Napoleon's blockade against Great Britain culminated in a French-Spanish invasion. Unable to resist defeat, Joao, at the urging of the British government, decided to flee with the entire royal family and his ministers to the Portuguese Viceroyalty of Brazil. Although Wellington would liberate Portugal in the Peninsular War, the royal family remained in Brazil for some years afterward.

Maria herself spent most of her remaining life in the Carmo Convent in Rio de Janeiro. During the eight years there, she suffered increasingly from physical ailments, including dysentery and tropical fevers; arthritis and oedema confined her to a wheelchair, and eventually to her bed. When her son or family members came to visit, she would repeatedly scream, "I want to die!" At last, at the age of 81, her tragic life ended.

Judgment of History[]

Despite her madness, Maria I is a greatly admired figure in both Portugal and Brazil, due to the changes and events that took place during her reign. In Portugal, she is now regarded as a strong female figure in its long history. Her place in the culture of that land is best displayed in the Queluz National Palace, a baroque masterpiece that she helped conceive. In Brazil, she is thought to be one of the key figures in the eventual independence of that nation. While her personal life may have been lamentable, her historical legacy is not.


Maria I is mother of João VI, who is the father of Dom Pedro I of Brazil (Dom Pedro IV of Portugal), who is in turn the father of Dom Pedro II (the leader of Brazil in Civilization V), making her his great-grandmother.

Unique Components[]


The Caçadores gained notoriety during the course of the Peninsular War where they fought together with the English against Napoleonic France, famed for their ability to hit targets at long distances with accuracy; Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington nicknamed them the “the fighting cocks of the army”.


The history of Portuguese wine is closely interwined with their relationship with the British. First shipped to England in the 12th century, Portuguese wines would eventually get preferential treatment in the British wine market over French wines, with the fortified wine known as Port receiving increased popularity in Britain. By 1717, Portuguese wines accounted for more than 66% of all wine imported into England, and Port became associated with the "Englishman's drink" with social clubs touting membership of "three-bottle men" or those who were able to drink at least three bottles of Port in one sitting.