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The Political History of Nineteenth Century Portugal1

Paulo Jorge Fernandes
Autónoma University of Lisbon

Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses
National University of Ireland

Manuel Baiôa
CIDEHUS-University of Évora


The political history of nineteenth-century Portugal was, for a long time, a neglected subject. Under Salazar's New State it was passed over in favour of earlier periods from which that nationalist regime sought to draw inspiration; subsequent historians preferred to concentrate on social and economic developments to the detriment of the difficult evolution of Portuguese liberalism. This picture is changing, thanks to an awakening of interest in both contemporary topics and political history (although there is no consensus when it comes to defining political history). The aim of this article is to summarise these recent developments in Portuguese historiography for the benefit of an English-language audience.


Nineteenth Century, History, Bibliography, Constitutionalism, Historiography, Liberalism, Political History, Portugal



Politics has finally begun to carve out a privileged space at the heart of Portuguese historiography. This ‘invasion’ is a recent phenomenon and can be explained by the gradual acceptance, over the course of two decades, of political history as a genuine specialisation in Portuguese academic circles. This process of scientific and pedagogical renewal has seen a clear focus also on the nineteenth century. Young researchers concentrate their efforts in this field, and publishers are more interested in this kind of works than before.

In Portugal, the interest in the 19th century is a reaction against decades of ignorance. Until April 1974, ideological reasons dictated the absence of contemporary history from the secondary school classroom, and even from the university curriculum. The 19th century was viewed as the triumph, from 1834 onwards, of the suspect ‘liberal State’ which grew, in the first quarter of the twentieth century (1910-1926), into the despised Republic. It was against this regime that Salazar’s New State, corporative and nationalist, affirmed itself. History degrees usually did not extend beyond a coverage of the 17th century thus focusing on the ‘glorious’ period of Portuguese maritime discoveries and imperial expansion.

Nevertheless, in the last decades of the New State’s existence, from the 1950s onwards, some attempt was made to carry out a process of historiographical renewal, one which might include, for the first time, contemporary history. This process occurred, however, outside the context of Portuguese universities, and was clearly influenced by a Marxist current limited by its own ideological prejudices. The historiographical paradigms of this school rarely concerned themselves with politics. Historians such as António José Saraiva, Armando de Castro, Barradas de Carvalho, Borges de Macedo, Joel Serrão, Oliveira Marques, Piteira Santos, Silva Dias, Virgínia Rau and Vitorino Magalhães Godinho, among others, were more interested in understanding socio-economic mechanisms and cultural cycles than in assessing the importance of deeds and dates or measuring the influence of leading personalities. The generation that followed, and which began lecturing in the wake of the 25 April 1974 revolution, guided itself by the principles of the Annales School, again paying more attention to economic and social history than to its political counterpart. However, as the years passed, historical curiosity regarding the 19th century grew, whetting the appetite of the academic community.

In a now outdated work of synthesis which attempted to list the principal figures in Portuguese historiography, A. H. de Oliveira Marques complained – with good reason – that Portuguese authors avoided conceptual reflections on theoretical and methodological questions. What was true in the mid 1970s, however, is no longer the case. Innovation has arrived in the form of political history, whose practitioners are keen to affirm the theoretical validity of their topic. The first echo of the international debate regarding the character and the strength of the ‘New Political History’ demonstrated that the Portuguese academic community was aware of foreign developments and determined not to be excluded (Teixeira, 1988). Nevertheless, and to the horror of those who dreamed of a return to the simple description of events woven together into a plot capable of conferring a global sense to the historical narrative, the proposed alternatives were so permeable to quantitative methods, and to social and anthropological concerns – that is, to a subject-less politics – that they threatened to prolong the agony of the narrative. Lines of division soon became apparent. The partisans of history as a literary form (Ramos, 1991) and those who emphasise its relativist nature (Hespanha, 1991) have all had the chance to propound their preferences and to sharpen their arguments, going as far as to propose the return to older forms of history (history as a dramatic construct) as the only way of freeing it from the academic ghetto to which it was confined by the Annales school, by Structuralism, and, most recently, by the ‘New History’ and its offshoots (Bonifácio, 1993a). Nothing approaching a consensus has been arrived as a result of this debate, which, nevertheless, has resulted in a certain strengthening of those who invest heavily in political history (Bonifácio, 1999), but who still remain a clear minority in university circles.

Linguistic barriers have imposed severe limits to foreign academics’ knowledge of the historiographical developments in Portugal. Even today there is no figure comparable to Raymond Carr, or others, who not only write about Spain, but are engaged in a constant dialogue with Spanish historians. The aim of this article is therefore to acquaint an English-language reader with the developments in Portugal’s political evolution over the course of the 19th century, simultaneously highlighting the latest works of political history and attempting to establish some conclusion about the historiographical advances of the past fifteen years. The text is divided in three moments. Starting from the general works and reviews about the period, we try to highlight the most important works that deal with the period between the Peninsular Wars (1807-1811) and the fall of the constitutional monarchy (1910). In the last moment, we have a small reference about thematic studies covering the 19th century History.

General Works and Reviews

We begin this introduction to Portuguese historiography with an analysis of the large general works published over the past few years and of available reference works. The standard by which other general works on Portuguese history are measured was set by Damião Peres’ monumental História de Portugal, published from 1928 to 1937, to which was added a Supplement written by the same author sometime later, in 1954, and which was concluded by Franco Nogueira in 1981. The first eight volumes, published in order to commemorate the eighth centenary of the ‘Foundation of the Nationality’, were heavily stamped by a prevailing nationalist climate, despite having received the collaboration of reputed specialists from diverse areas. Peres opted for a dynastic division of the subject matter, which was distributed across well-defined areas and pays special attention to political history. Less space was reserved for cultural, colonial, and socio-economic concerns. In the seventh volume (1816-1918), contemporary events were approached from a political and descriptive perspective. Peres’ História de Portugal is still seen as an essential work, presenting a rich source of information for all those starting out in this field, although it is often criticised for its lack of bibliographical elements and systematic notation. Nevertheless, it was the first such work aimed at a wide audience.

A significant contribution to the renovation of Portuguese historiography was made by A. H. de Oliveira Marques. His History of Portugal (1972), in two volumes, represented a considerable editorial success, and was often reprinted and translated. Part of its appeal lay in the dedication of half the work to the period following the liberal revolution. This work, which aspires to make a descriptive, rather than interpretative synthesis, is essentially an economic and social study. Political history is relegated to a secondary role. In open opposition to it stands the História de Portugal of Joaquim Veríssimo Serrão, written in fourteen volumes (published from 1977 to 2001), which embodies the virtues and faults of a work of such enormous size prepared by a single author. Positivist in nature and often uncomfortably close to the nationalist historiographical ideals elaborated by the “New State”, this work has devoted four volumes to the 19th century period (1807-1910) and is also marked by an abundance of bibliographical references, as well as by the elevation of political history to a level of equality with socio-economic and cultural history.

The ninth volume of Nova História de Portugal, directed by Joel Serrão and A.H. de Oliveira Marques, has emerged as a basic university textbook for the study of this period (the foundation of Liberalism), and its usefulness residing not in the originality of subject matter and interpretation but rather in the way that it synthesises available information. Nevertheless, it must be noted that this book is heavily marked by the Annales school. The appearance of some more recent works must also be mentioned. A well-known medievalist, José Mattoso, coordinated the publication of an eight-volume História de Portugal (1993-1995) which has become the latest obligatory work of reference, enjoying the greatest prestige at the moment and benefiting, in terms of sales, from a simultaneous publication by two different publishing houses. Each volume was entrusted to specialists in the field; we will consider the final four, dedicated to the last two hundred years. The fifth volume, which covers the period 1807-1890, was directed by Luis Reis Torgal and João Lourenço Roque, of the University of Coimbra, and includes contributions from over two hundred collaborators, which is reflected in a lack of homogeneity when it comes to the text and which is necessarily detrimental to the study of political evolution in the period. The sixth volume (1890-1926), written by Rui Ramos, is deliberately driven by the narrative, and is markedly revisionist at the expense of more traditional interpretations. This History of Portugal has the added value of a brief chronology of Portuguese history and of useful reference indexes included in the last volume; despite its recent publication date it has already been re-edited a number of times.

The extensive História de Portugal dos tempos pre-históricos aos nossos dias (1993), directed by João Medina, of the University of Lisbon, deserves also to be mentioned. This collective work is marked by a great diversity in the subject matter covered, wherein, nevertheless, politics receive a privileged treatment. The 19th century takes up three of the fifteen published volumes. Some other general works should be included in this survey. Portugal Contemporâneo (1989-1990), directed by António Reis and made up, in its first edition, of six volumes, is an abundantly illustrated work which, despite being aimed at a wide public, nevertheless contains excellent summarised accounts written by specialists in their area and constitutes a good point of departure for further research. Again, the 19th century deserves special attention on the first volume of the second edition.

A remarkable competition was suddenly embarked upon in the field of colonial history by the simultaneous publication of the still incomplete Nova História da Expansão Portuguesa (1992-2001), coordinated by Joel Serrão and A.H. de Oliveira Marques, and the História da Expansão Portuguesa (1998-1999), directed by Francisco Bethencourt and K. N. Chandhuri.

This typology of general works is completed by an examination of a number of historical dictionaries. The oldest and most famous of all, which received the collaboration of the widest circle of researchers and which was most ambitious in the number of entries, was directed by Joel Serrão. This Dicionário de História de Portugal (1963-1971), published in six volumes, combines politics with a study of the economy, society, and the cultural and mental aspects of Portugal since its foundation until the Republic. Moreover, the often-neglected Dicionário Enciclopédico da História de Portugal (1985) makes for a useful complement to the larger work produced by Joel Serrão. More specific, but not less useful, therefore, are the Dicionário da Maçonaria Portuguesa (1986), published in two volumes, and the História da Maçonaria Portuguesa (1990-1997) in three volumes, both written by A. H. de Oliveira Marques; they contain convenient information about a substantial portion of the Portuguese political class of the 19th century. For the English-language reader an obvious starting point is Douglas Wheeler’s Historical dictionary of Portugal (1993). A significant new initiative has come to light in the shape of the different volumes of the “Dicionário Biográfico Parlamentar”. This is an ambitious project entrusted to Zília Osório de Castro (for the period 1821-1823 and 1826-1828) – already published in 2001 – and to Maria Filomena Mónica (1834-1910), and is intended to make available the biography and political careers of all members of parliament from the first liberal assembly in 1821 until 1910.

As part of this list of general works a number of up-to-date general histories of Portugal published in English should be mentioned. Generally speaking, English-language historians of Portugal skip over the greater part of the 19th century – the period that follows the successful conclusion of the Peninsular war. Interest shown in the battles of Bussaco and Torres Vedras, and the performance of Portuguese troops under Wellington and Beresford, is rarely, if ever, matched by interest in the consequences of a conflict which devastated large swathes of Portugal. An interesting example of this lack of interest is to be found in a quick sketch of Portuguese history attempted by Kenneth Maxwell (1995) in his recent The making of Portuguese democracy, in which a tremendous leap is made from the 18th Century statesman, the Marquis of Pombal, to Salazar, with no reference to anything or anyone in between. Turbulent political developments, with constant changes of government and even of Constitution, are difficult to decipher and summarise. Nevertheless, David Birmingham’s Concise History of Portugal (1993) remains a useful starting point. A more recent account of Portuguese history is James Anderson’s The History of Portugal (2000).

Despite this increasing interest about 19th century Portugal, the editorial landscape is bleaker when it comes to specialised reviews. There is not a single review dedicated exclusively to political history, which reveals the weakness of this specialisation in the Portuguese university milieu, since practically all third-level institutions where History is taught as a subject have their own publications. There is, however, some solace to be found in other publications. The review Análise Social, which began to be published in the 1960s in the Instituto de Ciências Sociais, and presently directed by a sociologist, António Barreto, does cast a regular eye over contemporary political history; a good recent example is issue 157, published in 2001. Issue 150 (1999), is especially useful, including as it does a complete index covering all back issues. The review Ler História, linked to the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE), has been directed since its first issue (1983) by Miriam Halpern Pereira. It too publishes frequent articles relating to political concerns. Some other useful reviews, not directly linked to any institutions, are Penélope: Revista de História e Ciências Sociais2, Política Internacional3, and the monthly magazine História, directed by Fernando Rosas and aimed at a general audience. Its main focus lies in the period covering the First Republic and, above all, the New State, and in fact this review has in many ways become the unofficial spokesman for the new historiography of these periods. Nevertheless, 19th century political events are also included in the main concerns of this publication. In English one might add a number of reviews dedicated to lusophone affairs, including Portuguese Studies (based in Great Britain) and Portuguese Studies Review (based in the United States); in both of these, however, history jostles for space with other disciplines.

The 19th Century: from the Napoleonic wars to the fall of the Constitutional Monarchy (1807-1910)

Despite the rather bleak landscape so far presented, it is now possible to find some general interpretations of the ‘century’ that begins in 1807 with the first of three French invasions and which comes to an end on 5 October 1910 with the fall of the monarchy. According to these interpretations – which are far from being consensual – ‘the history of nineteenth-century Portugal consists of a long, complicated, and frequently violent transition from the monarchy to the Republic, carried out against the forces which struggled to preserve the half-way house between the two’ (Bonifacio, 2002). That is to say, it was a time of conflict between radicalism and liberalism that resulted in the growing and inevitable republicanisation of the regime, in which ‘from the founding of constitutional monarchism in 1834, the Revolution became the most powerful agent in Portuguese history’ (Ibid). There were a number of stages until 1910, which we will quickly set out, detailing the authors who have dedicated themselves to their political history.

As can be imagined, Portugal was not immune to the impact of the French Revolution. In the context of Napoleonic expansionism at the beginning of the century, Portugal’s international ambiguity, marked by an attempt to seek a compromise between the traditional British alliance and the continental system imposed by the new masters of Europe, dragged the country into the French orbit as a result of three military campaigns (1807-8, 1809, and 1810-1) which not only devastated a substantial part of the territory (Matos, 1999; Rodrigues, 1999), but also forced the exile of the court to Rio de Janeiro, which it reached under escort from the British navy. This Brazilian city was suddenly transformed into the capital of a trans-oceanic empire. The Braganza dynasty’s tropical exile did not prevent Portugal from becoming a battlefield for the war between France and Great Britain (Vicente, 2000). The invading French armies were driven out thanks to British support, which came at the cost of British tutelage until 1820 and which was facilitated by the royal family’s fear of returning to Europe. Portugal became, simultaneously, a colony of Brazil and a British protectorate, and was divided into a pro-French party and a pro-British party; the origins of these factions lie, obviously, in the pre-1807 period (Alexandre, 1993). On 24 August 1820 some Portuguese military leaders, in conjunction with a middle class group which bore the stamp of the freemasons, carried out a liberal and nationalist pronunciamento in the city of Oporto with the objectives of freeing the country from the oppressive presence of British officials, forcing King João VI to return from Brazil, and carrying out elections for a Constituent Assembly, charged with drawing up a modern Constitution in accordance with the liberal ideas of the age. This was the dawn of Vintismo (1820-3) (Brandão, 1990; Proença, 1990; Vargues, 1997).

A number of civilian figures soon rose to the fore (Mogarro, 1990; Castro, 1990) – men like José da Silva Carvalho, Manuel Borges Carneiro and, above all, Manuel Fernandes Tomás, the ‘patriarch of the Revolution’ – who, in tandem with officers such as Bernardo de Sepúlveda and Sebastião Cabreira, did not allow for the radicalisation of the situation, imposing instead the model provided by the Cadiz Constitution (1812). The Portuguese experience of liberalism did not thus suffer from a wave of Jacobinism similar to that of France thirty years earlier. The greatest achievement of the Constituent Congress, elected by universal male suffrage at the end of 1820 (Pereira, 1992) was the Constitution of 1822, an advanced document for its time, which forced the King to accept a secondary role within the new political regime. The text upheld the principles of national sovereignty, of representation of the Nation, and of the separation of powers, but was from the very start threatened by the tension between the two principles at its core, democracy and monarchy (Miranda, 2001). The evolution of the Portuguese liberal model would thus be hamstrung by reactionary elements loyal to the old absolutist order, who congregated in turn around Queen Carlota Joaquina (Sara Pereira, 1999) and Prince Miguel. These carried out the coup of May/June 1823, known in Portugal as the Vilafrancada, with the support of some sections of the army, in order to force the monarch to bring to a halt the workings of the liberal Cortes and to abolish the Constitution. The workings of the parliament had opened various wounds in Portuguese society (Castro, 1996), the most traumatic of which was the parting of ways with Brazil, made inevitable by the return of the King to Lisbon (Proença, 1999).

After the death of João VI in 1826, the Emperor of Brazil – and Portuguese Crown Prince – Pedro IV, attempted to calm the political waters, drafting in Rio de Janeiro a Constitutional Charter, more conservative in tone than the Constitution of 1822. This text introduced the ‘moderating’ power of the monarch, a royal veto, a chamber for hereditary peers and indirect elections (Miranda 2001). Pedro IV (known as Pedro I of Brazil), forced to choose between kingdoms, opted for Brazilian, abdicating the Portuguese throne in favour of his daughter, still a minor, the future Maria II (Macaulay, 1986). The regency created to oversee the kingdom was not strong enough to ensure the political stability of Portugal, threatened by the supporters of prince Miguel, exiled in Vienna. These defenders or royal absolutism took advantage of the situation to create a climate of terror and persecution, which culminated with the Prince’s return to Lisbon in 1828, where he was quickly proclaimed King in 1828. This Miguelista experience would last until 1834 (Lousada, 1987), when, after two years of civil war, the liberal party triumphed. The war was resolved by the convention of Évora-Monte and the permanent exile of the usurper. After this episode the Miguelist threat was contained but not extinguished (Mónica, 1997; Brissos, 1997) and, despite the clear victory of the liberal forces, political stability did not ensue.

The fragmentation of the liberal 'family', driven by ideological differences dating back to the years of exile (1828-1832/34) contributed to the creation of a regime which, if militarily victorious, did not have sufficient authority to impose law and order. The Charter of 1826 was imposed, a fifteen-year old Queen was installed on the throne, and the government was entrusted to the Duke of Palmela and the friends of Pedro IV who had, in the meantime, died (Valente, 1993). On 9 September 1836 the politicised population of Lisbon and the National Guard carried out a revolution in the capital designed to drive the ‘Charterists’ from power and force Maria II to restore the Constitution of 1822. This new movement, known as Setembrismo, suffered from the impact of constant popular demands, which paralysed its activity in government. Its principal achievement, the Constitution of 1838, fell halfway between the two previous texts, but was short-lived. Order was restored in the beginning of 1842, with royal approval, by António Bernardo da Costa Cabral, a one-time radical who had fallen for the delights of French doctrinaire politics. A new phase was entered into, during which no recognition was given to the constituent power of the Nation and in which no pacts were made either with the moderate Left, headed by Rodrigo da Fonseca Magalhães and Passos Manuel – the leading lights of Setembrismo – or the radical Left, entrenched in the political clubs of the capital. The most visible effect of this movement was the restoration of the Charter of 1826 and the holding of elections, which provided Costa Cabral with a disciplined majority, which in turn allowed him to rule with such firmness as to be accused of tyranny (Bonifácio, 1986). In 1844, the pronunciamento of Torres Novas/Almeida, which had intended to return Setembrismo to power, was easily crushed by the government, but two years later, in 1846, the executive was finally forced to resign as a result of a popular revolt, known as the Maria da Fonte, and of the lack of military support within the regime (Capela, 1997).

Incapable of containing the popular revolt, Cabral’s government was dismissed by Maria II, who on the night of 5-6 October called on the Duke of Saldanha to take charge of the country without informing the chief of government, Terceira, a move later interpreted as a palace coup. Three days later a Junta was formed in Oporto, which declared its hostility to the new government in Lisbon. The civil war that ensued, known as the war of ‘Patuleia’4, concluded in June 1847 thanks to the British diplomatic intervention, which brought to an end the military deadlock which had developed (Bonifácio, 1993b). Costa Cabral returned to power in 1849, replacing Saldanha, but the defeat of the ‘springtime of the nationalities’ the year before had rendered redundant the return of the doctrinaires to power (Ribeiro, 1990). The Duke pondered revenge for a time, and, once assured that there would be no Spanish reaction to his move, carried out another pronunciamento in 1851. The unity of the army being more complete than it had been since 1834, Saldanha became the dominant personality of the time, able to impose his political and social views. The period known as the ‘Regeneration’ began, and a whole new generation entered Parliament and reached positions of power. A wave of enthusiasm for national reconciliation swept the whole country and all political factions, since the constitutional reform of 1852 allowed for changes long demanded by the Left, including direct elections. The Regenerationist cabinet (1851-6) went as far as naming some of the leaders of Setembrismo to positions of power within the State apparatus. Cabral went into exile in Spain for a second time in five years and the country embarked on a programme of material development directed by Minister Fontes Pereira de Melo, the most significant political figure of the period. In 1856, King Pedro V, displeased with the governing style of Fontes and his growing unpopularity, charged the Marquis of Loulé with the formation of a new cabinet in order to breathe new life into governmental action. The years that followed, until 1868, were, however, marked by continuous political disorder and successive changes of government. ‘Históricos’ and Regenerationists – or, in other terms, the centre-left and centre-right – whether alternating in power or in a coalition,5 did not really differ in their preference for material progress and extensive public works at the expense of the State’s finances. Roads and railroads were built throughout the country. The historiography of this period has generally opted for an exaltation of the climate of concord that reigned, presenting the Regeneration as a time when all alliances were possible (Sardica, 2001), although there is a contrasting view – that of a ‘false Regenerationist peace’ (Bonifácio, 2002a).

The end of this coalition against radicalism, in 1868, helped to consolidate the idea of ‘the people’ as a political force, notably when it came to the more militant urban population of Lisbon. Insurmountable financial difficulties; permanent turmoil on the streets of the capital and in the Parliament; and a succession of governments which proved incapable of carrying out the agreed programme of developing Portugal and bringing democracy to the regime; all of these factors pushed Saldanha into once again, and for the last time in his long career, demonstrating his strength. With the help of the army the old officer imposed a supra-party dictatorship in 1870 which, however, failed in its basic bid: an attempt to carry out the political reforms deemed necessary in order to allow radical ideas to enter the political mainstream at a moment when the republican threat was becoming increasingly evident (Catroga, 2000).

A reorganisation of the political parties took place in the years that followed. In 1870 there had appeared the Reformist party, resulting from the desire of part of the ‘Históricos’ to become an unfettered left-wing force. In 1876, the Progressive party was created, which, led by Anselmo José Brancaamp, was the result of a fusion between the ‘Históricos’ and the more radical Reformists on the latter’s terms, worked out through the Granja Pact6. This was the same year in which a Republican party was founded. Despite these changes, the 1870s were a decade of social and political peace, largely as a result of a long-lasting Fontes Pereira de Melo government (1871-1877), by now the clear leader of the Regenerationist party. But cooperation between Progressives and Republicans at the end of the decade made necessary the inclusion of Brancaamp’s party in the running of the country in order to isolate republicanism. The electoral reform of 1884, negotiated by Fontes, allowed the defeated party to preserve a significant number of deputies in Parliament. The aim was clear: to separate the Progressives from their electoral base and to create a peaceful rotation, allowing the two parties to succeed each other in power peacefully. A second constitutional reform, in 1885, sealed the new consensus: hereditary peers became a thing of the past, the upper house being packed instead with government appointees. The regime was closing ranks around itself and the result was not long in coming.

Brancaamp died in September 1885 and Fontes died in January 1886. Less than five years would elapse before the great tumult caused by the British ultimatum of January 1890 (Teixeira, 1990) provoked by a colonial dispute over the territory separating Angola from Mozambique, which Portuguese troops had begun to occupy. Portuguese society reacted badly to the government’s acceptance of British terms, and a wave of patriotism was the outcome, largely orchestrated by the Republican party, which capitalised on this issue. The ultimatum provoked a crisis of authority in the State, which was simultaneously discredited by its diplomatic and military weakness, a failed Republican rising in Oporto in January of 1891, a financial crisis, and the end of the previous decade’s understanding between the dynastic parties. The peaceful rotation of, and the balance of power between, the parties, came to an end. ‘New life’ in politics was needed. The very existence of the liberal regime hung in the balance (Ramos 2001b).

The dynastic parties stood accused of being the main bulwarks against the renovation of national politics, identified as essential in order to safeguard the country’s future. New leaders emerged, and new parties, but still the attempt to save the monarchy failed. José Luciano de Castro (Progressive) shared power with Hintze Ribeiro (Regenerationist) in a second peaceful rotation, but both watched, powerless, as the crisis of the liberal monarchy worsened. In 1901, João Franco, one of the leading political figures of the time, abandoned the Regenerationists to form his own party, which he titled Liberal-Regenerationist (Sardica, 1994). In 1903, Jacinto Cândido, imitating Franco, attempted to rally conservative Catholicism around a Nationalist party, while the Progressive party was also affected by this fragmentation with José Maria Alpoim’s Progressive Dissidence of 1905. Even the Republican party was composed of different factions which disagreed on how to reach a position of power – although they would not have long to wait.

The political and social dissatisfaction of these years (Mónica, 1987), marked by an intellectual climate of decadence, a commercial deficit, the threat of financial bankruptcy, and constant governmental and parliamentary instability, was aggravated in February 1908 with the twin murder of King Carlos and the crown prince in Lisbon, carried out by members of the Carbonária, a revolutionary secret society. The new monarch, Manuel II, a 18-year old boy with no political experience, attempted to return some stability to the country, but the decomposition of the regime was actually hastened as successive scandals escaped the government’s control. On 5 October 1910 few were found to defend the monarchy.

Thematic Studies covering the 19th century History

Studies of an exclusively political nature for this period continue to be few and far between, despite the growing interest in contemporary history. The first that must be mentioned is the pioneering work of Fernando Piteira Santos on the 1820 elections (Santos, 1962). The author’s interpretation of the event, although pointedly Marxist, represented a key moment in Portuguese historiography, although few were willing to take up his mantle. Two decades would elapse before a new study, dedicated to the elections of the Setembrista period (Sacuntala de Miranda, 1982) contributed, in more complete fashion, to the comprehension of Portuguese electoral politics of the liberal period. More recently, Pedro Tavares de Almeida (Almeida, 1991, 1998 & 2001) took up the baton once again with his work on elections and Caciquismo, publishing a useful compilation of all relevant legislation from 1820 to 1926. It is also easier to study the electoral phenomenon for the last years of the century (Vidigal, 1998).

Another field of by-now permanent activity is the study of the nineteenth century’s political elites. Essential to this are Pedro Tavares de Almeida’s doctoral theses on the role of the national political elites in the construction of the liberal State (Almeida, 1995) and the recently published correspondence of many of the period’s key players (Moreira, 1998; Mónica, 2000; Almeida, 2001). The analysis of the behaviour of local elites has also been the subject of numerous studies; among these can be found the cases of Lisbon (Paulo Jorge Fernandes, 1999) and Montemor-o-Novo (Paulo Silva Fernandes, 1999). Less research has been carried out into the appearance and development of political factions. There is no single study of the phenomenon for the first half of the century. For the later period, it is worth noting the publication, in 2001, of a study by José Miguel Sardica dedicated to the formation of the party system in the first phase of the Regeneration period (2001).

A number of studies have investigated ideological developments over the course of the nineteenth century (Torgal, 1989, Campos Matos, 1998). João Medina also made some headway into the development of socialism in Portugal (Medina, 1984). In the case of republicanism, the History ‘school’ at the University of Coimbra has made a number of incursions into the field (Homem, 1990, Catroga, 2000); but for liberalism, despite its obvious importance, there is only an older study examining its more moderate elements (Canaveira, 1988). Another area which has not yet been exhausted is military history. Some authors have returned to it time and time again, notably António Pedro Vicente and Fernando Pereira Marques. The first published recently a compilation of articles dedicated essentially to the Napoleonic campaigns and their consequences for Portugal. Pereira Marques has emerged as a specialist in the organisation of the army (1999). For an analysis of military interference in politics one should turn to the work of Vasco Pulido Valente, remarkable for its narrative style and the abundant use made of documentary evidence (1997).

The relationship between government and the parliament, and the very workings of the parliament, are still to be understood, despite a first approach (Pinto dos Santos, 1986) which includes a useful list of the different governments in place since 1834. Another area still in its infancy is constitutional history; a first attempt was made by Jorge Miranda, a specialist in the matter, who recently compiled Brazilian and Portuguese constitutional texts (2001). Administrative evolution and reforms (Manique, 1989) and the political importance of the territory (Silveira, 1997b) have already been considered, there being an abundance of works dedicated to the history of municipalities and local power bases (Oliveira, 1996; VA, 1998).

The biographical genre is, after a first step (Pinheiro, 1996), undergoing a period of expansion. In 2001 a number of especially important biographies were published, including those of the writer Eça de Queirós and the politicians João Franco and Vieira de Castro (Mónica, 2001; Ramos, 2001a; Valente, 2001). Even Análise Social surrendered to the charms of the biography, dedicating a special issue to it (160). Pedro IV (or I, in Brazil) was the subject of an English-language biography translated into Portuguese in Brazil (Macaulay, 1986). A general study of Church-State relations during the period of the constitutional monarchy can be found in another work published by the Coimbra ‘school’ (Neto, 1998) although a more detailed study of the normalisation of relations between Lisbon and Rome is also at hand (Doria, 2001).

This brief survey of historical writing on nineteenth-century Portugal will conclude with two traditionally popular areas – colonial history and international relations. The construction of an African empire (Clarence-Smith, 1990 & Alexandre, 2000) after the loss of Brazil led to increased value being attached to Mozambique and Angola in the context of Portugal’s overseas empire (Telo, 1991b & 1994). This is demonstrated by the number of studies dedicated to these particular colonies (Henriques, 1997; Pelissier, 2000 & 2001). The Portuguese presence in Asia has been somewhat neglected (Guimarães, 1996), as has been the abolition of slavery (João Pedro Marques, 1999). Meanwhile, the first investigations into Portuguese diplomatic history (Macedo, 1987) have been overtaken by the analysis of Portugal’s insertion into the post-Vienna European order (Manique, 1988; Bonifácio, 1991) and the relationship between foreign policy and public opinion (Costa, 1988).


This survey has shown that, until some years ago, there was only a grudging acceptance of political history in Portuguese universities. The situation is currently being altered, with this field gaining both academic credit and visibility in the media, despite the relatively small number of those engaged in it. Not even the conceptual struggle between the upholders of the narrative and the followers of the ‘New Political History’ has hindered the growth of this field of specialisation: the debate has helped to strengthen political history, thanks to the introduction of different analytical and methodological approaches which act as an engine of development.




1 A different version of this article was published in Historia y Política: Ideas, procesos y movimientos sociales, no. 7, Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid e Editorial Biblioteca Nueva, 2002, pp. 11-54.

2 Currently directed by Nuno Gonçalo Monteiro, this review has published a number of articles on political history. Number 25 (2002) should be highlighted, for a complete index of all articles published since 1988.

3 Published since 1990 and directed by João Ferreira de Sousa, this review is mostly concerned with international relations, but occasionally includes historiographical texts and original documents.

4 Patuleia is a deturpation of pata-ao-léu, or barefoot, in reference to the popular support enjoyed by the Oporto Junta.

5 The so-called ‘fusion’ government of 1865-8 was made up of an alliance between the Regenerationists and a faction of the 'Históricos' which was not opposed to such a collaboration (unha branca). Within the latter party there existed, however, another faction which was radically opposed to such an understanding (unha preta), defending the alternative of a completely autonomous Left.

6 Thus named after the sea-side town where the pact was signed.



General works of history:


Análise Social (1963-2003), Lisbon, ICS.

Anderson, John M. (2000), The history of Portugal, Westport, Greenwood.

Bethencourt, Francisco and K. N. Chaudhuri (1998-1999), História da expansão portuguesa, 5 vols, Lisbon, Círculo de Leitores.

Birmingham, David (1993), Portugal: A concise history, Cambridge University Press.

Castro, Zília Osódio de (ed.) (2001), Dicionário do Vintismo e do primeiro Cartismo (1821-1823 e 1826-1828), Porto, Afrontamento.

História, (1998-2003), III Series, Lisbon, História.

Ler História (1983-2003), Lisbon, A Regra do Jogo.

Marques, A. H. de Oliveira (1972), History of Portugal, 2 vols, New York, Columbia University Press.

Marques, A. H. de Oliveira (1986), Dicionário da Maçonaria portuguesa, 2 vols, Lisbon, Delta.

Medina, João (1990), História contemporânea de Portugal, 7 vols, Camarate, Multilar.

Medina, João (1993), História de Portugal dos tempos pré-históricos aos nossos dias, 15 vols, Amadora, Ediclube.

Payne, Stanley (1973), A history of Spain and Portugal, 2 vols, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press.

Penélope. Revista de História e Ciências Sociais (1988-2003), Oeiras, Celta Editora.

Pereira, Miriam Halpern (1993), Das revoluções liberais ao Estado Novo, Lisbon, Editorial Presença.

Peres Damião (ed.) (1928-1981), História de Portugal, 10 vols, Barcelos/Oporto, Portucalense Editora.

Política Internacional (1990-2003), Lisbon, Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos Económicos.

Reis António (ed.) (1996), Portugal contemporâneo, 3 vols, Lisbon, Selecções
do Reader’s Digest.

Serrão, Joaquim Veríssimo (1977-2001), História de Portugal, 14 vols, Lisbon, Editorial Verbo.

Serrão, Joel (1963-1971), Dicionário de História de Portugal, 6 vols., Oporto, Livraria Figueirinhas.

Serrão, Joel and A.H. de Oliveira Marques (ed.) (1986-1997), Nova história de Portugal, 12 vols, Lisbon, Editorial Presença [currently under publication].

Serrão, Joel (ed.) (1992-2001), Nova história da expansão portuguesa, 10 vols, Lisbon, Estampa [currently under publication].

Torgal, Luís Reis, José Maria Amado Mendes and Fernando Catroga (1996), História da história em Portugal, sécs. XIX-XX, Lisbon, Círculo de Leitores.

Various Authors (VA) (1985), Dicionário enciclopédico da história de Portugal, 2 vols, Lisbon, Publicações Alfa.

VA (1994), História de Portugal em datas, Lisbon, Círculo de Leitores.

Wheeler, Douglas L. (1993), Historical dictionary of Portugal, Metuchen: Scarecrow Press.

General bibliography:


Alexandre, Valentim (1993), Os sentidos do império: Questão nacional e questão colonial na crise do antigo regime português, Oporto, Afrontamento.

Alexandre, Valentim (ed.) (2000), O império africano: Séculos XIX e XX, Lisbon, Colibri.

Almeida, Maria Antónia F. Pires de (1997), Família e poder no Alentejo: Elites de Avis, 1886-1941, Lisbon, Edições Colibri.

Almeida, Pedro Tavares de (1991) Eleições e caciquismo no Portugal oitocentista (1868-1890), Lisbon, Difel.

Almeida, Pedro Tavares de (1995), A construção do Estado liberal: Elite política e burocracia na “Regeneração” (1851-1890), Doctoral dissertation, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, New University of Lisbon.

Almeida, Pedro Tavares de (1998), Legislação eleitoral portuguesa 1820-1926, Lisbon, Imprensa Nacional.

Almeida, Pedro Tavares de (2001), Nos bastidores das eleições de 1881 e 1901: Correspondência política de José Luciano de Castro, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (1986), José Jorge Loureiro: Memórias políticas, 1834-1844, Lisbon, Edições Rolim.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (1991), Seis estudos sobre o liberalismo português, Lisbon, Estampa.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (1993a), ‘O abençoado retorno da velha história’, in Análise Social, n.º 122, Lisbon, ICS, pp. 623-630.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (1993b), História da guerra civil da Patuleia (1846-7), Lisbon, Estampa.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (1999), Apologia da história política. Estudos sobre o século XIX português, Lisbon, Quetzal Editores.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (2002a), O século XIX português, Lisboa, ICS.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima (2002b), A Segunda Ascensão e Queda de Costa Cabral, 1847-1851, Lisboa, ICS.

Brandão, Fernando de Castro (1990), O liberalismo e a reacção 1820-1834: Uma cronologia, Lisbon, Europress.

Brissos, José (1997), A insurreição miguelista nas resistências a Costa Cabral 1842-1847, Lisbon, Colibri.

Cabral, Manuel Villaverde (1988), Portugal na alvorada do século XX: Forças sociais, poder político e crescimento económico de 1890 a 1914, 2nd Edition, Lisbon, Editorial Presença.

Cabral, Manuel Villaverde (1993), The demise of liberalism and the rise of authoritarianism in Portugal, 1880-1930: An inaugural lecture from the Professor of Portuguese History, King’s College London.

Caeiro, Joaquim Manuel Croca (1997), Os militares no poder: Uma análise histórico-política do liberalismo à revisão constitucional de 1959, Lisbon, Hugin.

Capela, José Viriato (1997), A Revolução do Minho de 1846: Os difíceis anos de implantação do liberalismo, Braga, Governo Civil de Braga.

Castro, Zília Osório de (1990), Cultura e política: Manuel Borges Carneiro e o Vintismo, 2 vols, Lisbon, INIC.

Castro, Zília Osório de (1996), Lisboa 1821: A cidade e os políticos, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Catroga, Fernando (2000), O republicanismo em Portugal: Da formação ao 5 de Outubro de 1910, 2nd Edition, Lisbon, Notícias.

Clarence-Smith, Gervase (1985), The third Portuguese empire: A study in economic imperialism, Manchester University Press.

Costa, Fernando (1998), Portugal e a guerra anglo-boer: Política externa e opinião pública (1899-1902), Lisbon, Cosmos.

Dória, Luís (2001), Do cisma ao convénio: Estado e Igreja de 1831 a 1848, Lisbon, ICS.

Fernandes, Paulo Jorge (1999), As faces de Proteu: Elites urbanas e a política municipal em Lisboa, de finais do antigo regime a 1851, Lisbon, Imprensa Municipal.

Fernandes, Paulo Silva (1999), Elites e finanças municipais em Montemor-o-Novo do antigo regime à Regeneração (1816-1851), Montemor-o-Novo, Câmara Municipal de Montemor-o-Novo.

Guimarães, Ângela (1996), Uma relação especial: Macau e as relações luso-chinesas 1780-1844, Lisbon, Centro de Investigação Estudos de Sociologia.

Henriques, Isabel Castro (1997), Percursos da modernidade em Angola: Dinâmicas comerciais e transformações sociais no século XIX, Lisbon, Instituto de Investigação Científica e Tropical.

Hespanha, António Manuel (1991), “A emergência da história”, in Penélope. Fazer e Desfazer a História, n. 5, Lisbon, Cosmos, pp. 9-25.

Homem, Amadeu Carvalho (1990), A propaganda republicana (1870-1910), Coimbra, Coimbra Editora.

Lousada, Maria Alexandre (1987), O Miguelismo (1828-1834): O discurso político e o apoio da nobreza titulada, Doctoral dissertation, Lisbon, Faculty of Arts, University of Lisbon.

Macaulay, Neill (1986), Dom Pedro: the struggle for the liberty in Brazil and Portugal, 1798-1834, Durham, Duke University Press.

Macedo, Jorge Borges de (1987), História diplomática portuguesa: Constantes e linhas de força, Lisbon, Revista Nação e Defesa.

Manique, António Pedro (1988), Portugal e as potências europeias (1807-1847): Relações externas e ingerências estrangeiras em Portugal na primeira metade do século XIX, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Manique, António Pedro (1989), Mouzinho da Silveira: Liberalismo e administração pública, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Marques, A.H. de Oliveira (1974-1975), Antologia da historiografia portuguesa, 2 vols, Lisbon, Publicações Europa-América.

Marques, João Pedro (1999), Os sons do silêncio: o Portugal de Oitocentos e a abolição do tráfico de escravos, Lisbon, ICS.

Matos, Henrique José (1999), O Minho e as invasões francesas: Uma perspectiva municipal, Braga, Centro de Ciências Históricas e Sociais.

Matos, Sérgio Campos (1998), Historiografia e memória nacional no Portugal do século XIX (1846-1898), Lisbon, Colibri.

Maxwell, Kenneth (1995), The making of Portuguese democracy, Cambridge University Press.

Medina, João (1984), As conferências do Casino e o socialismo em Portugal, Lisbon, Dom Quixote.

Miranda, Jorge (2001), O constitucionalismo liberal luso-brasileiro, Lisbon, Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses.

Miranda, Sacuntala (1982), A Revolução de Setembro de 1836: Geografia Eleitoral, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Mogarro, Maria João (1990), José da Silva Carvalho e a revolução de 1820, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Mónica, Maria Filomena (1985), O movimento socialista em Portugal (1875-1934), Lisbon, Imp. Nac./Casa da Moeda e Instituto de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento.

Mónica, Maria Filomena (1987), A queda da monarquia: Portugal na viragem do século, Lisbon, Dom Quixote.

Mónica, Maria Filomena (1999), Fontes Pereira de Melo, Oporto, Afrontamento.

Mónica, Maria Filomena (2000), Correspondência entre D. Pedro V e seu tio, o príncipe Alberto, Lisbon, Quetzal Editores.

Mónica, Maria Filomena (2001), Eça de Queiroz, Lisbon, Quetzal Editores.

Mónica, Maria Teresa (1997), Errâncias miguelistas 1834-1843, Lisbon, Cosmos.

Moreira, Fernando (1998), José Luciano de Castro: Correspondência política (1858-1911), Lisbon, Quetzal Editores.

Neto, Vítor (1998), O Estado, a Igreja e a sociedade em Portugal: 1832-1911, Lisbon, Imprensa Nacional.

Oliveira, César (ed.) (1996), História dos municípios e do poder local: Dos finais da Idade Média à União Europeia, Lisbon, Círculo de Leitores.

Péllissier, René (1997), História das campanhas de Angola: Resistência e revoltas, 1845-1941, 2 vols, Lisboa, Editorial Estampa.

Péllissier, René (2000), História de Moçambique: Formação e oposição 1854-1918, 3rd Edition, Lisboa, Estampa.

Péllissier, René (2001), História da Guiné, 2nd Edition, Lisbon, Estampa.

Pereira, Miriam Halpern (ed.) (1992), A crise do antigo regime e as Cortes Constituintes de 1821-1822: Estudo e documentos, Lisbon, Sá da Costa.

Pereira, Sara Marques (1999), D. Carlota Joaquina e os ‘Espelhos de Clio’: Actuação política e figurações historiográficas, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Pinheiro, Magda (1996), Passos Manuel: O patriota e o seu tempo, Oporto, Afrontamento.

Proença, Maria Cândida (1990), A primeira regeneração: O conceito e a experiência nacional, 1820-1823, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Proença, Maria Cândida (1999), A independência do Brasil, Lisbon, Edições Colibri.

Ramos, Rui (1991), ‘A causa da história do ponto de vista político’, in Penélope. Fazer e Desfazer a História, n. 5, Lisbon, Cosmos, 1991, pp. 27-47.

Ramos, Rui (2001a), João Franco e o fracasso do reformismo liberal (1884-1908), Lisbon, ICS.

Ramos, Rui (2001b), A Segunda Fundação (1890-1926), Revised edition, Vol. VI of José Mattoso (ed.), História de Portugal, Lisbon, Editorial Estampa.

Ribeiro, Maria Manuela Tavares (1990), Portugal e a revolução de 1848, Coimbra, Minerva.

Rodrigues, Paulo Miguel (1999), A política e as questões militares na Madeira: o período das guerras napoleónicas, Funchal, Centro de Estudos de História do Atlântico.

Santos, Fernando Piteira (1962), Geografia e economia da revolução de 1820, Lisbon, Publicações Europa-América.

Santos, Manuel Pinto dos (1986), Monarquia constitucional: Organização e relações do poder governamental com a Câmara dos Deputados, 1834-1910, Lisbon, Assembleia da República.

Sardica, José Miguel (1994), A dupla face do franquismo na crise da monarquia portuguesa, Lisbon, Cosmos.

Sardica, José Miguel (2001), A Regeneração sob o signo do consenso: A política e os partidos entre 1851 e 1861, Lisbon, ICS.

Silveira, Luís Espinha da (1997a), Território e poder: Nas origens do Estado contemporâneo em Portugal, Cascais, Patrimónia.

Silveira, Luís Espinha da (ed.), (1997b), Poder central, poder regional, poder local: Uma perspectiva histórica, Lisbon, Edições Cosmos.

Sousa, Marcelo Rebelo de (1983), Os partidos políticos no direito constitucional português, Braga, Livraria Cruz.

Teixeira, Nuno Severiano (1988), ‘A história política na historiografia contemporânea’, in Ler História, n. 13, Lisbon, A Regra do Jogo, pp. 77-102.

Teixeira, Nuno Severiano (1990), O ultimato inglês: Política externa e política interna no Portugal de 1890, Lisbon, Publicações Alfa.

Teixeira, Nuno Severiano (ed.), (1998), História das intervenções militares portuguesas nos grandes conflitos mundiais, séculos XIX e XX, Lisbon, Edições Colibri.

Telo, António José (1991), Lourenço Marques na política externa portuguesa, 1875-1900, Lisbon, Cosmos.

Telo, António José (1994), Economia e império no Portugal contemporâneo, Lisbon, Cosmos.

Valente, Vasco Pulido (1993), Os Devoristas: A revolução liberal, 1834-1836, Lisbon, Quetzal Editores.

Valente, Vasco Pulido (1997), Os militares e a política (1820-1856), Lisbon, Imprensa Nacional.

Valente, Vasco Pulido (2001), Glória, Lisbon, Gótica.

Vargues, Isabel Nobre (1997), A aprendizagem da cidadania em Portugal: 1820-1823, Coimbra, Minerva.

Various Authors (VA) (1992), A recepção da Revolução Francesa em Portugal e no Brasil, 2 vols, Oporto, Universidade do Porto.

VA (1996), Portugal, Alemanha, África: Do imperialismo colonial ao imperialismo político. Actas do IV Encontro Luso-Alemão, A. H. de Oliveira Marques, Alfred Opitz, and Fernando Clara (eds), Lisbon, Colibri.

VA (1998), O município no mundo Português, Funchal, Centro de Estudos de História do Atlântico.

VA (2001), Análise Social, N.º 160, (Special number dedicated to the biography).

Vicente, António Pedro (2000), O tempo de Napoleão em Portugal: Estudos Históricos, Lisbon, Comissão Portuguesa de História Militar.

Vidigal, Luís (1988), Cidadania, caciquismo e poder: Portugal, 1890-1916, Lisbon, Livros Horizonte.

Vieira, Benedita Duque (1987), A revolução de Setembro e a discussão constitucional de 1837, Lisbon, Salamandra.





Copyright 2003, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol.1, number 1, Summer 2003