Portugal under Brit. Protection 1808-1815 1851-1910

Liberalism versus Reaction : Portugal 1814-1851

The royal family did not return to Lisbon until 1822. In Portugal, in the meantime, dissatisfaction with the monarchy - Queen Maria I. had been insane for 24 years - resulted in the demand for the abolishment of monarchy and the establishment of a republic. In 1817 several high officers of the army were tried for treason and executed.
In 1820 a military revolt brought a provisorical government in power; elections were held, a new constitution was adopted on which King John, swore an oath upon his return from Brazil (1821). Brazil, in the meantime, declared independence (1822). Portugal now was a constitutional monarchy. After two insuccessful uprisings in 1823 and 1824, the constitution was suspended and King John ruled absolute until 1826.
After John's death, two of his brothers competed for his succession. The Cortes recognized MIGUEL in 1828, an opponent of liberalism, and also nullified the constitution of 1822. The garrison of Oporto refused to recognize Miguel, and thus the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834) began. The other brother Pedro in 1831 abdicated as Emperor of Brazil and landed, via Britain, in Portugal, where the (liberal) Açores and Porto supported him (1832). The war ended in 1834 with Miguel going into exile, Pedro being recognized as king and the constitution reinstuted. Pedro died only months later. Under his successor, Maria II., moderate and radical liberal governments alternated.
The radical popular movement which helped Pedro win the civil war in 1834 was revolutionary in tone, as Portugal had escaped the political reforms which took place under the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte elsewhere in Europe. The peasants found themselves severely burdened by feudal lords, church and state. Now, large-scale land confiscation took place, at the expense of the crown, the church (monasteries were dissolved) and of large landholders, many of whom had supported Miguel.
After years of a civil war, Portugal was bankrupt. The economy was sluggish, unemployment was high. In the face of demonstrations (1836) , the army staged a coup; a cabinet was formed under SA DE BANDEIRA and the constitution of 1822 was reintroduced.
Portugal's revolution went through another phase when a potato misharvest caused a famine in 1845, and the farmers of northern Portugal revolted in 1846, against numerous political reforms. Yet the rebels found no capable leadership, and by 1848 the old government officials had returned to office. Only in 1851 did the revolution end with a coup by SALDANHA.

Library of Congress, Country Studies : Portugal
History of Portugal by Dark Angel
History of Portugal (extensive) from E-Conflict World Encyclopedia
Origins and Evolution of the Portuguese Administrative System in Comparative Perspective, by Luis Silveira
De Belgische Militaire Expeditie te Portugal (The Belgian Military Expedition to Portugal), from Het Belgische Leger 1830-1914, in Dutch
REFERENCE David Birmingham, A Concise History of Portugal, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, 210 pp.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 9th 2004

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