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History & Culture of Portugal - Part 1

HISTORY & CULTURE OF PORTUGAL - PART 1The word Portugal derives from the Roman-Celtic place name Portus Cale. Around 200 BC, the Romans under general Decimus Brutus took the Iberian Peninsula from the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War, and in the process conquered Cale and renamed it Portus Cale around 136 BC.

(Port of Cale, at the mouth of the Douro river, modern day Porto).

Portugal traces its national origin to 24 June 1128, the date of the Battle of São Mamede. Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself Prince of Portugal after this battle and in 1139, he assumed the title King of Portugal. In 1143, the Kingdom of León recognised him as King of Portugal by the Treaty of Zamora. In 1179, the papal bull Manifestis Probatum of Pope Alexander III officially recognised Afonso I as king. After the Battle of São Mamede, the first capital of Portugal was Guimarães, from which the first king ruled. Later, when Portugal was already officially independent, he ruled from Coimbra.

Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935) - "The sea with limits may be Greek or RomanThe sea without end is Portuguese"


HISTORY & CULTURE OF PORTUGAL - PART 1400,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis, Neanderthals in North Iberia 35,000 BC
Pre-celtic Lusitanias, Turduli, Oestrimin in centre & north
Cynetes in south, Algarve & Lower Alentejo pre-7th century BC – city of Tartessos with language
Tartessos in s. Spain near Cadiz, rich in metal – tin, gold & copper ==> Bronze Age
First millenium BC Central European Celts invaded and inter-bred – north and centre
Tartessian combined with Celtici under Roman rule in SW Portugal
Lusitania inland and north of Lisbon
Punic settlements on Algarve coast, trading with Tartessos

Roman History

Lusitania in the south, Gallaecia in the north (Gal ==> Gale ==> Portus Gale / Porto ==> Portugal)
First Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC. <200 years, almost the entire peninsula had been annexed, starting the Romanisation of Hispania and Lusitania.

The Carthaginians under Hannibal were expelled from their coastal colonies in the Punic Wars by Scipio Africanus from 202 BC onwards. 205 BC Olissipo (Lisbon) was occupied. Portus Cale (Porto) on the Douro
River thrived as a commercial port between Olissipo and Bracara Augusta.

150 BC Lusitanians under Virathus re-took control. For years undefeated, Virathis' allies were bribed and he was killed by his own ambassador in 139 BC.

Subsequent prosperity saw many present day cities founded, and Lusitania gained the status of Roman province, with capital Emerita Augusta (Merida).

A northern province of Lusitania was named Gallaecia, with capital Bracara Augusta (modern Braga).

Major cities – Pax Julia, then Pax Augusta (Beja in Alentejo), Conimbriga (Coimbra), Mirobriga (Santiago do Cacem), Olissipo (Lisbon), Emerita Augusta (Merida), Portus Cale (Porto).

Visigothic History

In 406 AD Suebi, Alans, Vandals overran Gaul and Hispania, establishing the Kingdom of Suebi (aka Gallaecia) in NW Spain and Portugal. Independent until 585, when annexed by Leovigild of the Visigoths as the 6th province of their empire.

A small civil war resulted in King Rodrigo's (last king of the Goths) enemies in Ceuta appealing to the Ummayad for help. After they invaded, Rodrigo was defeated and killed at the Battle of Guadalete in 711.

Moor History – The Umayyad conquest of Hispania

In 711-716 an invasion by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate under the Emirate of Cordoba, comprising Berbers from North Africa and Arabs from the Middle East plus other Muslims from all around the Islamic world. Under the command of Tariq ibn Ziyad, they conquered the Visigoth Kingdom (capital Toledo) and founded the Islamic State of Al Andalus (from “Vandals”).

The Kingdom of Asurias, founded in 718 by nobleman Pelagius, defeated Ummayad in 722 at the Battle of Covadonga, the beginning og the “Reconquista”.

At the end of the 9th century, a county based in the area of Portus Cale was established under King Alfonso III of Asturias, and by the 10th century, the Counts were known as the Magnus Dux Portucalensium (Grand Duke of the Portuguese). Lisbon and the rest of what would become Portugal, was reconquered by the early 12th century.

The Kingdom of Asturias was later divided so that northern "Portugal" became part of the Kingdom of León.

Initially a vassal of the Kingdom of León, Portugal grew in power and territory and gained de facto independence during weak Leonese reigns.

In 1071 Garcia II of Galicia was declared King of Portugal and in 1095, Portugal broke away from the Kingdom of Galicia.

At the end of the 11th century, the Burgundian knight Henry became count of Portugal and defended its independence by merging the County of Portugal and the County of Coimbra.

Henry's son Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself Prince of Portugal on 24 June 1128 and King of Portugal in 1139 with Coimbra as his capital {Guimarães (Vimarens) from 1131-1133}. The Templar Kinights joined to participate in the Reconquista and fortify the country, creating the Linha do Tejo line of castles across Portugal. In 1147 the 2nd Crusaders re-took Lisbon from the Moors.

In 1179 a papal bull officially recognised Afonso I as king. The Algarve was conquered from the Moors in 1249, and in 1255 Lisbon became the capital. Portugal's land boundaries have remained almost unchanged since then.

CLICK HERE to view Portugal's history timeline.

Read Part 2 here...


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