Portuguese Independence Regained
House of Braganca, 1640-1700
French Revolution
Impact on Portugal






Portugal in the 18th Century : Absolutism



The Dutch, and later the French and the English ruled the seas. In order to profit from it's colonial Empire, Portugal depended on peace. It's location on the periphery of the Iberian peninsula enabled it to stay out of Europe's many conflicts.
Absolutism was introduced to Portuguese politics by King John VI. (1706-1750). The METHUEN TREATY of 1703 gave Portuguese wine virtually a monopoly on the English market, and English merchants a privileged position on the Portuguese market. Gold found in Brazil and the expanded cultivation of coffee contributed to moderate prosperity. The economic heart of the Portuguese Empire shifted to Brazil; the king considered the idea to move his court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. Worse for Lisbon, the city was struck by a mighty earthquake in 1755.
King Joseph II.'s minister, the MARQUIS DE POMBAL, became the dominant figure in Portuguese politics. He was called an "enlightened despot", expelled the Jesuits (1759), reformed education, handed out charters for trading companies and manufactures. To break the power of the church, he even severed diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1760. When Spanish troops invaded the country during the 7 YEARS WAR, the Portuguese, with British aid, were able to defeat the invaders in 1762.
De Pombal's dictatorship ended with the death of King Jose II. in 1777; he was dismissed, many of those imprisoned under de Pombal were released and the diplomatic ties with the Holy See were renewed.


EXTERNAL
FILES
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Portugal
History of Portugal by Dark Angel
Biography of the Marquis de Pombal, from Catholic Encyclopedia, another one from infoplease
Biography of King John V. from infoplease
DOCUMENTS
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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