History of Portuguese Nationality

History of Portuguese Nationality

The History of Portuguese Nationality is a process with more than 1000 years.

Early Nationality in Portugal: Absolute Monarchy

The History of Portuguese Nationality began when Afonso Henriques, otherwise known as Afonso I of Portugal, took authority naming himself Prince of Portugal in 1128 creating an independent kingdom, or condado, among the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. [Arenas, 2] The Christian kingdoms of the north of the peninsula were weak due to disputes over heredity and the military efforts against the Almoravids and Almohads. Therefore, when Afonso Henriques declared Portugal an independent kingdom, the other kingdoms did not have the strength to contest. His self-declaration as King of Portugal came in 1139. Further independence of the territory came with the establishment of its own archdiocese, and therefore its own church hierarchy, as well as with the recognition by the Papacy of the King of Portugal as a title and institution in 1179. [http://libro.uca.edu volume 1 chapter 6]

Portugal did not possess any sizable Muslim minorities, as did some of the other Iberian kingdoms, and furthermore, was linguistically, socially and culturally unified in comparison to the other Iberian kingdoms at the time. By the middle of the thirteenth century, it had become, according to historian Stanley Payne, the first nation-state in Europe. [Payne, chapter 6] As an independent kingdom from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, there developed internal political, economic, social, and cultural unity and centralized political institutions more advanced than other European states. [Opello, 1]

The first step of becoming a separate kingdom did not automitically secure a sense of Portuguese nationhood of the peoples who inhabited the kingdom. The sense of nationhood was first present among in the king and among the nobility and the clergy. Eventually this idea spread to the rest of the population through the gradual expulsion of the Muslims, completed in 1249, and later wars with Castile. The common sentiment of nationhood was first a sense of Christian identity (in opposition to the Muslims), and eventually a Portuguese identity (in opposition to Castile). [Arenas, 2]

The Role of Empire on Nationality

Portugal's voyages of discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries were organized and directed by the crown, which slowed the process of developing a commercial and entrepreneurial middle class. Spoils of the voyages were funneled towards kings and aristocrats palaces, as well as cathedrals for the Catholic Church. Furthermore, much of the wealth flowed through to Northern Europe to purchase manufactures. [Opello, 1]

Early nation-state development and oceanic pursuits allowed the aristocracy based monarchical system to have exaggerated power, and also caused Portugal to not develop industrially at the same rate as other European powers. [Opello, 2]

A further sense of nationhood was developed during the period of maritime expansion, when the Portuguese encountered people of vastly cultures, and there was a new awareness of their distinctiveness. During this period, being Portuguese was tightly linked with being Christian in contact with people who had different cultures and belief systems. [Arenas, 2]

However, the period of Portuguese imperial hegemony was short lived. There was not only intense competition by other rising European imperial powers such as Spain, Holland and England, but Portuguese agricultural areas were being depopulated due to emigration to a huge empire, and there was a significant decline in the male workforce. Also, Jews were expulsed from Portugal in 1496, which was a loss of vital human and material resources in the mercantile and financial sectors. Furthermore, it has been argued that the Inquisition had a large role to play in the economic and cultural decline. [Arenas, 3]

Nationality in the modern era: constitutional Monarchy

By the end of the eighteenth century Portuguese society began to shift for the first time since the Middle Ages. Although the traditional peasant structure remained almost unchanged, a new upper middle class with wealth and potential influence was beginning to emerge. This new emerging middle class was made up of the commercial bourgeoisie of coastal towns, an elite of educated bureaucrats and officeholders, and some of the non aristocratic and petty noble landholders in central and south-central Portugal. The traditional aristocracy was already in decline. Yet the change in the structure of society had no immediate political consequences, because the power of the monarchy was unquestioned. [Payne vol. 2, chapter 22] However, at the beginning of the 19th century the industrial revolution began, and the middle class became more prominent. The economic importance of the middle class grew, and they began to pressure the monarchical system, because they were excluded from national affairs proportionate to their economic importance. [Opello, 2]

During the Napoleonic Wars of the turn of the 19th century, Portugal tried to maintain a neutral position. However, the impetus of the French revolution and the ideals it propagated did influence Portuguese society.Portugal was a faithful ally of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. During the height of Napoleon in 1806-07, Portugal was the only continental state outside French control. However, under increasing pressure, in 1807, the French invaded, with little resistance, and the royal court was transferred to Brazil, "leaving a virtually inoperative regency council behind." [Payne, vol. 2, chapter 22]

In 1808, under general Junot during the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, a Portuguese barrel-maker and judge, José Abreu de Campos, with other supporters of the ideals of the French revolution, presented a document, a plea from the third estate, calling for a constitutional monarchy. This document called for a constitution similar to that of Napoleon's creation of the grand Duchy of Warsaw. The only differences were that the representatives of the nation be elites of the municipal chamber, as was previously the case. The new constitution would follow the Napoleonic code and the civil, fiscal and judicial administration would conform to the French system. Furthermore, the colonies, founded by their grandparents, and "bathed in their blood" would be considered as provinces or districts, and their representatives would decide on the social organization whose areas belong to them and occupy them. [ [http://maltez.info/respublica/Cepp/anuario/secxix/ano1808.htm Anuário 1808 ] ]

Nationality in Republican Portugal

Nationality during Dictatorship 1926-1974

Despite the fact that Portugal was one of the first nation-states in Europe, in the 20th century, and as late as 1971, it had the lowest per capita income in Europe, the infant mortality rate was among the highest in Europe, slightly over one-third of its population was illiterate, and 76 percent of the people had less than four years of schooling. [Machado, xix]

In 1926 a reactionary coalition militarily seized power. At this time, fifty percent of the population of about 9 million inhabitants were engaged in agricultural production. Some areas still had a fedual like organization. Most heavy machinery and fuel was imported. Portugal was essentially rural with illiteracy in the agrarian areas as high at 70%. [Machado, 1]

Revolution: Nationality in Democratic Portugal

In 1975 Portugal underwent a relatively peaceful revolution which finally brought about democracy, the carnation revolution. It overthrew the Salazar regime and brought about a new phase of constitutionality.

On April 25th, 1976, a civilian government was elected, and a democratic constitution was declared. [Opello, 2]



* [http://libro.uca.edu/payne1/spainport1.htm Library of Iberian Resources Online. Stanley G. Payne. A History of Spain and Portugal. Vol. 1 and 2. University of Wisconsin Press, 1973] .
* [http://maltez.info/respublica/Cepp/anuario/secxix/ano1808.htm Chronology (in Portuguese) of the politics of 1808 in Portugal, includes the 1808 entreaty of Abreu]
* [http://maltez.info/respublica/portugalpolitico/regimespoliticos/1820%20vintismo.htm Description (in Portuguese) of the politics surrounding the Napoleonic Invasion]
*Opello, Walter C. Portugal: From Monarchy to Pluralist Democracy. Westview Press, 1991.
*Diamantino P. Machado. The Structure of Portuguese Society: The Failure of Fascism. Praeger Publishers, 1991.
*Arenas Fernando.Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil. University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

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