History for dudes

Once upon a time…

Information: facts here are supposed to be of trust despite the ironic style of writing.

First of all, Portugal it’s not a territory of Spain. Second, Portugal it’s not part of Spain. Third, Portugal it’s not a Spanish touristy resort. Fourth, we have our own, original, Latin derived language which is Portuguese. In fact, going back to that misunderstanding “Portugal vs Spain”, we’ve had our fights against our neighbors along our History not only the typical ones, in battle fields, but also in roller-skate hockey, football (soccer for USA), fishing, tourism, politics and many other silly things very much on a “good neighbors” style. I know we “stole” the territory which was the beginning of our country but by that time Spain was nothing else than a bunch of kingdoms (Leon, Castile, Navarre and Aragon). Oh, I’m sorry, you’re one of those readers of my blog who has fell down here by parachutes and you don’t even know where we are located at. No problemo! You may find here below a world map (or just a shy attempt of it) where I’m showing you our location. Can you see that blinking yellow star? We’re that tiny country beneath it and we’re located in Iberian Peninsula. Again, let me insist on this (mainly for Americans and Germans): we are not part of Spain!

World map and location of Portugal

We were born in 1143 thanks to our very first king Afonso Henriques (or Afonso I for friends). Everything started (probably) with a little familiar controversy between him and his mother, countess Dona Teresa. I believe “Afonsito” and his mammy got both angry one with the other and so he decided to take over her Portucalense County. Sounds like the guy was a bad boy, kind a Jean-Claude Van Damme but with more muscles, less martial arts techniques and more brain… Anyhow, Afonsito defeated his mother in 1128 in Guimarães (S.Mamede‘s Battle) and that worked as such a motivation for him that made him to decide travelling southward beating and hitting all Spaniards and Moors (Muslims if you prefer) who dared to cross his way (mainly because he loved to ride fast speed his Harley Davidson horse). At this point I need to open here a good pair of brackets and let you know that we, Portuguese, have closed our eyes to the rebellion of this first king against his mother (it happens sometimes even in the best families) but we still don’t forgive him (nor will forgive) for not taking over also the territory which is today called Galicia and still belongs to Spain. Hélas!!

Well, our first king, a Schwarzenegger style hero, didn’t have time to conquer everything because he died in 1185 probably with a congestion after he ate a paella. Don’t worry because other boys took his job and in 1249 we already had some foreign ladies practicing topless in the warm beaches of Algarve, south of Portugal.

Imagine some more historical bla, bla, bla here…

Afterwards, someone decided to install in Portugal a huge windsurf industry. We built then many windsurf boards and we used some of our best windsurfers to test them before industrialization. They were so good at what they were doing that they discovered (or just have arrived by sea) Madeira, Azores, India, Brazil[1], East Timor, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, S.Tomé & Principe and other minor pieces of land all over… In 1498 our super-champ windsurfer, Vasco da Gama, arrives for the first time in India by sea. In 1519, the Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães, hired by the Spanish king [2] made the first trip by boat all around the world and proved that Earth is round. In 1557, China offered Macao to Portugal (I wonder why or what for!).

Carta nauticaCarta nauticaBússola
Portuguese navigational tools

The dark part of our History happened when our neighbors came down with guns and luggage and took our country as a vacations colony (in 1580). Gee… That was really degrading. Fortunately, we also had our John Wayne who stole the power to the Spanish guys in 1640, December 1st. What a hero… The people got so grateful right away and managed to get a good job for the boy. He became then our king João IV succeeding the previous one, D. Sebastião, who in 1580 got lost in the middle of a large fog in north of Africa and is still there hoping to find his way back home…

Imagine more historical bla, bla, bla once again…

In 1910 some Portuguese guys foreshadowed the actual UK politic system [3] so they thought and then they said “Monarchy?… No, thanks!” after what we turned to a Republican nation. Real bad luck! We came through ages of darkness despite the many good intentions. We started showing to the world how intrinsic bad taste we may have and to prove it we changed our flag to a 3rd-worldy red/green background design with a complex symbol in the middle. At the same time, a national anthem was created too which, in fact, I don’t really like.

Republicans take over in 1910
PIC – Republicans take over in 1910

The national anthem’s designation is “A Portuguesa”, composed in 1891 and taken as a republican symbol in 1911. The music is by Alfredo Keil and the lyrics by Henrique Lopes de Mendonça. I have no idea who was playing Portuguese guitars by then but surely it was not Amália Rodrigues singing it cause she was not born yet.

Ah, ah… We went through our dictatorship time too, like any other developed country (Germany, for instance). António Salazar, the “famous” Portuguese dictator who ruled our country for 36 years (from 1932 to 1968), was the Portuguese version of Adolf Hitler but with no moustache, much less schizophrenia and no Jews to make a holocaust with.

António SALAZAR
The fascist prime-minister António SALAZAR

In 1949, because war material was so expensive, Portugal became of the founding members of NATO (you know, that club which was created to entertain USA generals). Well, in fact since 1943, USA generals were playing quite a bit with us because it was when United States built the Lajes Air Base on Terceira Island within Azores archipelago. Of course, American interests in Portugal were not far more than strategic and military. The Azores provided essential refueling facilities for the rapid deployment of forces to Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as well as a key base for antisubmarine tracking and naval surveillance.

Training the native soldiers (Angola)
Training the native soldiers (Angola)

Portuguese generals received such a great influence from the USA ones that, during 60s and early 70s, Portugal waged three colonial wars simultaneously on the African continent. As you easily can imagine, these campaigns hurt the economy, drained morale, and gradually became politically unpopular. Many Portuguese left their country in these years to find employment abroad or to avoid military service in the wars Portugal was fighting in its colonies in Africa.

In 1974, April 25th, came up the Carnation Revolution (In Portuguese you may say “Revolução Dos Cravos”). Democracy took place, not without some political soap operas in between. As a result of that, I am able to be here telling you how wonderful we are. Portugal has started here a new era. We have got open doors to the world but we have bypassed wit and wisdom (which are a must for these events) when we’ve launched our colonies in a disaster through a hasty discolonization, very Portuguese fashion…

In 1985, Portuguese politicians decided that we would take part of EEC (European Economic Community) which really happened in 1986. Nowadays, the European Union flag is another symbol of ours and as a consequence of our integration in EU, in February 2002, the funeral of Portuguese escudo ($), the historic currency from Portugal, took place and from then on the national currency has been the Euro (€  ).

European Union's flag

Since 1986 the flag adopted by the Council of Europe has been used as the European Union flag. It consists of a circle of twelve gold stars on a blue background (twelve being a number that represents perfection and completeness). The European Union anthem is the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

I’m quite sure you were expecting something more spicy about our country, weren’t you? Of course you were… First of all, we are not monkeys in the Zoo. Don’t come to me with that crappy sentence “I’m going to Portugal because I gotta know other cultures”. Bullshit… If you see us as an exotic country with a funny (Hi)story, dull natives staring at you as they were seeing the first caucasian in their lives, cheap food and drinks, nice weather, guys or gays in Algarve ready for foreign fine boys or girls looking for fun, bull fight shows with you as a fascinated spectator and yet calling us barbarians, bla, bla, bla and bla… Forget it, you won’t be welcome.

Cartoon bull fight
I hate bullfights but… they exist !!

But if you came here just because you did not notice that you took the wrong airplane and since things are like so you wish to know another European country where people is struggling, as in any other place, to be happy, then let me tell you that, generally speaking, Portuguese people is very keen on warm receptions. In fact, over here, we have achieved a great balance between a primitive touch (wild sometimes) which we have preserved along our existence (not intentionally) and a reasonable modernity level.

This is it…

  1. I’m pretty sure you’d like to ask me if we and Brazilians speak the same language, right ? Yes, we don’t speak the same language but some self-called intelectuals of literature still insist on the idea that Portuguese and Brazilian people do speak Portuguese. We do speak Portuguese, they speak something else cause there’s some words we use with pretty different meaning, there’s also many words with different spelling and finally the accent is quite a lot different. I do hope they come again one of these days with that Ipiranga stuff and start designating their language as Brazilian instead of Portuguese. It would then be possible to put an end to the daily massive murdering of our language.
  2. Can you see? Our salaries were already too low and IRS already too high…
  3. You know, a royal family plenty of underground stories, adultery relationships and so on. British are really an odd people…

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