Country Listing

Portugal Table of Contents




Manuel II, Portugal's last king (r. 1908-10)
Courtesy Embassy of Portugal, Washington


António de Oliveira Salazar, founder of the New State
Courtesy Embassy of Portugal, Washington

The ultimatum of 1890 caused astonishment and indignation in Lisbon. As a result, the Progressive government fell and a non-party government came to power. The ultimatum was strongly denounced by Portugal's growing band of republicans, who had organized themselves into a formal party in 1878. The republicans based their appeals on crude nationalism and played on the fears of many that a continuation of the inept government of the liberals would make Portugal either a British colony or a province of Spain. Teachers, journalists, small-business persons, clerks, and artisans were drawn to republicanism, with its appeals to nationalism, universal suffrage, separation of church and state, and the abolition of the monarchy and nobility, which were seen as irrational institutions that sapped the strength of Portugal.

The appeal of republicanism was also enhanced by the collapse of rotativismo. After 1890 the system ceased to function smoothly. Conflicts between the Regenerators and Historicals, formerly settled in secret, were brought into the open in an effort to generate public support for the system. But open debate proved to be unsettling in Portugal's depoliticized society. By 1906 neither faction could attain a parliamentary majority. In that year, the republicans managed to elect from Lisbon four deputies who proceeded to create tumultuous scenes in parliament. In May 1907, the situation came to a standstill. The king, Carlos I (r.1889-1908), dissolved parliament and gave to João Franco, a conservative reformist who had bolted from the Regenerators to form his own party, the power to govern by decree. João Franco's dictatorship was condemned by all political parties, and the republicans attempted an unsuccessful coup d'état. A crackdown on the republican movement followed. On February 1, 1908, the king and the royal family were attacked by two disgruntled republicans as they crossed the Praça do Comêrcio by open landau. The king and his youngest son were killed, and his oldest son, Manuel, survived a bullet wound in the arm. Manuel, who was eighteen at the time, became king as Manuel II (r.1908-10).

In an effort to salvage the monarchy, João Franco stepped down as prime minister and went into exile. New elections were held, but factionalism among the Regenerators and Historicals prevented the formation of a stable government even after six attempts. On October 1, 1910, the appearance in Portugal of the president of the Brazilian republic after a visit to Germany provided a pretext for extensive republican demonstrations. On October 3, the army refused to put down a mutiny on Portuguese warships anchored in the estuary of the Tagus and took up positions around Lisbon. On October 4, when two of the warships began to shell the royal palace, Manuel II and the royal family fled to Britain. On October 5, a provisional republican government was organized with the writer Teófilo Braga as president.

Data as of January 1993