Born in 1913 in Coimbra and died on the 13th June 2005 in Lisbon. He studied Law at Coimbra University and joined the Communist Party in 1931. He was first elected Secretary General of the party 1935. In 1937 and 1940 he was imprisoned by the State and was tortured during both these periods. In 1948 he was imprisoned again and was sentenced by the court to 11 years of imprisonment of which 8 years were to be solitary confinement. He escaped in 1960 and spent his exile in USSR until 1974. In Russia in 1961 he was again appointed the Secretary General of the Portuguese Communist Party as an absentee. This post he retained until his appointment as President of the Party in 1992.
Returning to Portugal during the unstable period after the “25th of April” Revolution in 1974, he held ministerial offices in the first four consecutive Governments. In 1996 he retired from the office of President of his Party but remained on the Central Committee. He was very highly respected by his political opponents for his devotion to his political beliefs. He died in 2005 as a respected politician.
Américo de Deus Rodrigues Tomaz
Born in Cascais in 1894, and died in 1987. His career prior to politics was in the Portuguese navy. In 1914 he was appointed as Minister of the Navy and remained such until 1958 when he was raised to the position of President in a hard-fought election against General Humberto Delgado. He remained in this post with the backing of António de Oliveira Salazar and his later replacement Marcelo Caetano until he was exiled by the "Revolution of the 25th of April" in 1974. He was allowed back into the country in 1980 by the act of the President of that time, General Ramalho Eanes. During his political career he maintained a positive right-wing political stance to the very end. It is reliably quoted that during the short period in office of Marcelo Caetano (who replaced the aged Salazar), Admiral Thomaz was instrumental in ensuring that this new appointee maintained the policies of the previously well established right-wing.
António Bernardino da Costa Cabral
Born in Fornos de Algodres on 29th May 1803. He trained as a lawyer in Coimbra and became a Judge. His initial political stand was as a liberalist but he was quick to use force when necessary and was reputed to be ruthless to the point of corruption in succeeding in his goals. During his lifetime he created a mixed reputation of fear and admiration in the Court, financial world and the people of Portugal. He was appointed in 1836 as Governor of Lisbon and was a confident of the Queen, Dona Maria II. In the same year he used force to put down from March the 13th to the 18th the radical mobs that created unrest in Lisbon (Massacre do Rossio).
He restored diplomatic relations with Vatican and re-introduced a conservative Constitutional Charter. He encouraged foreign investment and restructured financial control away from regions to a central control bringing temporary prosperity. Costa Cabral organized a “coup d’etat” in 1842 given key posts to his supporters. He was appointed as Minister and Secretary for Royal State Affairs in 1843. In 1846 the peasant’s revolt known as “Maria da Fonte” in the north of Portugal brought about by a period of famine. Newly introduced burial regulations was blamed as the final cause for the riots and he was removed from office. He fled to England but was later returned and was restored to power in 1848. Again due to his unpopularity and the now poor economic state of Portugal he was replaced for a second time by the Duque de Saldanha in 1851.
António de Oliveira Salazar
Born into a humble family in 1889 in the small village of Sta Comba Dão near to the city of Coimbra, and later died in Lisbon in 1970. He gained a degree in both Law and Finance at the University of Coimbra and was appointed a University lecturer. He was approached in 1926 to solve the serious economic problems existing within Portugal. By 1932 he had assumed absolute power which he was not to relinquish until two years before his death in 1970.
With a firm hand he controlled both the politics and economics, carefully guiding the country through two world wars without committed involvement. His tone of politics was taken from right-wing nationalism that did not tolerate freedom of political opinion. He held his rule secure through the work of the secret police force that showed little tolerance for anyone who did not conform. With this price of a lack of democratic development he successfully rebuilt Portugal and its economic wealth. At the time of his death the national reserves of gold within the country was the highest per capita in Europe. In his devotion to serving his country he always maintained a very simple standard of living. However, those few people around him who were implementing his policies found the opportunities to gain great wealth. His rule began to show signs of slow weakening when in 1961 the War of Independence commenced in Angola that was the fore-runner of other African colonial wars. This situation eventually built up into a bloodless popular revolution within mainland Portugal of his armed forces in 1974, four years after his death.
António Sebastião Ribeiro de Spínola (Marshal)
António Spínola was born in Santo André, Estremoz and died in 1996. He enrolled in the army and was actively involved in the colonial war in Angola from 1961 to 1963. In 1968 he was appointed Commander in Chief and Governor of Guinea-Bissau until 1974. He unknowingly became a figurehead for the young army officers who were secretly plotting the Revolution of 1974. He had published a book expressing his views on the colonial wars that were then engaging Portugal in Africa. His views were strongly appreciated by the plotters but not shared by the powers in Lisbon. Due to his popularity within the army and together with his position as General he was seen by the State as a threat to the system. Prior to the revolution taking place he was recalled from Africa.
With the success of the young officers in toppling the Marcelo Caetano government (which was a continuation of the previous Salazar regime), he was nominated the next day into being their official leader in the “Army Junta of Salvation”. Spínola was soon to find that these “new comrades” were too left wing for his taste. In September of 1974 with the backing of the Portuguese Air Force, he failed in his attempt to topple the power of the Junta and hastily had to flee the country into Spain and then onto Brazil. Later, and after his return to Portugal he was awarded by the State the title of Marshal in 1981.
António dos Santos Ramalha Eanes (General)
Born on the 25th of January, 1935, in Alcaims near Castelo Branco. Ramalho Eanes joined the army at an early age and served in various Portuguese territories, namely, Angola, Goa, Guinea, Macau and Mozambique. Returning to mainland Portugal he became involved in the influential “Movemento das Forças Armadas”, the political wing of the Armed Forces controlling the new State of Portugal after the 1974 Revolution. In 1975 he was nominated to the post of General and was instrumental in November of that same year in stopping a left-wing radical fraction of the Army from taking control by a “coup d’etat”. In 1976, backed with the confidence of the people he was elected President of Portugal and was again later re-elected to the same post in 1980. After leaving this office he was for a short time active in the political field before permanently retiring from the political scene.
Ramalho Eanes with his key position as President and his policy of staying in the middle ground of left-wing thinking, played an important role in an often tense and difficult period by easing the control of the country into a social democracy and away from the attempted extreme left-wing control.
António Vieira (Padre)
Born in 6th of February in 1608 and died in 1697 in Bahia, Brazil. Known as “Padre António Vieira” he played an important part in Luso-Brazilian history. His remarkable intellect was shown by the roles he played in religion, politics, orator and writer. During his 89 years of life he lived alongside royalty, slaves and tribal Indians, and in an age when society was known for its disregard for religion and its medieval brutality. He was to also be persecuted by the Inquisition for his liberal ideas and suffered by their hands.
At the age of six his family moved to Brazil and later as a grown man he was accepted into the Catholic faith in Bahia in 1634. In 1641 he returned to Portugal and became an integral part of a royal group of advisers to the King, Dom João IV. He was appointed to direct the repossession of overseas territories belonging to Portugal. Two important policies he adopted was first to accept the domination of the Dutch occupation in Pernambuco in Brazil, and the second, was to encourage the return of Portuguese Jews to Portugal by offering them protection from the Inquisition. In return for the later point the Jews were expected to reinvest in the Portuguese empire. Both these ideas were to be rejected and Vieira was later to return to Brazil and live in Maranhão.
Vieira made powerful enemies in Maranhão due to liberal ideas and his personal defence of the local Indians and slaves. In 1661 he was ordered by the Church to leave Maranhão and return to Portugal. Upon his return in he was subjected to the examination of the Inquisition and sentenced in 1665 to prison penance in Coimbra for his controversial publications. In 1667 he was released and made his way to Rome where he managed to acquire the protection of the Queen Cristina of Sweden and the blessing of the Pope. His later return to Lisbon is marked by the publication of his "Lessons" in 1669 and two years later he returned to his loved Brazil and devoted himself to writing.
Bernardo de Sá Nogueira de Figuereido (Viconte Sá Bandeira)
Born in Santarém in 1795 and died in 1876. His town of birth was then the centre of liberal thinking within Portugal which was to have great influence on his path in life. He joined the army at the age of 15 and fought against the invading French. Later, he was to also take an active part in the siege of the northern town of Porto in the “War of the Two Brothers”. In 1823 he was actively involved in the removable of the dictatorial government. Also, in 1836, he was responsible for the passing of a Law forbidding slave trading. His promotion to General led him into a powerful position in the political field being involved in several governments and five times a part of the “Counsel of Ministers”. He became responsible in his mandate for the introduction and installation of many liberal policies during his political lifetime.
Bernardino Cardoso da Silva Sidónio Pais
Born in Coimbra in 1872 and died by assassination in Lisbon on 14th December 1918. Pais Sídonio developed into an ardent but moderate Republican. In the government of João Chagas of 1911, he was first appointed Minister of Progress and transferred to Minister of Finance. In 1913 he was appointed as the Ambassador to Berlin but returned on the outbreak of the First World War. Upon his return and appalled at the anarchy within Portugal he became a leading driving force in 1917 behind the “coup de etat” and the subsequent introduction of the “República Nova”. He made quick headway in bringing some stability back to society, economically and politically, including improving the poor relations of long standing between the State and the Catholic Church. His death has been blamed on the then powerful Mason Lodges.
Dom João Carlos Gregório Domingos Vicente Francisco de Saldanha Oliveira e Daun (Duque de Saldanha)
Born on 17th November 1790 and died on 20th November, 1876. Grandson of the famous Marquês de Pombal. Dom João Carlos came to the fore in 1823 as a Brigadier when he rode into Lisbon at the head of his troops and successfully dismissed the government. He and his supporters were concerned that the Holy Alliance may invade Portugal to restore an absolute rule of the monarchy and destroy the path of liberalism that had been so recently introduced.
He recalled General Beresford from England who had previously made his name with the Portuguese in the Peninsular War. He made Beresford his political and general adviser who was well considered the King, João IV. Beresford managed to divert control away from Saldanha by gaining the confidence of the absent King in Brazil. The Civil War from 1832 to 1834 between the two royal brothers brought him back to popularity again in 1836 after a combined urban and military “coup d’etat”. He took a shadow position in power to allow Costa Cabral to introduce a spirit of liberalism into the regime. When in 1846 there was serious unrest in Portugal he took over power by dismissing Costa Cabral. He was to do the same thing again in 1851 and appointed himself as Prime Minister and ruled for five years until 1856.
Humberto da Silva Delgado (Marshall)
Born in Broguiera in 1906, he later became a martyr to his strong political beliefs and was assassinated in 1965 by Portuguese Secret Police (PIDE), in Spain near the border with Portugal. His career was in the army where he rose to the rank of General, including an active period as a military aviator. He took an early interest in politics and served in the “Novo Estado” as created by Salazar. His liberal views made him take an opposite path to those in power. In 1958 he choose to run in opposition to Admiral Thomas for the office of the Presidency of Portugal. To the apparent surprise of those in power he found support in strength from the public that earned him the nickname “General sem medo” (the General without fear). A manipulated election result showed him falsely gaining only 25% of the vote. He was forced to resign from his post and went into exile.
He claimed that in 1961 he was instrumental in the highjack of the tourist steamer Santa Maria by his fellow conspirator, Henrique Galvão. The same year he also participated in the failed army revolt at Beja. In 1963 he moved to Algeria and created the “Junta Patriótica de Libertação Nacional”. His activities against those in power drove them to order his death that was carried out in 1965. In 1990 the Portuguese Government granted General Humberto Delgado the posthumous rank of Marshall in the Air Force in recognition of his services to his beliefs.
Luís de Meneses (Conde de Ericeira)
Born in Lisbon on 22nd of July 1623 and died on 26th May 1690. During the 17th Century Dom Luís de Menses distinguished himself by taking a successful role in both the military service and also within the world of Portuguese politics. He was actively involved in all major battles from 1658 until peace was restored in 1673. He was nominated as a member of the “Fazenda” in 1675 and gave an important impulse to the reform of Portuguese currency and the manufacturing industries, besides promoting trade with the East Indies. In 1679 he published his account of the history of Portugal during the “Restauração”. He can be considered as having left his mark on Portugal by his progressive thinking in rebuilding the country and the restoration of its financial position within Europe.
Mário Alberto Lopes Nobre Soares
Mário Soares was born in Lisbon in 1924, and completed his first degree in philosophy. Due to his political views he was soon without an income as he was not permitted to teach. To remedy this situation he then studied Law and received his new degree in 1951. His interest in left-wing political views initially also led him to secretly join the Communist Party. In 1958 he moderated his stance and joined in the growing popular support for the party led by the Presidential candidate General Delgado. He was later to become a founder member in the formation of the ASP Party based on democratic socialism. The authorities deported him in 1968 to the colony of São Tomé e Principe.
Released later and not being allowed to return to mainland Portugal he decided to spend his exile in Paris joining many similar minded Portuguese. Using France as his base he continued in his struggle against the regime in power in Lisbon. Whilst still in exile he was appointed as the Secretary General of the ASP at a special secret meeting in Germany. When he returned in 1974 to Portugal just after the Revolution had taken place, he was appointed to the ministerial post of Foreign Affairs within the various temporary governments. After the Constitution had been rewritten his Party gained the majority vote in the first free general election held in 1976. As the leader of the winning Socialist Party he held the post of Prime Minister until 1978. He and his Party were later re-elected from 1983 until 1985.
He had to make several hard decisions during the initial period of Prime Minister, some of which are still held up to him in criticism. He was finally elected President of Portugal in 1986 and again re-elected in 1991. His enthusiastic commitment to the idea of the European Union was realized on the 12th of June 1985, when he signed on behalf of Portugal. He re-entered the active arena of international politics and was elected to a seat in Brussels. In 2006 he stood unsuccessfully again for the office of President
Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (Marquês de Pombal)
The Marquês de Pombal became one of the most important politicians in the history of Portugal. Born in 1699 and died in 1782. A man of exceptional ability and foresight he came to power as a favourite of the King, Dom José I. He is reputed to have been very autocratic in using his office, courting popularity with the royal families of Europe and an active member of the powerful "Freemasonry" movement. The most important act that he implemented was to expel the Order of Jesuits from Portugal. This Order was responsible for the introduction and the administration of the infamous Inquisition. With charges of heresy the Jesuits tortured and sacrificed their enemies whilst taking possession of their estates. By expelling this Order from Portugal he created a more democratic establishment where the power was divided between the King, his knights and the church.
In 1755 the majority of Portugal suffered a quick series of very severe earthquakes that destroyed much of Lisbon and many other cities and towns. The Marquês took this opportunity to re-plan the central area of Lisbon with broad avenues and imposing buildings. The layout was at that time more in keeping with the architecture of the gardens to be found in the larger palaces of France. By taking this initiative he created much needed employment and helped the inhabitants recover from a tragic disaster.