To Western Europe is a nation that emerged after ferocity against its Muslim invaders who arrived centuries prior. Portugal went on to pioneer many historic developments, refusing to be politically absorbed by its neighbors. Its people explored along the coast of Africa to reach India and beyond, kick-starting the colonial age. They went on to become a lasting empire before unrest and revolution erupted. This is the history of Portugal.
Early History of Portugal
Thousands of years ago, the Iberian Peninsula was home to several different tribes. Greeks and Phoenicians established strings of trade colonies in this region, and from here, Phoenicians voyages began along the Algarve coastline. These interactions faded over time, and the region became of paramount interest to the great powers of the day. The Carthaginians established control over parts of Iberia before conflicts escalated with the Romans. Roman emerged as the great power in the Mediterranean and invaded the Iberian Peninsula during the Second Punic War against Carthage. Provoked by raids from Western Iberia, they conquered more territory but met fierce resistance from the Lusitanians and other Indo-European tribes. For decades, the Lusitania fought, during the leadership of Viriathus. The Lusitanians fought a bold and relentless war against the Romans, fighting numerous legions and great generals, inflicting a series of humiliating defeats upon them. Their triumphs would not last as following his death, the Romans defeated them. The Iberian Peninsula became fully integrated into the Roman world. Many Roman cities developed from pre-existing Iron Age settlements such as Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra, while other cities such as Braga were founded by the Romans.
Middle Ages and Muslim Conquest
With the Roman Empire falling into decline, several Germanic tribes invaded the peninsula and eventually formed several short-lived kingdoms. The Suebi managed to firmly establish themselves in the region with their capital Braga, while most Iberia fell under the control of the Visigoths. The Visigoths would eventually conquer the Suebi Kingdom and gain control of Iberia. The Visigoths converted to Catholicism, and the structure of society did not differ greatly from its predecessor, although in essence, it was a warrior-like society. By the late 7th century, the kingdom was struck by famine and plague, which led to a heavy death toll, economic problems, and labor shortages across the Mediterranean. A new force had swept across North Africa, the Umayyad caliphate.
At the time, the Visigothic kingdom was internally weak and politically unstable. It was ruled by King Roderick, who had recently seized the throne in 711. The Berber general Tariq bin Ziyad crossed the Straits of Gibraltar with 7,000 troops unopposed while Roderick was busy subduing a rebellion by the Basque. Tariq began to plunder a number of Visigothic cities before King Roderick assembled a force and marched south. The two sides met at the Battle of Guadalupe, and the Visigoths suffered a devastating defeat. The next six years saw the almost all-out conquest of the peninsula. Some Visigoths fled north, seeking refuge in the Christian kingdom of Asturias, protected by its mountainous terrain and would serve as resistance to the Muslim invaders. Muslims called their new conquests in Iberia al-Andalus, and it became a region of scientific progress. Though many Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived alongside each other, those who did not follow Islam were considered inferior and had to pay a heavy tax known as the jizya tax.
Portugal’s economy has also been driven by its strong tourism industry, with millions of visitors flocking to the country each year to enjoy its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage. The country has also become known for its fine wines and delicious cuisine, which draws foodies from around the world.
In conclusion, Portugal has a long and fascinating history that has shaped the country into the vibrant and unique place it is today. From its ancient tribes and conflicts with Rome to its legendary explorers and vast empire, Portugal has a story that is both rich and complex. Despite facing its share of challenges and upheavals over the centuries, Portugal has emerged as a prosperous and innovative nation with a bright future. Whether you’re drawn to the country’s stunning natural landscapes, its rich cultural heritage, or its thriving tech and startup scene, there’s something for everyone in Portugal.