1815–1850: The emerging liberal state without the colony of Brazil
With the Liberal Revolution of 1820 Portugal became a liberal and constitutional monarchy (Constitution 1822). King João VI returned from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where the Court had been based since the Napoleonic invasions (1807). In 1823 João’s son Prince Pedro proclaimed himself Emperor of Brazil, which meant independence for the colony. Pedro inherited the throne of Portugal on his father’s death but stood aside for his own daughter, the future Queen Maria II. Meanwhile, Prince Miguel, Pedro's brother, aimed for a return to absolutism (abolition of parliament and the Constitutional Charter of 1826). Civil war and political exile – to England and France – were the main highlights for the period till 1834, the year of the military liberal victory. The Setembrismo government introduced important liberal reforms and social changes, such as grammar schools, the Porto and Lisbon polytechnic schools and many political newspapers and popular magazines. Nevertheless, the danger of another civil war was still present.
1851–1910: The era of progress and development
The Regeneration military coup of 1851, led by Marshall Saldanha, put an end to liberal military insurrections. The new government, under Queen Maria II, had a material development policy led by Minister Fontes Pereira de Melo. During this period Portugal followed European progress with new roads, railways, iron bridges, urban renewal, pubic gardens and military and scientific missions into Africa colonies – Angola and Mozambique. Portugal participated enthusiastically in the international and universal exhibitions of the late 19th century. But it is also in these last decades when Republican ideals emerged and the first Republican deputies were elected. Meanwhile, the British Ultimatum (1891) put a stop to Portugal’s colonial aims to link Angola by land to Mozambique. The monarchy became very unpopular and in 1908 the King was murdered when he was arriving in Lisbon.
1910–1920: The Republican regime
On 5 October 1910 the Republican regime was proclaimed at Lisbon Town Hall. Manuel de Arriaga was elected the first Republican president under the New Constitution of 1911. The regime tried to “turn the country upside down” in order to create a new Portugal with a clear separation between the state and the church. Different Republican governments placed great importance on the African colonial empire and tried to make various social and cultural changes in Portugal. But social movements, with a high number of strikes, and the political and social consequences of the tragic military participation in World War I in the Battle of the Lys brought the regime great unpopularity. By 1917 Major Sidónio Pais emerged as the sole candidate to be the president. He won the election, but political and social conflicts grew. He was assassinated by a Republican in December 1918 at Lisbon railway station. The Republican state then entered a period of crisis.