Ancient history

Porto's Liberal Revolution

The Revolution Liberal from Port was a political movement that broke out in the city of Porto, in Portugal, in the year 1820, and had liberal inspiration. This movement aimed to overthrow absolutism in Portugal, force d. João VI to return to Lisbon, and recolonize Brazil. Historians believe that this event anticipated Brazil's independence.

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Revolution context

In the early 19th century , Portugal was going through one of the most agitated moments in its history, and the chaotic scenario in society, economy and politics provided the conditions for the Liberal Revolution in Porto to take place. This event was responsible for significant changes both in Portugal and in Brazil.

At that time, Portugal was facing serious consequences from a Era N apoleonic a . The Iberian country was in a difficult situation when Napoleon Bonaparte decided to demand from all the kingdoms of Europe that commercial relations with the English be broken. In the Portuguese case, this was quite delicate, as the English were his greatest allies.

The French Emperor wanted Portugal, in addition to closing its ports to English ships, to summon its ambassador who was in London back to Lisbon, expel the English ambassador from Lisbon, arrest Englishmen in Portugal and confiscate their goods, in addition to declaring war on England.

The Portuguese tried to negotiate and get around the situation, but there was no understanding. In retaliation, Napoleon ordered the dispatch of troops to occupy Portuguese territory, and the approach of French troops forced the Prince Regent of Portugal, d. John, starting preparations to flee. The Portuguese royal family would move to Brazil.

The arrival of the Portuguese royal family to Brazil took place with an escort of English vessels, and the arrival in the country took place in February 1808. The presence of D. João here started at P period Joanino , a phase in which Brazil underwent profound changes. Modernization of the colony was necessary, since the Court was here, but the results of this for Portugal were not the best.

The opening ports to friendly nations, held in 1808, put an end n the monopoly commercial , guaranteeing greater freedom to Brazilian traders and putting Portuguese traders at a disadvantage in relation to the English. In 1815, Brazil's elevation to the status of a kingdom gave it a status equal to that of a metropolis.

After the arrival of the royal family to Brazil, Portugal faced difficult times when the French invaded the country and, later, when they left it, with the territory being occupied by English troops and being administered by an English regent.

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Motivations for revolution

We have seen, therefore, that, from an economic and political point of view, Portugal faced serious consequences from the arrival of the royal family to Brazil. The opening of ports and the treaties signed between Portugal and the United Kingdom in 1810 immensely harmed the Portuguese bourgeoisie , which saw its profits fall precipitously. It was the exploitation of Brazil, through the commercial monopoly, that guaranteed the profits of the Portuguese bourgeoisie.

The problems of Portugal's economy were not only reflected in the low profits of the bourgeoisie, but were noticeable in the inflation , which increased rapidly, in the empty coffers (d. João had taken almost everything to Brazil) and even in a agricultural crisis that affected the country, harming food production.

The Portuguese elite, formed by the bourgeoisie and nobility, understood that the economic problems facing Portugal would be solved when the country returned to explore Brazil, that is, the opening of ports and other initiatives that brought economic autonomy to Brazil should be annulled, and the country should be recolonized to the molds prior to 1808.

From a political point of view, Portugal's elite understood that the return of the royal family to Europe was urgently needed as a way of guaranteeing the country's political autonomy and independence. This feeling was reinforced by the fact that the administration of Portuguese territory was the responsibility of William Carr Beresford , an English soldier.

In addition, the Portuguese army was in the hands of English soldiers, and many English troops were in Portuguese territory. The absence da family real increased the dissatisfaction of Portuguese elites , especially the nobility, who saw their privileges end with the absence of the king to ensure them.

Thus, economic problems and the feeling of lack of political autonomy motivated Portugal's elites to desire changes for the country. These changes would be inspired by the ideals liberals, that were in evidence throughout Europe and America. In the Portuguese case, it was defended:

  • End of absolutism;

  • Establishment of a constitutional monarchy;

  • Building a Constitution;

  • Expulsion of the English;

  • Recolonization of Brazil.

The recolonization of Brazil was not necessarily a demand based on liberal ideas, but it demonstrated that the liberal inspiration of the Portuguese had a clear limit and aimed to benefit only them, because, as we have seen , nobility and bourgeoisie wanted to recover the country through the exploitation of Brazil.

With these goals in mind, a movement took place in Lisbon in 1817 — the Conspiracy from Lisbon, idealized by the military and led by General Gomes Freire de Andrade. The conspiracy was contained and its leader executed. The 1817 movement failed, but it showed that the position of the Portuguese Crown was shaken.

Key Events

In 1818, a secret organization was formed in Portugal:the Sanhedrin . This organization had many ties to Freemasonry and emerged to debate the end of English regency in Portugal, with a view to installing a constitutional monarchy in the country. Its members were the creators of the Liberal Revolution in Porto and were influenced by other events in Europe.

The Sanhedrin was attended by members of Portugal's elite:bourgeoisie , nobility and military . It was precisely the military who started the movement on August 24, 1820, in the city of Porto. They occupied the Town Hall and formed an institution called the Provisional Board of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom . The goals of this movement were summarized in a document called the Manifesto of the Portuguese Nation to the Sovereigns and Peoples of Europe.

As ​​mentioned, the Liberal Revolution in Porto had the support of the nobility, bourgeoisie and military. Soon the movement reached Lisbon and other Portuguese cities, giving greater expression to what was happening in Portugal. Participants had the word “regeneration ” as their great motto, as they defended that they would do the regeneration of Portugal.

Due to the Liberal Revolution in Porto, the Extraordinary General Courts and a Constitution of the Portuguese Nation , whose main objective was to elaborate one Constitution to Portugal — the first in the country's history. Through this Charter, the end of absolutism was expected and the establishment of a monarchy was expected. constitutional .

The Courts also decided to provisionally adopt the 1812 Constitution of Spain, while the Portuguese Constitution was being drafted. They also imposed that d. João VI swore obedience to the Constitution, that he returned to Portugal and that Brazil was recolonized.

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The Liberal Revolution in Porto left great consequences for both Portugal and Brazil. The Portuguese king decided to return to the metropolis in 1821 and agreed to swear obedience to the Constitution. With that, the powers of d. João VI were reduced, and political change in Portugal took place in a forced way.

In relation to Brazil, the Liberal Revolution in Porto helped to accelerate the colony's independence process. The intransigence of the Cortes in the desire to recolonize the country generated much dissatisfaction and strengthened those who defended the separation between Brazil and Portugal. The Brazilian independence , two years later, would be the result of this difference of interests between the two parties.

Image credits:

[1] StockPhotosArt and Shutterstock

[2] Public domain / Museu Paulista Collection (USP)