Spain during the

Church Reform in Portugal

A.) Portugal in the Late 15th Century

Portugal had completed the RECONQUISTA in her sector of the Iverian peninsula in 1250. Ecclesiastically, the country coincided more or less with the ARCHDIOCESIS OF LISBON, with suffragan dioceses at Oporto, Coimbra, Lamego, Viseu and Evora, Guarda and Sylves (continental Portugal, without outlying possessions). There were two universities in the country, Lisbon (est. 1290) and Coimbra (est. 1308).
When Spain's Jewish population was forced to leave in 1492, some emigrated to Portugal. In 1497, Portugal formally expelled her Jews, many moving into the colonies (first Madeira, then Brazil, where the Jewish population group largely controlled the sugar industry) and to the Netherlands. In 1503 Antisemitic pogroms took place in Portugal.

B.) Portugal 1500-1580

A papal bull established the Inquisition in Portugal in 1531, confirmed in 1536 and 1547. While accounts of Portuguese history devote no attention to any impact of the protestant reformation in the country, they stress the more liberal atmosphere that prevailed in Portugal, in contrast to the repressive atmosphere in Spain. They also stress the missionary zeal of the Portuguese in their colonies.

C.) Union with Spain, 1580-1640

In 1580 Philip II. had Portugal occupied and declared a DYNASTIC UNION with Spain established (brushing aside competitive claims). While Portugal technically remained a state of her own and the Portuguese Colonial Empire remained separate of the Spanish, the Portuguese Inquisition was turned into a Spanish-style feared instrument of control and suppression. Further waves of refugees left the country, among them Spinoza's parents who settled in Amsterdam.
When the Braganza dynasty restored Portuguese independence in 1640, the Portuguese Inquisition remained, what it was; Portugal did not return to the liberal days of old.
The sugar plantation regions of Portugal's colony BRAZIL between 1630 and 1654 had been ruled by the Dutch. When the Brazilian-Portuguese retook the region, the now more suppressive Inquisition was reintroduced and the many Portuguese-Jewish plantation owners fled the country, settling in English, Dutch or French colonies in the Caribbean, and introducing the sugar plantation industry there.

Chronology of Catholic Dioceses : Portugal, from Kirken i Norge
Article Portugal, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
REFERENCE James Maxwell Anderson, The History of Portugal, Greenwood 2000, 248 pp.; KMLA Lib.Sign. 946.9 A546h
David Birmingham, A Concise History of Portugal, Cambridge UP, 1993, 209 pp.; KMLA Lib.Sign. 946.9 B619a
Mark Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation c.1500-1618, Harlow (Essex): Longman 1998, pp.151-156, KMLA Lib.Sign. 274.06 GB 121

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 12th 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004

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