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Independence Day of Portugal

Independence Day of Portugal:

Did you know that Portugal lost its independence and had been under Spanish rule for six decades? That’s right!… and we are about to explain to you why it happened and how we gained our freedom back!

How Portugal lost its Independence:

First of all, we need to travel back in time to the second half of the XVI century.

Morocco was living a succession struggle and Mohammed II Saadi had lost his throne and ran away to Portugal.

Here, he asked for help and assistance in defeating his rival.

D. Sebastião(1554-1578), our King by that time, supported the Moorish straight away, and this situation led them to the so-called Battle of Alcácer Quibir, in the north of Africa.

Unfortunately, the allies were defeated and the Portuguese king’s body was never found, giving rise to a legend – the Sebastianism – the belief that he could return at any moment.

D. Sebastião’s death brought to Portugal a fragile circumstance because he died without leaving an heir.

At this point, several different claimants had emerged, but it was Philip II of Spain the one who was successful, after using the force of arms. What Portugal lived afterward was it’s a new and third dynasty, the House of Habsburg (1580 – 1640).

The House of Habsburg:

In 1581 the Spanish King was officially recognized as ours and this was the start of the Iberian Union.

However, they established a compromise that gave Portugal a certain autonomy, like the fact that in our territory we would have a Portuguese “Viceroy” and Portuguese language, would be maintained as the language to be used in official documents. Our habits, customs, and privileges would also be held.

Portugal lived under the domain of three Spanish kings and, despite the commitment,  the last one, Philip III of Portugal (IV of Spain), started to cause dissatisfaction among the Portuguese people. Why?

Because his attitude was different from his ancestors. For example, he increased taxes which affected directly the Portuguese merchants. The nobility had also lost it’s value and significance as their governance positions were supplanted by Spanish members.

Independence Day:

Therefore, aristocrats and upper bourgeoisie pooled up together and lead to an insurgency that brought the end of the House of Habsburg in Portugal, on the 1st of December of 1640. 

The war between Spain and England also helped the general dissatisfaction because it had damaged our alliance with the British which was preserved since the Treaty of Windsor (1386). However, the rebellion only took place when financial and military assistance was required to the Portuguese in order to provide support to the Spanish wars – “The Reapers War”, a Catalan revolt that fought for the independence.

On the 2nd of December, João, the 8th Arquiduc of Braganza, was acclaimed King of Portugal, giving birth to the House of Braganza (1640 – 1910).

Yet, the following time period was not peaceful. It took almost 30 years to finally find peace in the Peninsula. This was only formalized in 1668 through the Treaty of Lisbon signed between Afonso VI of Portugal and Carlos II of Spain, who at last recognized the independence of Portugal, giving us back prisoners and conquests, except Ceuta.

Join us on our Free Walking Tours (click here) and find all about Portuguese History with our amazing guides 😉

Teresa Barrote

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