Tag: Fausto

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Fausto Bordalo Dias , born 1948, is a veteran intervention singer. and composer. Brought up in Angola, he returned to Portugal as a student, releasing his first record in 1969. His themes include making sense of Portuguese history and its African experience.

History of Portugal



218 BC The Romans arrive in the Iberian peninsula

Their initial motive is to dislodge the Carthaginians, who had an expanding military presence on the south and east coasts at the time of Hannibal in the second Punic war. Defeating the Carthaginians in Iberia was to take the Romans 12 years.

The Romans then set about colonising the whole peninsula, both Spain and modern Portugal. This was to take 200 years to complete, and involved the Republic's two top generals, Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, at various stages. It was a considerable undertaking, involving at its maximum seven Roman legions in the field at the same time.

The Romans bring Latin. Modern Portuguese is basically still Latin - optimised over the years for poetry and song.

Ângela Silva Rodrigo Leão "Carpe diem"

Ângela Silva sings composer Rodrigo Leão's "Carpe diem" (Seize the day) in Latin

This is a hymn to love made up of common Latin phrases. Though Latin is not widely understood now, Portuguese singers don't have much trouble with the pronunciation and phrasing.

139 BC Death of Viriatus - resistance begins to fade

Viriatus (Viriato in Portuguese) is the Portuguese equivalent of Vercingetorix in France and Boudica or Caratacus in Britain. Resistance to the Romans was most intense in the upper Douro valley, on both the Portuguese and Spanish sides of the modern border.

Local hero Viriatus, hailing from somewhere in the Douro valley, is celebrated today in both countries. After numerous victories Viriatus was finally killed by treachery (like that other famous enemy of Rome, Arminius in Germany).


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Why did Portugal want to explore the world?

Fausto Bordalo Dias "O barco vai de saída"

Fausto Bordalo Dias "O barco vai de saída" (The boat is setting out)

Here are several possible answers I've come across reading about Portugal. I'm not sure about how much importance to give each one.

1. Portugal is located in the far southwest of Europe, squeezed between the mountains and the sea. There's not really anywhere else to go in Europe. Across the mountains are “Castilians with knives”.

2. Fishing has always been a key industry, so Portugal had the sailors. Also you have to go a long way for some catches (e.g. to Newfoundland for cod), so the sailors had deep-water Atlantic sailing skills, not more coastal Mediterranean experience.

3. The best land in Portugal is along the coastal strip in the north and centre of the country. As you go south (into the Alentejo) it gets dry - not an overwhelming problem for modern agriculture but a big challenge in the past. Till you get to the far south coast (the Algarve), which has some potentially fertile mountains and rivers. But, back in the past, to make much use of the Algarve you really needed to control both sides of the sea - the European and African coasts. Otherwise raiders would steal your workforce or set up their own castles and mini kingdoms. So immediately after driving out the Muslim Moors the Portuguese Christian kings set about seizing land on the African side too. (Which of course the Moors had had themselves - it was the only way to make the Algarve viable).

4. With the Algarve conquest the new

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