Portugal's nautical cartography of the 16th century was highly appreciated, not only for the new elements relating to astronomical navigation (elements that were introduced by the Portuguese into the hydrographic charts of the portolano variety), but also for the extraordinarily wide geographic domain that they represented. We know that this is so, because the Portuguese, as pioneers in geographical discoveries since the 15th century, were the only ones as from the turn of the 16th century to navigate the Indian Ocean, America, China, Brazil, Japan, Africa and Indonesia, which practically covers all of the world's seas.
Portugal and its Stake in Brazil
Still alarmed by Castile's expansion, the kings of Portugal had laid the groundwork to merge both dynasties to their advantage through marriages between both families. But the Aviz Dynasty was the first to die out: King Sebastian (1557-1578), haunted by an anachronistic vision of the Crusades, disappeared during the defeat at the hands of the Moroccans in Alcazarquivir (1578). His successor and last representative of the family, Henry the Cardinal-King, died in January 1580. Despite the pretensions of Dom Antonio, the prior of Crato, Portugal was seized in 1580 by the army of Philip II, King of Spain, son and grandson of Portuguese princesses, who was proclaimed king in Santarém; defeated in Alcantara by the Duke of Alba, the prior of Crato managed to remain in power in the Azores until 1583. In fact, it was only a personal union of the two crowns, and Philip II promised to respect the Portuguese liberties. But the people of the small kingdom did not lose their driving force; the Iberian union enabled them to infiltrate the Spanish colonies and exploit them to their advantage. However, circumstances started to work against them: the reforming of Persia by Abbas I the Great, the formation of the Mughal Empire in India and the triumph of the shogunate in Japan stripped away the Portuguese's authority. When Philip II banned the Lisbon spice market to the incensed Dutch and the hostile English, the sailors from the north made their attempt at travelling to the Far East and settled alongside the Portuguese, breaking their hold of the market, but not stopping their trade. Asia's sovereigns, the English and especially the Dutch gradually whittled down the long line of Portuguese trading posts.
When the Dutch settled in Brazil (from 1624) and alongside the African trading posts (Sao Tomé, Sao Paulo de Luanda) , the Portuguese blamed the Spanish monarchy for their defeat. Taking advantage of the revolt of Catalonia and the indirect support of Richelieu, they rose up on 1 December 1640, slaughtering certain members of the government, including Vasconcelos, and proclaimed the Duke of Braganza king, under the name of John IV (1640-1656). They managed to drive the Dutch away from the African trading posts (1643, 1648), followed by Brazil (1654), which had risen in favour of the court of Lisbon, but they had to contend with the collapse of their positions in Asia (Portuguese colonial empire). After a long, costly war, and despite the backing of a large proportion of the Portuguese nobility, Spain had to recognise Portugal's independence, in return for relinquishing Ceuta (treaty of Lisbon, ratified in 1668), marking the disappearance of Castilian-Portuguese bilingualism; French literature and then French "philosophy" made their influence felt. After a tremendous crisis within the monarchy (Alfonso VI [1656-1683] banished to the Azores in 1667, with Pedro II proclaimed the Regent [1667-1683] and then the King of Portugal [1683-1706]) and an attempt to pursue an economic policy based on a high degree of state control, Portugal tied its economic fate into that of the English economy: the Methuen Treaty (1703) reserved the English market exclusively for wines from Madeira and Porto; in return, Great Britain could freely sell its wheat and textiles in Portugal, which had now focused on producing wine only, and take part in Brazil's trade. Once again abandoning its trading posts in the Indies, East Africa, Zanzibar, Mombasa (1698), the islands of West Africa (Annobon, Fernando Poo, 1778), permanently leaving Morocco (Mazagan, 1769), and most often giving up on kick-starting the national economy, the monarchy ploughed its energy into running its American colony, which spread towards the west, at the expense of the land allocated to Spain by the Treaty of Tordesillas. The discovery of gold in Minas Gerais (apparently more than 1 000 tons) in 1696 and diamonds (Diamantina was founded around 1725) by far outstripped its sugar, tobacco and cocoa activities, for which the Portuguese monopoly had disappeared with the emergence of the West Indies' rapid development, but which still required vast numbers of African slaves. Brazil also allowed this profitable, though shady traffic with the Spanish colonies, and we can understand why Portugal fought tooth and nail to keep the position of Sacramento on the Rio de la Plata; the fort was eventually lost in 1778.
Joseph (1750-1777), son of Jean V (1707-1750), entrusted the government to Carvalho e Melo, who was made Marquis of Pombal in 1770. With a hard-line police system, it was an attempt at enlightened despotism. Pombal reduced the Church's hold over Portugal and dealt ruthlessly with high-ranking clergy, the Jesuits (expelled in 1759) and the monastic orders, which were purged. The gold from Brazil, which had enabled Lisbon to be rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, subsidised the privileged companies in charge of traffic between Portugal and Brazil, the wine company of Alto Douro, the textile industries, and so on; but Pombal was unable to give Portugal back its economic independence. Maria I (1777-1816), daughter and heir to Joseph, sacked the minister (Pombal) as soon as she came to power and completely changed the country's policy; in 1792 and suffering from dementia, the queen handed over power to her son, the future John VI.
After siding with Spain in the war against Revolutionary France, Portugal was attacked by Spain, which had changed sides (the "War of the Oranges" in 1801) and permanently lost Olivença. Refusing to cut ties with England and apply a blockade, Portugal was invaded for the first time by Junot's troops in 1807; the royal family, giving up any form of resistance, set sail for Brazil. The Portuguese followed in Spain's footsteps by rising up against the French invaders in May-June 1808. Wellesley entered Portugal and forced Junot to surrender in Sintra (30 August 1808). After the failed offensives led by Soult (1809) and Masséna (1810-1811), Portugal was rid of the French.
The Fall of Portugal
John VI (1816-1826), preferring to stay in Brazil and create his kingdom, left the Portuguese government to the Regency and General Beresford, the head of the army. Following Spain's example, a military uprising in Porto overthrew the absolutist regime (August 1820). The Cortes were convened in January 1821 and decided to do away with the Inquisition and ask the king to return. John VI, who had returned to Lisbon, agreed to the liberal constitution voted in by the Cortes (1822). Making the most of the Cortes' clumsy attitude, Pedro, son of John VI, proclaimed himself Emperor of Brazil (1822), whose independence was recognised by Portugal in 1825. Miguel, John VI's youngest son, tried to re-establish the absolutist regime, but he had to go into exile in France when defeated. When the sovereign died, Pedro I of Brazil (Pedro IV of Portugal) named his daughter queen, Maria II, aged just seven, and betrothed her to her uncle Miguel; by the Charter of 1826, he introduced a two-chamber system in Portugal. The young queen, taken under Canning's wing, was ousted in 1828 by Miguel, who proclaimed himself king and established a fierce absolutist regime; but the revolution of 1830 stripped him of his influential protectors. Pedro I left Brazil (1831), reached the Azores, which had risen up against Miguel, and arrived in Porto (1832). Upon returning to Lisbon (1833) and with the help of the Quadruple Alliance, he overthrew Miguel in Evora Monte (1834). The Charter of 1826 re-established the abolished religious orders, and political life was organised with two rival factions: the Chartists (moderates) and the Septembrists (liberals), who wanted the Constitution of 1822. For around 15 years, the country went through a period of civil fighting. In 1852, the Additional Act introduced direct elections based on a very low taxable rating, which made 25% of Portuguese electors, whereas 80% were illiterate. The parliamentary regime was just a front: elections were staged by the government, which was based on the Crown and had to satisfy the ruling classes. The poor way in which public funds were managed slowed down economic progress. During the reign of Kings Pedro V (1853-1861) and Louis (1861-1889), a few reforms were introduced: sale of the clergy's properties, abolition of slavery in the colonies, publication of the Portuguese Civil Law (1867). Remarkable officers, such as Serpa Pinto, explored the regions between Angola and Mozambique from 1877. But Portugal came up against Leopold II's enterprising schemes concerning Congo, and the Berlin Conference (1885) only granted Portugal two small villages on the right bank. Then Portugal felt the sharp end of Cecil Rhodes' machinations, who wanted to create a continuous strip of British territories from Cape Town to Cairo, and faced with England's ultimatum concerning a revolt in Nyassa (1890), Portugal had to forsake any hopes of linking its two major African colonies (1891). During the reign of Charles I (1889-1908), the monarchy became downright unpopular through its squandering, which increased the budgetary difficulties and simplified republican propaganda. The king, who had let Joao Franco establish a dictatorship (1907-1908), was killed in the middle of the street, as well as his eldest son. His second son, Manuel II (1908-1910), gave up the authoritarian regime and was driven out by a military coup. The republic was proclaimed on 5 October 1910.
The Trials and Tribulations of the Portuguese Calendar
In 1139, Portugal used the Era of Spain for its division of time. The Era of Spain (or Spanish Era) began 38 years before the Christian Era; year 1 in the Christian Era therefore corresponded to year 39 in the Spanish Era.
It was an event-based and provincial era of the Roman world, the starting point for which was taken as the date on which the Iberian peninsula was reduced to a Roman province by Augustus. It was widely used in the history of Spain, the southern part of Gaul and a large part of Africa.
The inscriptions on the pediment of Templar castles in Portugal indicate dates using the Spanish Era. You therefore need to subtract 38 years to work out the corresponding date in the Christian Era (still in force today).
On 22 August 1422, King João I abolished its use in Portugal and adopted the time system used with the Christian Era, just like all the countries in the Christian world.
In 1582, Portugal immediately and permanently used the Gregorian calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII to make up for shortcomings in the Julian calendar: as a result, the Portuguese went straight from Thursday, 4 October 1582 to Friday, 15 October 1582.