Portuguese Revolution of 1820

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Portuguese Revolution of 1820


a bourgeois revolution led by the liberal bourgeoisie, which sought to curtail the power of the nobility and called for the withdrawal of British occupation forces.

On August 24, 1820, troops under the command of S. Cabreira, B. Sepulveda, and Sarmento rebelled in Porto. The rebel leaders formed the Provisional Junta of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom and launched an offensive against Coimbra. The Cortes was convened to draft a constitution. In Lisbon, where the 16th Infantry Regiment began a rebellion, which the entire garrison soon joined, the government was replaced by the Lisbon Junta. The two juntas merged on September 27.

In the meantime the British commander in chief, W. Beres-ford, who had received plenary powers from King John VI in Brazil, had arrived at Tejo from Rio de Janeiro with a British squadron, but the Provisional Junta forbade him to land. The Junta refused to recognize Beresford’s plenary powers and demanded that the king return to Lisbon.

In January 1821 the Cortes, summoned on behalf of the king, adopted a liberal constitution modeled on the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. The constitution envisaged the creation of a unicameral legislative body—the Cortes—elected by secret and universal ballot, and a 13-member state council under the king. The constitution also provided for the abolition of feudal privileges, the suppression of the Inquisition, judicial reforms, and the sale of church lands. The king, who arrived in Portugal in July 1821, pledged to abide by the constitution, which took effect on September 23.

Many of the progressive reforms adopted by the Cortes were never carried out. The Liberals, who led the revolution, did nothing to attract the peasantry to their cause and did not purge the state bureaucracy of the supporters of absolute monarchy and the clericalists. This weakened the position of the Constitutionalists, headed by Duke Palmela. The forces of feudal reaction, led by Queen Carlota-Joaquina and Prince Miguel Bragança, who sought to restore absolutism, took advantage of the situation. In February 1823 the absolutists, also called Miguelistes, rebelled in Trás-os-Montes; the revolt precipitated the Miguelist Wars. The occupation of Madrid on May 23, 1823, by French forces sent to Spain by the Holy Alliance strengthened the reactionaries in Portugal. The 23rd Infantry Regiment revolted on May 27 and the 18th Regiment on May 31, and soon thereafter the king suspended the constitution. In these circumstances the Cortes capitulated. After adopting on May 30, 1823, a resolution condemning the king’s and Miguel’s actions, the Cortes dissolved itself.

The Portuguese Revolution of 1820 was the beginning of a long struggle for bourgeois reforms in Portugal.


Piteira, S. F. Geografia e economia da revolução de 1820. Lisbon [1962].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Portuguese Revolution of 1820 re-directed power by creating a constitutional monarchy with checks and balances, but contrary to the United States, it did not abolish the monarchy.

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