Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


Capital : Lisbon

Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Evora, Faro, Guardo, Leina, Lisboa, Vianna do Castelo, Viseu, Vilareal, Santarem, Portalegre, Setubal, Porto, Tocantis

Size: 35 700 sq m Popn: 9 846 000


Like Spain, Portugal was part of the Roman Empire and was not established as a separate country until the C11th when it was subject to L¾ on. The southern part was ruled by the Moors. It became an independent monarchy under Alfonso I (1128-85) who took Lisbon in 1147 and Alfonso III (1248-79) expelled the Moors. During the C13th, the Cortes, an assembly of nobles, clergy and city representatives, began to meet and gained control of taxation. A commercial treaty with England was signed in 1294 and an alliance was formed in 1373.

During the C15th, Portuguese navigators explored the African coast. Vasco da Gama opened the sea route to India in 1497-8 and Cabral reached Brazil in 1500, with colonists following in the C16th. Spain was growing in size and strength and Philip II of Spain seized the crown of Portugal in 1580 to rule the entire Iberian Peninsula. The Portuguese rebelled in 1640 and placed the Braganza dynasty on the throne, forcing Spain to reorganize their independence in 1668. Portugal fought as an ally of Britain during the War of the Spanish Succession. The country was invaded by France in 1807-11 during the Peninsular War and there was civil war from 1828-34, but a strong democratic movement developed and a constitutional government was established.

In 1908, King Carlos I was assassinated and his son, Manuel II, was driven out in 1910 when a republic was proclaimed. Portugal was economically weak and corrupt but improved under the dictatorship of AntoÕio de Oliveira Salazar, who had become prime minister in 1928. Although social conditions improved, personal freedoms were lost and when Dr Marcello Caetano succeeded as prime minister in 1968, he was unable to liberalize the political system. The expensive wars in Portugal's African colonies, Angola and Mozambique, weakened his administration and in April 1974, there was a military coup 'to save the nation from government'. General AntoÕio Ribeiro de SpÍnola set up the 'Junta of National Salvation' and became president, with a military colleague instead of a prime minister, but there were internal disagreements and he resigned in September. He was replaced by Colonel Francisco da Costa Gomez who managed to avoid a communist coup in 1975 by a collaboration with the moderate Socialist Party (PS) under Mario Soares.

The first free assembly elections for 50 years were held in 1976 with Soares forming a minority government after the PS gained 36% of the vote. The army chief, General AntoÕio Ramalho Eanes, became president, supported by centre and left-of-centre parties. Soares' administration survived for two years but he resigned in 1978 and a period of political instability followed, with five prime ministers in two and a half years. In 1980, President Eanes asked Dr Francisco Balsem±o, co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to form a centre-party coalition. There were many challenges to his leadership but in 1982, the assembly approved his new constitution which would reduce the president's powers and move towards an entirely civilian government. Professor AnÍbal Cavaco Silva of the PSD, a former finance minister, formed a minority government in 1985, and in 1986, Soares became Portugal's first civilian president for 60 years. Silva favoured a free market and privatization and economic growth and living standards improved. Portugal joined the EC in 1986 and is a member of NATO. In July 1987, the PSD won an absolute majority in parliament and the PRD and Communists lost seats. In June 1989, parliament approved the denationalization of major industries and renounced the socialist economy. Soares was re-elected president in January 1991 and in the general election of October, the PSD was re-elected with only a slightly reduced majority.

Portuguese Names

The Portuguese language is similar to Spanish but has distinct differences in spelling and pronunciation and this can also be seen in names. For instance, the Spanish form of John, 'Juan' becomes 'João' in Portuguese and the name Julia, although spelt the same way in both countries, is pronounced 'Hulia' in Spanish and 'Julia' in Portuguese. Biblical names are popular and it is common for 'José' to be combined with another name to produce José Claúdio, José Marcelo, José Mario (often shortened to Zemario). The endings '-inho' or '-inha' meaning 'young' or 'small' are added to names as a diminutive form. Portuguese names are also used in former colonies such as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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