Brief history of Porto summarized
A look at the brief history of Porto, as a summary
Beginnings of Porto
Founded by the Celts at the mouth of the Douro River, it was occupied by the Romans during the 4th century, turning it into an influential commercial port and renaming it “Portus Cale”.
In the year 456 it was invaded by Theodoric II, king of the Visigoths, who remained in his power until the year 716, when it fell under the Muslim invasion of the Moors.
Alfonso III of Asturias fought against the Muslims and conquered Portus Cale in 868. In the following years, Portugal became a political entity.
In 1096, King Alfonso VI of Castile married his daughter Teresa of León to Henry of Burgundy and gave her the county of Portugal as a dowry, Porto being the county capital at the time.
Afonso Enríquez, son of Enrique de Borgoña and Teresa de León, defeated the king of León in 1139 and established a new kingdom from the south of the Kingdom of Galicia. This is the basis for the independence of Portugal.
Five years later, in 1143, Afonso Enríquez was recognized as the first King of Portugal by King Alfonso VII of León.
John I of Portugal was proclaimed king in 1385 and two years later he married Philippa of Lancaster, niece of Henry III of England. After their marriage, both countries signed the Treaty of Windsor, the oldest military alliance between two countries. The Kings had several children, including Henry the Navigator in 1394.
Prince Henry became an important figure during the Portuguese Empire and led the Age of Discovery, traveling to West Africa.
Portugal gradually became an influential trading center and its ports, including Porto, grew substantially. The city’s renowned shipyards built the vessels used by Henry the Navigator for his voyages of exploration.
Since 1415, the citizens of Porto have been known as “tripeiros”, which literally means “tripe eaters”, since the best parts of the animals were given to the sailors who sailed to conquer Ceuta in North Africa and the inhabitants of the city kept the cuts.
From 1580 to 1640, the Iberian Peninsula was united and became dependent on the Spanish Habsburg kings Felipe II, Felipe III and Felipe IV of Spain.
Porto and most of the major cities in Portugal opposed this union and in 1640, Porto supported the Lisbon mutiny that would finally break the union of the Peninsula.
However, Porto benefited from the reign of the Habsburgs and grew in both size and stature. It gave way to Porto’s Golden Age during the 18th century.
In 1756, Porto rose up against Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the first Marquis of Pombal, who wanted to create a British monopoly on Port wines. Porto became an important industrial center due to its wines and many wealthy families built notable baroque and neoclassical buildings.
Under Marshal Soult, Napoleonic troops invaded Portugal in 1807, and along with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula they remained under French control until their withdrawal in the winter of 1813-14.
Porto as a liberal and progressive city
Porto became a city renowned for its fight for civil rights and during the 19th century, important writers and poets lived in the city.
In 1820, a Liberal Revolution began in Porto demanding a constitutional monarchy in Portugal. After Miguel de Portugal took the throne, Porto rebelled against his absolutist rule and suffered an eighteen-month siege by the King’s army in 1832.
Porto was victorious and King Miguel abdicated due to the numerous sacrifices of the inhabitants, who fought heroically to defend the Constitutional Charter.
Leixões, one of the country’s main seaports, was built in 1890. This fueled the city’s economic growth, and in the early 20th century, when the Republic was created in 1910, the city experienced many positive changes. An example of the urban development of this time is the famous Avenida de los Aliados.
20th century Porto
Porto provisionally became the capital of Portugal when Paiva Couceiros proclaimed the “Monarchy of the North”. The immediate Republican reaction put an end to the uprising.
During the Salazar dictatorship, until 1974, Porto’s infrastructure was greatly improved and the Arrábida bridge was already built in 1963.
Porto was elected cultural capital of Europe in 2001 and the city built the impressive “Casa da Musica” in Boavisita for the occasion.
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