December 1, 2011 -- Portugal's Restoration of Independence Day

Once upon a time, Portugal was an independent, powerful nation with a major navy and a global empire. But...then the young Portuguese king, Sebastian, died without an heir. (An heir is a child—usually a son—who can inherit the crown.)

Okay, no prince to take the crown—but there must be some relative of Sebastian who could rule! The Portuguese awarded the crown to the only royal relative: Sebastian's great-uncle, who became King Henry.

Then he died, too. Without an heir.

This wasn't a democracy. The people of Portugal didn't get to vote to see who would rule the nation. With the entire royal house having died out, what would happen next?

What happened next was that the King of Spain stepped in and claimed the throne. He was King Philip II of Spain, and he also became Philip I of Portugal. Portugal sorta' kinda' remained independent, but...

But being ruled by the Spanish king, Portugal was dragged into Spain's war Eighty Years' War. Portugal lost a lot of its navy, its good relationship with England, and its monopoly on the Indian Sea trade.

Sixty years after Philip took over in Portugal, some Portuguese nobles staged an uprising and declared their leader King John IV. It is this 1640 revolt—the restoration of Portugal's independence—that is celebrated today.

Learn more about Portugal...
  • In this earlier post, I explored some ways in which Portugal is the most-est of this and that. 
  • In this earlier post, learn about Portugal's most important poet and Fado, a genre of music. There are also links to slide shows and jigsaw puzzles.
  • In this earlier post, there is a short quiz, links to Portuguese recipes and Portuguese language, and a video of the beauties of Portugal. 

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