The Crisis at the End of the 19th century and the Spread of Republicanismn

At the Berlin Conference (1884-85) for the partition of Africa, Portugal, against all odds, was able to maintain its African settlements and even enlarge them, partly on the grounds of historical rights, and partly due to the interests of the larger powers (namely Britain), which preferred to have a minor player on the game, easier to handle.

The last decades of the 19th century, in a context of a financial crisis, saw a growing dissatisfaction with the parliamentary monarchy, considered wasteful and at the service of foreign powers. The Ultimatum made by Britain to Portugal, demanding the partition of southern Africa, was one of the low points of the constitutional monarchy – the king’s quick capitulation to the British requests was seen by the public opinion as being a proof of its treachery. In this climate, it is easy to understand the rapid growing of support for the Republican Party, seen as a saviour of the nation. The political and social climate was, thus, explosive. In 1908 the king and the heir to the throne were murdered. In the 5th of October of 1910 the Republic was proclaimed. The regnant king (the younger son of the deceased king) went into exile in England, never coming back. .

Contemporary caricature of the British Ultimatum to Portugal, in 1890.
On the left side of the picture is John Bull, shouting Ultimatum to an old an weak Portugal and its king.

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