Daniel Halliday
Jan 24 · Last update 2 mo. ago.

What led to the fall of the Portuguese Empire?

The Portuguese Empire arose from a period of European exploration that started with the discovery of the island of Madeira in 1419 under the direction of Prince Henry the Navigator. Portuguese sailors and merchants went on to circumnavigate the globe and establish one of the longest lived and furthest reaching Empires in the history of the world. But how did one of the first global empires and one of the most dominant European colonial powers lose its overseas territories and end up, geographically, where it started in the 15th century?
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Technically the handover of Macau in 1999
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Loss of Goa
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The British Ultimatum of 1890
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The Dutch destabilising Portuguese colonialism
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Napoleon’s invasion laying the foundation for Brazil’s independence
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Technically the handover of Macau in 1999

Although the Portuguese Empire was in decline long before and effectively not administering over the region since a coup d'état in 1974 Portugal officially gave up its last overseas territory in 1999 in the transfer of sovereignty of Macau to the People’s Republic of China. This ended the oldest and longest European settlement in Asia as the Portuguese had ruled over the region for 442 years. The handover of Macau marked the end of the Portuguese Empire, of the Portuguese process of decolonisation and of European imperialism in Asia.

infoplease.com/history/world/macao-the-portuguese-colonial-empire-comes-to-an-end

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 13
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Loss of Goa

Although the Portuguese empire had been in a long slow decline for many many years previously the loss of Goa in India was by far the most significant signalling of the end of this expansive empire. Following the Second World War and Indian independence, India demanded Portugal’s territories in India be turned over to India, after a decade of calls for independence and various outbreaks of violence India invaded Goa in 1961 as part of Operation Vijay. This led to the unconditional surrender of Portuguese forces and a Goan referendum which saw Goa returned to India the same year. This demonstrated that the Portuguese could no longer protect even the small enclaves left of its once huge territory.

travel-india-goa-guide.com/goan_history.html

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
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The British Ultimatum of 1890

During the Scramble for Africa of the late 19th century Portugal attempted to connect its colonies of Angola and Mozambique to occupy a continuous corridor of territory in southern Africa. This soon led to territorial disputes with British interested operating in the region, leading to an Anglo-Portuguese crisis, and in 1890, the British Government issued the British Ultimatum, a claim of sovereignty over the territory Portugal had attempted to acquire. The British Ultimatum caused national outrage which eventually led to the Republican Revolution in Portugal and the end of the monarchy. However this also curtailed Portuguese colonial expansion something that continued around the First and Second World Wars and finally ended with the European decolonisation movement of the Cold War.

revolvy.com/topic/1890%20British%20Ultimatum

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 11
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The Dutch destabilising Portuguese colonialism

The decline of the Portugese Empire was a gradual process that accelerated rapidly due to the Dutch Portuguese War. Although this war is thought of as part of the bigger Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Netherlands, it was largely fought in the interests of Dutch colonial ambitions in the Far-East, and had little to do with conflict in Europe, being more accurately nicknamed the ‘Spice Wars’. Portugal began losing colonial territories at the fastest rate in its history to the Dutch forces; Jakarta, Malacca, Ceylon, the Indian Malabar coast, trade with Japan, Olinda, Salvador, San Jorge-da-Mina were lost to Dutch influence throughout the 17th century. This weakened Portuguese influence internationally to such a degree that, although Portugal restored their own independence over the Spanish and their influence over Brazil by agreeing to the Hague Treaty with the Dutch, the Empire continued to decline following the loss of control over the global spice trade.

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Daniel Halliday
Feb 28
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Napoleon’s invasion laying the foundation for Brazil’s independence

In 1807 Napoleon invaded Portugal, marking the beginning of the Peninsular War for control over the Iberian Peninsula. This almost bloodless conquest of Portugal caused the Portuguese royal family to flee to Brazil, and establish all the institutions needed to rule their empire from this overseas territory. The royal family returned to Portugal following Napoleon’s defeat, leaving Prince Dom Pedro to govern Brazil in their absence, however following seven years of dissatisfaction with Portugal’s Constituent Assembly Dom Pedro declared independence from Portugal in 1822. This represented the largest loss of foreign territory in the history of the Portuguese Empire and marked the gradual decline of Portuguese colonial influence.

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Daniel Halliday
Jan 25
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