The conquest of Portucale in 868 by Vímara Peres, a warrior of king
Afonso III, from Leon, is duly considered here as an event of the most ancient
history of Porto. Ever since the second half of the 6th century, since the days
of the Suevians, the population of Portucale in Castro novo was the head office
of the Portugalense Diocese. However, as of 868 its importance increased: it
became the centre of the movement of re-conquest and gathering of the surrounding
land, which, because of this, became the portugalensis province in the middle
of the 10th century.
The inhabitants of this area became known as the portugalenses and among them the first and vague national feeling demonstrations began to emerge. Portucale was, thus, in fact what named and gave birth to the Portuguese Nation! In 1120, the Queen D. T Tareja, the widow of the Count D. Henrique, donated the Bishop D. Hugo and his successors the little borough of Porto and a posted land.
In 1123 the Bishop granted the latter a code of laws and later, D. Afonso Henriques confirmed and enlarged the limits of the land. In 1147 the Nordic Crusaders that belonged to the Second Crusade to the Holy Land entered the Douro. Upon this invasion, it was the Bishop of Porto, D. Pedro Pitões, who eloquently lectured them at the Crasto de Portucale, on top of the hill, in front of the Sé (Cathedral). The purpose of this lecture was to encourage them to join D. Afonso Henriques in the conquest of Lisbon. Afterwards, the Portugalense Bishop accompanied the armada and took part in the military adventure.
Porto began to develop rapidly when the Princess of the Tejo fell into the hands of the Christians. The population began to grow and so did the city’s economic importance. The bourgeois got involved in quarrels and clashes with its Bishops, to whom the borough owed so much, but yet from whose temporal subordination the rebellious ones wanted to free themselves. The King was often the peacemaker of the revolted parties and it was D. João I, who, after two centuries, ended these quarrels, allowing himself the purchase of the right to temporal jurisdiction of the borough and the respective posted land from the Bishops, which these claimed to have.
During the crisis of 1383-1385, Porto served the Mestre de Avis, who presented himself as the Portugal Governor and Defender against the people of Castile, in such a way that the monarch granted it the title of MUI NOBRE E SEMPRE LEAL CIDADE (very noble and always loyal city). The time of the Cycle of Conquests and the Ultramarine Discoveries followed. In the same manner that the north of the country had been the cradle of the warriors who conquered the south from the moors, it was also from the north, place of birth of the Porto Infante D. Henrique and many sailors, that a decisive impulse towards great maritime navigations emerged. In the 15th century, Porto was one of Spain’s cities where most boats were made and from where most sailors came. However, concerning the interests of the bourgeois in Porto, there was more to it than trade and navigation. Among these people, there were also great many people related to culture in the fields of the Fine Arts who honoured national culture.
These went from, according to their reputation, Vasco de Lobeira, Amadis de Gaula, to the poets of the Cancioneiro of Garcia de Resende, such as Diogo Brandão and Fernão Brandão, or even the celebrated Pero Vaz de Caminha, distinguished author of the Carta do Achamento do Brasil (Letter of the Discovery of Brazil), worldwide known and admired. After having been under the realm of the king Philip of Spain, Portugal recovers its independence. At this point Porto enthusiastically takes on a role of distinction in the quarrels of Restoration and holds at its own expense a third of troupes. In the name of the fatherland, Porto releases a rebellious group in 1808 against Junot and suffers severely from the invasion of Soult in 1809, and its tragic consequences.
Nevertheless, not everything is related to war in the history of Porto. On the second half of the 18th century, the city, which had become extraordinarily rich, grew, became a monument and modernised itself thanks to the Almadas; and in the 19th century, Porto presented the Nation with poets like Garrett and created sculptors as great as Soares dos Reis. Obviously, at the groundwork of all collective actions of a people is the people itself: the dark people, whose names didn’t remain in history, but who worked, suffered and sacrificed themselves, gave their properties, their strength and their lives for their fatherlands to become glorious and great. Guilherme Camarinha bore that in mind in the tapestry of the Câmara Municipal do Porto (Porto City Council), as he placed at the base of its amazing work the farmers, the craftsmen, the carpenters, the ships carpenter, the butchers, working for the preparation of the armada, which left from the Ribeira do Douro in 1415 to Ceuta, under the command of the Infante D. Henrique.
The people of Porto, amid whose qualities underlies a deep civic pride, contributed with everything they had for the equipment and supply of those ships. They generously and patriotically gave in all the meat from their cattle, leaving for themselves nothing but the entrails of those animals, which granted them a designation that is their utmost legitimate pride title: that of the tripeiros (which literally means tripe eaters).
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