According to Countryaah, Portugal has been inhabited by the Portuguese since ancient times – one of the Iberian tribes whose cultural influence extended to the entire western part of the Iberian Peninsula. The country was conquered on several occasions by various people from the Middle East, who, however, confined themselves to the coastal areas.
In the 2nd century BCE, the Romans settled in the area and continued this dominance until the collapse of the empire around the 5th century. At the end of the period Portugal, like other parts of Europe, was invaded by people from the northern continent who wanted to plunder the Roman possessions and which were collectively referred to as: Barbarians. Among these invading peoples were the Western Goths, whose culture was higher developed. They settled on the Iberian Peninsula, divided the territory into various kingdoms and helped to spread the Christian faith. The supremacy of the West Goths on the peninsula came to last about 6 centuries.
In the 8th century, the area was invaded by Arabs who, despite opposition from the original residents, spread their political and cultural dominion.
The heyday of Portugal
In the 11th century, the reconquest of the Portuguese territory began and was completed about 100 years later with the expulsion of the Arabs. When the Arabs were first thrown out and the country politically united, a period of extensive economic development was reached, culminating in the 15th and 16th centuries, when large expeditions were sent by sea and vast territories were conquered in America, Africa and the East..
Portugal’s maritime supremacy during this period allowed it to develop comprehensive trade worldwide and achieve a privileged economic location in Europe. It was centuries before other countries such as the Netherlands and England were able to fight with Portugal for control of the seas.
The Portuguese king Sebastião died in war in North Africa in August 1578. He was not married and had no throne. Sebastião was the nephew of King Felipe II of Castile (Spain), and because of a clause in Felipe’s covenant with Portuguese Princess Maria – daughter of João III of Portugal – he was entitled to inherit the Portuguese throne. It happened at the death of King Sebastião. For the following 62 years, Portugal was under Spanish rule. Only with the revolution in Lisbon on December 10, 1640 did the country regain its full independence. The union with Spain weakened the country’s power and its dominance on the seas was further weakened by the constant pressure from the Dutch and the English, who came to control most trade routes and regions.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Portugal demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
After 30 years of war, Portugal achieved its independence with the Lisbon Treaty. But the country was ruined after the three decades of fighting against Spain and could only look passively, while the new naval forces conquered almost all of its colonies in Africa and Asia. Brazil, however, remained Portuguese. England’s conquest of space as the world’s strongest maritime nation pushed Portugal further into the background, and the Methuen Treaty cemented its political and economic dependence on the new superpower. Even the reforms implemented by José I’s Minister Pombal could reduce this dependence on the British. José I was, like the Bourbons in Spain, influenced by the French Enlightenment. He initiated a number of reforms of the country’s economy and of the colony administration. During the same period, the discovery of large gold deposits in Brazil provided its last major economic recovery.
The dependence on Englandwas further increased when Portugal had to seek help to put an end to Napoleon’s occupation of the country in 1807-11. The French occupation also led Brazil to free itself from the colonial power. The Portuguese court had sought refuge in the same place in 1808. During the occupation, Brazil experienced strong growth in its trade – especially with England. However, as Napoleon’s control of Europe was coming to an end, the burgeoning Brazilian bourgeoisie was unwilling to be pushed back into the background. In 1821, the country declared itself independent, while Portugal was characterized by struggles between, on the one hand, a sector advocating reinstatement of monopoly, and on the other, liberal groups that wanted greater participation in political processes. A battle that brought the country to the brink of civil war.
Portugal retained its traditional agricultural structures, while Other Countries in Europe embarked on an accelerated industrialization process that quickly provided the basis for economic development. Portugal, therefore, emerged in the 19th century as an economically backward country that had lost the largest and richest of its colonies, and which was also plunged into a deep internal political crisis.