Portal:Portugal/Selected biography archive

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September 5

António de Oliveira Salazar (April 28, 1889—July 27, 1970) was the President of the Council of Ministers of Portugal for 36 years, from 1932 to 1968, and founder of the Estado Novo (New State). He was the last of a family of 11, and he was also the only male child. He studied at the Seminary, from 1900 to 1914 and thought of becoming a priest, but he later changed his mind. He studied Law at Coimbra University during the first years of the Republican regime. As a young man, his involvement in politics stems from his catholic views, which were aroused by the new anticlerical Portuguese First Republic. He was Finance Minister during the Ditadura Nacional, and then was appointed President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister). Salazar developed the "Estado Novo" (literally, New State). The basis of his regime was a platform of stability; his reforms were advantageous to the upper classes while detrimental to the poorer sections of society. Education was not seen as a priority and therefore not heavily invested in. Salazar relied on the secret police (often known by the name it carried from 1945--1969, PIDE) to repress, torture and, in extreme cases, murder dissidents. During his political rule, Portugal remainded neutral in World War II, joined EFTA and NATO and started a Colonial War. (continued...)

August 28


August 14


July 31


July 17

José Manuel Durão Barroso (pronounced: IPA, [ʒuˈzɛ mɐnuˈɛɫ duˈɾɐ̃ũ bɐˈʁozu] About this sound listen ) (born in Lisbon, March 23, 1956) is a Portuguese politician and the 11th President of the European Commission. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 6 April 2002 until 29 June 2004, when he resigned to become President-designate of the European Commission. The appointment was formally endorsed by the European Parliament on July 22, and he was due to take over officially from Romano Prodi on 1 November 2004. However, this process was delayed until 23 November due to problems regarding parliamentary approval of the Barroso Commission.

José Durão Barroso is married to Margarida Sousa Uva, with whom he has three sons: Luís, Guilherme and Francisco. (continued...)

July 3

Luís da Silva Mouzinho de Albuquerque (Lisbon, June 16, 1792 – Torres Novas, December 27, 1846), Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʃ dɐ ˈsiɫvɐ mo(ou)ˈziɲu dɨ aɫβuˈkɛɾk(ɨ)] was a Portuguese military officer, engineer, poet, scientist and politician, who distinguished himself during the Liberal Wars and in the conflicts that marked Portugal's history in the first half of the 19th century. He served as the Minister of the Kingdom (a post similar to today's Minister of Internal Affairs), at the time the most prominent post inside the government, making him Prime Minister of Portugal) in all but name, during the liberal regency of Pedro of Braganza (formerly Pedro I of Brazil and IV of Portugal). He was also several times minister and deputy minister during the Constitutional Monarchical period. Among other offices, he served as Chief of the National Mint, captain-general and governor of Madeira and inspector-general of public works. He was the grandfather of Joaquim Augusto Mouzinho de Albuquerque, a military officer and colonial administrator. (continued...)

June 19

Manuel I of Portugal (pron. IPA /mɐnuˈɛɫ/; Archaic Portuguese: Manoel I, English: Emanuel I), the Fortunate (Port. o Venturoso), 14th king of Portugal and Algarves, was born in Alcochete on May 31, 1469 and died in Lisbon on December 13, 1521. He was the son of Prince Ferdinand of Portugal, duke of Viseu, by his wife, Beatrice of Aveiro, princess of Portugal. His mother was the granddaughter of King John I of Portugal; his father was son of King Duarte of Portugal. Manuel succeeded his first cousin John II of Portugal who was also his brother-in-law in 1495.

Manuel grew up among the conspiracies of the aristocratic high nobility against king John II. He watched many people being killed and exiled. His older brother Diego, the duke of Viseu, was murdered by the king himself. Thus, when receiving a royal order in 1493 to present himself to the king, Manuel had every reason to worry. Without reason: John II wanted to name him heir to the throne, after the death of his son, prince Afonso of Portugal, and the failed attempts to legitimise George, Duke of Coimbra, his illegitimate son. As a result of this stroke of luck he was nicknamed the Fortunate. (continued...)

June 5

João I (pron. IPA /ʒuˈɐ̃ũ/), in English, John I (the Good or sometimes, the Great or even the One With Good Memory), was the 10th king of Portugal and Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta. He was born in Lisbon on April 11, 1357 and died in the same city on August 14, 1433. He was the natural son of Pedro I by a noble Galician lady called Teresa Lourenço. In 1364 he was created grand-master of the Order of Aviz. He became king of Portugal and Algarve in 1385, after the 1383–1385 Crisis.

João I married at Oporto on February 2, 1387 Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Blanche of Lancaster. From that marriage were born several famous princes and princesses of Portugal (Infantes) that became known as the Ilustrous Generation (Portuguese: Ínclita Geração). (continued...)

May 22

José Saramago (pron. IPA /ʒu.ˈzɛ sɐ.ɾɐ.ˈma.ɣu/) (born November 16, 1922) is a Portuguese writer, playwright, and journalist. He usually presents subversive perspectives of historical events in his works, trying to underline the human factor behind historical events, instead of presenting the usual official historical narratives. Some works of his can also be seen as allegories in several contexts.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998. He currently lives on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spain. He was in his mid-fifties before he won the acclaim of an international audience. It was the publication in 1988 of his Baltasar and Blimunda that first brought him to the attention of an English-speaking readership. This novel won the Portuguese PEN Club Award. Saramago has been a member of the Portuguese Communist Party since 1969, as well as an atheist and self-described pessimist – his positions have aroused considerable controversy in Portugal, especially after the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. José Saramago’s novels often deal with fantastic scenarios and situations. (continued...)

May 8

Vasco da Gama (born c. 1469 at Sines or Vidigueira, Alentejo, Portugal; died December 24, 1524 in Cochin, India) was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the European Age of Discovery, and the first person to sail directly from Europe to India.

Commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal to find Christian lands in the East (the King, like many Europeans, was under the impression that India was the legendary Christian Kingdom of Prester John), and to gain Portuguese access to the commercial markets of the Orient, da Gama extended the sea route exploration of his predecessor Bartolomeu Dias, who had first rounded Africa's Cape of Good Hope in 1488, culminating a generation of Portuguese sea exploration fostered by the nautical school of Henry the Navigator.

Da Gama's voyage was successful in establishing a sea route from Europe to India that would permit trade with the Far East, without the use of the costly and unsafe Silk Road caravan routes, of the Middle East and Central Asia. However, the voyage was also hampered by its failure to bring any trade goods of interest to the nations of Asia Minor and India. The route was fraught with peril: only 54 of his 170 voyagers, and two of four ships, returned to Portugal in 1499. Nevertheless, da Gama's initial journey led directly to a several-hundred year era of European domination through sea power and commerce, and 450 years of Portuguese colonialism in India that brought wealth and power to the Portuguese throne. (continued...)

April 24

Pedro Nunes (Latin, Petrus Nonius), (1502, Alcácer do Sal – August 11, 1578, Coimbra) was a Portuguese mathematician, maybe born from a New Christian (of Jewish origin) family.

Pedro Nunes, considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of his time, is best known for his contributions in the technical field of navigation, which was crucial to the Portuguese period of discoveries. He was also the inventor of several measuring devices, including the nonius, named after his Latin surname.

Pedro Nunes lived in a transition period where science was changing from valuing theoretical knowledge (and thus where the main role of a scientist was commenting on previous authors), to providing experimental data, both as a source of information and as a method of confirming theories. Nunes was above all one of the last great commentators, as his shown by his first published work, but he also acknowledged the value of experimentation. (continued...)

April 17
Fernao Mendes Pinto.jpg

Fernão Mendes Pinto (pron. IPA fɨɾ.ˈnɐ̃w̃ mẽ.d(ɨ)ʃ ˈpĩ.tu, Old Portuguese: Fernam Mendez Pinto) (1509? – 1583) was a Portuguese explorer and writer. His exploits are known through the posthumous publication of his memoir Pilgrimage (Portuguese: Peregrinação) in 1614, an autobiographical work whose validity is nearly impossible to assess. In the course of his travels in the Middle and Far East, Pinto visited Ethiopia, the Arabian Sea, China (where he claimed to have been a forced laborer on the Great Wall), India and Japan. He claimed to have been among the first group of Europeans to visit Japan and initiate the Nanban trade period. He also claimed to have introduced the gun there in 1543. It is known that he funded the first Christian church in Japan, after befriending a Catholic missionary and founding member of the Society of Jesus later known as St Francis Xavier. At one time Pinto himself was a Jesuit, though he later left the order. (continued...)

April 10


April 3
Saint Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony of Padua, also venerated as Saint Anthony of Lisbon (Santo António de Lisboa), particularly in Portugal (August 15, 1195 – June 13, 1231), is a Catholic saint who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, as Fernando de Bulhões ([fɨɾ.ˈnɐ̃.du dɨ bu.ˈʎõj̃ʃ]), to a wealthy family. Today he is one of the most famous saints and is often called upon by Catholics to help find lost possessions.

He holds the record for the second fastest canonization in history: he was declared a saint 352 days after his death (Peter of Verona was canonized 337 days after his martyrdom in 1252) (Pentecost, May 30, 1232) by Gregory IX. His feast day is on June 13th, the day of his death, a day of popular and sumptuous celebrations in Lisbon. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of Lisbon and the patron of Padua, where his relics remained after his death. (continued...)

March 27

Afonso I of Portugal (Guimarães, 1109?, traditionally July 25 – Coimbra, 1185, December 6), more commonly known as Afonso Henriques, nicknamed the Conqueror (Port. o Conquistador), was the first King of Portugal, declaring his independence from León. Afonso I was the son of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal and Teresa of León, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso VI of Castile and León. He was proclaimed King on July 26, 1139, immediately after the Battle of Ourique, and died on December 6, 1185 in Coimbra.

March 20

José de Almada Negreiros (São Tomé, São Tomé e Príncipe, April 7, 1893- Lisbon, July 15, 1970) was a Portuguese painter, poet and writer.

In 1913 he made his first individual exhibition and along with Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro publishes poems and texts in the artistic magazine Orpheu, that would introduce modern literature in Portugal. In the following years his artistic production will be wide and prolific; from easel paintings to murals, glass-windows, illustration, printmaking and scenography, from novels, playwrights to poems, essays and panfletary manifests, he became a key artist in Portuguese modern art, influenced by Cubism and, mainly, by Futurism. His role, during António de Oliveira Salazar´s authoritarian regime is however ambiguous, assuming both as an "aligned" artist (doing public mural paintings or propaganda posters) and a provocative critic of Portuguese society of the time. (continued...)

March 13
Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães; Spanish: Fernando or Hernando de Magallanes; Spring 1480–April 27, 1521) was a Portuguese maritime explorer who led the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the Earth. Magellan himself did not complete his final voyage; he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. He did, however, die further west than the Spice Islands, which he had visited on earlier voyages, making him one of the first individuals to cross all the longitudes of the globe. He became the first person to lead an expedition sailing westward from Europe to Asia and to cross the Pacific Ocean.

March 6

José Afonso, full name José Manuel Cerqueira Afonso dos Santos, also known as Zeca Afonso or only "Zeca" (August 2, 1929 – February 23, 1987) was born in Aveiro, Portugal, son of José Nepomuceno Afonso, a judge, and Maria das Dores. Zeca is perhaps the most well-known popular singer and composer of the Portuguese history. He was also a famous left-wing activist with strong anti-fascist beliefs and action, with a huge role among the resistance movement against the regime of Oliveira Salazar that would triumph with the democratic Carnation Revolution. In the following revolutionary process, Zeca was one of the most active Portuguese musicians. All this would make him an important personality in 20th century Portuguese history. Years after his death, Zeca Afonso is still widely listened to, not only in Portugal, but also abroad.

February 28

José Gomes Ferreira (1900 – 1985) was a Portuguese writer with a vast work of neorealist influence. Gomes Ferreira was also a political activist that participated in the resistance against the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar during the Estado Novo (New State) regime, becoming later a member of the Portuguese Communist Party. In the late 1970s he occupied the presidency of the Portuguese Writers Association.