Ana Valentina Angelo

Restoration of the Independence of Portugal - Commemoration of a Sovereign Country!

Under the skies of Figueira XIX

Congratulations to you, Figueira da Foz, and to the entire Portuguese Community for this date, which celebrates the pride of the Portuguese people and a free and unique Portugal. The Restoration of Independence is a celebration of a Sovereign Portugal!


Hello, Figueira da Foz!

Today, the sky dawned white as a feather …. From the window I watch the “figueirense green” delighting in a fine and persistent rain ….

You, Figueira, are not as flowered as in the spring, but the shades of your green are exuberant. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold; our tour today is different. Let’s venture into the history of Portugal.

December 1st arrived and the Figueirenses would like to be in the streets, or even on the beaches, celebrating the date that praises one of the most important deeds in the History of Portugal, the War of the Restoration of Independence in 1640, however the second wave of the pandemic of Covid-19 does not allow it.

The Fort of Saint Catherine in Figueira da Foz

It is estimated that the Fort of Saint Catherine was built during the reign of Filipe II (1580 to 1598) of Spain, on the hill at the entrance to the Mondego River, financed by  Buarcos Village, the University of Coimbra, Cabido and the Holy Cross Monastery.

Later, by order of the War Council of Dom João IV, concerned with the defense of the sea coast, the Fort of Saint Catherine in Figueira da Foz, received some structural work in order to increase “one of its curtains to hold 15 pieces of artillery” ¹ Therefore, in 1640, Figueira da Foz continued to make history. So … let’s go back in time …


Fort of Saint Catherine in Figueira da Foz - Photo: Cesar Angelo

The War of Restoration of Independence of Portugal 1640-1668

At first, it is necessary to consider the protagonism in the European historical scene of the time: here we speak of an ancient people, coming from different cultures, in a constant struggle for physical survival, for the preservation of traditional values of customs, mainly religious, and for their obstination to the political and territorial hegemony of Portugal.

The death of Dom Sebastião in 1578

Dom Sebastião

The fact that Dom Sebastião died in the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir in 1578, resulted in a great crisis; Dom Henrique, cardinal of the Catholic Church, takes the throne, but dies in 1580, leaving no direct heirs to the throne of Portugal.

Cardeal Dom Henrique

The Philippine Dynasty (Iberian Union)

Some Portuguese nobles claimed the Crown but the throne was in the hands of King Philip II of Spain. This way, the Iberian Union had been established: Political Unity between Portugal and Spain monarchies that remained for sixty years. This period is called the Philippine Dynasty.

The Philippine Dynasty - Portugal is subjugated by Spain

“Most of the members of the main institution of that time, the Council of Governors of the Kingdom of Portugal, offered support to the acclaim of the Spanish monarch, but there was armed resistance from Prior do Crato. Felipe II also mobilized his armies into Portugal, which occupied several cities in the kingdom without difficulty. In addition to the strength of his armies, Filipe II also had the support of the Duke of Alba, Fernando Pimentel, who defeated the resistance of Prior do Crato and guaranteed Portuguese subjection to the King of Spain. ”²
Spanish Coat of Arms
Portrait of Filipe II Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola

In 1581, Philip II of Spain was named Philip I of Portugal.

The measure that delegated Portugal to the Crown of Spain did not please the Lusitanians because, at that time, the so-called “Portuguese colonial empire” was at its highest point concerning their colonial conquests and the growth of their economy. Thus, all these political events reflected negatively on the issues of the Portuguese overseas colonies.

The continental scenario was also not very favorable to the Lusitanian people, because at the same time that Europe was being ravaged by the religious civil war, provoked by the Protestant Reforms movements, Portugal started to respond politically to Spain, which was recognized as the main Catholic power of the continent, not favored by countries adhering to the emerging Protestantism.

Netherlands terminates agreements with Portugal

At the time, Portugal maintained trade with the Protestant Holland, which refined the sugar produced by the colonies. The Netherlands then breaks the agreements with Portugal and invades part of Portugal’s colonies overseas.

Portuguese moods cool down

In this historical context, more than ever, the reconquest of Portugal was necessary, however the continental instabilities did not offer favorable conditions for an uprising in Portugal: The war of the Thirty Years (1618-1648), clashes between European aristocratic dynasty, over religion, land ownership, succession disputes.

Portuguese Territories during the War of the Thirty Years

Spain requires Soldiers and Portugal's funding for the war

Habsburg Domain - Map shows loss of Portuguese territory before 1700

In 1635 France declared war on Spain in the dispute over the Mediterranean region. Spain turns to Portugal and imposes military and financial participation through taxation on the Portuguese people for their maintenance in the wars against France. This scenario intensifies the Portuguese dream for the quest to restore Portugal’s power over its lands.

The Manuelinho Uprising

In 1637, the episode of Évora, then called The Manuelinho Uprising, It played a relevant role in the search for a free Portugal. It was a conspiracy, provoked by the disaffected elites, with the aim of sharpening popular spirits across the country, in favor of an energetic position against Spain’s excesses and questioning the legitimacy of the merger between the two nations.

Painting on Tiles: The Manuelinho Uprising

The pride of the Portuguese people and the realization of the restoration of independence

The mood among the Portuguese was of insurgenve. The Noble convinced the then Duke of Bragança, Dom João, grandson of Duchess Catarina de Bragança, to fight for the Portuguese crown and secretly encouraged the population of rural and urban areas to join the plan to retake Portuguese territory.

Portugal, a sovereign country!

On December 1, 1640, “the uprisings against Spain took over Portugal” ³, resulting in the acclaim of the Duke of Bragança as King of Portugal, with the title of Dom João IV, giving rise to the Bragança dynasty


Portugal Coat of Arms

To you, special guest of Figueira da Foz, who will meet me in our contacts, until next time and take care. Follow the preventive measures against the Covid-19 virus.


Our appreciation to the brave Healthcare Professionals worldwide.