Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Dolly had thoughts about Medieval Portugal.

There I was calmly sitting with Dolly, telling her about the Medieval festival we were off to on the 1st January. Explaining that she wouldn't be coming with us, as the streets were too narrow and parking would be a nightmare, wasn't an easy task. She's itching to get out and about again.
However I said I'd tell her all about it and find out more about the history of Portugal. I'm no historian and I don't claim to be a wiz at research, but how hard can it be I thought.

To me the Algarve has always seemed like a very large holiday resort with its golden beeches, tourist areas, bars, clubs and restaurants. Thats without mentioning the retired folk from all over Europe who have made there homes here.  Every year in August the town of Silves puts on a Medieval festival and for New Year the town of Paderne have their festival. For those of you that have been reading the blog you may remember that was the area where I found the amazing model of the Presepio.

About 10 years ago we visited the area of Sintra and Mafra, it was there that I first felt a sense of the counties history, with the palaces and amazing buildings. Having said that, I soon got back into life on the Algarve and didn't think much about it, until now.

Walking around the cobbled streets, looking at the various displays and stools that'd been set up, it wasn't hard to let the imagination run free. I tried to block out the modern from my mind and imagine how things might have been back then. Then remembered that the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which took the lives of approximately 60,000 people would have also destroyed what infrastructure they had and many of the buildings. I was once told that the earthquake had reached as far down as the Algarve coast, so I guess there wasn't much left... or was there. A few days ago I was told by a friend who had visited, some 20 years ago, the ruins on a Roman bath house, which was found buried on someones farm land, in the Alentejo region, I'd never really thought about the Romans being here.

I Know the more recent history and that on 25th April 1974  a military led coup overthrew the regime of the Estado Novo, which also led to the withdrawal of Portugal from the African colonies and East Timor. The 25th April is now known as Freedom Day and celebrates the independence from a dictatorship. The Carnation Revolution obtained the name because almost no shots were fired during the uprising and when the people took to the streets celebrating the end of the dictatorship and war in the colonies, carnations were placed into the muzzles of rifles and on the uniforms of the army.

The earthquake and the carnation revolution being the extent of my knowledge, regarding the history of Portugal I began looking on the internet. I wanted a site that could give me some easy to understand history and I found: A Short History of Portugal by Tim Lambert.

I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I paraphrase a little. 


People have lived in Portugal since the ice age approx 30,000 BC.  As you might imagine they were hunters and fisherman and gathering what they could find off the land, wore leather clothes and made there own tools. It was 5,000 BC before farming was introduced to Portugal, they continued to use stone tools as Bronze wasn't introduced until approximately 2,000 BC
 Celtic tribes entered Portugal from the north. around 700 BC, thats when iron was introduced.

 By 800 BC the Phoenicia, an ancient civilisation, which lay along the mediterranean coast had began trading, wanting Portuguese tin for making bronze. The independent city states of Phoenicia are now known as Syria, Lebanon, northern Isreal. The Greeks also began trading around 600 BC. 

The Romans invaded the Iberian Peninsula around 210BC and conquered the south but the Celtic tribe (Lusitania) held onto the central part of the country. Led by the ruler Viriatus they rebelled again Roman rule in 193 BC. They fought for decades and were defeated in139 BC when Viriatus was captured. In Time there was full integration into the Roman ways. Wheat, olives and wine were exported from Portugal to Rome. 
However by the middle of the 3rd century AD the Roman Empire was in decline. In the 5th century Roman rule in Portugal collapsed. In 409 Germanic peoples invaded the Iberian peninsula. A race called the Suevi invaded Portugal. However in the 6th century another race called the Visigoths ruled Spain and they attacked the Suevi. By 585 the Visigoths had conquered the Suevi.
The Germanic invaders became the new upper class. They were landowners and warriors who despised trade. Under their rule trade was dominated by the Jews.

As I said I'm no historian and unless I set about plagiarising another mans work in full, I'm afraid I will be here for a very long time sorting out dates times and places. By the middle ages we get into all sorts of interesting stuff. Reading through Tim Lamberts, Short History of Portugal I've become quite fascinated.   
It is so difficult to just take snippets out of the text when there is so much that links to the next point of interest. I do believe I'm getting hooked on history. It's like a grand soap opera, looking into peoples lives. The thought that we are creating history every day gives me goosebumps. I wonder what legacy we'll leave behind?

As an Author I like to write about peoples lives, how they rise to the challenges of life's dramas. Trying to look at the historic facts of Portugal made me realise how much work goes into research, when looking for historic facts for novels. I found my little research into Portuguese history quite time consuming but a lot of fun. 

I suggest for those of you who are interested in the history of Portugal, take a look it's really is fascinating. For those of you who just like to use your imagination Ive posted photos of my medieval day in Paderne.

Next week we're off to the west coast with Dolly, in search of another adventure.


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