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Independence Day

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

First of all, we need do travel back in time to the second half of the XVI century. Morocco was living a sucession strugle and Mohammed II Saadi had lost his throne and ran away to Portugal, where 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 the kingdom of 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 sucessful, after using the force of arms. What Portugal lived afterwards was it’s new and third dynasty, the House of Habsburg (1580 – 1640).

In 1581 the Spanish King was oficially recognized as ours and this was the start of the Iberian Union. However, they established a compromise that gave Portugal a certain autonomy, as the fact that in our territory we would have a portuguese “Viceroy” and Portuguese language would be mantained as the language to be used in oficial documents. Our habits, customs and privilegs 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 because his actitude was different from he’s ancessors. For example, he increased taxes which afected directly the Portuguese merchants. Nobility had also lost it’s value and significance as their governance positions were supplanted by Spanish members. Therefore, aristocrats and upper bourgeoisie pooled up together and lead to an insurgency that brought the end of the House of Habsburg in Portugal, in the 1st of December of 1640. 

The war between Spain and England also helped to 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 were required to the Portuguese in order to provide support to the Spanish wars – “The Reapers War”, a catalan revolt that fought for the independence. In the 2nd of December John, 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 formalised 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 prisioners and conquests, except Ceuta.

Join us on our walking tours (click here) and find all about Portuguese History with our amazing guides 😉

Teresa Barrote

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