Portugal: key historical events
Page last modified 6 May 2023
Map of changes (railways, frontier at Olivenza)
3 May 2007, Madelaine McCann, 3 years old, was abducted from the tourist resort of Praia de Luz, Portugal.
11 June 2005, General Vasco Goncalves, Portuguese politician, died (born 3 May 1921)
2002, Portugal adopted the Euro.
1996, Jorge Sampaio, Socialist Party, elected President.
1995, The Socialist Party won elections. Its leader, Antonio Guterres, became President.
1991, Soares, Social Democratic Party, was elected President.
1989, Portugal amended its Constitution to allow for major State enterprises to be privatised.
18 September 1987, Americo Tomas, 14th President of Portugal, died (born 1894).
1986, Portugal joined the European Community (now EU).
9 June 1983, In Portugal, a centre-Left coalition took office under Mario Soares.
30 October 1982, New Constitution in Portugal ended the influence of the military in government.
26 October 1980, Marcelo Caetano, Portuguese politician, died aged 74.
1978, Soares resigned.
25 April 1976. Portugal held legislative elections, exactly a year after the previous elections.
2 April 1976, Portugal adopted a new Constitution with a commitment to socialism.
1975, Portugal�s former African colonies became independent.
26 November 1975, Attempted coup in Portugal by left-wing soldiers was foiled.
26 April 1975, In Portugal�s first free elections for 50 years, former exile Mario Soares won for the Portuguese Socialist Party.
14 July 1974, Left-wing government took office in Portugal, under Colonel Vasco Goncalves.
15 May 1974, General Spinola became ruler of Portugal, see 25 April 1974. A moderate conservative senior army officer, Spinola was unable to block the rise of the Communists in Portugal and he resigned in September 1974. Spinola attempted a counter-coup against the Communists in March 1975 but this failed. In April 1975 Mario Soares�s moderate socialist party won elections, but power remained with the Supreme Revolutionary Council of Marxist Officers, led by Captain Otelo de Carvalho. Portugal seemed to be on the way to becoming a Communist state, but in November 1975 moderate socialists under Colonel Ramalho Eanes arrested Carvalho and other communist officers, with little resistance. Eanes became president in 1976 with Soares as Prime Minister, restoring democracy.
25 April 1974, A military coup in Portugal.� PM Marcello Caetano was overthrown in an almost bloodless military coup organised by left-wing junior officers of the secret Movimento das Forcas Armadas (MFA).� There was dissatisfaction with Portugal�s demoralising colonial wars in Angola and Mozambique. The coup provoked rejoicing in Lisbon and the red carnation was adopted as symbol of the revolution. See 15 May 1974.
19 April 1973, The Portuguese Socialist Party was founded in the German city of Bad M�nstereifel, by militants from Portuguese Socialist Action.
27 July 1970, Portuguese Fascist dictator Antonio Salazar died, aged 81. He was replaced by Marcello Caerano.
Rule of Salazar
27 September 1968, Antonio Salazar resigned as Prime Minister of Portugal, after holding the office for 36 years and 84 days, the longest term of office of any politician. Aged 79, he had suffered a major stroke.
6 August 1966, Portugal opened what was then Europe�s longest suspension bridge, the Ponte Salazar, 7,427 feet long across the River Tagus near Lisbon. The main span was 3,323 feet long.
1 December 1954, The Est�dio da Luz football stadium opened in Lisbon, Portugal.
1949, Portugal became a founder member of NATO.
12 October 1943, Allied forces landed in the Azores, a possession of Portugal. Portugal had hitherto remained neutral in the War, mindful of the proximity of Franco�s Spain, but Dr Salazar, Portuguese leader, now believed an Axis defeat was inevitable. The Azores would be very useful as a base for aerial protection of Allied convoys crossing the Atlantic. The German Consulate in the Azores was now closed down and all German citizens evacuated; only the Portuguese mainland German Consulate remained open.
1939-1945, Portugal was neutral during World War Two, but latterly let the Allies use its air bases on The Azores.
30 June 1937, Portugal stopped co-operating with the Non-Intervention Committee patrol agreement and ordered British observers off its soil.
19 May 1936, The Mocidade Portuguesa paramilitary youth organization was created in Portugal.
5 July 1932. Oliveira Salazar became virtual dictator of Portugal at the head of a Fascist regime.� Portugal was in the middle of an economic and political crisis.
2 July 1932, Manoel II, ex-King of Portugal, died.
30 July 1930, In Portugal, the Fascist National Union Party was formed.
3 February 1927, In Portugal, a revolt began against dictator General Carmona; the revolt was defeated on 13 February 1927.
28 May 1926, A coup in Portugal established a military dictatorship.
8 November 1925, The Democratic Party won a majority in Portuguese elections, gaining 83 of the 163 seats.
19 October 1921, Portuguese PM Antonio Granjo was assassinated.
6 March 1921, The Portuguese Communist Party was founded.
19 January 1919. A pro-monarchist uprising in Portugal; the monarchy was proclaimed at Oporto.
15 December 1918, The Portuguese President Sidonio Paes was assassinated.
1917, Manoel Jose de Arriaga, first elected President of Portugal 1911-15 after the overthrow of King Manuel II (born 1840), died.
1916, Portugal fought on the Allied side in World War One.
29 May 1915, Manuel de Arriaga officially resigned as president of Portugal, allowing Prime Minister Teofilo Braga to take over as the second president of the country.
Portugal becomes a Republic, monarchy deposed
21 October 1913, An attempted pro-Royalist revolution in Portugal was suppressed by the government.
25 August 1911, Dr Manoel de Arriga was elected President of Portugal.
20 April 1911, Portugal formally separated Church and State, following the declaration of a Republic in October 1910.
3 October 1910. A revolution in Portugal ousted King Manoel II after a 2-year reign. The monarch, set up in 1128, ended. He and his mother left for England, where he died in 1932, and Portugal became a Republic under 67-year-old Teofilo Braga, on 7 October 1910.
1 February 1908, Carlos I, King of Portugal, was assassinated along with his son, Prince Luiz, by soldiers after a failed revolution. He was succeeded by his 18-year old younger son, Manoel II.
7 August 1906, Marcello Caetano, Portuguese Prime Minister, was born.
19 May 1906, Joao Franco became Prime Minister of Portugal, with dictatorial powers.
10 May 1902, Portugal was bankrupt, and defaulted on its external debt. It faced heavy costs from an ongoing insurrection in Angola, which continued until 6 September 1902.
19 January 1902, Maria Cristina, Infanta of Portugal and Spain, died aged 68.
12 April 1894, Francisco Craveiro Lopes, 12th President of Portugal (1951-58), was born in Lisbon.
19 October 1889, King Luis I of Portugal died aged 51 (born 1838). He was succeeded by his son, Carlos I, aged 26.
28 September 1863, Carlos I, King of Portugal, was born (died 1 February 1908).
15 November 1853, Maria II of Portugal died, aged 34. She was succeeded by her 16-year-old son, Pedro V.
King Miguel I
14 November 1866, Miguel I, King of Portugal, died.
16 May 1834, The 6-year civil war in Portugal ended. Miguel was defeated and left the country.
4 July 1828, Dom Miguel, Regent of Portugal, had himself proclaimed King after a coup in May 1828. Civil war began and his niece, 9-year old Maria, was taken to England for her safety.
King John VI
10 March 1826, King John VI of Portugal died aged 56. He was succeeded by his son, Dom Pedro of Brazil, as Pedro IV; however Pedro IV refused to leave Brazil, and abdicated in favour of his infant daughter, Maria.
15 September 1820, The Portuguese revolution reached the capital, Lisbon. The British were evicted.
24 August 1820, A revolt broke out in Portugal as discontent grew over excessive British influence in the country, and the absence of the King, who was still in Brazil.
20 March 1816, Queen Maria I of Portugal died aged 81. She was succeeded by her son, John VI, but he remained in Brazil.
29 November 1807, As France invaded Portugal, the Portuguese Royal Family, the Braganzas, fled to Portugal, under the protection of British Admiral Sidney Smith. They took with them the fleet that Napoleon hoped to use to invade Britain.
19 November 1807, Naploeonic France, along with Spain, invaded Portugal because of its refusal to join the Comntiental system, the closure of European ports to British ships.
26 October 1802, Maria Miguel, King of Portugal, was born (died 14 November 1866).
29 September 1801, The Treaty of Madrid between France and Portugal confirmed the Treaty of Badajoz, ending the war between Spain and Portugal.
15 November 1799, The future King John VI of Portugal took pwer due to the mental illness of his mother, Queen Maria
1786, Portugal�s feeble-minded King Pedro died. His son John, aged 19, who was nominahed Regent in 1792 and who ruled as John VI for 10 years from his mother�s death in 1816.
8 May 1782, Sebastiao de Carvalho, Marquis of Pombal, reformer and virtual ruler of Portugal 1750-77, died in Pombal aged 82.
24 February 1777, Jose I, King of Portugal, died. Maria I became Queen of Portugal.
1765, Portugal abolished the auto-da-fe (act of faith) parade in Lisbon; this had often been used as an excuse for antisemitism or persecution of �heretic� Christians.
13 May 1769, John VI, King of Portugal, was born (died 26 March 1826).
25 August 1762, The city of Almeida was captured by Spain, from Portugal. Portugal was allied with Britain in a war against Spain.
1 November 1755, An earthquake reduced two thirds of Lisbon to rubble, killing 60,000 people. Lisbon had been a great city with a population of about a quarter of a million. The quake has been estimated at Richter 9, and caused cracks as wide as 5 metres in the ground to open. Further destruction was caused when a 6 metre high tsunami struck, drowning many who had sought refuge on ships in the harbour. Fire then destroyed many more buildings. Striking on All Saints Day, the quake caused many to be sceptical of God�s existence, and the event spurred research into natural causes for disasters rather than Acts of God, laying the foundations for the Enlightenment.
King John V
31 July 1750, John V of Portugal died aged 61, after reigning for 44 years. He was succeeded by his son, 35, Jose Manuel, who ruled until his death in 1777.
9 December 1706, King Pedro II of Portugal died aged 58 after a 23-year reign. He was succeeded by his 17-year-old son who ruled as John V until 1750.
13 May 1699, Sebastiao Pombal, Portugiese statesman, was born near Pomba (died 8 May 1782 in Pomnbal)
22 October 1689, John V, King of Portugal, was born.
1683, King Afonso VI, a dissolute monarch, died aged 40, and was succeeded by his 35 year old brother Pedro, who had served as Regent since 1667. He now ruled as Pedro II until he died in 1706.
Portuguese independence from Spain
13 February 1668, Spain recognised Portugal as an independent nation.
17 June 1663, Battle of Montes Claras. Sancho de Vita Flor routed the Spanish.
8 June 1663, Battle of Ameixal. Sancho de Vita Flor defeated San Juan.
1661, Spain made further attempts to regain Portugal.
14 January 1659, The Battle of Elvas practically ensured Portuguese independence from Spain.
6 November 1656, John IV of Portugal died, aged 53. He was succeeded by his 13-year old son, who ruled as Alfonso VI until 1667.
26 May 1644, Battle of Montijo. A Portuguese force under General Mathias d�Alberquerque, backed by France and England, successfully attacked into Spain. After this victory near Badajoz, Spain left Portugal in peace for some years.
13 December 1640, The Duke of Braganza was crowned John IV, King of Portugal.
Portugal under Spanish rule
1 December 1640. Portugal regained its independence from the Spanish.
1594, Lisbon closed its spice market to Dutch and English traders; at this time Portugal was in personal union with Spain, both being ruled by Philip II, and England was helping the Dutch to gain independecnce from Spain. This forced traders from those countries to get their spices directly from India, and the creation of the Dutch East India Company followed.
8 July 1583, Fernao Mendes Pinto, Portuguese aedventurer, died (born 1509)
11 December 1582, In Portugal, Spanish military leader Fernando Alvarez de Toledo died.
25 August 1580, Spanish forces defeated the Portuguese at Alcantara and occupied Lisbon. Porto fell in October 1580. The conquest of Portugal by Spain doubled Spain�s overseas possessions.
31 January 1580, King Henry I of Portugal died (born 1512), causing a succession crisis.
4 August 1578, Sebastian, King of Portugal, was killed in the Battle of Al Kasr al Kebir in Morocco, where Portuguese forces were annihilated by a larger Muslim army. 7,000 Portuguese soldiers were killed and a further 8,000 were taken prisoner. The Portuguese throne was left without an heir, ending the Avis Dynasty, and enabling Philip II of Spain to claim it in 1580. See also Morocco.
King John III
11 June 1557, John III, King of Portugal, died on his 55th birthday. He was succeeded by his 3-year old grandson, Sebastian.
22 April 1529, The Treaty of Saragossa divided the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal, along a north-south line 17 degrees, 9297.5 leagues) east of the Moluccas.
13 December 1521, Manuel I, 14th King of Portugal, died aged 52 (born 3 May 1469). He was succeeded by his son, John III.
16 December 1515, Alphonso D�Albuquerque, Portuguese naval military expert, died at sea.
3 February 1509, Portugal defeated the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Diu, Indian Ocean. Portugal was moving to dominate the spice trade, which had been lucrative for the Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada. Begada was supported by other beneficiaries of the established trade; Egypt, the Ottoman Empire and Venice. However the Portuguese ships, built to withstand the rigours of a long voyage, were superior, and Portugal�s victory gave them control of the Indian spice trade for a century.
6 June 1502, John III, King of Portugal, was born.
21 May 1502, The Portuguese explorer Joao de Nova discovered the island of St Helena, in the south Atlantic.
1500, The Portuguese discovered Brazil.
King John II
25 October 1495, John II, King of Portugal from 1481, died aged 40. He was succeeded by his cousin, who ruled as Manuel I until 1521.
7 June 1494, The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI had set a line at 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands from north to south Pole; Spain had the rights to colonise west of this line, Portugal to the east. The 1494 Treaty moved this line a further 270 leagues to the west. This resulted in Portugal having possession of both Brazil and Africa; in turn this greatly facilitated the expansion of the slave trade, providing cheap labour for the sugar plantations.
31 August 1486, The Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz set sail for India.
1482, The Portuguese constructed a fort at Sao Jorge da Mina,Gold Coast (now Elmina, Ghana) for securing the Portuguese monopoly in the west African gold trade. By the early 1500s, some 680kg of gold a year was being shipped to Portugal from this fort.
29 August 1481, John II of Portugal began to rule in his own right, after the death of Afonso V in 8/1481, aged 49. John II ruled until 1495.
6 March 1480, The Treaty of Toledo: Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain recognised the African conquests of Alfonso of Portugal, and he ceded the Canary Islands to Spain.
4 September 1479, The Treaty of Alcovas between Portugal and Spain confirmed Castile�s claim on the Canary Islands, and Portugal�s claim on the Azores and Madeira, also Portuguese rights in west Africa.
1470, Portuguese explorers reached the Equator.
1469, The Portuguese King, Alfonso V agreed that,in return for an annual fee, merchant explorer Fernao Gomes would be allowed to continue to push Portuguese exploration efforts further down the west African coast. Ultimately this also opened the way for Portuguese penetration into Brazil.
Prince Henry the Navigator
1460, Death of Henry the Navigator. This might have halted further Portuguese exploration of the west African coast, but see 1469.
24 May 1449, Afonso V of Portugal decalred war on his uncle amnd Regent, Pedro, who was killed at the Battle of Alfarrobeira.
9 September 1438, King Duarte I of Portugal died aged 47 after a 5-year reign. He was succeeded by his 6-year-old son who ruled as Afonso V until 1449, with his uncle Pedro as Regent.
11 August 1433, John I, King of Portugal, died aged 76, after a 40-year reign. He was succeeded by his 40-year-old son Duarte (Edward) who ruled until 1438.
1421, Prince Henry the Navigator founded a school of navigation at Sagres.
1419, The Portuguese occupied Madiera, whicb was previously uninhabited.
1415, Prince Henry led a Portuguese expedition to capture the port of Ceuta from the Moors. On finding treasure from Senegal, which had been brought by caravan across the Sahara, he decided to try and reach Senegal by sea. However his sailors feared sailing too far south, in case they fell off the edge of the (flat) earth, and they also believed the hot sun would scorch� them black, like the Africans. See 1470.
4 March 1394, Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese Prince, was born, son of King John I.
9 May 1386, The Treaty of Windsor cemented the alliance between England and Portugal.
14 August 1385, The Battle of Aljubarrota. Portugal secured its independence against Spain. King Joao (John) I took power, and ruled until 1433. He started the Avis Dynasty.
1384, Lisbon was besieged by Castilian forces whose monarch Juan, by marriage to the Portuguese Infanta Beatrix, had a claim to the Portuguese throne. However Juan was not desired as King by the Portugiese people.
22 October 1383, Ferdinand I, King of Portugal, died aged 38 leaving no male heir. Ferdinand�s widow Leonora ruled as Regent for Beatrix, who married Juan of Castile.
1373, Lisbon was sacked by Castilian forces, see 1367.
16 June 1373, Under the Treaty of London, England and Portugal became permanent allies.
1367, Pedro I of Portugal died aged 47 after a 10 year reign marked by harsh policies. He was succeeded by his 22-year son who ruled until 1383 as Ferdinand I. He repudiated his betrothal to a Castilian princess so he could marry Leonora Telles. This repudiation provoked Henrico II of Castile to invade Portugal in 1373.
22 April 1357, John I, King of Portugal, was born (died 11 August 1433).
1325, King Denis died aged 64 after a 46-year reign. His rule had seen prosperity and growth in Portugal. He was saucceded by his 35-year-old son who ruled for 32 years as Afonso IV. There was civil was with his son Pedro.
12 September 1297, King Denis of Portugal and King Ferdinand IV of Castile signed the Treaty of Alcanizes. The geographic limits of Portugal were fixed permanently, with the exception of S�o F�lix de Galegos, lost in 1640 and Olivenza, lost in 1801.
King Afonso III
1279, King Afonso III of Portugal died aged 69 after a 34-year reign. He was succeeded by his 18-year-old son who had led a rebellion against him; he then ruled until 1235 as Diniz (Denis).
1251, Portugal took control of The Algarve, in its south-west.
4 January 1248, King Sancho II of Portugal died.
1245, King Sancho II of Portugal was deposed by Pope Innocent IV, who then offered the Crown to his brother Afonso, Count of Boulogne. Afonso ruled as Afonso III (born 2 May 1210, died 16 February 1279) until 1279, despite civil war caused by Sancho�s attempts to regain the Crown.
King Afonso II
1223, Afonso II of Portugal died aged 38. He was succeeded by hixs 15-year-old son who ruled as Sancho II, until deposed by the Pope in 1245.
25 September 1217, Afonso II, King of Portugal, defeated the Muslims at Alcazar do Sol.
1211, King Sancho I of Portugal died aged 57 after a 26-year reign. He wa succeeded by his 26-year-old son who ruled as Afonso II until 1223.
King Afonso Henriques; first King of Portugal
1185, Death at age 76 of King Alfonso Henriques I of Portugal. He had proclaimed himself King of Portugal in 1128,after a successful defeat of the Muslims, seizing power from his mother; his father, Henry of Burgundy, First Count of Portugal, had died when Afonso (born 1110) was just two years old. He defeated the Muslims at Ourique (1139) and Lisbon (1147), later taking from them the provinces of Galicia, Estremadura and Elvas. He was succeeded by his 31-year-old son who ruled until 1231 as King Sancho I. Under his rule, many new roads were built and new cities were founded in Portugal.
28 October 1147. The Moslems in Lisbon surrendered peacefully to an allied Christian force under Portugal�s Afonso Henriques I. The Moslem inhabitants were allowed to depart peacefully.
28 June 1147, The Second Crusaders, who had earlier gathered at the Devon port of Dartmouth, now agreed to help Afonso I of Portugal liberate Lisbon from the Muslims.
1143, Independence of Portugal recognised by Castile at the Treaty of Zamora
25 July 1139, King Afonso Henriques I (1110-85) of Portugal defeated the Muslims at Ourique. Portugal. Battle of Ourique, Portugal. Afonso Henriques attacked the Muslims, defeating a larger army than his own, but one weakened by internal divisions. This gained him the support of the Pope.
1128, Afonso was now proclaimed the first King of Portugal. Now aged 19, he repudiated his mother Teresa�s agreement to accept Castillian domination. He defeated Castille�s King Alfonso VII, and drove hois mother into exile.
1112, Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portiugal, died. He was succeeded by his 3-year-old son Afonso Henriques. Afonso�s mother was Regent until Afonso became King in 1128.
739, The Kingdom of Asturias expanded into modern-day Portugal.
718, At the Battle of Covadonga, the Kingdom of Asturias, north-western Spain, defeated the Arabs and escaped occupation by them. However Islamic expansion continued in other regions and by the 720s they controlled an area from Provence to the borders of China.
715, Lisbon fell to the Arabs.