Sebastianism is part of the Portuguese mythology and culture. It means waiting for a hero that will save Portugal and lead it to the Fifth Empire, and known as "Eu nacional" (national Self). There are possible mentions of this hero in The Prophecies of Nostradamus when it mentions the "great one of Portugal". Fernando Pessoa also wrote about this hero-to-come in his epic "Mensagem" (The Message) supporting his ideas on predictions and myths.

The Prophecies: Century VI (6) - Quatrain LXXXV (85)

:"The great city of Tarsus by the Gauls":"Will be destroyed, all of the Turban captives:":"Help by sea from the great one of Portugal," :"First day of summer Urban's consecration."

Sebastian, the Child King

The name 'Sebastianism' derives from King Sebastian of Portugal (January 20, 1554 - August 4, 1578), grandson of John III, who became heir to the throne due to the death of his father, João, Crown Prince of Portugal in 1554 two weeks before his birth, and who succeeded to the throne three years later. This period saw continued Portuguese colonial expansion in Africa, Asia and Brazil. Luís de Camões wrote "the Lusiads" in his honour. The young King grew up under the guidance of the Jesuits. He also convinced himself that he was to be Christ's captain in a crusade against Muslims in Africa.

The birth of a hero and a myth

Almost immediately upon coming of age, Sebastian began plans for a great crusade against the Moroccans of Fez. The Portuguese crusaders crossed into Morocco in 1578 and, against the advice of his commanders, Sebastian marched deep inland. At Alcazarquivir (Field of the Three Kings) the Portuguese were routed by Ahmed Mohammed of Fez, and Sebastian was almost certainly killed in battle or subsequently executed. But for the Portuguese people, he had just disappeared and would return home one day, to such an extent that, in 1640, King John IV of Portugal had to swear to yield his throne to Sebastian, in case Sebastian (who would have been 86 years old) were to return.

After his death (or disappearance), Portuguese nobility saw its independence gone (1580). In the time of Habsburg rule (1580-1640), impostors claimed to be King Sebastian in 1584, 1585, 1595 and 1598. Because of these events, Sebastian passed into legend as a great Portuguese patriot and hero - the "sleeping King" who would return to help Portugal in her darkest hour, on a misty day.

Late Sebastianism

Even as late as the 19th century, Sebastianist peasants in the Brazilian backcountry believed that the king would return to help them against the "godless" Brazilian Republic, especially in the Canudos rebellion. Earlier, in 1565, the city of Rio de Janeiro was founded during his reign and in his honour, as City of Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro (Cidade de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro), a living saint.

In that same century, in Portugal, people still strongly believed that the king would return and his legend is still told by some mothers to their children today. Fact|date=June 2007

In the present day, Sebastianism is used by some intellectuals and politicians in Portugal to criticize the Portuguese society in general and in particular fields such as the economy, saying it is Sebastianist, that is, they are assuming Sebastian will return and solve all their problems so they can ignore them.

See also

* Fifth Empire
* Saudade
* Culture of Portugal
* Portugal
* Other "hidden" heroes (see also King in the mountain)
**Jesus Christ for Christianity
**King Arthur of England
**Mahdi for Shiism
**King Matjaž for Slovenians
**Emperor Frederick I (Frederick "Barbarossa") of Germany
**Emperor Constantine XI of the Eastern Roman Empire, a.k.a. the "Immortal Emperor turned to marble"
**Ogier the Dane (Danish: "Holger Danske") A legendary hero of Denmark
**Owain Lawgoch of Wales

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sebastianism —    Popular creed or belief, a messianism, after the loss of King Sebastião I in Morocco in 1578, that Portugal would be saved and made great again by a returning hero who would appear on a misty morning. Until the early 19th century, various… …   Historical dictionary of Portugal

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  • Sebastian — /si bas cheuhn/, n. 1. Saint, died A.D. 288?, Roman martyr. 2. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Bach Johann Sebastian Brant Sebastian Cabot Sebastian Coe Sebastian Newbold Kresge Sebastian Spering Sebastian Saint * * * ▪ king of… …   Universalium

  • Alcácer-Quivir, Battle of — (4 August 1578)    Known to history also as The Battle of the Three Kings, this event helped weaken Portugal, deprive the country of a non Castilian legitimate male heir, and led to her loss of independence. The site of the battle, known in… …   Historical dictionary of Portugal

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  • Culture of Portugal — A 19th century Portuguese couple with typical rural clothes from Minho province, in a Singer sewing machine advertisement card, distributed at World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. The culture of Portugal is the result of a complex flow of… …   Wikipedia

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