The Revolution of 1820 and the Advent of Liberalism in Portugal

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The Revolution of 1820 and the Advent of Liberalism in Portugal

Ángel Rivero

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid1

Somos pobres. Nao há dúvida que o somos; muito se se olhar ao quanto ricos podiamos ser (…) A principal origen da nossa pobreza é a desigualdade dos haveres: esse achaque so tem dois remédios, um falible, imperfecto, e demais horroroso e abominable, é o sistema anivelador que os descamisados franceses queriam dar a seu pais de sanguinosa e execranda memória. Outro que é o que em Inglaterra tem dado a indústria e o comércio, que todos os dias mete na balança das fortunas públicas muitos milhoes, com que ela se equilibria a pesar do demasiado peso com que para outro lado a pende a massa enorme da indivisa propiedade natural urbana e rústica, quase toda nas maos de certas familias (Almeida Garret, Estado actual de Portugal na abertura das Cortes Gerais de 1826).

Abstract: The concept Atlantic World refers to a geographical, political and cultural space created by the discovery voyages of the Spaniards, Portuguese, English, French and other European peoples. This process, opened the time of modernity, by creating a new world of nations, connected by the intercourse of commerce, political and military struggle, and not least important, intercourse of new ideas. Among these ideas, liberalism established its hegemony as the proper political organization of this new world of nations. In the standard narration of the making of this world, it has been stressed the dominance of the British Constitutional tradition and its Republican recreation by the American Revolution, as the main ingredient of the Democratic Revolutions that happened in the Atlantic World. Between the end of eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century all these nations beginning with America (1776) passed through a wave of democratic revolutions. In this events, the influence of the Enlightenment has also being stressed and, of course, of the French Revolution (1789). This latter influence was seen as a disruptive element in the development of liberty by opposing revolution to a constitutional order. On the contrary, the Iberian traditions of liberty are usually neglected in the accounts of these processes, and the Portuguese Revolution of 1820 is conspicuously absent in the accounts of the Democratic Revolutions of the Atlantic World. In this paper I will describe Portugal’s position in this Atlantic Word at the beginning of the nineteenth century and how it is the Atlantic World the main explanatory key in understanding the motives of the Portuguese Revolution of 1820. As I will show, this revolution can be seen as an Independence process, as the abolition of the Ancient Regime, as the constitution of liberty, as the foundation of a Portuguese Constitutional-liberal tradition, but also, as a response to the challenges posed to Portugal’s independence by France, Britain, Spain and Brazil. To sum up, the Portuguese Revolution of 1820 combined nationalism and liberalism in the way proper of the Atlantic Revolutions. Finally, I will show that the main aim of the Revolution, the foundation of a liberal New Portugal was nurtured by the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese traditions of liberty of the Atlantic World.
Key words: Atlantic World; Democratic Revolutions; Liberalism; Portuguese Revolution of 1820; Nationalism; Democratic Revolutions.

On August 24th 1820, a garrison in Porto rose up issuing a “Manifesto of the Portuguese Nation to the sovereigns and peoples of Europe”. In the tradition of the Iberian pronunciamientos liberty was proclaimed and its very proclamation justified in order to shown, not lack of loyalty but commitment with the country and its institutions. They were patriots, nor traitors. As stated by Wheeler, the most striking feature of this document is that its first part resembles a declaration of independence and only at the end can be seen as a defence of the Portuguese tradition of liberty, this time casted in liberal moulds: [the manifesto] “reads very much like other such declarations of independence from colonial status and contained the same complaints; the only difference was this manifesto came from rebels in a European city, not rebels across the Atlantic in a colonial port city” (Wheeler, p.155). The manifesto declared “the status of a colony to which Portugal in effect is reduced, afflicts deeply all those citizens who still conserve a sentiment of national dignity” (quoted in Wheeler p.156). Thus, how is it possible that an independence revolution took place in Portugal? How can a metropolis long for independence? Who was the colonial power that justified the raising of the Portuguese liberals? The answer is rooted in the striking events that shattered Portugal since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In 1807 the Portuguese royal family and the Portuguese court (more than 4.000 persons) left Portugal to Brazil, compulsory escorted by the British navy, in order to escape from Napoleon’s troops. In 1808, the first decision took by the just arrived Portuguese Court was the opening of the ports of Brazil to “all friendly nations” and two years later, en 1810, the Anglo-Brazilian Treaty imposed on the Portuguese higher tariffs in Brazil that it did on the British. The war with France concluded en 1814, but the royal family refused to return to Portugal. On December 1815, Brazil was raised to the rank of a kingdom, and John VI, who succeeded in March 1816, was crowned as king of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Finally, since the leave of the royal family, Portugal was ruled by a British pro-consul, Beresford. To sum up, Portugal as independent nation collapsed, it was destroyed by three French invasions, its economy was dominated by the British soft imperialism, and politically, it was subordinated to Brazil and to Britain. The Portuguese people arrived to a dead end situation: they were poor and enslaved.
It is in this climate that, in 1817, the Masonic leader; General Gomes Freire de Andrade tried a military coup against Beresford, that failed. He “was the gallant leader of the Portuguese Legion in Napoleon’s army and head of the French party. The execution of the general and ten of his colleagues finally put an end to the daily diminishing possibility of a peaceful penetration of Portugal by English constitutional methods” (Young, p.217). After the execution, unrest increased and when Beresford himself went to Brazil to get instructions and enlarged power from John VI, the revolution began in Porto, and spread all along the country. In October a Junta is created in Lisbon, the Spanish constitution of 1812 is adopted provisionally, in order to elect a constituent assembly, summoned in 1821, and by 1822 the first Portuguese constitution is proclaimed. The Political Constitution of the Portuguese Monarchy installed a constitutional monarchy in Portugal, declared that sovereignty rested in the nation, established the liberal separation of powers in three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial, and finally, provided a catalogue of individual rights, to be protected. John VI was forced to return in 1821 to Portugal to swear the constitution. But his son Pedro, that remained in Brazil as his representative, declared the very year of 1822 Brazil’s independence. John VI recognized in 1825 the independence of Brazil, something he has already prepared, at least, since 1815 in agreement with Britain and the USA. Portugal, a founding member of the Atlantic World, was trapped in the conflict triggered by the Democratic Revolutions and the new European Imperialism. And it is in the midst of these conflicts between modernity and tradition; emerging global powers and new political actors that liberalism arrived to continental Portugal.
The Atlantic World, the Atlantic Revolutions, and Portugal.
The Atlantic world is a concept coined by historiography for the study of the Atlantic Ocean Rim from the beginning of the Age of Exploration to the modern era. The practitioners of the “Atlantic world history” tend to see these constellations of events culminating in the “Atlantic Revolutions” of the late 18th century and early 19th century. The creation of this field of study is, in great part, responsibility of the historian Bernard Baylin. According to him “Atlantic history –from the first encounters of the Europeans with the Western Hemisphere through the Revolutionary era- is a subject that certain historians have found strange, that others said does not exits and if it does exists it shouldn’t [and] that at best has no easy or clear definition” (3). Let us say that is a contended concept although, as I hope to show later, very relevant in the study of liberalism in Portugal.
For Baylin the idea of Atlantic history developed during and after World War II. Before that time, imperial history and the history of exploration and discovery were mature and consolidated disciplines “and seemed to invite only incremental contributions to a well-sketched scene, not the exploration of a new kind of understanding. There were institutions, laws, revolutions, and vivid tales of discovery, but no societies or social organizations, no sustained cultural encounters” (6). This change was due to factors that were outside the historical reflection, in the terrain of the public world. The ultimate source of this change of vision is traced back by Bailyn to “1917 and the writings of the twenty-seven-year-old Walter Lippmann” (6) that published that year, in the New Republic, an editorial stating that America’s interest in the European war lay with the Allies and that the country was driven to intervene to protect the “profound web of interests which joins together the western world. Britain, France, Italy, even Spain, Belgium, Holland, the Scandinavian nations, and Pan-America are in the main one community in their deepest needs and their deepest purposes...We cannot betray the Atlantic community...What we must fight for is the common interests of the western world, for the integrity of the Atlantic Powers. We must recognize that we are in fact one great community and act as members of it” (Lippmann quoted in Bailyn) “But Lippmann’s hopes of a formal, enduring construction of an Atlantic community faded in the isolationist aftermath of the war and disappeared in the domestic turmoil of the Depression” (7).
In 1943 Lippmann resumed his arguments of 1917 by stating that the new post war order should be dominated by “great regional constellations which are homelands, not of one nation alone but of the historic civilized communities” and among them should be “the Atlantic Community”, a region were national differences are “variations within the same cultural tradition”. In his work, the root of this culture was “the extension of Western or Latin Christendom from the Western Mediterranean into the whole basin of the Atlantic Ocean” (8).
Later, according to Baylin account, “in March 1945 Ross Hoffman, professor of history at Fordham University, published a broad-ranging essay entitled Europe and the Atlantic Community in it he stated –quoting Salvador de Madariaga of Spain and Antonio Salazar of Portugal as well as Lippmann –that the Atlantic Ocean was “the inland sea of Western Civilization” and that the “Atlantic community” (...) was the progeny of Western Christendom”. This idea was followed the famous historian of Columbia University, Carlton J.H. Hayes who, after returning from “a controversial ambassadorship to Spain, stated that “the area of this common Western culture centres in the Atlantic and extends eastwards far into Europe and along African shores, from Norway and Finland to Cape Town, and westward across all America, from Canada to Patagonia” (13)
Since then, the idea of Atlantic history as a proper field of study has spread. But is should be noted that Atlantic is understood here not as mere geography, nor political history. Atlantic denotes a cultural space created by the intercourse of the western European nations in connection with America since the sixteenth century. Thus, it is about discoveries and communication, commerce, culture and political developments. For Baylin, after World War II, the Atlantic region is identified as a distinctive stage of action, were the profound web of interests that bind together the western world are displayed. The Atlantic world was “the scene of a vast interaction rather than merely the transfer of Europeans onto American Shores. Instead of a European discovery of a new world, we might better consider it as a sudden and harsh encounter between two old worlds that transformed both and integrated them into a single New World. Our focus is upon the creation of a new human geographies resulting from this interaction, and that means those developing not only westward upon the body of America but eastward upon the body of Europe, and inward upon and laterally along the body of Africa. For it is certain that the geography of each was changed” (Meining quoted by Bailyn, pp.55-56).
Nonetheless, Baylin’s concept of Atlantic History has been criticized for being too Anglo-centric. For instance, Coates states that: “Professor Bailyn’s Atlantic is (...) profoundly British, and very northern. (..). While expressly stating that Atlantic history is greater than the sum of its parts, “as much Spanish as British, as much Dutch as Portuguese, as much African as American”, (p. 60) Professor Bailyn really focuses on one, British or Anglo-American dimension, over the course of the eighteenth century. Whenever he gives examples, he turns to British North America, occasionally mentioning Spain and its empire”. Thus, “it should not come as a surprise to the reader that the Portuguese presence in Professor Bailyn’s Atlantic World is minimal, if not altogether absent. The Dutch (and for that matter the Luso-Dutch struggles of the 1600s) are equally neglected. The French presence is only marginally greater in this very British World. If Professor Bailyn were more familiar with the literature of Portuguese expansion and interactions in the Atlantic, his would have been a very different work. Even if we limit the reading list to works in English and French, there exist a sufficient enough number of studies on the Portuguese in the Atlantic to help fill the huge gaps in Professor Bailyn’s Atlantic overview. Let me begin by asking a fundamental question not addressed in this work: who created this Atlantic World and when? I suggest that part of the answer to this question can be found in works by Zurara, Pereira, and Cadamosto, entitled, respectively, Chronicle of the Discovery of Guinea, Esmeraldo de Situ Orbus, 1506-1508, and The Voyages of Cadamosto and other Documents on Western Africa in the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century, and all usefully translated into English by the London-based Haklyut Society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These individuals, working for the Portuguese crown in the fifteenth century, began the process of creating an Atlantic World. The Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands, São Tomé, Guiné and Angola, the territories that made up this Portuguese Atlantic, are not mentioned in Professor Bailyn’s work. And because Professor Bailyn has overlooked Brazil as an important component of the Atlantic, he has also missed links between the Atlantic and central and southern Africa.”(Coates)
But Portugal is not only notoriously absent in the history of the Atlantic world but also in the magnificent account by R. R. Palmer The Age of Democratic Revolution were the Atlantic context of the American and French revolutions is emphasized by pointing to the many direct political intercourse of all the Atlantic nations in the Great Age of democratic revolutions. As stated by Palmer, the main thesis of his book was “that the American Revolution was a great event for the whole Euro-American world. In the Age of the Democratic Revolution the American Revolution was (…) the earliest assertion of the principle that public power must arise from those over whom it is exercised. It was the most important revolution of the eighteenth century, except for the French. Its effect on the area of Western Civilization come in part from the inspiration of its message (…), and in part from the involvement of the American Revolution in the European War of American Independence, which aggravated the financial or political difficulties of England, Ireland, Holland, and France. The climax and failure of the early movement for parliamentary reform in England, the disturbances in Ireland leading to Grattan’s Parliament in 1782, the Patriotentijd and revolution of 1784-1787 among the Dutch, the reform programs of Necker and Calonne and beginnings of revolution in France, and a marked enlivening of political consciousness through the rest of Europe (…) were all, in part, a consequence of the American Revolution” (Palmer, p. VII).
Thus, the American Revolution should be understood in the broader framework of the Atlantic World and, of course, the American Revolution started an Atlantic Age of Revolution that followed with the French Revolution of 1789. The radicalisation of revolution in France, with the beheading of the King Louis XVI and the spread of terror 1792-1793 opened revolutionary violence to all Europe. Thus war between the revolution and the traditional European powers headed by Great Britain lasted till 1815.
The defeat of Napoleon was not the end of the revolutionary wave in the Atlantic World. In fact, it happened quite the opposite. The collapse of the Spanish Empire, opened the way to the independence of the Hispanic Republics of America, and before that, the French invasion of Portugal, and the exile of the Braganças in Brazil, paved the way to the independence of this last country. As stated by the much polemic Abbé de Pradt, the (Atlantic) world was in a non stoppable process of change: le temps avance au milieu des orages, vouloir arreter son impétuosité serait un vain effort (i).
Pradt, in his book, Europe and America since the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1821) states first that the new and the old world are immersed in the same process of change, and that this process of change has shown three main features: la rapidité, la noveaute, l’immensite (speed, novelty and scope), and two main results: 1st the expansion of the constitutional order, that now it is generalized in Europe and America; and 2nd the uselessness to oppose this constitutional order. For him, the most important fact of this process of world liberalism is the Spanish revolution of 1820, followed in Portugal and Italy the same year and that also had a great impact in Iberian America: “The revolution of southern Europe and its influence on humanity and on politics. This is the greatest event of this century; it is an event more important than the defeat of Napoleon. This last event is a great one but limited. Let me add that this southern revolution and, specifically, the Spanish revolution is the greatest event of humanity, because its connection with America. This event dominates the history of the world” (II, 127). For him, this event, the Spanish revolution of 1820, nurtured the Portuguese revolution of the same year, and by doing this, it opened the possibility of an independent Brazil: “le Brésil étant separé du Portugal et par lui même et par la revolution de Lisbonne, la totalité de l’Amerique du sud se trouvera affrainche de l’Europe, merchant á part d’elle” (II, 245).
The Atlantic Revolutions, c.1775-1825 were the political culmination of the western culture. The Age of Democratic Revolutions began with the American Revolution, soon followed by the French Revolution en 1789 and this two process, produced a radical change of both Europe and America that created a new world of nations under the ideas of the Enlightenment and Liberalism. The Portuguese Revolution of 1820 is understandable in this wider context of the Atlantic World.
Two traditions of Liberty of the Atlantic World.
Tradition, in its positive sense, refers to something that is assessed as good and whose validity is asserted in relation to the past. In this sense, something is a tradition if understood as a continuation and not initiation of political and social arrangements already existing. Thus, in relation to tradition, revolution can be seen as an instrument of restoration of tradition but also as a political device intended to break with tradition.
Modern western politics can be grouped, regarding liberty, in two great traditions: constitutional politics and revolutionary politics. The first is concerned with the protection of the individual liberties, so its main aim is civil liberty, whereas the latter’s main goal is public liberty. In the first, liberty is connected with the individual in the sense that individual liberty is the sacred goal to be preserved. Thus, this liberty is negative in the sense that protection is articulated through institutional constrains that, by limiting the powers of society, foster the sovereignty of individuals. This is called constitutional politics because constitutions typically consist in a declaration of individual rights and a institutional design aimed at the limitation of political power. Given that this goal of individual liberties protection is reached by a compact between individuals that create to that end a political community, it is named constitution.
Maximilien Robespierre defined with all clarity the differences between these two types of politics: “The principal concern of constitutional government is civil liberty; that of revolutionary government, public liberty. Under a constitutional government little more is required than to protect the individual against the abuses of the state, whereas revolutionary government is obliged to defend the state itself against the factions that assail it from every quarter...To good citizens revolutionary government owes the full protection of the state; to the enemies of the people it owes only death” (Robespierre).
These two traditions can be articulated in a smooth way, but can also lead to conflict between the two. When revolutionary politics is seen as a paramount goal above the preservation of individual rights, constitutional politics vanishes: terror during the French Revolution. The Spanish Revolution of 1812 presented itself as a restoration of traditional liberty and not as a break with the past. The manifesto of the Portuguese Revolution of 1820 shows respect for traditional institutions, e.g. the monarchy of the Braganças, but appeals to a tradition of independence, not of liberty. A constitution is demanded in that document but to preserve public freedom. Although the following constitution is a great piece of liberal thinking, the main force under the pronunciamiento was nationalism.
The spark of revolution in Portugal: nationalism.
According to John Dewey, “Nationalism is a tangled mixture of good and bad … It is not possible to diagnose its undesirable results … unless the desirable traits are fully acknowledged”. The good part of nationalism is that it is a movement away of parochialism and dynastic despotism, and it is associated with the revolt of the oppressed peoples against external imperial domination. These good parts, for Dewey, are the ammunition nationalism employs for its evil purposes. In the case of Portugal, the humiliation and sense of decay, nurtured a nationalism that resulted in the proclamation of a new, liberal, political arrangement. Just to mention a few of the causes of that feeling in Portugal, let me just give a glimpse of Portugal at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1801, southern Portugal, the Alentejo region, is invaded by Spain. This invasion resulted in the permanent annexation of the district of Olivença by Spain. As a penalty to Portugal’s position in relation to Britain, Napoleon’s troops invaded three times Portugal: 1807, 1809, and 1810. The consequence of the first invasion is that the House of Bragança and the Court left Portugal to Brazil escorted by the British Navy. As Wheeler points this movement was not totally voluntary. Although the General Jean-Andoche Junot forced the Portuguese Court to take refuge in Brazil: “The British fleet which escorted the Prince Regent Dom Joao, his mad mother, Queen Maria, and the court to Brazil in 1807 was also riding at anchor off the Lisbon waterfront to intimidate as well as to offer assistance. Had the Portuguese Court not left for Brazil as planned and instead succumbed to French demands that the royal family remain in Lisbon, there was no doubt that the British would have bombarded Lisbon as they had only recently bombarded Copenhagen and destroyed or seized the Portuguese ships in the harbour. Admiral Sir Sidney Smith had clear instructions from London that on no account was the Portuguese fleet to be allowed to fall to the French” (Wheeler, p.149).
This new Anglo-Portuguese relation must be contextualized in the emergence of the new informal imperialism: “Portugal …has been a forerunner of a relationship which imposed severe conditionalities over another nation’s sovereignty without the direct exercise of sovereign power” (Wheeler, pp. 149-150). Thus, in 1808, occurs the opening of the Brazilian ports to “all friendly nations” culminating in 1810 with the Anglo-Brazilian Treaty, which charged higher tariffs to Portuguese goods than to the British ones.
Economic domination was complemented with political and military domination. From 1813 to 1820 William Beresford was appointed British Pro-consul in Portugal with full military and political power. It is not coincidental that the Portuguese Revolution of 1820 was directed explicitly against him.
In 1815 is Brazil raised to the rank of Kingdom (Recognized by the Congress of Vienna) creating a new polity: The United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves that ended with the Independence of Brazil (1822). Portugal, during the first twenty years of the 19th century was exposed to the domination of the great power, the threat of its neighbours, the abandonment of its Kings: a metropolitan centre transformed in colonial periphery.
Nationalism and Liberalism in the Portuguese Revolution of 1820.
Liberalism arrived in Portugal with the revolution of 1820. There are three main stages in its development. Firs a military coup, beginning in the North of the Country; second the adoption of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 in order to prepare democratic elections for a Constituent Parliament; and third the proclamation of the Constitution of 1822, the first Portuguese Constitution.
On August 24th 1820, a garrison in Porto rose up issuing a “Manifesto of the Portuguese Nation to the sovereigns and peoples of Europe”. In the tradition of the Iberian pronunciamientos liberty was proclaimed, and its very proclamation justified in order to shown, not lack of loyalty but commitment with the country and its institutions. Thus the manifesto explains, in French, the situation of Portugal: no King, no resources, emigration of the people, commerce and industry destroyed, agriculture also destroyed, no public finances, conscription army in Brazil:
“The status of a colony to which Portugal in effect is reduced, afflicts deeply all those citizens who still conserve a sentiment of national dignity”
“The Portuguese People proclaims the necessity of a Constitution, of a Fundamental Law, in order to regulate the limits of Power and Obedience; to be a warrant for the future of rights and happiness of the People; and to restore the honour of the Nation, its independence and glory”.

During the first years (1820-1823) of the Portuguese liberal regime Spain, its revolution and the Cadiz Constitution of 1812, were the models to follow. The Spanish constitution was adopted in Portugal to carry on elections to a Constituent Assembly (with minor changes like substituting Portugal and Portuguese for Spain and Spaniards).

According to Karl Marx “the Constitution of 1812 has been accused on the one hand…of being a mere imitation of the French Constitution of 1791 transplanted on Spanish soil by visionaries (…) On the other hand, it has been contended (…) that the Cortes (Parliament) unreasonably clung to antiquated formulas, borrowed from the ancient fueros (laws), and belonging to feudal times, when royal authority was checked by the exorbitant privileges of the grandees. The truth is that the Constitution of 1812 is a reproduction of the ancient fueros, but read in the light of the French Revolution and adapted to the wants of a modern society”.
Constitutional government was the main institution devised by the Atlantic Revolutions of the Democratic Age. A Constitution was essential in order to limit government and to express the political consent of the governed. The first aim was served by the declaration of rights and the separation of powers, and the second by elections and parliamentary representation.
The Portuguese Constitution of 1822 has six parts:

-Title I. Individual rights and obligations of the Portuguese. “The main goal of the [Constitution] is to maintain the liberty, security and property of all the Portuguese”.

-Title II. On the Portuguese Nation, its territory, religion, government and dinasty. “The Portuguese Nation is the union of all the Portuguese of both hemispheres”.

-Title III. The legislative Power or the Cortes (Parliament). “The Portuguese nation is represented at Cortes (Parliament) by the meeting of deputies chosen by the same Nation in accordance to the population of the whole territory”.

-Title IV. The executive Power or the King. “The authority of the King comes from the Nation and is neither divisible nor alienable”.

-Title V. The Judiciary Power. “The judiciary power belongs exclusively to the judges and in no situation can be exercised by the Parliament or by the King.

-Title VI. Administrative and economic government
Although the constituent parliament desired a Constitution more liberal than the Spanish one, when published, there was an interesting preface by the king: “DOM John, by the Grace of God, and by the Constitution of the Monarchy, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves of this side and beyond the sea in Africa etc. let know to all my subjects that the General, Extraordinary and Constituent Parliament have decreed and I accepted, and swore, the following Political Constitution of the Portuguese Monarchy”.Notice that the Constitution speaks the language of liberalism whereas the King still speaks the language of absolutism: Grace of God/Nation; Subjects/Citizens.
The fate of the Portuguese Liberal Revolution of 1820.
Portuguese liberalism was encouraged to revolt in 1820 by the Spanish pronunciamiento of that year. In May 1823, a month after the French forces of the Sacred Alliance entered Spain to crush liberalism, an absolutist military revolt, the vilafrancada, re-established John VI to absolutism. When he died, in 1826, his son Dom Pedro, Emperor of Brazil, promulgated a constitutional charter based on the Brazilian Constitution of 1823, the French Charter granted by Louis XVIII in 1814, and the constitutional ideas of Benjamin Constant.
The Constitutional Charter of 1826, through some changes, remained in effect till the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910.

-There is no recognition of national sovereignty

-The executive power belongs to the crown.

-A two chamber legislature was established, a chamber of deputies chosen by indirect suffrage and an upper chamber of peers, both hereditary members, selected by the crown, which appointed all ministers and held absolute veto over legislation.

-Limited guarantees of civil rights.
After delivering the Charter, King Peter’s plan was to abdicate in favour of his daughter Maria da Glória in order to remain Emperor of Brazil. To avoid a dynastic schism his daughter should marry his brother Miguel and rule jointly the country. But Michael, after swearing the Charter and being married with his niece, restored absolutism in 1828. Civil War followed till 1834. And thanks to British intervention, constitutional monarchy was re-established.

The position of Portugal in the years before the French Revolution was one of compromise between the maritime and military Great Powers of Europe, Great Britain and France, against the threat of a Spanish invasion. Of course, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was already in place, but the American Revolution, in a sense, weakened it and Portugal in fact joined the League of the Neutrals in 1782. Nonetheless, the French Revolution realigned Portugal with its old ally. But the revolution will have a lasting impact on Portugal’s domestic policies. The Portuguese intellectual class was heavily influenced by the French Enlightenment and by the political ideas of Rousseau. Thus, the revolution in France nurtured the formation of a republican party in Portugal. Given that liberalism can be a lousy word, this party can be termed, the progressive party and was radically pro-French. On the other hand, the conservative party, supported by the crown, was the pro-British party. Thus, the conflict between revolution and reaction started in Portugal. The government, after crushing the progressives at home, embarked Portugal in a campaign against revolutionary France. But France, using Spain as a proxy invaded Portugal in 1801, and directly in 1807, 1809, 1810. Weakened and defeated, the House of Bragança felt under the dominion of Bristish soft imperialism and embark itself in a process of Americanization of monarchy by establishing the Court in Brazil. All these processes are at the core of the making of the Democratic Revolutions of the Atlantic World. That’s why it can be stated that the Portuguese Revolution of 1820 fully belongs to the Atlantic Revolutions.

  • The Atlantic Revolutions resulted in the arrival of liberalism in Portugal in 1820.

  • The Atlantic world has a political culture of its own: liberal constitutional government.

  • Foreign intervention made Portuguese liberalism nationalist.

  • The Portuguese liberalism of 1820 was revolutionary trying to be constitutional.

  • The Age of Democratic Revolutions resulted in Portugal’s decline.

  • The Portuguese Constitutional Monarchy 1834-1910 was a third way between liberalism and absolutism. By blocking the development of a modern democracy delayed democratic revolution till 20th century.



Manifesto da Naçao Portuguesa aos Soberanos e Povos da Europa, Lisboa, 15 de Dezembro de 1820 (Manifesto of the Portuguese Nation to the sovereigns and peoples of Europe, Lisbon, 15th of December 1820)
Projecto de Constituição Politica para a Nação Portugueza offerecido ás Cortes que se vaõ congregar en Janeiro de 1821. Lisboa, na Typographia rollandiana 1820 (Draft of a Political Constitution for the Portuguese Nation offered to the Parliament that is going to meet in January 1821).
Constituição Politica da Monarchia Portugueza decretada pelas Cortes Geraes Extraordinarias e Constituintes, Lisboa, 1821 (Political Constitution of the Portuguese Monarchy decreed by Parliament, Lisbon 1821).
Books and articles:

Jeremy Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2006.

James Edward Alexander, Sketches in Portugal during the Civil War of 1834, London, James Cochrane and Co., 1835.

Bernard Bailyn, “The Idea of Atlantic History”, Itinerario, volume XX (1996) number 1.

Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Timothy Coates, “Atlantic History: Concept and Contours”, e-JPH, Vol.3, number 1, Summer 2005.

John Dewey, “The Fruits of Nationalism” World Tomorrow 10, (1927): 454-56.

Garret, Almeida, Doutrinaçao liberal. Lisbon, Alfa, 1990.

Karl Marx, Revolutionary Spain, New York Daily Tribune, september 9 to December 2, 1854.

Federica Morelli y Alejandro E. Gómez, “La nueva Historia Atlántica: un asunto de escalas” en Nuevo Mundo Nuevos Mundos

Stanley G. Payne, A History of Spain and Portugal, vol.2, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

Robert R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1959, 1964, 2 vols.

Dominique George Frédéric M. de Pradt, L’Europe et l’Amerique depuis le Congrès d’Aix-la-Chapelle, Paris, Imprimerie de Denugon, 1821, 2 vols.

Maximilien Robespierre, La revolución jacobina, Barcelona, Península, 1973.

Patrick Wilcken, Empire Adrift, The Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro 1808-1821, London, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2004.

1 Paper presented at the Workshop The Traditions of Liberty in the Atlantic World, Coordination Adrian Pearce, ISA; Francisco Colom, CSIC; and Susan Hodgett, BACS, 6-7 May, 2010, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.

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