Spain Portugal Its History

lisbon 927669 1920

Spain and Portugal are the two countries that make up the Iberian Peninsula and, as such, their histories and fates are indivisible, at least up until the 12th century when Portugal first claimed its independence. Up until then the boundaries between Spain and Portugal were not fixed and, even after the Treaty of Alcañices in 1297 where Dom Dimis established the frontiers with Spain, Portugal came under Spanish jurisdiction several times.

After Portugal's Golden Age ended in 1580, when the Spanish defeated the Portuguese at Alcañtara, Felipe II of Spain became Felipe I of Portugal. Although the Portuguese were not entirely happy about their new king, he was at least honourable and tried his best to rule his new subjects fairly. He spent a lot of time in Portugal paying close attention to the country's needs. However, after Felipe's demise, his successors were a lot less attentive to Portugal's requirements and saw it as a fresh source of muscle for Spain's military campaigns. By the time Felipe III was on the throne, the Portuguese were quite fed up with their mistreatment, including paying taxes for Spain's wars, and so in 1640 they deposed the Governor of Portugal and appointed their own king. The Spanish were so busy elsewhere that they acquiesced to the new Portuguese independence without much fuss and at the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668 they granted it formally. After this Portugal's political problems tended to originate from sources other than Spain.

Portugal's second period of wealth (brought from Brazil) petered out when the apathetic José I (1750 77) came to the throne. He left the Marquês de Pombal in charge of sorting out his country's problems and this minister did much to update economic, agricultural and education policies, abolishing slavery to boot. He was responsible for rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake in 1755 but his period of influence ended when devout Dona Maria came to the throne in 1777 and found Pombal too secular for her liking.

The Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil when Napoleon threatened to take over Europe and they stayed there until 1821. On their return they found a country struggling between monarchical and republican influences, finally settling on republicanism in 1910.