The Revolution of 1820 in Portugal

The Revolution of 1820 in Portugal

The Irrigation survey in Spain the January 1, 1820 spread with great ease to Portugal, where the revolution also triumphed in the beginning. But the passing of the years and a coup, they would end up destroying the Portuguese liberal dream, which would suffer the same fate as that of its Spanish neighbors.

In the Portuguese country the first revolts began on August 24, 1820 in the so-called "Liberal Revolution of Porto". The bourgeoisie were unhappy about the consequences of the French invasion that they had suffered thanks to Napoleon. They also criticized the British rule to which the country was subjected and the measure taken in Brazil to open its ports to world trade. The British officers controlled the army of Portugal, although the danger had long since passed.

But one of the things that bothered the Portuguese the most was the country's political situation. Since Napoleon tried to conquer Portugal, the king John VI had quickly fled to Brazil and he had established his government and the administration of the Portuguese colonial empire there. This had displaced the Portuguese to the background and, in addition, had condemned them economically, since the exclusivity of trade with their colonies no longer existed.

The Porto military revolt It was a change. In a few days he took control of the city and, from there, the rest of the cities readily adhered to the constitutional proposals. In Lisbon, the former capital of the Kingdom of Portugal, there was also a military uprising although it was not until September 15, 1820 that they seized power and control of the city. A few days later, on September 28, the Lisbon and Porto authorities created the so-called “Provisional Board of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom”, Who took the reins of the country.

The new Government had the support of all social strata in Portugal. The clergy, the nobility and the army were favorable to the new constitutionalist tendency. The main measures they wanted to adopt were the return of the Court to the Kingdom of Portugal, the restoration of commercial exclusivity with Brazil and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. In order to put all these questions into practice, extraordinary general and constituent courts were convened. His task was to make a Constitution. While developing it, they applied the model of the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

In 1821, the liberals called on John VI to return to the country, along with the rest of the royal family. All returned, except for Prince Pedro, who remained as regent of Brazil. The monarch willingly accepted the new constitutional situation of the country and swore in the Constitution.

But it was not all good news. From here, various plots began to emerge that would weaken the liberal government and that would end up restore the Old Regime. On the one hand, on September 7, 1822, the independence of Brazil was proclaimed because the Brazilian elites did not want to be subjugated to the absolute control of Portugal. The regent of Brazil became Emperor Pedro I.

On the other hand, Carlota Joaquina, wife of Juan VI and sister of Fernando VII of Spain, refused to accept the loss of absolute powers and turned to his son Miguel. With him, he planned a coup in 1823.

But nevertheless, the death of John VI in 1826 it was what really eliminated the Portuguese liberal revolution. The heir of Portugal was Pedro I of Brazil, since his father had appointed him his successor. But this, after granting a constitution, abdicated in his daughter Maria II. Although his reign did not last long, since Miguel carried out a new armed uprising and implanted an absolutist regime that lasted until 1834.

Definitely, the Portuguese can be considered to have enjoyed a long liberal period that had positive and negative consequences. The positives were that economic power partially returned, as well as the success of a liberal government supported by all social classes. However, the most negative consequence was, without a doubt, the independence of Portugal, which until then had been its main source of income.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


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