Portugal History Part 2

4. Dom Manuel I and his successors (1495-1580)

Under the mandate of King Dom Manuel I, Portuguese power reached maximum splendor. In the years 1497 to 1499 Vasco da Gama made his first trip to India following the route discovered by Bartolomeu Dias and inaugurated a lucrative trade in spices and other luxury items between Europe and southern Asia. Directed by Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese occupied Goa (in India) in 1510, Malacca (in Malaysia) in 1511, the Moluccas (now Indonesia) in 1512-1514, and the island of Hormuz (in the Persian Gulf) in 1515. During During this same period, the Portuguese started trading with China and established relations with Ethiopia. Like other Portuguese kings, Dom Manuel I dreamed of the union of Portugal and Spain under his reign and successively married two daughters of King Fernando II of Aragon and Queen Isabel I of Castile (the Catholic Kings). Following the example of what had happened in Spain, he expelled Jews and Muslims from their dominions in 1497; with this, Portugal deprived itself of most of its incipient middle class. His son Dom João III promoted the settlement of Brazil and introduced (1536) the Inquisition in Portugal, to reinforce religious obedience. After his death in 1557, Portugal had already begun to decline in its political and commercial power. This trend continues under the reign of Dom Sebastião, who died during an expedition to Morocco in 1578, which ended with the defeat of Alcácer Quibir. With the death of his successor, King Dom Enrique, in 1580, the Avis dynasty ended.

5. The Habsburg and Bragança dynasties

After the death of Don Enrique, seven aspirants disputed the succession of the throne. The most powerful was Felipe II, king of Spain, who in 1580 was elected king by the Cortes de Tomar with the name of Felipe I of Portugal. The annexation of Portugal by the Spanish Habsburg monarchy became known as the “captivity of the sixty years”, although the opening of the Spanish colonial territories favored the bourgeoisie and the members of the Portuguese high nobility. After 1600, Portuguese rule over the East Indies was lost to the Dutch and English. Under Felipe I, Portugal enjoyed considerable autonomy, but his successors, Felipe II (Felipe III of Spain) and Felipe III (Felipe IV of Spain), treated Portugal only as another Spanish province, which provoked a great discontent.

6. Dom João IV and his successors (1640-1816)

According to proexchangerates, King Dom João IV (1640-1656) expelled the Dutch from Brazil, who had settled there in 1630, and restored traditional relations with England. Although very weakened by the conflicts with Spain in the second half of the 17th century, Portugal recovered part of its prosperity in the 18th century, after the discovery of gold and diamonds in Brazil. Between 1683 and 1750, during the reigns of Dom Pedro II and Dom João V, the British dominated Portuguese commerce; the monarchy became more despotic and the Courts fell into disuse. During the reign of Dom José I (1750-1777), the kingdom came under the control of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (1699-1782), marquis of Pombal, considered one of the greatest statesmen in modern Portuguese history and the greatest exponent of the Portuguese Enlightenment. Although in a despotic way, it fought to diminish the power of the nobility and the Church, it fomented the industry and the education, and it ended the foreign monopoly of the commerce. The marquis, however, was removed when José I’s daughter, Dona Maria I, ascended the throne in 1777. During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Portugal allied itself with Great Britain against France.

In 1807, when Napoleon’s armies entered Spain and threatened Portugal, the royal family withdrew to Brazil and established the government’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. A French army occupied Portugal, but was defeated in 1808 by English troops commanded by Arthur Wellesley, who would later be the first Duke of Wellington. According to the Sintra Convention (August 30, 1808), the French left the country, but would return to invade it a year later. Wellington stopped the French advance again, and in 1811, Portugal freed itself from French influence. Even so, the Portuguese royal family decided to stay in Brazil, which in 1815 would be declared a new kingdom. In 1816, Dom João VI took over both thrones, governing Portugal through a Regent Council.

7. The constitutional monarchy

In 1820 the Portuguese Armada spearheaded a revolution with the aim of establishing a constitutional government. King Dom João VI, who agreed to return to Portugal as a constitutional monarch, appointed his son Dom Pedro regent of Brazil. In 1822 he proclaimed the independence of the empire of Brazil, and became emperor Dom Pedro I. In Portugal, meanwhile, Dom Pedro’s brother, the infant Dom Miguel, asked for help from the supporters of the absolute monarchy to end the constitutionalists and led an insurrection on April 30, 1824. King Dom João VI, however, retained power and the infant Dom Miguel was sent into exile in Vienna. With his death in 1826, João VI should have been succeeded by Dom Pedro I of Brazil; the latter, however, preferred to stay in Rio de Janeiro and abdicated in favor of his daughter Maria da Glória,

He returned from Vienna in 1828 and, ruling as regent of Maria II, ascended the throne, but his absolutist tendencies led the country into a civil struggle. In 1831 Dom Pedro, who abdicated the Brazilian throne, returned to Portugal and recovered the crown, reigning as Pedro IV. When he died, despite the opposition of Dom Miguel, the help of England, France and Spain allowed Dona Maria to occupy the throne again in 1834. Her reign was marked by conflicts between the liberals, who supported the Constitution of 1822, and the absolutists, who supported the Charter granted by Dom Pedro I in 1826. Under the reign of their successors – Dom Pedro V, who reigned from 1853 to 1861, and Dom Luis, who reigned from 1861 to 1889 – political struggles would become less fierce.

Portugal History 3