Portuguese Highlights from the DeGolyer Library

The leather bound cover of Historia

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, when on the 25th of April in 1974, a coup supported by the public ended the Estado Novo (New State) dictatorship. Estado Novo had come to power in 1933 under António de Oliveira Salazar, who led an authoritarian regime defined by nationalism and religious and economic conservatism. The coup was led by the Armed Forces Movement, an organization of lower-ranking left-wing officers, who were met with broad public support. The 25 de Abril coup was motivated by resistance to the harsh political repression conducted by the Estado Novo and growing resentment of Portuguese colonial wars, as well as the failures of the leaders who followed Salazar, who had been removed from political office following a debilitating stroke in 1968.

Page from book featuring woodcut of shipwreck
A page from Historia Tragico Maritima

The 25th of April is known as the Carnation Revolution after members of the public, who despite warnings from the leaders of the military to stay at home, took to the streets to support the insurgents. In Lisbon, Celeste Caeiro, a restaurant worker, handed carnations out to soldiers who placed the flowers in the muzzles of their guns. Images of the soldiers with carnations, as well as pictures of jubilant crowds joining them in the streets, came to define the event.

The very worn cover of Relação Abbreviada da República…

To celebrate the anniversary, we’re sharing two Portuguese highlights from our collection. Historia Tragico Maritima (Tragic History of the Sea), a collection of narrative accounts of 12 famous Portuguese shipwrecks and dangerous voyages by historian Bernardo Gomes de Brito (1688-1759), and Relação Abbreviada da República… (Abbreviated List of the Republic…), which isn’t particularly notable in and of itself. However, its author, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the Marquis of Pombal, is one of the most notable figures in Portuguese history. The son of a country squire, Pombal rose to power through army and diplomatic service. Pombal served as a de facto chief minister to King Joseph I, managing the immediate and long-term aftermath of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, one of the deadliest in history. He instituted sweeping reforms but governed autocratically, and was hated by both the aristocracy and the working class, due to episodes of violent persecution of members of both classes. Pombal is also noted for his suppression of the Jesuits, who are the partial subject of this book on the War of the Seven Reductions, fought between the Guarani people of Paraguay and Jesuit missionaries from Spain and Portugal.


To view these items and other material related to the history of Portugal in our collection, email degolyer@smu.edu