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Portugal in 1914

Portugal in 1914

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Portugal established its monarchy in 1128. In the 19th century there was a dramatic growth in republicanism as a result of royal extravagance, a reactionary Church and large-scale poverty. In February, 1908, Carlos I and his brother were assassinated. After a insurrection in October 1910, Manuel II fled to England. Manoel de Arriaga became Portugal's new leader.

In 1914 the Portuguese Army began skirmishing with German troops on the frontier between Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) and German East Africa. German agents also attempted to incite a tribal uprising in Angola. However, the Portuguese Army contained only 33,000 men and was not in a good position to declare war on Germany.


Full Name

(Kingdom of Portugal)

Common Name


Official Languages


Government Structure

Head of State

Head of Government



Area (core territory)

Population (core territory)

Portugal, officially the Kingdom of Portugal (Portuguese: Reino de Portugal) is a country located on the Iberian peninsula, headed by King Duarte II and integralist Prime Minister José Hipólito Raposo. Portugal is bordered to the north and east by the Kingdom of Spain and to the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. Through its colonial possessions, it also borders Mittelafrika, South Africa and the French Republic in Africa and the Qing Empire via the League of Eight Provinces as well as the Netherlands via the Dutch East Indies in Asia. Portugal is a nominal member of the Entente.

Acculturation and Assimilation

The Portuguese who settled in Hawaii tended to lose their ethnic identity fastest. From the sugar plantations they moved to the large cities where they became involved in trades and service industries. Others went into farming. They tended to intermarry with other ethnic groups and quickly lost their feeling of Portuguese identity.

In California there was a greater effort to maintain ethnicity. The Portuguese immigrants generally settled in rural areas where they farmed or operated dairies. They hired other Portuguese as hands on their farms, and under these semi-isolated conditions, it was easier to preserve their old customs. Fathers were the decision makers of the household. They allowed their daughters to attend school only as long as the law required after that they kept them at home. Boys enjoyed more freedom than girls, but they also tended to quit school as soon as possible to work on the farm or dairy and they were expected to marry Portuguese girls. When the rate of arrival of new immigrants slowed and American-born descendants far outnumbered the foreign-born Portuguese, assimilation began. Organizations such as the Cabrillo Civic Clubs, however, were formed to preserve pride in the Portuguese heritage.

The situation on the East Coast was different. There the Portuguese, mainly of rural origin, settled in urban areas. This change in environment forced family life and attitudes to change. When times were bad at the mills, women had to go to work to help support the family. In general, children were expected to leave school at the first opportunity to go to work to contribute to the family's maintenance as well. This tended to keep the Portuguese in the lower middle class, but it freed the women from their traditionally subordinate role and granted them more independence.

Wherever they settled, Portuguese immigrants had to face many disconcerting changes in their new environment. Rather than living in the same town or even the same neighborhood as the rest of their family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—upon whom they could depend for help when they needed it, they found themselves alone and without the support system that the extended family could provide. Unlike the milieu to which they were accustomed, in the United States education was compulsory for children, women were more emancipated, young people were freer to select the mates of their choice, families were more democratic rather than being dominated by the father, and a generation gap often existed within families because the young had developed better language proficiency and had attended public schools where they were exposed to the attitudes of their American peers.


The Portuguese have a variety of folk beliefs, many of which coincide with those of other cultures. Some believe that certain people have the power of the evil eye, which endows them with the ability to cast evil spells on others by the use of their eyes. One may ward off the evil eye by making a gesture called "the fig" in which one closes the fist and sticks the thumb between the first and second fingers. For many the devil is real and has the power to work evil. The word "devil" ( diabo ) is avoided for fear of evoking him he may also be kept away by making the sign of the cross. Fridays and the number 13 are considered bad luck. Some people trust their health to witch doctors called curandeiros, who attempt to cure illnesses with herbal medicines or magic. These beliefs disappear or are looked upon as superstitions as immigrants are absorbed into American society.

When people are far from their native countries, they long to preserve some of the customs from their youth that had special significance to them. Early in the twentieth century, Portuguese immigrants revived three celebrations from their homelands—the Festival of the Blessed Sacrament, the Festival of the Holy Ghost, and the Senhor da Pedra Festival.


This celebration from the island of Madeira was initiated in 1915 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This four-day festival, which takes place the first weekend of August, has grown to be the largest Portuguese American celebration, attracting over 150,000 visitors to New Bedford each year. Throughout the festival there is entertainment, including Portuguese and American music, singing, dancing, and famous entertainers. Decorative arches are erected in the festival area and are covered with bundles of bayberry branches. Colored lights and banners are also used for decoration. Vendors sell American and Madeiran foods including carne de espeto (roasted meat on a skewer), linguiça (sausage), cabra (goat), bacalhau (codfish) in spicy Portuguese sauces, favas (beans), and Madeiran wine. Local groups perform Portuguese folk music and dances fireworks and raffles add to the festivities. On Sunday, the final day of the festival, its organizers march with a band to the church for the 11:00 a.m. mass. At 2:00 p.m. there is a colorful parade that includes children in native costumes, bands, floats, and beauty queens. Although this festival includes a mass and a procession, it is basically a secular celebration meant for socializing and having fun.


This festival, celebrated in California and in New England, is modeled after an Azorean prototype. Depending on the location, it is celebrated on some weekend between Easter and the end of July. The celebration originated with Queen Elizabeth of Aragon, wife of Portugal's King Diniz, in 1296. As an act of humility, before a mass to which she had invited the poor, she gave the royal scepter to the most indigent and had the royal crown placed on his head. After the mass, the queen and other nobles served a sumptuous meal to the poor. In the modern celebration, the crown is kept in the church throughout the year. Details of the celebration vary from place to place, but sometimes a drawing is held to determine which families will have the honor of keeping the crown at their house for one of seven weeks leading up to the festival. The child of the first winner is crowned as the child-emperor/empress. Amidst a week of feasting and celebration, he keeps the crown in a place of honor in his house, surrounded by candles and flowers, and at the end of the week, he walks in a procession to the house of the second winner, and the second child-emperor/empress is crowned. The crown passes through seven successive households. A few days before the final Sunday of the festival, the priest blesses the food that has been collected for the poor, although today this food is more commonly used for a community banquet. On the final weekend there may be a special mass, procession, and a carnival or fair that includes fireworks, charity auctions, music, ethnic food, and dancing the chamarrita, an Azorean folk square dance.


This festival, begun in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1924, is celebrated the last Sunday of August. It is also based on an Azorean festival. Its promoters emphasize the religious aspect of this celebration. After mass the image of Senhor da Pedra and those of nine other church figures are carried in procession on floats through the streets on the shoulders of the faithful. They are accompanied by a band, other church members carrying crucifixes and banners, and children wearing their first-communion outfits or dressed as angels children also carry six smaller floats topped by the images of saints. The priest marches in the procession carrying the sacrament. As the figure of Senhor da Pedra passes, onlookers attach money to his float. One neighborhood decorates its street with sand paintings and flower petals over which the procession will pass. A carnival with public entertainment, ethnic foods— caçoila (marinated pork), bacalhau, and linguiça, and raffles are also part of the festival.

Other regional celebrations include the Santo Cristo festival in Fall River, Massachusetts, the Festival of Our Lady of Fatima, which commemorates the reported appearance of the Virgin in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, and the Festival of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during which the fishing fleet is blessed.


Proverbs are popular in Portuguese culture, and many have been passed on from one generation to the next:

Não ha rosas sem espinhos —You can't have roses without having thorns too Amar e saber não póde ser —Love and prudence do not go together Mais quero asno que me leve, que caballo que me derrube —I'd rather have an ass that carried me than a horse that threw me off A caridade bem entendida principia por casa —Charity begins at home A Deus poderás mentir, mas não pódes enganar a Deus —You may lie to God, but you cannot deceive him Da ma mulher te guarda, e da boa não fies nada —Beware of a bad woman, and don't trust a good one Aonde o ouro falla, tudo calla —When money speaks, all else is silent Do mal o menos —Of evils, choose the least.


Portugal's cuisine shows great variety because each of her provinces has its own specialties. Along the coast a shellfish açorda is popular. This is a type of soup made from soaking country bread in a broth used to boil shellfish. Just before serving, hot shell-fish and chopped coriander are added, and the dish is topped off by the addition of raw eggs that poach in the hot liquid. The city of Porto is famous for its tripe recipes. Tripe stew, for example, contains tripe, beans, veal, chouriço or linguiça, presunto (mountaincured ham similar to prosciutto), chicken, onion, carrots, and parsley. The city of Aveiro is know for its caldeirada, a fish and shellfish stew seasoned with cumin, parsley, and coriander. Around the city of Coimbra one might find bife à portuguésa (steak prepared in a seasoned wine sauce and covered with thin slices of presunto ham) and sopa à portuguésa (soup made of pork, veal, cabbage, white beans, carrots, and macaroni).

Cod is the most commonly served fish, perhaps as bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish cakes), or bacalhau à Gomes de Sá (fried with boiled potatoes, onions, eggs and olives). Indeed, since Portugal is surrounded on two sides by the ocean, seafood is fresh and plentiful throughout the country. Escabeche consists of fish pickled with carrots and onions and stored in the refrigerator for several days before serving.

The Portuguese, like the Spanish, use olive oil and garlic generously in their cuisine, but they use herbs and spices more widely, especially cumin coriander, and paprika. Caldo verde (green soup) is made of fresh kale, potatoes, garlic-seasoned smoked pork sausage (either linguiça or chouriço ), olive oil, and seasonings. It is served with pão de broa (rye bread) and red wine. Tender slices of lamprey eel prepared in a spicy curry sauce is also a typical dish.

Cozido à portuguésa is a stew made of beef, chicken, and sausage boiled with chick-peas, potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbage, turnip greens and rice. Chicken, roasted suckling pig, lamb, and goat

Typical desserts and confections include pudim flan (a baked custard topped with a caramelized sugar sauce), toucinho do céu ("bacon of heaven" almond cake), and ovos moles (a sweet mixture of egg yolks and sugar syrup), which may be served as dessert or used as icing on a cake. Figos recheados (dried figs stuffed with almonds and chocolate) are often served after dinner accompanied by a glass of port wine.

Portuguese wines have a good reputation. Some of the best red wine comes from Colares, the only region that still produces grapes from native European root stock. The best white wines are from Carcavelos and Buçelas. Although they are really either red or white, the so-called green wines ( vinhos verdes ), made from grapes picked before they are fully ripe, are produced in the north. They are crackling wines and have an alcohol content of eight to 11 percent. Portugal is famous for its port wine (named for the city of Oporto) it is a fortified wine whose alcohol content is 20 percent. The best ports are aged for a minimum of ten years, but some are aged for as many as 50. Madeira wine, coming from the Madeira Islands, is similar to port.


The clothing worn in modern-day Portugal is similar to that worn in the United States. However, for certain festivals, traditional costumes are worn. These vary from region to region, but men often wear black, close-fitting trousers with a white shirt and sometimes a bright-colored sash or vest. On their heads they might wear a long green and red stocking cap with a tassel on the end that hangs down to one side. Women wear colorful gathered skirts with aprons and cloth shawls over their shoulders. During the festival of tabuleiros in the region around Tomar, the harvest is celebrated by girls clad in ankle-length, long-sleeved white cotton dresses adorned by a wide colored ribbon that goes around the waist and over one shoulder. On their heads they wear a tall crown made of bread and weighing more than 30 pounds. The crown, which is at least as tall as the girl herself, is decorated with paper flowers and sprigs of wheat and is topped by a white dove or a Maltese cross.


The fado is a melancholy type of song from Portugal. It is performed in certain bars of Lisbon late at night and in the early hours of the morning. These songs are believed to have originated among Portuguese sailors who had to spend months or even years at sea, away from their beloved homeland. The fado, meaning "fate," praises the beauties of the country for which the singer is homesick or of the love that he left behind. Regional folk dances include the chula, the corridinho (a polka-like dance from southern Portugal), the fandango, the tirana, and the vira.


The Portuguese celebrate the traditional Christian holidays. Their celebration of Christmas ( Dia do Natal ) includes attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve ( missa do galo ), getting together with the extended family to share a meal and converse, singing carols outside friends' homes, and displaying a manger scene. New Year's Eve is celebrated by picking and eating 12 grapes as the clock is striking midnight in order to assure 12 months of happiness in the new year. On January 6, Dia de Reis (Day of the Kings), gifts are exchanged. Families share a ring-shaped cake called a bolo Rei which contains toy figures that bring good luck if found in one's portion. During Holy Week there are processions through the streets carrying portrayals of the passion of Jesus. The most famous processions are in the cities of Covilhã and Vila do Conde. On Easter, after attending mass, the family enjoys a special meal. This may include folar, a cake made of sweet dough and topped with hard-boiled eggs. On Pentecost (50 days after Easter) Holy Ghost societies in the Azores provide food for the poor in the community. Véspera de São João (Saint John's Eve), on June 23, is a celebration in honor of St. John the Baptist. The traditions associated with this festival have to do with fire and water. People build bonfires, dance around them, and leap over their flames. It is said that water possesses a miraculous quality that night, and that contact with it or dew can bring health, good fortune, protection to livestock, marriage, or good luck. On the thirteenth of May and October, people throng to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in search of miraculous cures or the granting of a prayer. In the United States, all these celebrations have become Americanized or have been abandoned for American equivalents (for example, the Dia das Almas has been replaced by Memorial Day), but certain traditions may be retained by some families out of ethnic pride.


Portuguese Americans have no specific health problems or medical conditions that afflict them. They take pride in their sturdiness and longevity. They have a reputation for hard work and diligence. The birth rate of Portugal is high compared to the rest of Europe and to the United States, but it has dropped in recent years. Mutual aid societies are an established tradition among Portuguese Americans. Many workers have health insurance through their employer's benefits plan the self-employed often insure themselves at their own expense.

Spain and Portugal 1914

The map: Antique map of Spain and Portugal. Countries are shown with provincial boundaries, cities and waterways. Topographic detail is engraved as hachures to represent mountain ranges. Three insets show Ceuta, Gilbraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar. This lovely original print, over 100 years old, represents exceptionally fine engraving techniques. The map was drawn in 1914 and published a year later in 1915.

Page Size: 14 (w) by 11 1/4 (h) inches

Map Size: 13.5 (w) by 11 (h) inches

Mat Size: 16 by 20 inches

Optional mat with backing board: Crescent Select 100% virgin alpha-cellulose, conservation-grade board stock, 4 ply thickness (.050"-.060"). Mat and backing board are neutral, off-white in color with a white core, 100% acid- and lignin-free to protect the map print. Each mat opening is a custom cut with a 45° beveled edge for optimal presentation.

Fits any standard 16 by 20 inches picture frame. See Mats and Frames for more information.

Key Political Features in the Post-war Years ↑

After this period of quasi civil war, the “historical” republicans who had been overthrown by the Sidónio Pais coup believed that with the new political legitimacy forged in the fighting against the monarchists, they could rebuild the regime as it had been before 1914. The republican political scenario, however, had undergone an important change. The historical leader of the Democratic party, Afonso Costa, the most important defender of the participation of Portugal in the First World War, chose never to return from Paris. Although his party remained a hegemonic and dominant force, it suffered several splits throughout the coming years, namely, from groups organized by politicians like Álvaro Xavier de Castro (1878-1928) and José Domingues dos Santos (1885-1958).

The two other so-called historical parties (the Evolutionist and the Unionist parties) fused themselves, creating the Liberal Party, and different coalitions of centre and centre-right political forces were tried. [10] In this context “(. ) small but highly ideological parties appeared in both the parliamentary arena (the CCP [11] and the Democratic Left) and the extra-parliamentary arena (the Communist Party and the Sidonists from 1919 on)”. [12] Furthermore, there was a new generation of politicians who defended new political strategies and agendas, responding to post-war problems. In short, these problems reflected the conflicts born out of the new political modernity, [13] or the radicalization of political and ideological extremes. [14]

Portuguese politics became more polarized. The 1917 Russian revolution had a powerful impact on the workers movement, and in 1921 the Portuguese Communist Party was created. The anarcho-syndicalist workers founded the General Labour Confederation (CGT), in order to respond to mounting social problems. It was their golden age, “marked by a wave of strikes” [15] . At least in the immediate post war, until 1922-1923, a social revolution seemed possible.

The right-wing agents and groups (notably the group known as Lusitanian Integralism) became more organized and, by the end of this period, actively conspired against the Democratic Party, now led by António Maria da Silva (1872-1950). Some of these new political groups were very redolent to other European fascist movements but in Portugal the war combatants were not the key participants in those movements, instead “(. ) veterans were rapidly absorbed into rural society, or they opted for emigration”. [16]

Another significant development during this period was that Catholics separated their political agenda from the monarchist cause, focusing instead on renewing their own religious organizations, and thus becoming more actively engaged in political life, even engaging in the parliament. The religious issue, which had had a powerful impact on pre-war politics, was partly solved during the Sidónio Pais regime, thanks to modifications to the most problematic features of the Law of Separation of Church and State (April 1911) and the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

The formation, in 1924, of the União dos Interesses Económicos (UIE), a coalition of the most important economic forces (from the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and financial sectors), that elected four representatives in the 1925 election, was the most tangible sign of the new political agents, some of whom pushed anti-liberal positions in the political arena. The O Século newspaper was a powerful instrument for the political sensibilities of the UIE.

One of the key political actors in this period was the army. Despite the Portuguese defeat in La Lys (April 1918), the military, legitimized by their “sacrifice” [17] in the battlefields, were seen at this time as a guard against the possibility of disorder, and for this reason their intervention in the political field was requested by some political agents. In fact, a “(. ) new, militaristic ideology emerged”. [18] After the events of 19 October 1921, the so-called “Bloody Night” in which several conservative politicians were assassinated during a radical republican coup, many politicized military officers began organizing different conspiratorial networks within the army. The military had several reasons motivating their intervention: corporative reasons, for example, the reinforcement of the National Republican Guard as a “Pretorian” paramilitary corps economical reasons, for example, the decline of the purchasing power of the officers [19] and lastly, political reasons. After 18 April 1925 right-wing attempted coup “appeals for a military interregnum had reached a fever pitch.” [20]

Cabinet instability was, however, an obstacle to the implementation of republican public policies. It has been argued that political instability “increased fragmentation of the party spectrum and daily parliamentary squabbles”, and destroyed “whatever remained of Republican legitimacy”. [21] The problem of legitimacy was particularly acute in this regime, unable to democratize, or at least to initiate the democratization of the political system.

António Reis argues that it is important to debate the political cultural milieu and the cultural crisis of the post-war years in order to understand why the regime was overthrown. Left and right wing intellectuals “lost faith” in their political leaders and embraced new doctrines. Republican culture was losing its hegemony and new political ways of thinking were gaining terrain. Fascism seemed new and appealing and republicanism was losing its allure. [22]

1974-1975: The Portuguese Revolution

A short history of the revolution in Portugal in which an army rebellion overthrew the fascist dictatorship.

The real revolution was in the urban workers took control of their workplaces and farm workers took control of their farms and organised production themselves while the parties of the left merely jockeyed for positions of power, eventually killing the revolution.

On April 25th, 1974, a radical faction within the Portuguese Armed Forces, the MFA, revolted against the government. Until that day Portugal had been under a fascist dictatorship for over half a century. Whether the MFA was left or right wing inclined was unclear at the time. The military revolt created a space where people could effect change in their lives and the opportunity was grasped eagerly.

Left-wing activists began returning from exile, and new political parties sprouted up. The parties all used the situation to gain political power in the government. Ordinary people, in contrast, used the situation to improve social conditions in their communities and workplaces through new autonomous organisations. It was here that the true revolution was fought and is of most interest to us.

Workers' struggles
Portugal was the most underdeveloped country in Europe. At the time 400,000 people were unemployed. 150,000 people lived in shanty towns, one million had emigrated and infant mortality was nearly 8.5%. After the revolution workers immediately began struggling against the harsh economic conditions. Strikes had been met by brutal force under the fascist regime but lack of experience proved no deterrent to the Portuguese working class. During the summer of 1974 over 400 companies registered disputes.

One of the most significant of the strikes was within TAP, the semi-state airline. It showed whose side the supposedly radical government was on. TAP workers had a history of militancy. In 1973 three workers had been murdered by the paramilitary police force during a strike.

On May 2, 1974 an assembly of TAP workers demanded the purging of all fascists in the company and the election of union representatives to the administration council, which was in effect a council for the bosses. When it was discovered that some of the representatives had raised their salaries the union came under a lot of criticism. In August an assembly of maintenance workers reduced their 44-hour week to 40 hours by refusing to work the extra four hours.

Another assembly, held without union officials, drew up a list of demands including the purging of staff who showed "anti-working class attitudes", wage increases and the right to reconsider collective contracts whenever the workers pleased. The demands were not accepted by the government, so in response the workers declared a strike, elected a strike committee and posted pickets. All international flights were halted. The new Minister for Labour, a Communist Party member, called on the workers to resume work while CP rank and filers opposed the strike within TAP.

The TAP workers stood fast and eventually the government sent the military to occupy the airport and arrest the strike committee. Two hundred workers were sacked but were reinstated after mass demonstrations and threats of further strikes. The 40-hour week was gradually introduced. The first provisional government introduced anti-strike laws around this time.

This government was a coalition that included the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. The TAP strike was the first large-scale strike after April 25th and the government's response was an indicator of how any of the 'post-fascist' governments would treat workers' struggles. The working class however was unperturbed by this. In October another 400 companies registered disturbances.

The trade unions were relics of the fascist era and were considred treactionary by many. Workers found the need for more democratic and independent ways of organising. It had become common for assemblies of workers to elect delegates to the committees. These committees were normally elected annually and were subject to recall. Though most of them were not revolutionary they were an expression of people's distrust of the 'left parties', the government and the military. By the end of October 1974 there was about 2,000 of these committees.

In the summer of 1975 the movement began to develop further. Frequently, when demands were ignored by management, workers would occupy their places of employment and in many cases set up systems of self-management. Anywhere from a dozen to several hundred workers would take to running the businesses themselves. In Unhais de Serra 1,100 textile workers rid themselves of the management and elected a workers' committee to run the factory.

It is estimated that about 380 factories self-managed and 500 co-ops were in operation by the summer of 1975. Like the workers' councils, the co-ops were not revolutionary. They still had to contend with the constraints of capitalism. They had to make a profit and members received different wages. Despite many co-ops being able to reduce the prices for goods or services, this inevitably led to competition between different co-ops.

Amidst the growing culture of self-management the Proletarian Revolutionary Party started a campaign to launch workers' councils. Delegates from major industries, and soldiers' and sailors' committees, met with a large contingent of PRP members. The idea was to have councils based on workplace, boroughs and barracks and from these local, regional and then a national council would be elected.

It sounded good, sadly the PRP were more concerned with creating bodies they could dominate rather than councils capable of representing the working class. "Working class parties" were invited to join. This showed their very limited idea of what workers are capable of.

Giving places to political parties as well as to directly elected workers' delegates not only diluted democracy but also implied the 'need' for some sort of elite to lead the masses. If the self-proclaimed 'revolutionary parties' could not win enough support to get their members chosen as delegates by their workmates, they were to get seats as of right just because they called themselves "workers parties". A strange notion of democracy!

Housing struggles
After April 25th people began occupying empty property, unwilling to wait for governmental action. The government, afraid of people's anger, decreed a rent freeze and allocated money and tax exemptions to builders. The increase in homes built was inadequate and more and more people occupied empty buildings. 260 families from a shantytown in Lisbon moved into an empty apartment block near the city. The military ordered them out but were forced to back down when the families refused.

In response to the housing crisis people began to organise collectively. In older working-class and lower-middle-class areas Autonomous Revolutionary Neighbourhood Committees were set up. The committees were elected from general assemblies of local residents. They arranged occupations of property for use as free crèches, workers' centres and for other community services.

In Lisbon one local Neighbourhood Committee organised for some 400 empty houses to be taken over. A "social rent" was paid that went towards improvements. Another organisation set up was the Federation of Shanty Town Committees. It was independent of political parties and came to represent 150,000 shanty town dwellers. It called for new housing estates to be built in place of the shantytowns, for expropriation of land and for rent controls.

The housing organisations faced some of the same problems experienced by the workers' organisations. Neighbourhood and shanty town committee meetings were seen as opportunities for party building by left parties. Party members, often times well practised at public speaking and debating, got elected to key positions on the committees and then used them as a platform for their own particular political propaganda.

A lot of ordinary residents stopped attending meetings when they felt they were dominated by a particular group. All in all, the "workers parties" seemed to be more a hindrance than a help to these committees. By trying to run things in ways compatible with their ideologies they stifled the spontaneous organisational methods of ordinary folk.

Land Occupations
At the same time one third of Portugal's population worked as agricultural labourers. They worked for half of the year and were unemployed for the rest of it. When the rural workers saw their opportunity for change they seized it wholeheartedly and began taking over farms, ranches and unused land. At the beginning the government rarely intervened.

There was much positive co-operation between agricultural and industrial workers, and the various workers' organisations. In Cabanas an abandoned farm was occupied with the help of a local neighbourhood committee. Machines were taken from a nearby factory to help clear the land. In Santarem a meeting of 354 farm workers declared that a massive amount of land was to be occupied. Other workers, armed with pickaxes, arrived in trucks to aid the agricultural labourers and at the end of it over ten major farms were collectivised.

Socialism seemed natural to the labourers and there was never talk of dividing up the land. The land was worked collectively and owned by the village as a whole. By August 1975 official statistics reported that over 330 different land collectives were in operation.

All these struggles happened against a backdrop of six provisional governments, a few coup attempts and rumours of NATO and right-wing conspiracies. Where the armed forces had created a space for radical social development by workers it quickly re-invaded the space with programs for government and the economy that had little to do with the revolution. Any independent initiatives were generally stifled by the left and centre "workers parties".

The capitalist system itself was never truly tackled en masse and co-ops, collectives and workers' committees had to negotiate on capitalist terms for the price of their labour. Even the workers' committees were little more than workers' self-management of their own exploitation. One Trotskyist paper blamed the lack of revolutionary progress on the fact that there was not a "workers party". In fact there were at least fifteen!


Nuno Espírito Santo André Villas-Boas Sérgio Conceição Ricardo Quaresma Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil Joaquim de Almeida Sérgio Oliveira Daniela Melchior

Lisbon: Harbor of Hope and Intrigue

W hat made Lisbon, an ancient Atlantic port with a storied past, so important during World War II? Refugees, spies, tungsten, gold—and Portugal’s precarious neutral status.

As global war raged, Lisbon hummed with trade, conspiracy, and subterfuge. The last European ocean gateway open to refugees, it was flooded by a million of them, including Jews and Allied POWs. Legendary secret agents like Garbo made Lisbon their headquarters. The Nazis needed tungsten, found extensively in Portugal, for vital equipment like manufacturing tools and armor-piercing munitions the Allies didn’t want them to get it and Lisbon was where both sides cut deals. As for gold, it motivated Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar to play a dangerous game throughout the war. His country’s poverty, vulnerability, and natural resources had him walking an economic tightrope between the Allies and Axis while heading Portugal’s authoritarian regime, Estado Novo—the New State—powered by a Gestapo-like secret police.

How and why did these elements meet and mesh here? Last fall, I walked Lisbon’s seven hills, with their Roman, Arab, bohemian, and upscale shopping quarters, and trawled the lively outdoor cafés and street life of Baixa, the commercial hub in the heart of Lisbon. The more I came to admire Lisbon’s cosmopolitan population, rich cultural heritage, astounding architecture, and extraordinary vistas, the more I wanted to unravel its past.

Legend says Odysseus washed up here, and founded a town named Olisippo after himself. Historians say the Phoenicians landed around 1200 B.C. and dubbed it Allis Ubbo—“Good Harbor.” Under the Romans and Muslims the port grew prosperous and famous. One bright morning I climbed through the winding alleys and marvelously tiled façades of Alfama, the Arab quarter, to Sao Jorge castle. In 1147, Christians—mostly English crusaders looking for plunder—fought bitterly to retake this fortress from the Moors. Their victory began an enduring English-Portuguese alliance, codified by the 1386 Treaty of Windsor.

After admiring the stunning views and the castle’s tame peacocks, I climbed down to Baixa. Here during World War II refugees spent anxious months (and dwindling cash) in cafés and restaurants under watchful secret police eyes. Meanwhile, their torrents of paperwork slowly wound through the Portuguese bureaucracy, Lisbon-based relief agencies—such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which chartered ships and funded rescue missions—and the American and British embassies. The wealthiest refugees stayed in converted palaces like Hotel Aviz and got tickets for the Pan American Clipper, the luxurious seaplane flying twice weekly between Lisbon and New York. Most of the rest snaked and huddled along the city’s docks and alleys, depending on soup kitchens and shelters run by agencies like the JDC and seesawing between hope and despair as they dreamed of passage to the New World.

From Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s triumphal riverside square, I took a 15-minute tram ride west along the Tagus River docks, many now servicing luxury cruise ships with posh restaurants and clubs, to Belém and the Jerónimos monastery, a magnificent limestone cloister. There lie the bodies of epic poet Luis de Camões, who wrote about Portugal’s 15th-century Age of Discovery, and Vasco da Gama, who lived it. Financed by Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese sea captains like da Gama sailed from this harbor to probe Africa and the Atlantic for trade routes to Asia, bringing back knowledge, wealth, and exotic products—and launching modern globalization.

Over the stone ramparts of Belém Tower, which once helped defend the mouth of the Tagus, I looked east toward Europe’s second-largest suspension bridge and the piers. In June 1940, when refugee waves first hit Lisbon, Portugal’s 1940 world exposition monopolized a square kilometer of this waterfront, intensifying the chaotic crowding. Lucky souls eventually boarded ships like the SS Quanza, which, in August 1940, loaded 317 refugees, mostly Jewish, in Lisbon, dropping 200 in New York, 36 in Vera Cruz, and the rest in Norfolk, Virginia.

Many Jews escaping Europe owed their lives to a Portuguese diplomat, Aristides de Sousa Mendes. From the Bordeaux consulate, France, Sousa Mendes issued visas—many free of charge, and virtually all against Prime Minister Salazar’s directives—to thousands of desperate refugees. In one sleepless three-day stretch alone, he and his two sons frantically processed 1,575 visas. When word reached Lisbon, he was ordered home, fired, and disgraced. He died destitute in 1954 Portugal didn’t officially rehabilitate his memory until 1988.

Portugal’s prime minister had been dealing with problems he felt were more essential. Above all, Salazar needed money: to rebuild Portugal’s shattered economy, keep its remaining empire intact, and ensure its independence. Somehow, without repudiating the Treaty of Windsor, he had to maintain neutrality. So he promised both Britain and Germany open trade in Portugal’s domestic and colonial resources. The Allies and Axis each threatened Portugal with sanctions or worse for dealing with their enemy, and used bidding wars and secret deals to outfox each other. But both needed what Portugal had. Thanks to Salazar shrewdly playing off the competitors, Portugal’s balance of trade went from a $90 million deficit in 1939 to a $68 million surplus in 1942. By war’s end, the Reichsbank had paid Banco do Portugal 124 tons of looted gold, laundered through the Swiss National Bank.

Secret transactions were on my mind one cloudy day on the tree- and statue-lined Avenida da Liberdade. In this quarter lurk remnants of the grand hotels, like Avenida Palace, Victoria, and Britannia. During the war, their swank bars and restaurants buzzed with Lisbon’s top-rank spies, like James Bond creator Ian Fleming and Kim Philby, later unmasked as a Soviet mole.

Juan Pujol García came to Lisbon from Barcelona. Anti-Nazi and anticommunist, he decided to sell his services to the British. But first he upped his potential value by becoming an agent with the German Abwehr intelligence agency after feeding it “information” he’d gleaned at a Lisbon public library. So convincing was the eventual Allied double agent—dubbed “Garbo” by the British, and central to the plan to deceive the Germans about the Allied invasion of France—that the Germans awarded him the Iron Cross after D-Day, never realizing they’d been had. Garbo’s story became the model for Graham Greene’s satiric novel Our Man In Havana, in which an English vacuum cleaner salesman in Cuba unwittingly becomes a leading spy by selling fabricated information to ever-hungrier British intelligence.

One moonlit night in Bairro Alto, the nightlife-rich bohemian quarter, I scanned Baixa, glittering with movement, and its surrounding hills. Across from me rose brightly lit Sao Jorge castle and Alfama to my right, the Tagus River swirled darkly toward the ocean. I remembered how Our Man In Havana ends: the “spy,” exposed as a fraud, is awarded a medal and promotion to cover up his masters’ gullibility. I thought of Garbo savoring this view, a glass of port in hand of how truth is stranger than fiction and raised my own glass with a grin.

Gene Santoro is the reviews editor for World War II and American History magazines, and covers pop culture for the New York Daily News. His latest books are Highway 61 Revisited and Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus. His current project deals with U.S. State Department cultural tours.

Continental, US Air, and TAP fly direct to Lisbon from the U.S.

Where to Eat
Lisbon is a very cosmopolitan city, with citizens from Portugal’s former colonies in India, China, Brazil, Oceania, and Africa,
which enriches its cuisine. Lunchtime soup and a sandwich at Catedral do Pao (Rua Don Pedro V, 57) is a high point: dazzling with marble colonnades and tiles, the bakery makes Lisbon’s best bread and pastries. Café des Sandes, a ubiquitous chain, offers reasonable sandwiches, soups, and salads at locations around town. Rossio in Baixa is a café hub. Try the dainties at Café Suica (Praca Don Pedro IV, 100) while enjoying first-rate street musicians. Café A Brasiliera (Rue Garret, 120) is a prime stop for a nightcap of fine port with a lively soundtrack from Afropop street bands. Family-style dinners are the stock-in-trade at Bonjardim (Travessa de Santo Antao 12 01121-342-7424). Cocheira Alentejana (Travessa do Poco da Cidade, 19), serves up the Alentejo region’s cuisine—arguably Portugal’s best. For Brazilian-Portuguese flair, try Praco do Chile (Avenida Almirante Reis 117), one of the many cervejerias (beer bars), for seafood and snacks. At Delhi Darbar (Rua do Norte, 100), the excellent curry goes down well with Taj Mahal beer. Locanda Italiana (Rua de Paio Mendes 2-A-10) serves pizzas, pastas, and seafood in a heated outdoor café.

What Else to See

An hour’s train ride from Lisbon, mountainous Sintra is a favorite for day-trippers, with eye-popping vistas to the Atlantic and the Tagus, myriad palaces ancient and modern, and gorgeous artisanal crafts.

The Discoveries and the Apex of Portuguese International Power

The Discoveries are generally presented as the first great moment of world capitalism, with markets all over the world getting connected under European leadership. Albeit true, this is a largely post hoc perspective, for the Discoveries became a big commercial adventure only somewhere half-way into the story. Before they became such a thing, the aims of the Discoveries’ protagonists were mostly of another sort.

The Conquest of Ceuta

An interesting way to have a fuller picture of the Discoveries is to study the Portuguese contribution to them. Portugal was the pioneer of transoceanic navigation, discovering lands and sea routes formerly unknown to Europeans, and starting trades and commercial routes that linked Europe to other continents in a totally unprecedented fashion. But, at the start, the aims of the whole venture were entirely other. The event generally chosen to date the beginning of the Portuguese discoveries is the conquest of Ceuta – a city-state across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain – in 1415. In itself such voyage would not differ much from other attempts made in the Mediterranean Sea from the twelfth century onwards by various European travelers. The main purpose of all these attempts was to control navigation in the Mediterranean, in what constitutes a classical fight between Christianity and Islam. Other objectives of Portuguese travelers were the will to find the mythical Prester John – a supposed Christian king surrounded by Islam: there are reasons to suppose that the legend of Prester John is associated with the real existence of the Copt Christians of Ethiopia – and to reach, directly at the source, the gold of Sudan. Despite this latter objective, religious reasons prevailed over others in spurring the first Portuguese efforts of overseas expansion. This should not surprise us, however, for Portugal had since its birth been, precisely, an expansionist political unit under a religious heading. The jump to the other side of the sea, to North Africa, was little else than the continuation of that expansionist drive. Here we must understand Portugal’s position as determined by two elements, one that was general to the whole European continent, and another one, more specific. The first is that the expansion of Portugal in the Middle-Ages coincides with the general expansion of Europe. And Portugal was very much a part of that process. The second is that, by being part of the process, Portugal was (by geographical hazard) at the forefront of the process. Portugal (and Spain) was in the first line of attack and defense against Islam. The conquest of Ceuta, by Henry, the Navigator, is hence a part of that story of confrontation with Islam.

Exploration from West Africa to India

The first efforts of Henry along the Western African coast and in the Atlantic high sea can be put within this same framework. The explorations along the African coast had two main objectives: to have a keener perception of how far south Islam’s strength went, and to surround Morocco, both in order to attack Islam on a wider shore and to find alternative ways to reach Prester John. These objectives depended, of course, on geographical ignorance, as the line of coast Portuguese navigators eventually found was much larger than the one Henry expected to find. In these efforts, Portuguese navigators went increasingly south, but also, mainly due to accidental changes of direction, west. Such westbound dislocations led to the discovery, in the first decades of the fifteenth century, of three archipelagos, the Canaries, Madeira (and Porto Santo) and the Azores. But the major navigational feat of this period was the passage of Cape Bojador in 1434, in the sequence of which the whole western coast of the African continent was opened for exploration and increasingly (and here is the novelty) commerce. As Africa revealed its riches, mostly gold and slaves, these ventures began acquiring a more strict economic meaning. And all this kept on fostering the Portuguese to go further south, and when they reached the southernmost tip of the African continent, to pass it and go east. And so they did. Bartolomeu Dias crossed the Cape of Good Hope in 1487 and ten years later Vasco da Gama would entirely circumnavigate Africa to reach India by sea. By the time of Vasco da Gama’s journey, the autonomous economic importance of intercontinental trade was well established.

Feitorias and Trade with West Africa, the Atlantic Islands and India

As the second half of the fifteenth century unfolded, Portugal created a complex trade structure connecting India and the African coast to Portugal and, then, to the north of Europe. This consisted of a net of trading posts (feitorias) along the African coast, where goods were shipped to Portugal, and then re-exported to Flanders, where a further Portuguese feitoria was opened. This trade was based on such African goods as gold, ivory, red peppers, slaves and other less important goods. As was noted by various authors, this was somehow a continuation of the pattern of trade created during the Middle Ages, meaning that Portugal was able to diversify it, by adding new goods to its traditional exports (wine, olive oil, fruits and salt). The Portuguese established a virtual monopoly of these African commercial routes until the early sixteenth century. The only threats to that trade structure came from pirates originating in Britain, Holland, France and Spain. One further element of this trade structure was the Atlantic Islands (Madeira, the Azores and the African archipelagos of Cape Verde and São Tomé). These islands contributed with such goods as wine, wheat and sugar cane. After the sea route to India was discovered and the Portuguese were able to establish regular connections with India, the trading structure of the Portuguese empire became more complex. Now the Portuguese began bringing multiple spices, precious stones, silk and woods from India, again based on a net of feitorias there established. The maritime route to India acquired an extreme importance to Europe, precisely at this time, since the Ottoman Empire was then able to block the traditional inland-Mediterranean route that supplied the continent with Indian goods.

Control of Trade by the Crown

One crucial aspect of the Portuguese Discoveries is the high degree of control exerted by the crown over the whole venture. The first episodes in the early fifteenth century, under Henry the Navigator (as well as the first exploratory trips along the African coast) were entirely directed by the crown. Then, as the activity became more profitable, it was, first, liberalized, and then rented (in totu) to merchants, whom were constrained to pay the crown a significant share of their profits. Finally, when the full Indo-African network was consolidated, the crown controlled directly the largest share of the trade (although never monopolizing it), participated in “public-private” joint-ventures, or imposed heavy tributes on traders. The grip of the crown increased with growth of the size and complexity of the empire. Until the early sixteenth century, the empire consisted mainly of a network of trading posts. No serious attempt was made by the Portuguese crown to exert a significant degree of territorial control over the various areas constituting the empire.

The Rise of a Territorial Empire

This changed with the growth of trade from India and Brazil. As India was transformed into a platform for trade not only around Africa but also in Asia, a tendency was developed (in particular under Afonso de Albuquerque, in the early sixteenth century) to create an administrative structure in the territory. This was not particularly successful. An administrative structure was indeed created, but stayed forever incipient. A relatively more complex administrative structure would only appear in Brazil. Until the middle of the sixteenth century, Brazil was relatively ignored by the crown. But with the success of the system of sugar cane plantation in the Atlantic Isles, the Portuguese crown decided to transplant it to Brazil. Although political power was controlled initially by a group of seigneurs to whom the crown donated certain areas of the territory, the system got increasingly more centralized as time went on. This is clearly visible with the creation of the post of governor-general of Brazil, directly respondent to the crown, in 1549.

Portugal Loses Its Expansionary Edge

Until the early sixteenth century, Portugal capitalized on being the pioneer of European expansion. It monopolized African and, initially, Indian trade. But, by that time, changes were taking place. Two significant events mark the change in political tide. First, the increasing assertiveness of the Ottoman Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean, which coincided with a new bout of Islamic expansionism – ultimately bringing the Mughal dynasty to India – as well as the re-opening of the Mediterranean route for Indian goods. This put pressure on Portuguese control over Indian trade. Not only was political control over the subcontinent now directly threatened by Islamic rulers, but also the profits from Indian trade started declining. This is certainly one of the reasons why Portugal redirected its imperial interests to the south Atlantic, particularly Brazil – the other reasons being the growing demand for sugar in Europe and the success of the sugar cane plantation system in the Atlantic islands. The second event marking the change in tide was the increased assertiveness of imperial Spain, both within Europe and overseas. Spain, under the Habsburgs (mostly Charles V and Phillip II), exerted a dominance over the European continent which was unprecedented since Roman times. This was complemented by the beginning of exploration of the American continent (from the Caribbean to Mexico and the Andes), again putting pressure on the Portuguese empire overseas. What is more, this is the period when not only Spain, but also Britain, Holland and France acquired navigational and commercial skills equivalent to the Portuguese, thus competing with them in some of their more traditional routes and trades. By the middle of the sixteenth century, Portugal had definitely lost the expansionary edge. And this would come to a tragic conclusion in 1580, with the death of the heirless King Sebastian in North Africa and the loss of political independence to Spain, under Phillip II.

Empire and the Role, Power and Finances of the Crown

The first century of empire brought significant political consequences for the country. As noted above, the Discoveries were directed by the crown to a very large extent. As such, they constituted one further step in the affirmation of Portugal as a separate political entity in the Iberian Peninsula. Empire created a political and economic sphere where Portugal could remain independent from the rest of the peninsula. It thus contributed to the definition of what we might call “national identity.” Additionally, empire enhanced significantly the crown’s redistributive power. To benefit from profits from transoceanic trade, to reach a position in the imperial hierarchy or even within the national hierarchy proper, candidates had to turn to the crown. As it controlled imperial activities, the crown became a huge employment agency, capable of attracting the efforts of most of the national elite. The empire was, thus, transformed into an extremely important instrument of the crown in order to centralize power. It has already been mentioned that much of the political history of Portugal from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century revolves around the tension between the centripetal power of the crown and the centrifugal powers of the aristocracy, the Church and the local communities. Precisely, the imperial episode constituted a major step in the centralization of the crown’s power. The way such centralization occurred was, however, peculiar, and that would bring crucial consequences for the future. Various authors have noted how, despite the growing centralizing power of the crown, the aristocracy was able to keep its local powers, thanks to the significant taxing and judicial autonomy it possessed in the lands under its control. This is largely true, but as other authors have noted, this was done with the crown acting as an intermediary agent. The Portuguese aristocracy was since early times much less independent from the crown than in most parts of Western Europe, and this situation accentuated during the days of empire. As we have seen above, the crown directed the Reconquista in a way that made it able to control and redistribute (through the famous donations) most of the land that was conquered. In those early medieval days, it was, thus, the service to the crown that made noblemen eligible to benefit from land donations. It is undoubtedly true that by donating land the crown was also giving away (at least partially) the monopoly of taxing and judging. But what is crucial here is its significant intermediary power. With empire, that power increased again. And once more a large part of the aristocracy became dependent on the crown to acquire political and economic power. The empire became, furthermore, the main means of financing of the crown. Receipts from trade activities related to the empire (either profits, tariffs or other taxes) never went below 40 percent of total receipts of the crown, until the nineteenth century, and this was only briefly in its worst days. Most of the time, those receipts amounted to 60 or 70 percent of total crown’s receipts.

Other Economic Consequences of the Empire

Such a role for the crown’s receipts was one of the most important consequences of empire. Thanks to it, tax receipts from internal economic activity became in large part unnecessary for the functioning of national government, something that was going to have deep consequences, precisely for that exact internal activity. This was not, however, the only economic consequence of empire. One of the most important was, obviously, the enlargement of the trade base of the country. Thanks to empire, the Portuguese (and Europe, through the Portuguese) gained access to vast sources of precious metals, stones, tropical goods (such as fruit, sugar, tobacco, rice, potatoes, maize, and more), raw materials and slaves. Portugal used these goods to enlarge its comparative advantage pattern, which helped it penetrate European markets, while at the same time enlarging the volume and variety of imports from Europe. Such a process of specialization along comparative advantage principles was, however, very incomplete. As noted above, the crown exerted a high degree of control over the trade activity of empire, and as a consequence, many institutional factors interfered in order to prevent Portugal (and its imperial complex) from fully following those principles. In the end, in economic terms, the empire was inefficient – something to be contrasted, for instance, with the Dutch equivalent, much more geared to commercial success, and based on clearer efficiency managing-methods. By so significantly controlling imperial trade, the crown became a sort of barrier between the empire’s riches and the national economy. Much of what was earned in imperial activity was spent either on maintaining it or on the crown’s clientele. Consequently, the spreading of the gains from imperial trade to the rest of the economy was highly centralized in the crown. A much visible effect of this phenomenon was the fantastic growth and size of the country’s capital, Lisbon. In the sixteenth century, Lisbon was the fifth largest city in Europe, and from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century it was always in the top ten, a remarkable feat for a country with such a small population as Portugal. And it was also the symptom of a much inflated bureaucracy, living on the gains of empire, as well as of the low degree of repercussion of those gains of empire through the whole of the economy.

Portuguese Industry and Agriculture

The rest of the economy did, indeed, remain very much untouched by this imperial manna. Most of industry was untouched by it, and the only visible impact of empire on the sector was by fostering naval construction and repair, and all the accessory activities. Most of industry kept on functioning according to old standards, far from the impact of transoceanic prosperity. And much the same happened with agriculture. Although benefiting from the introduction of new crops (mostly maize, but also potatoes and rice), Portuguese agriculture did not benefit significantly from the income stream arising from imperial trade, in particular when we could expect it to be a source of investment. Maize constituted an important technological innovation which had a much important impact on the Portuguese agriculture’s productivity, but it was too localized in the north-western part of the country, thus leaving the rest of the sector untouched.

Failure of a Modern Land Market to Develop

One very important consequence of empire on agriculture and, hence, on the economy, was the preservation of the property structure coming from the Middle Ages, namely that resulting from the crown’s donations. The empire enhanced again the crown’s powers to attract talent and, consequently, donate land. Donations were regulated by official documents called Cartas de Foral, in which the tributes due to the beneficiaries were specified. During the time of the empire, the conditions ruling donations changed in a way that reveals an increased monarchical power: donations were made for long periods (for instance, one life), but the land could not be sold nor divided (and, thus, no parts of it could be sold separately) and renewal required confirmation on the part of the crown. The rules of donation, thus, by prohibiting buying, selling and partition of land, were a major obstacle to the existence not only of a land market, but also of a clear definition of property rights, as well as freedom in the management of land use.

Additionally, various tributes were due to the beneficiaries. Some were in kind, some in money, some were fixed, others proportional to the product of the land. This process dissociated land ownership and appropriation of land product, since the land was ultimately the crown’s. Furthermore, the actual beneficiaries (thanks to the donation’s rules) had little freedom in the management of the donated land. Although selling land in such circumstances was forbidden to the beneficiaries, renting it was not, and several beneficiaries did so. A new dissociation between ownership and appropriation of product was thus introduced. Although in these donations some tributes were paid by freeholders, most of them were paid by copyholders. Copyhold granted to its signatories the use of land in perpetuity or in lives (one to three), but did not allow them to sell it. This introduced a new dissociation between ownership, appropriation of land product and its management. Although it could not be sold, land under copyhold could be ceded in “sub-copyhold” contracts – a replication of the original contract under identical conditions. This introduced, obviously, a new complication to the system. As should be clear by now, such a “baroque” system created an accumulation of layers of rights over the land, as different people could exert different rights over it, and each layer of rights was limited by the other layers, and sometimes conflicting with them in an intricate way. A major consequence of all this was the limited freedom the various owners of rights had in the management of their assets.

High Levels of Taxation in Agriculture

A second direct consequence of the system was the complicated juxtaposition of tributes on agricultural product. The land and its product in Portugal in those days were loaded with tributes (a sort of taxation). This explains one recent historian’s claim (admittedly exaggerated) that, in that period, those who owned the land did not toil it, and those who toiled it did not hold it. We must distinguish these tributes from strict rent payments, as rent contracts are freely signed by the two (or more) sides taking part in it. The tributes we are discussing here represented, in reality, an imposition, which makes the use of the word taxation appropriate to describe them. This is one further result of the already mentioned feature of the institutional framework of the time, the difficulty to distinguish between the private and the public spheres.

Besides the tributes we have just described, other tributes also impended on the land. Some were, again, of a nature we would call private nowadays, others of a more clearly defined public nature. The former were the tributes due to the Church, the latter the taxes proper, due explicitly as such to the crown. The main tribute due to the Church was the tithe. In theory, the tithe was a tenth of the production of farmers and should be directly paid to certain religious institutions. In practice, not always was it a tenth of the production nor did the Church always receive it directly, as its collection was in a large number of cases rented to various other agents. Nevertheless, it was an important tribute to be paid by producers in general. The taxes due to the crown were the sisa (an indirect tax on consumption) and the décima (an income tax). As far as we know, these tributes weighted on average much less than the seigneurial tributes. Still, when added to them, they accentuated the high level of taxation or para-taxation typical of the Portuguese economy of the time.

Historic Portuguese Empire

The Portuguese excelled in exploration and trade for centuries. The country's former colonies, spread across continents, have varying areas, populations, geographies, histories, and cultures.

The Portuguese tremendously affected their colonies politically, economically, and socially. The empire has been criticized for being exploitative, neglectful, and racist.

Some colonies still suffer from high poverty and instability, but their valuable natural resources, combined with current diplomatic relations with and assistance from Portugal, may improve the living conditions of these numerous countries.

The Portuguese language will always be an important connector of these countries and a reminder of how vast and significant the Portuguese empire once was.

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