Born in 1913 in Coimbra and died on the 13th June 2005 in Lisbon.
He studied Law at Coimbra University and joined the Communist Party in 1931.
He was first elected Secretary General of the party 1935. In 1937 and 1940
he was imprisoned by the State and was tortured during both these periods.
In 1948 he was imprisoned again and was sentenced by the court to 11 years
of imprisonment of which 8 years were to be solitary confinement. He escaped
in 1960 and spent his exile in USSR until 1974. In Russia in 1961 he was
again appointed the Secretary General of the Portuguese Communist Party as
an absentee. This post he retained until his appointment as President of the
Party in 1992.
Returning to Portugal during the unstable period after the “25th of April”
Revolution in 1974, he held ministerial offices in the first four
consecutive Governments. In 1996 he retired from the office of President of
his Party but remained on the Central Committee. He was very highly
respected by his political opponents for his devotion to his political
beliefs. He died in 2005 as a respected politician.
Américo de Deus Rodrigues Tomaz
Born in Cascais in 1894, and died in 1987. His career prior to
politics was in the Portuguese navy. In 1914 he was appointed as Minister
of the Navy and remained such until 1958 when he was raised to the position
of President in a hard-fought election against General Humberto Delgado.
He remained in this post with the backing of António de Oliveira Salazar
and his later replacement Marcelo Caetano until he was exiled by the
"Revolution of the 25th of April" in 1974. He was allowed back into the
country in 1980 by the act of the President of that time, General Ramalho
Eanes. During his political career he maintained a positive right-wing
political stance to the very end. It is reliably quoted that during the
short period in office of Marcelo Caetano (who replaced the aged
Salazar), Admiral Thomaz was instrumental in ensuring that
this new appointee maintained the policies of the previously well
António Bernardino da Costa Cabral
Born in Fornos de Algodres on 29th May 1803. He trained as a lawyer
in Coimbra and became a Judge. His initial political stand was as a
liberalist but he was quick to use force when necessary and was reputed to
be ruthless to the point of corruption in succeeding in his goals. During
his lifetime he created a mixed reputation of fear and admiration in the
Court, financial world and the people of Portugal. He was appointed in
1836 as Governor of Lisbon and was a confident of the Queen, Dona Maria
II. In the same year he used force to put down from March the 13th to
the 18th the radical mobs that created unrest in Lisbon (Massacre do
He restored diplomatic relations with Vatican and re-introduced a
conservative Constitutional Charter. He encouraged foreign investment and
restructured financial control away from regions to a central control
bringing temporary prosperity. Costa Cabral organized a “coup d’etat”
in 1842 given key posts to his supporters. He was appointed as Minister and
Secretary for Royal State Affairs in 1843. In 1846 the peasant’s revolt
known as “Maria da Fonte” in the north of Portugal brought about by a
period of famine. Newly introduced burial regulations was blamed as the
final cause for the riots and he was removed from office. He fled to
England but was later returned and was restored to power in 1848. Again due
to his unpopularity and the now poor economic state of Portugal he was
replaced for a second time by the Duque de Saldanha in 1851.
António de Oliveira Salazar
Born into a humble family in 1889 in the small village of Sta Comba Dão
near to the city of Coimbra, and later died in Lisbon in 1970. He
gained a degree in both Law and Finance at the University of Coimbra and
was appointed a University lecturer. He was approached in 1926 to solve the
serious economic problems existing within Portugal. By 1932 he had assumed
absolute power which he was not to relinquish until two years before his
death in 1970.
With a firm hand he controlled both the politics and economics, carefully
guiding the country through two world wars without committed involvement.
His tone of politics was taken from right-wing nationalism that did not
tolerate freedom of political opinion. He held his rule secure through the
work of the secret police force that showed little tolerance for anyone
who did not conform. With this price of a lack of democratic development
he successfully rebuilt Portugal and its economic wealth. At the time of
his death the national reserves of gold within the country was the highest
per capita in Europe. In his devotion to serving his country he always
maintained a very simple standard of living. However, those few people
around him who were implementing his policies found the opportunities to
gain great wealth. His rule began to show signs of slow weakening when in
1961 the War of Independence commenced in Angola that was the fore-runner
of other African colonial wars. This situation eventually built up into a
bloodless popular revolution within mainland Portugal of his armed forces
in 1974, four years after his death.
António Sebastião Ribeiro de Spínola (Marshal)
António Spínola was born in Santo André, Estremoz and died
in 1996. He enrolled in the army and was actively involved in the colonial
war in Angola from 1961 to 1963. In 1968 he was appointed Commander in
Chief and Governor of Guinea-Bissau until 1974. He unknowingly became a
figurehead for the young army officers who were secretly plotting the
Revolution of 1974. He had published a book expressing his views on the
colonial wars that were then engaging Portugal in Africa. His views were
strongly appreciated by the plotters but not shared by the powers in
Lisbon. Due to his popularity within the army and together with his
position as General he was seen by the State as a threat to the system.
Prior to the revolution taking place he was recalled from Africa.
With the success of the young officers in toppling the Marcelo Caetano
government (which was a continuation of the previous Salazar regime),
he was nominated the next day into being their official leader in the “Army
Junta of Salvation”. Spínola was soon to find that these “new
comrades” were too left wing for his taste. In September of 1974 with the
backing of the Portuguese Air Force, he failed in his attempt to topple
the power of the Junta and hastily had to flee the country into Spain and
then onto Brazil. Later, and after his return to Portugal he was awarded
by the State the title of Marshal in 1981.
António dos Santos Ramalha Eanes (General)
Born on the 25th of January, 1935, in Alcaims near Castelo
Branco. Ramalho Eanes joined the army at an early age and served
in various Portuguese territories, namely, Angola, Goa, Guinea, Macau and
Mozambique. Returning to mainland Portugal he became involved in the
influential “Movemento das Forças Armadas”, the political wing of the Armed
Forces controlling the new State of Portugal after the 1974 Revolution. In
1975 he was nominated to the post of General and was instrumental in
November of that same year in stopping a left-wing radical fraction of the
Army from taking control by a “coup d’etat”. In 1976, backed with the
confidence of the people he was elected President of Portugal and was again
later re-elected to the same post in 1980. After leaving this office he was
for a short time active in the political field before permanently retiring
from the political scene.
Ramalho Eanes with his key position as President and his policy of
staying in the middle ground of left-wing thinking, played an important
role in an often tense and difficult period by easing the control of the
country into a social democracy and away from the attempted extreme
António Vieira (Padre)
Born in 6th of February in 1608 and died in 1697 in Bahia, Brazil.
Known as “Padre António Vieira” he played an important part in
Luso-Brazilian history. His remarkable intellect was shown by the roles he
played in religion, politics, orator and writer. During his 89 years of
life he lived alongside royalty, slaves and tribal Indians, and in an age
when society was known for its disregard for religion and its medieval
brutality. He was to also be persecuted by the Inquisition for his liberal
ideas and suffered by their hands.
At the age of six his family moved to Brazil and later as a grown man he
was accepted into the Catholic faith in Bahia in 1634. In 1641 he
returned to Portugal and became an integral part of a royal group of
advisers to the King, Dom João IV. He was appointed to direct the
repossession of overseas territories belonging to Portugal. Two important
policies he adopted was first to accept the domination of the Dutch
occupation in Pernambuco in Brazil, and the second, was to
encourage the return of Portuguese Jews to Portugal by offering them
protection from the Inquisition. In return for the later point the Jews
were expected to reinvest in the Portuguese empire. Both these ideas were
to be rejected and Vieira was later to return to Brazil and live in
Vieira made powerful enemies in Maranhão due to liberal ideas and
his personal defence of the local Indians and slaves. In 1661 he was
ordered by the Church to leave Maranhão and return to Portugal.
Upon his return in he was subjected to the examination of the Inquisition
and sentenced in 1665 to prison penance in Coimbra for his controversial
publications. In 1667 he was released and made his way to Rome where he
managed to acquire the protection of the Queen Cristina of Sweden
and the blessing of the Pope. His later return to Lisbon is marked by the
publication of his "Lessons" in 1669 and two years later he
returned to his loved Brazil and devoted himself to writing.
Aristades de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches
Born into a distinguished family on 19th of July in 1885 in the Beira Alta
region of Portugal. Sousa Mendes led a comfortable life as a
diplomat until his posting as the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux in France
in 1938. In complete conflict with the rules of the Foreign Ministry as
from June 16th he was independently responsible for issuing some 30.000
visas to Jews and others who were fleeing from persecution from Nazi
Germany and wishing to escape to neutral Portugal. This remarkable feat
was achieved in a period of about three weeks of non-stop work.
Upon discovery of his actions by the Foreign Ministry he was immediately
ordered to return to Portugal on July the 8th and all visas issued by his
office as from the June 23rd were deemed to be illegal. Upon his return to
to Portugal Sousa Mendes was disciplined and shortly afterwards
Salazar personally increased his penalties for his disobedience.
He and his family were quickly reduced to absolute poverty. He died
destitute on April the 3rd, 1954. Until this date his action has raised
no official acknowledgement form the Portuguese State for being
instrumental in saving thousands of lives.
Bernardo de Sá Nogueira de Figuereido (Viconte Sá Bandeira)
Born in Santarém in 1795 and died in 1876. His town of birth was
then the centre of liberal thinking within Portugal which was to have
great influence on his path in life. He joined the army at the age of 15
and fought against the invading French. Later, he was to also take an
active part in the siege of the northern town of Porto in the “War
of the Two Brothers”. In 1823 he was actively involved in the removable
of the dictatorial government. Also, in 1836, he was responsible for the
passing of a Law forbidding slave trading. His promotion to General led
him into a powerful position in the political field being involved in
several governments and five times a part of the “Counsel of Ministers”.
He became responsible in his mandate for the introduction and
installation of many liberal policies during his political lifetime.
Bernardino Cardoso da Silva Sidónio Pais
Born in Coimbra in 1872 and died by assassination in Lisbon
on 14th December 1918. Pais Sídonio developed into an ardent but
moderate Republican. In the government of João Chagas of 1911, he was
first appointed Minister of Progress and transferred to Minister of
Finance. In 1913 he was appointed as the Ambassador to Berlin but
returned on the outbreak of the First World War. Upon his return and
appalled at the anarchy within Portugal he became a leading driving force
in 1917 behind the “coup de etat” and the subsequent introduction of the
“República Nova”. He made quick headway in bringing some stability back
to society, economically and politically, including improving the poor
relations of long standing between the State and the Catholic Church.
His death has been blamed on the then powerful Mason Lodges.
Dom João Carlos Gregório Domingos Vicente Francisco de Saldanha Oliveira
e Daun (Duque de Saldanha)
Born on 17th November 1790 and died on 20th November, 1876. Grandson of the
famous Marquês de Pombal. Dom João Carlos came to the fore in
1823 as a Brigadier when he rode into Lisbon at the head of his troops and
successfully dismissed the government. He and his supporters were concerned
that the Holy Alliance may invade Portugal to restore an absolute rule of
the monarchy and destroy the path of liberalism that had been so recently
He recalled General Beresford from England who had previously made
his name with the Portuguese in the Peninsular War. He made Beresford
his political and general adviser who was well considered the King, João
IV. Beresford managed to divert control away from Saldanha by
gaining the confidence of the absent King in Brazil. The Civil War from
1832 to 1834 between the two royal brothers brought him back to popularity
again in 1836 after a combined urban and military “coup d’etat”. He took a
shadow position in power to allow Costa Cabral to introduce a spirit
of liberalism into the regime. When in 1846 there was serious unrest in
Portugal he took over power by dismissing Costa Cabral. He was to do
the same thing again in 1851 and appointed himself as Prime Minister and
ruled for five years until 1856.
Born into a distinguished Republican family Duarte Pacheco was born in
Loulé on the 19th April, 1900. After graduating in electro-technology
within four years be had passed from lecturer, professor of mathematics,
to director of the "Insituto Superior Técnico". He showed promise in
the political arena and was appointed Minister of Public Education at
the early age of 28. He became well known for his
workaholic attitude which created friends as well as enemies.
the Minister designated to invite Dr António de Oliveira Salazar to
become the Finance Minister for which he was to be rewarded in their
future relationship with open favouritism. He introduced into Portugal a
grand scheme of expropriation of land by major councils to construct major
public buildings and important and much needed motorways. With the growth of
Lisbon's population during the 1920´s by 62 percent he improved the city's
water supply. In 1934 he presented a plan for the construction of a bridge
over the River Tagus which was to later become a reality decades later. He
improved education and supervised the constructed of 10.000 primary schools,
involved in building of Dams, regulating road transport, the development of
Pousadas, the 1940 Exhibition of Portuguese World, etc. His interests also
covered culture and he involved many artists from musicians to sculptors in
He died as a result of a car crash which occurred on
the 15th of November 1943.
Humberto da Silva Delgado (Marshall)
Born in Broguiera in 1906, he later became a martyr to his strong
political beliefs and was assassinated in 1965 by Portuguese Secret Police
(PIDE), in Spain near the border with Portugal. His career was in the army
where he rose to the rank of General, including an active period as a
military aviator. He took an early interest in politics and served in the
“Novo Estado” as created by Salazar. His liberal views made
him take an opposite path to those in power. In 1958 he choose to run in
opposition to Admiral Thomas for the office of the Presidency of
Portugal. To the apparent surprise of those in power he found support in
strength from the public that earned him the nickname “General sem medo”
(the General without fear). A manipulated election result showed him
falsely gaining only 25% of the vote. He was forced to resign from his post
and went into exile.
He claimed that in 1961 he was instrumental in the highjack of the tourist
steamer Santa Maria by his fellow conspirator, Henrique Galvão.
The same year he also participated in the failed army revolt at Beja.
In 1963 he moved to Algeria and created the “Junta Patriótica de
Libertação Nacional”. His activities against those in power drove
them to order his death that was carried out in 1965. In 1990 the
Portuguese Government granted General Humberto Delgado the
posthumous rank of Marshall in the Air Force in recognition of his services
to his beliefs.
Luís de Meneses (Conde de Ericeira)
Born in Lisbon on 22nd of July 1623 and died on 26th May 1690. During the
17th Century Dom Luís de Menses distinguished himself by taking a
successful role in both the military service and also within the world of
Portuguese politics. He was actively involved in all major battles from
1658 until peace was restored in 1673. He was nominated as a member of the
“Fazenda” in 1675 and gave an important impulse to the reform of Portuguese
currency and the manufacturing industries, besides promoting trade with the
East Indies. In 1679 he published his account of the history of Portugal
during the “Restauração”. He can be considered as having left his mark on
Portugal by his progressive thinking in rebuilding the country and the
restoration of its financial position within Europe.
Mário Alberto Lopes Nobre Soares
Mário Soares was born in Lisbon in 1924, and completed his
first degree in philosophy. Due to his political views he was soon without
an income as he was not permitted to teach. To remedy this situation he
then studied Law and received his new degree in 1951. His interest in
left-wing political views initially also led him to secretly join the
Communist Party. In 1958 he moderated his stance and joined in the growing
popular support for the party led by the Presidential candidate General
Delgado. He was later to become a founder member in the formation of
the ASP Party based on democratic socialism. The authorities deported him
in 1968 to the colony of São Tomé e Principe.
Released later and not being allowed to return to mainland Portugal he
decided to spend his exile in Paris joining many similar minded
Portuguese. Using France as his base he continued in his struggle against
the regime in power in Lisbon. Whilst still in exile he was
appointed as the Secretary General of the ASP at a special secret meeting
in Germany. When he returned in 1974 to Portugal just after the Revolution
had taken place, he was appointed to the ministerial post of Foreign
Affairs within the various temporary governments. After the Constitution
had been rewritten his Party gained the majority vote in the first free
general election held in 1976. As the leader of the winning Socialist
Party he held the post of Prime Minister until 1978. He and his Party were
later re-elected from 1983 until 1985.
He had to make several hard decisions during the initial period of Prime
Minister, some of which are still held up to him in criticism. He was
finally elected President of Portugal in 1986 and again re-elected in 1991.
His enthusiastic commitment to the idea of the European Union was realized
on the 12th of June 1985, when he signed on behalf of Portugal. He
re-entered the active arena of international politics and was elected to a
seat in Brussels. In 2006 he stood unsuccessfully again for the office of
Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (Marquês de Pombal)
The Marquês de Pombal became one of the most important politicians
in the history of Portugal. Born in 1699 and died in 1782. A man of
exceptional ability and foresight he came to power as a favourite of the
King, Dom José I. He is reputed to have been very autocratic in
using his office, courting popularity with the royal families of Europe
and an active member of the powerful "Freemasonry" movement. The
most important act that he implemented was to expel the Order of Jesuits
from Portugal. This Order was responsible for the introduction and the
administration of the infamous Inquisition. With charges of heresy the
Jesuits tortured and sacrificed their enemies whilst taking possession of
their estates. By expelling this Order from Portugal he created a more
democratic establishment where the power was divided between the King, his
knights and the church.
In 1755 the majority of Portugal suffered a quick series of very severe
earthquakes that destroyed much of Lisbon and many other cities and towns.
The Marquês took this opportunity to re-plan the central area of
Lisbon with broad avenues and imposing buildings. The layout was at that
time more in keeping with the architecture of the gardens to be found in
the larger palaces of France. By taking this initiative he created much
needed employment and helped the inhabitants recover from a tragic