Late Monarchy

Portugal 1910-1918

A.) The Early Republic, 1910-1914

A military revolt in 1910 caused KING MANUEL II. to abdicate, after only two years of rule, and leave for exile in England. In Lisbon, the REPUBLIC was proclaimed, a PROVISORICAL GOVERNMENT formed, a CONSTITUTION passed (1911), which separated church and state. Relations with the pope were strained, as the new government pursued an outspoken anticlerical policy. In 1912 Portugal introduced registration of motor vehicles.

B.) Portugal Neutral, 1914-1916

Portugal, despite it's old alliance with Britain, was not regarded part of the systems of alliances which became enemies in World War I. Germany and Britain had signed a secret memorandum, agreeing on partitioning Portugal's colonial empire amongst themselves, indicating that Portugal was seen as a victim rather than a potential ally.
When World War I broke out in August 1914, Portugal remained neutral. It's location on the Atlantic coast assured continuing access to overseas markets; Portugal's economy suffered somewhat from the German U-BOAT-WARFARE which sough to blockade the United Kingdom, the most important market for Portuguese products. There were clashes with German troops in southern Angola; yet both the Portuguese and the German governments formally stuck to Portuguese neutrality.
Britain demanded Portugal to confiscate the German ships interned in Portuguese ports, and to sell them to Britain; Portugal complied on February 24th 1916, an act to which Germany and Austria-Hungary responded by declaring war on Portugal.

C.) Portugal at War with the Central Powers, 1916-1918

Meanwhile, in 1916 South African troops, operating from Kenya, penetrated into GERMAN EAST AFRICA (modern Tanzania), ably defended by PAUL VON LETTOW-VORBECK. Lettow-Vorbeck, realizing that open warfare was not feaible any more, switched to a guerilla tactic, thus pinning down South African forces which could not be shifted to the European war theatre. Trying to evade his persecutors, he marched into Rhodesia and (Portuguese) Northern Mocambique. Lettow-Vorbeck, without communication with the homeland and without reinforcements, held out until the end of the war.
In the war, Portuguese governments had frequently changed; in 1917, SIDONIO PAIS staged a coup d'etat. Portuguese troops were sent to fight in the trenches; 10,000 were either killed or wounded. 60,000 died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The Portuguese troops were of little value to the Allied cause; during the spring offensive of 1918, the Germans broke through the front segment held by the Portuguese. In December 1918, Prime Minister Sidonia Pais was assassinated.
In the Peace Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to cede the port of KIONGA, hitherto German East Africa, to Portugal (Mocambique).

Library of Congress, Country Studies : Portugal
History of Portugal by Dark Angel
DOCUMENTS French propaganda postcard featuring neutral Portugal : I would like to, but I'm too small, 1915, from WW I Propaganda Postcards, scroll down; Artist Emil Dupuis
Fotos concerning Portugal in WW I, posted by CPHRC
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
Douglas L. Wheeler (ed.), Historical Dictionary of Portugal, Scarecrow 2003; KMLA Lib.Sign. R 946.9 W562h
Article : Portugal, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.1119-1125 on events of 1912) [G]
Article : Portugal, in : New International Year Book 1913 pp.566-568, 1914 pp.571-573, 1916 pp.556-558, 1918 pp.513-514 [G]
Frederic Augustin Ogg, The Governments of Europe (1913), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, Pt.9 pp.629-643 on Portugal
Entry : Portugal, in : Statesman's Year Book 1918 pp.1177-1191 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

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