Rebirth of an Empire "O Renascimento de um Império" v2.0

New Beginning (1750-1777)


Hello, it is with great pleasure that we finally start posting the revised and updated "Rebirth of an Empire". To those not familiar with the original TL is it centered on Portugal and its empire. The TL starts in 1750 at the start of Joseph I reign and the appointment of the relative unknown Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo more commonly known as "Marquis of Pombal" as Portugal's new prime minister. iOTL this was a very tumultuous period in Portugal's history with much political intrigue, economic development as well as educational and religious reforms. Joseph I reign was defined by the "1755 Lisbon Earthquake" that provided the new prime minister an opportunity to rebuild Lisbon and with the blessing of king Joseph attempt to modernize Portugal and Portuguese society. In doing so he created a lot of enemies and at the forefront of Pombal's enemies was the heir to Portuguese throne Princess Maria (future Maria I).

In 1777 with the death of Joseph I he was dismissed by Queen Maria and exiled to his estate. During the next few decades many of Pombal's reforms were reversed and Portugal entered the 19th century still a poor, weak and backwards country. Today Pombal is viewed as one of Portugal's greatest leaders and the period following his death as a great missed opportunity to continue with his modernization and economic reforms.

This TL shows how a slightly different Pombaline government would have impacted not only Portugal during his lifetime but for future generations. The TL is separated into several books covering different time periods and/or reigns.

Lusitania & Thrudgelmir2333

Before we get to the first book we wanted to make the following statement:

"In the original version the writing style alternated between expository and narrative. This revised TL will be written exclusively using expository style. With this in mind we would like to invite fans of the TL to add and contribute narrative stories to the accompanying narrative TL"

NARRATIVE STORIES THREAD "Rebirth of an Empire "O Renascimento de um Império" v2.0 - Narrative Stories"

The first book "New Beginning (1750-1777)" coincides with the reign of Joseph I. The main sections of book 1 are as follows:
We are now in process of posting the second book.

The Second book "Rebuilding, Transition and Tension (1777-1783)" coincides with the 1st half of the reign of Joseph II during Pombal late period. Follow the link below for listing of the main sections of Book 2:

The Third book "Growth of the Empire (1783-1799)" coincides with the 1st half of the reign of Joseph II post Pombaline Era. Follow the link below for listing of the main sections of Book 3:
Also as each chapter is added the links are updated above.
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Prelude Of A Dying Empire - The Wounds


Prelude Of A Dying Empire

In 1750, at the end of King John V’s reign, Portugal found itself in a precarious position; the Portuguese Empire was a mere shadow of its former self, having at one time spanned the globe from the Americas to Japan and then gradually lost nearly half of it to war. The revenue from the plantations in Brazil as well as the Indian spice trade that Portugal had been relying on for the latest century was starting to decline and Portugal’s position within Europe was very weak.

Despite being pushed against the edge of the Ocean and thus prohibited from nearly all traditional land expansion, there had been a time in the late middle ages when the kingdom could be regarded as somewhat big and resilient even without its overseas provinces. Enjoying favorable protection from the Pope and England while keeping itself distant from the ravaging European conflicts, the westernmost nation had somewhat managed to preserve its strength in crucial times which allowed it to build an empire out of a small Christian fiefdom. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, investment in Lisbon from the Crown, local Jewish or New Christian mercantile communities and entrepreneurs developed trade and shipping businesses so much in the capital that the kingdom became one of the most polished markets in Europe despite is moderate size and tough-to-gather resources.

Moreover, said unfavorable physical position had allowed the country to become the first colonial empire and naval based world force; conquests in the North African coast allowed Lisbon to hear of the secret lucrative routes both around and through Africa and with the Ottoman squeeze on commercial influx into Europe growing ever so tightly with the fall of Constantinople, expeditions to India granted Portugal the privilege of a massive head start on oversea expansion and unsurmountable trade wealth.

However, the dawn of the imperialist age in Europe would see its early colonial starter face a steep decline from power and strength. As French, Spanish and Austrian lands united into powerful centralized nations, as the sea route to India lost both exclusivity and importance, as overstretching settled in and as Protestant reformations broke out, unexpected rivalries popped up in all the political theaters Lisbon assumed to be secure and the Portuguese accomplishments and conquests, just or not, would soon be rendered meaningless by the tide of European expansion Portugal itself had opened the door to.

The Wounds

It would perhaps be safe to say that a lot of the blame lied in Portugal itself for the first signs of collapse that showed up. Many of the possessions it bellicosely acquired over the seas, both in the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans, required such military and political maintenance that only a perfect diplomatic situation would allow the Lusitanians to hold on to them. The many Muslim ports it annexed all around the African and Middle Eastern Coasts rested always in the looming shadow of their original owners, who would not hesitate to take advantage of any distraction or weakness from the Portuguese part to take them back.

The same could be said from its Indian and Indonesian possessions. As much wealth as these ports brought to Lisbon, one which did not have the inflationary effect of the New World gold of Spain at that, they were far off and undermanned, only kept secure by the presence of the Indian Armadas and local alliances which had seen days of better leadership and representation.

The fanatical ambition of King Sebastian would prove to be the last drop in both the dying Avis dynasty as well as the Portuguese political securement, setting the course for the death of the empire. Intoxicated by arrogance and a misplaced sense of religious and national pride, Sebastian ‘the Desired’ led a crusade against Morocco in the 1570s which would not only fail tragically, but also see the crème of Portuguese nobility, including the King himself, killed in combat without heir. Despite the struggle of nationalist parties to replace the monarch, the massive power vacuum proved to be too much and the Spanish Hapsburgs violently swooped in as the new Kings of Portugal.

The vast empire Portugal had built between the 15th and 16th century had been lost to rival European countries. The loss of its foreign policy to the Spanish one and the subjugation of the Portuguese nobility, the only true remaining symbol of nationalist power at the time, rendered the westernmost country in Europe as an effective possession of the Habsburgs rather than an independent kingdom, a possession the new Philippine dynasty had neither the time nor the inclination to properly manage, much less effectively heal from its vulnerable situation.

Still, all was not bad. The opened trade with the Spanish colonies allowed the bullion crisis in the country to be solved by selling African slaves in exchange for Peruvian silver. The terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas were also no longer in strict effect, allowing Portugal to take the opportunity to expand deeper into the Brazilian heartland, something that would prove vital to that colony’s history and development.

As years passed, though, the results of the rotting injuries began to show and the climate of war and religious tension Portugal was dragged into worsened them. Control over its Indian Ocean ports would soon be compromised the more Portuguese resources and manpower were dragged back into European conflicts. Most importantly, the Portuguese strong points, namely its navy and merchants, would soon meet a rival to match in the Eighty Years War, in the form of the Dutch Netherlands.

With decadent leadership, distracted viceroys, growing military weakness and deepening colonial crisis, Portugal was a desperate match before the newly formed Dutch nation which waged sea war against Lisbon for over sixty years across the 17th century. Backed by Protestant England, the Dutch were able to wrestle control over most Portuguese possessions in Indonesia, Southern India and the Far East. Half the Guinean ports were lost and Brazil and Angola would also face the same fate were it not for a Portuguese comeback which allowed Lisbon to retake control over Luanda and Recife.


Dutch Capture of Portuguese Kochi

Other possessions such as Muscat and Hormuz would be retaken by its native owners, often aided by Dutch or English ships. Similar events would later on follow in Mombasa and to top things off Portugal’s privileged contact with Japan was destroyed by a mix of sabotaged Portuguese inquisitor reputation and Dutch interference. Before the Restoration War even began, most of Portugal’s oversea power was lost and its capacity to recover from the losses and move on was permanently tainted, a deficiency that only grew worse and worse the more unbalanced the personal union with Spain became.

The Protestant Reformation, moreover, did more than pit England against Portugal. Every year the word of the Pope was worth less and less beyond the Pyrenees and the Alps, meaning the Papal protection the country worked so hard to obtain meant little to its rivals, including that of the Treaty of Tordesillas. Leaving the Catholic faith behind was not an option, both culturally and politically. There was no social desire in Portugal to forego the rightful faith and the worship of Saints, after all. There was also no desire to incite Spanish wrath, which was already deeply incurred by English and Dutch defiance. Held culturally hostage by its overlord neighbor and by inherent stubbornness and conservatism, there was little hope for the needed societal evolution the country needed to keep up with.

And to feast on the country’s wounds like maggots and pests came pirates. Corsairs and privateers, hired by rivals, turned corrupt by uncaring overseers or drawn by the smell of merchant gold or slaves, infested the waters. Taking advantage of the weakness in the Portuguese Navy, profits from Brazil and India as well as precious sailors and forts were assaulted mercilessly, a rather karmic fate to the very nation which assaulted so many Indian and African ports just a century earlier.

The rise of pirates and privateers, the increasingly estranged situation with their formal English allies, the Dutch harassment and the inability to properly answer to these threats brought to light the Portuguese weakness in all its rotten glory; the country was too small and too depopulated for the new age of empires that was coming, its society was anchored by values that grew increasingly outdated and size and power of the nation became increasingly dwarfed by the ever expanding great powers of Europe.
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Prelude Of A Dying Empire - Independence, Trauma and Sickness


Prelude Of A Dying Empire (cont.)

Independence, Trauma and Sickness

The 1640s would see Portuguese sovereignty restored in the Restoration War which placed the Crown back on a Lusitanian head, giving birth to the Fourth Dynasty in the House of Braganza. This breather was not without its cost. The war itself was won with much effort, one no doubt aided by the nearly simultaneous Catalan revolt and the damage caused to Spain by the English and Dutch, and the treaty of peace was anything but merciful, demanding even more provinces of the Portuguese empire, namely Ceuta to appease the Spanish and Bombay to restore the alliance with England to its former purity. The war with the Dutch also went on and full Spanish recognition would not come until the end of the 1660s.

Initially ravaged by the Dutch during its defenseless Iberian Union period, the Old Portuguese Empire then fell prey to overwhelming rivalry in India with the British, French and Danish, who sought to create their own trade routes. Countless forts, ports and trade posts around the globe were lost to local rebellions or wars Spain dragged Portugal into and many of their privileged monopolies and positions were lost to enemies.

The Restoration of Independence in 1640 broke the royal union by replacing the Philippine dynasty with the Braganza one, but brought little avail to the nation's situation. Portugal's window of opportunity to consolidate its oversea power had passed, the rivals that preyed on it had grown too strong to fear any retribution from the Portuguese and the country was, in a general way, far behind the race of progress among Europeans.

To make matters worse, the Portuguese society, despite imbued with a new sense of national identity separating it from the Spanish one, seemed reluctant to part with some of the lingering similarities that prevented it from moving past its troubles. Namely the Inquisition, source of many losses during the colonial crisis due to native religious resentments, which was still active in power since it was first imposed upon the nation in the later years of the Avis Dynasty. The grip of the aristocratic-clerical alliance was still very strong, perhaps even bolstered by the event of the Restoration War as it enforced noble leadership on the peasant mindset, and this prevented vital reformations on the religious laws in the country.

But perhaps the most tragic consequence of all, and the one which contributed the most to as to why Portugal’s wounds refused to heal, was the overall refusal to adopt the Scientific Revolution ideals that were exploding all over Northern and Western Europe during the 17th Century. Calling it heretical, inept or even just too expensive, the Kingdom of Portugal showed incomprehensible reluctance in modernizing its civic codes, laws and industries, instead focusing on religious fervor, ineffective colonial expansion and poor agricultural methods to keep itself going.

Like a trauma had afflicted the nation, its capacity to retake progresses and conquests of the previous century had also been afflicted. The long war with the Dutch, perhaps by far the longest war in Portuguese history, had depleted its strength in many aspects, from manpower to economy to population to morale, shattering its naval supremacy and colonial secrecy. The more the other western Europeans colonized, the more impossible it seemed for Portugal to catch up.

It could be said that, psychologically speaking, the ability to keep calling itself a great power had been lost in Portugal as the overwhelming size of the new age’s tidal wave dwarfed any effort the people felt they could muster against it. As merchants lost their monopolies, as peasants lead increasingly harsher lives and as nobles felt under the shadow of their other more prestigious and cultured European counterparts, each segment of the Portuguese society seemed to have more and more reasons to believe by the decade that the nation had lost its opportunity at greatness and would never get it back.

It was ultimately this complacency that killed the energy in the kingdom. Unable to expand in Iberia and weakening itself severely in population every year so it could hold on to its colonies while bolstering Brazil, the Iberian monarchy suddenly found itself stagnating and wasting away. The lack of national morale would lead over the course of the late 17th and early 18th centuries to ever more gritting social status quos as the bourgeois became asphyxiated by overwhelmingly conservative aristocracy and clergy. Daring enterprises became ever scarcer while stiff commercial methods and excessive family land owning prevented tax reforms and modern terrain development. Ill-advised or retrospectively unfortunate economic develops would lead the country to focus on the wrong aspects of its remaining strengths as any potential industrialization was blotted out for the sake of antiquated agriculture.

The few figures of the regime with the energy and innovativeness to invest in the future were looked down upon as social outcasts and ‘estrangeirados’[1], capable only of upsetting the peace or bring bad news. Many bright minds found the environment in Portugal to be highly discouraging towards what they could offer, the most notable example being Father Bartholomew Gusmão.


Father Bartholomew (por. Bartolomeu) and his ill-fated invention, the ‘Birdie’ (por. Passarola)

A highly educated Jesuit, Father Bartholomew boasted complete studies over mathematics and philology while also possessing remarkable memory and incredible aptitude for languages, but his greatest accomplishment was his extraordinarily early work in the field of aerostatics. In 1709, he presented a petition to King John V the Magnanimous seeking royal favor for his invention of an airship based on a combination of sail, vacuum and magnet technologies. The favor was granted and Father Bartholomew was able to conduct a public demonstration in the ‘Casa da Índia’ in Lisbon, where the King was also present.

Negligence led to an accident in the ship’s ascension which would lead to its destruction, but the experiment was deemed nonetheless a success. However, though initially rewarded by the King with professorship from the University of Coimbra, Father Bartholomew would soon run into trouble with none other than the Inquisition.

Accusations of wizardry by superstitious peasants who witnessed the experiments drew the attention of the greatest symbol of conservatism in the country to Father Bartholomew, but while the Father would eventually be acquitted, the attention and persecution would unearth other accusations that forced an end to the experiments and a flight to Spain from the professor.

While not directly responsible for Father Gusmão’s exile, the involvement of the Inquisition and the way it was called in the first place by common folk superstition still demonstrated and proved the situation of resentment towards new ideas and technological revolutions in the country, as well as the inability of the King to do anything about it. Many other less famous examples would lead to a general atmosphere of technological and social entropy.

And worst of all, the country seemed resigned to this situation, some members even proud of the disguised maggots that festered in it like social scars of a bygone time. Religious honor mushroomed instead of scientific curiosity and the belief that tradition was the glue holding what was left together replaced the perception of the need for radical change in state matters’ conduction.

By the time Portugal’s independence, lineage and pride were fully restored, its capacity to recuperate its prestige and power was permanently crippled and the country would yet lose much more before any sign of good news came.

[1]A Portuguese word used to refer to intellectuals that had succumbed to a great deal of outside influence

Note: Next update on December 14
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This is an odd way to start a Portugal-wank. :p

Portugal-wank? We are only showing the TRUE history of Portugal. ;)

While it may seem a little different we wanted to show the true situation of the country and its people at time of Joseph I ascension to throne. To truly understand the forces arrayed against the reformers and empire builders during the premiership of Pombal we need to realize the mentality and attitudes of the majority of the people and nobles.
I read some parts of your original TL and I have to say I enjoyed them A LOT. Really looking forward to this upadated version.

Portugal-wank is not done enough in my opinion. I'm Portuguese, I want to see my country wanked :p.


I read some parts of your original TL and I have to say I enjoyed them A LOT. Really looking forward to this upadated version.

Portugal-wank is not done enough in my opinion. I'm Portuguese, I want to see my country wanked :p.

Maybe a full union between Brazil and Portugal would be the most obvious way. Capital remains in Lisbon, and Brazilians elect their own members of the Assembly of the Republic ( assuming it eventually becomes a republic).

Basically Brazil and Portugal would have 1 common legislature, court system, Prime Minister/President, military, and so forth. With such an arrangement, Portugal would be a member of the EU, NATO,and the OAS (assuming those organizations aren't butterflied away), not to mention one of the "big three" in the Americas, alongside Canada and the United States. That would be one hell of a lot of influence.
Another possibility is that the future Pedro IV of Portugal (and I of Brazil) manage to reunite also the Spanish crown due to the disappearance of the Spanish royal family at the hands of a regicide coup -in OTL Pedro I declined offers of the Spanish crown made in 1826 and 1829 by liberals who rebelled against the absolutist rule of his uncle, Don Fernando VII. The liberals in Portugal and Spain agreed in 1830 to make Pedro I the "Emperor of Iberia". He seems to have declined this offer also, since nothing came of it. Brazilian historian Sérgio Corrêa da Costa and Portuguese historian Antônio Sardinha have argued, however, with little supporting evidence, that one of the inducements which prompted Pedro I to abdicate the Brazilian crown was to dethrone his brother and his uncle and rule the entire Iberian Peninsula as its emperor-. Then there would be a new Spanish/Iberian state dominated by Portugal or an Iberian attempt to create an empire similar to Austro-Hungarian Empire, but about 50 years before.
Good day to you all,

My name is Thrudgelmir2333 and I am the co-writer of this Alternate History thread. I am an amateur writer, but let's just say that will not divulge my main site of activity for reasons related to stereotypical garbage that may pop in your minds that will most likely 'trigger' me. While I do spend a lot of work on this project, I do not do it as a member of this forum but merely as a person interested in history, geography, geopolitics, storytelling and philosophy.

I am not an active reader or writer of other alternate history threads in this site or anywhere else. I do not have an interest in the course of this AH other than the sheer curiosity of exploring a possible alternative history path and how it balances itself out. The conservation of forces between the many actors of this story (meaning the evolution of balance between the many different powers as Portugal rises, falls, changes and acts) will be promoted as much as possible to prevent the unreasonable collapse of entities, much like it has occurred with the United States of America in the original version of this thread over which there was much understandable complaining about. The goal is to explore a better, more evened out history for all 'characters', not to actively punish certain ones for no reason.

As delineated by Lusitania, this is an updated version of his original work "Rebirth of an Empire", but I should forewarn the old readers that events may not play out entirely as the old thread did, as the writing style, plot organization, put-out and priorities have all been changed. There is a bigger focus on 'people', 'ideas' and 'institutions' than 'countries', for example, and events will play out as chronologically as we can allow them to. There is as much value in limiting Portugal throughout this thread as there will be in exploring its potential. There will be as many problems popping out as there will be blessings, if not more.

I also wish to stress that these new chapters are primarily written by me and kept in style with this forum by Lusitania, the original writer, so do not blame him for any inconvenience, misspell or anomaly that may have escaped my radar or even any change of style you may find unpleasant.

I am highly unfamiliar with the dynamics of this site, the lingo, how the readers traditionally contribute to the threads, how they traditionally respect/disrespect each other or what to watch out for in the posts and, for the sake of neutrality, I plan to stay that way. I will not take sides in discussions here except to uphold the integrity of my writing. While I am open to criticism and will attempt to do better should any of you point something out, I will not debate anyone here in history, philosophy, military or politics. I may answer questions you have about the work itself, but mostly focusing on the 'what', 'when' and 'how', rather than the 'why' or 'why not this'. These last two you can take up with Lusitania.

Finally, to end this massive disclaimer, I would like to wish you all a happy reading. The index posted in the first post does not actually show off the many sections and subsections this first file alone (1750-1777) will have so be prepared to see many surprising topics, though most are related to reforms on various fields but also culture, evolving politics and the economy (hopefully now you can see why I choose to remain neutral).

Sincerely yours,
Prelude Of A Dying Empire - Independence, Trauma and Sickness - The Fourth Dynasty


Prelude Of A Dying Empire (cont.)

Independence, Trauma and Sickness (cont.)

The Fourth Dynasty


King John IV (1640), King Afonso VI (1656) and King Peter II (1683)
First three monarchs of the Fourth Dynasty

Compounding the troubles in the early stages of the renewed independence was the new royal line. The Fourth Dynasty was not entirely ideal for the Portuguese situation; despite being beloved patrons of the arts and culture they were regarded as either weak, unremarkable or outright corrupt compared to the First and Second ones, something reflective of the national situation.

The first King, John IV, was beloved and popular as a symbol of the Restoration War, but despite his important contributions to Portuguese cultural and national identity, he was not in a position to do much for the country’s progress, spending the majority of his reign trying to legitimize his dynasty, restore the Windsor Treaty and recover the land lost to the Dutch. John IV worked tirelessly in all three goals but only achieved partial or counter-parted triumphs in each one. He did much to collect as much art and cultural artifacts as he could to valorize Portuguese prestige and culture but would die in 1656 with still much to do in the country and a lot of problems yet to solve.

The second King, Afonso VI, was mentally ill for the majority of his life, allowing Peter to all effects reign the nation. This unfortunate situation lasted for the majority of the later part of the Dutch-Portuguese War, forming an ill premonition of what awaited Portugal with this lineage. Stagnation carried on as Peter’s indirect rule, albeit somewhat positive for it was marked by the turnabouts in the conflict with the Dutch, was powerless to stop the court to take advantage of the king’s fragile situation. Corruption bloomed as many nobles and aristocrats manipulated the ill king while Portugal lost its last remaining possessions in Ceylon to the Dutch.

In 1683, upon Afonso’s death, Peter officially took power as Peter II, the Pacific.

As the first absolutist monarch of Portugal, Peter II is regarded as the starter of much that would assail the nation politically between the 1750s and the 1820s. His dissolution of the ‘Cortes’ allowed him to rule without interference; something said to be influenced by the hatred he fostered about them over the corrupt manipulation of the late Afonso. His most important economic input would be the signing of the Methuen Agreement, something that would set the course of the Portuguese economy for the seventy years that would follow. Finally, further exploration and colonization of Brazil was bolstered when rumors of silver came about.

Unfortunately, the ambitious and resolute Peter II would live a frustrated reign, incapable of imposing itself in larger political matters due to personal ineptitude and lack of national power. His crackdown on corruption via absolutist measures was a short term solution to rid the courts of a disease that would instead then foster in darker dimensions of Portugal. The expansion on Brazil he funded so much would attract the wrong kind of attention as Jesuit missions acquired personal ambitions and as smugglers undermined his mercantilist policies. Even the Methuen agreement, which directly envisioned Portugal’s diplomatic and economic advancement, would prove more detrimental than beneficial in long term.

Finally, the Spanish Succession War, in which Portugal successfully participated in on the English side, failed to reap significant benefits to Lisbon. Many changes were brought to Europe’s power balance by the conflict, but little to the balance in Iberia other than the English capture of Gibraltar.

The money squandering, poor management, lack of correct ambition and general complacency to other powers, both internal and external, from the new royals were regarded as signs of escalating decadence and weakness and as a result, by 1750, Portugal was only left with half a dozen small possessions in India and Asia, a few possessions in Africa and the province of Brazil in South America, with little means to change the decrepit situation.

A small relief came during the late 17th century when, in the “Mato Grosso” and “Minas Gerais” provinces in Portuguese Brazil, gold reserves were discovered, with the addition of diamond mines also being unearthed approximately thirty years later. The scale of the wealth brought by this discovery was unprecedented and it was during this period of mineral prosperity that João V, the twenty-fourth King of Portugal, ruled.


King Dom João/John V the Magnanimous
Bragança Dynasty
Born 1689, Died 1750
Ruled Portugal from 1707 to 1750

However, though the diamonds brought prosperity, mismanagement and decadence destroyed any hopes for a turnabout.

During the same period of richness, Portugal involved itself in the War of the Spanish Succession, countless conflicts with France in Africa, America and Asia as well as the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1714-1718. All three wars provided Portugal with no tangible benefit with the nation being on the losing side in almost every scenario. Portugal’s political status was weakened with each battle, its coffers drained and, most importantly, its attention diverted from the East Africa and India theatres where both the Arabic state of Oman and the Maratha Empire respectively gained territory and power at Portugal’s expense.

Dom John V also used his wealth to buy some of the greatest art collections in Europe. He at one time brought into the royal palace over 80 paintings by great Italian masters. The music library, already the greatest in the world, was enlarged, as was the royal library and other libraries in the country. (All of these masterpieces and riches were lost in the great earthquake of 1755.)

Lastly he spent a huge sum of money to bribe church officials and embassies to the Pope hoping to receive special recognition despite the fact that the time of Papal sovereignty over European titles and claims had long passed with the rise of Protestantism. In 1748 Pope Benedict XIV recognized Portugal as a lawful sovereign country and Dom João V and his successors was bestowed the title "Most Faithful Majesty" by a bull.

Last, but not least, little attention was given by King John V to Portugal’s agricultural and manufacturing, which continued to decline during his reign. The countryside had been depopulated by emigration to Brazil, so that by 1750 Portugal’s population was just over three million, while Brazil’s population had grown to over two million.

To compound Portugal’s problems, its position in Europe was not very secure and other countries sought to take advantage of its situation. For the last century Portugal had been relying on its alliance with England for survival, both politically and economically. During Dom João V reign England had gained great economic leverage over Portugal as the gold and diamonds from Brazil had been used to purchase English goods.

Throughout Europe, the country was regarded as a backwards nation lacking in intellectual and artistic progression stuck in a medieval decadence that it was unable to break free.

It was in this country that in 1750 Dom Joseph I (Dom José I) became the 25th king.

Return next week on December 21 when we finally introduce two of our main characters, King Joseph I and Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo.
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I read some parts of your original TL and I have to say I enjoyed them A LOT. Really looking forward to this upadated version.

Portugal-wank is not done enough in my opinion. I'm Portuguese, I want to see my country wanked :p.

You are right it is not done enough, as compared to other countries but I think that has to do with majority of members on this board being English speaking and like in iotl their concentration and interest lay in areas they are familiar with. Hope you keep enjoying.

Portugal has some very great possibilities, be they from time of Henriques, Sebastiao, to Pedro IV. That is not even considering post 1900.

Maybe a full union between Brazil and Portugal would be the most obvious way. Capital remains in Lisbon, and Brazilians elect their own members of the Assembly of the Republic ( assuming it eventually becomes a republic).

Basically Brazil and Portugal would have 1 common legislature, court system, Prime Minister/President, military, and so forth. With such an arrangement, Portugal would be a member of the EU, NATO,and the OAS (assuming those organizations aren't butterflied away), not to mention one of the "big three" in the Americas, alongside Canada and the United States. That would be one hell of a lot of influence.

One of the important aspects in writing the TL for us was laying the foundation for change. I made a mistake early on in my 1st version of stating that a particular action took place while not really explaining how it did and what circumstances led to it. We have tried in this version to lay the proper ground work to explain changes and decisions, to do this it involved a lot of discussion between myself and thrudgelmir2333 to get the correct tone and context. Which I hope everyone will enjoy.

While I will not spoil the many upcoming updates by revealing anything I wish to state that Portuguese Empire due to its size, location and circumstances adapted and used the best means at its disposal for the time it was in. As technology and time progresses it changed as all great empires do so, otherwise they do not last.

iOTL the Europeans started discovering that you could not govern people without allowing them to have input into how they wished to be governed. This happened with UK, then Portugal and Spain in the new world then rest of Europe with their remaining colonies in 20th century because Europeans did not adapt or change their views on people within their empires.

Another possibility is that the future Pedro IV of Portugal (and I of Brazil) manage to reunite also the Spanish crown due to the disappearance of the Spanish royal family at the hands of a regicide coup -in OTL Pedro I declined offers of the Spanish crown made in 1826 and 1829 by liberals who rebelled against the absolutist rule of his uncle, Don Fernando VII. The liberals in Portugal and Spain agreed in 1830 to make Pedro I the "Emperor of Iberia". He seems to have declined this offer also, since nothing came of it. Brazilian historian Sérgio Corrêa da Costa and Portuguese historian Antônio Sardinha have argued, however, with little supporting evidence, that one of the inducements which prompted Pedro I to abdicate the Brazilian crown was to dethrone his brother and his uncle and rule the entire Iberian Peninsula as its emperor-. Then there would be a new Spanish/Iberian state dominated by Portugal or an Iberian attempt to create an empire similar to Austro-Hungarian Empire, but about 50 years before.

One of the aspects of the TL will be to take into consideration the butterfly effects in Portugal, Empire wide but just as important the rest of world (Not always to Portugal's favor). One of the most important things for both of us will be to manage the future implications be they royalty or commoner. So while future events may transpire as iotl they will may take place differently and at times with different characters. In regards to Portuguese royalty the only constant at moment will be king Joseph I, his daughters and some of his grandchildren. How they all turn out will change and that will change the future kings of Portugal.

As for Iberian unification even if under Portuguese crown will be off the table. The people of both countries would want nothing to do with it and by that time (1820) Portugal and Spain will be two very different countries with different cultures and values.

That being said if you are a fan of Version 1 you know I wrote Extensively on the Spanish Empire and envisioned a drastically different scenario for them compared to iotl.
Prelude Of A Dying Empire - Independence, Trauma and Sickness - Joseph I the “Reformer”


Prelude Of A Dying Empire (cont.)

Independence, Trauma and Sickness (conclusion)

Joseph I the “Reformer”


Dom Joseph I the “Reformer”
King of Portugal 1750 – 1777
First of the ‘Joseph Kings’

“I take this crown, metal embodiment of the responsibilities of my forefathers and, hopefully, none of their extravagances and sins, as I prepare myself to dedicate my body, heart and soul to the salvation of this country, of this fallen Empire of old, of this kingdom of heroes, warriors and faithful. Let there be known that no hour shall be wasted, no second shall be spent, which is not on the supreme advancement of my people to each and every facet that once made us to be regarded as one of the foremost and greatest powers in the Old World.
It is my vow, my promise to Our Lord and my contract I sign as your King that, by the end of my reign, whether that end be caused by tragedy of fate, by sword of the utmost war, wrath of the most indignant God or cowardice of the most wretched heart of mine, that our borders shall still stand, our heads shall still hold high and our kingdom shall yet recover if not but a segment of the greatness we had when ‘de Gama’ reached India.”
-Main segment of Joseph I’s coronation speech in Lisbon.

On July 31, 1750 Dom Joseph I became the 25th King of Portugal at age 36 with the death of his father King João V, who had been weakened years before by a stroke and perished a natural death.

Raised in Brazil as its Prince, grown to love hunting and opera, educated in social politics and a deep admirer of his late grandfather Peter II, which he never met but was told much of, Joseph I was, much like said grandfather, an ambitious but inept ruler. While possessing a great drive for national improvement, Joseph I lacked the talent, face and imposingness required by someone meant to change the country the way he intended.

Much of this ineptitude could be said to be derived from the circumstances of his coronation. At a time where Portugal was not only in steep decline but also in severe social backwardness, Joseph I was raised to expect little cooperation from his subjects in matters of secularization or social advancement and to be prepared to rely on the British for national protection. Despite inheriting absolutist powers from his grandfather Peter II, Joseph I’s de facto power in court was limited. Too many aristocratic families, especially the ‘Távoras’ and the Duke of Aveiro, held too much power and too strong informal alliances with the clerics and Jesuits.

Moreover, despite vowing to forego his father’s extravagances, Joseph I’s apple did not fall far from the tree. By the time of his coronation, Joseph I had already collected an array of adulterous and adventurous rumors which brought little credibility to his coronation speech. Despite possessing a burning desire to do better, Joseph I’s reputation and strength of hand more often than not fell short, especially under the severe presence of his pious wife and four princess daughters, all faithful Jesuits to the letter who berated the King’s vices and lingering with ‘jacobites’.

The lack of a living male heir didn’t bode well for his authority and lineage health either. By the time he took power, Joseph I had already resigned himself to the fact he would not live to have a son, much less the opportunity to groom a proper heir. All things considered, the stage seemed to be set for yet another fruitless reign in the Fourth Dynasty, one that would soon face the problems of being dragged into the Seven Years War.

Absolutist Recoil & the ‘Estrangeirado’ Prime Minister

In light of all the troubling circumstances surrounding his reign, King Joseph I quickly realized that, by himself, he could not form a government with any sort of real power or impact in the country. The absolutist power his grandfather had gather had the opposite effect that was intended; by eliminating the ‘Cortes’ and reducing aristocratic power in high tier matters, Peter II, rather than increase his own capacity for action, had turned himself and his descendent Kings into the enemy of every Duke, Marquis and Count in the country, isolating the monarch against his enemies rather than consolidate his position and bringing about greater responsibility and duty than one man could handle.

King Joseph I realized immediately what legacy of antagonism his grandfather passed down to him and that, without competent allies by his side as soon as possible, he would become the laughing stock of the high court for the rest of his reign, especially considering the vow he made to change his country for the better. The first months of his reign were plagued thus by uncertainty of action and strenuous relations with a number of aristocratic families.

At the time, the Queen Mother, the Archduchess Mary Anne Josepha of Austria, aware of her son’s difficulties in forming an effective government, stepped in.


Archduchess Mary Anne Josepha of Austria
Queen Mother of Portugal, Wife of John V the Magnanimous
1683 – 1754

“To rule alone is to reflect upon your kingdom the little strength you have as excuses and temporary reliefs and your countless flaws as disasters and tyrannies to the people. Let there be many rulers, many ‘kings’.”
-Mary Anne to King Joseph, parodying Homer’s Illiad on the importance of Joseph’s Ministers

Born to the Austrian Court, the Queen Mother had a taste for the ideas of enlightenment that sharply contrasted with that of her daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Having served as regent between the death of her husband and the coronation of her son, she was aware of the powerless political situation her son faced in society and decided to spend her final years encouraging and advising her son on that path.

It was under her advice and her influence that King Joseph I arrived to his most fateful decision; a cabinet reform that saw a number of ministry jobs altered in Portuguese law so as to allow the Prime Minister and his associates to work closely with the King in all matters of state, eliminating several ceremonial and selection barriers. The sweeping set of reforms, designed to look like a step back from absolutist traditions so as to appease the noble class by distributing more administrative power to ministers, had in true intention securing chairs of office for capable people with which the monarch could work in conjunction with.

These changes, however, were all but hollow without the right person in mind to take the principal jobs. This steeply difficult task of selecting such people for the task of administrating the many aspects of the country could take years to reach completion and in the meantime the ministry offices could not remain empty.

The ultimate goal of Joseph I’s reforms, that of a government with new faces and ideas, would take over twenty years to be completed and, in the meantime, much tragedy would yet assault the nation. The Queen Mother, however, already had in mind someone that would prove to be the most important addition to this plan as well as the main face of the new cabinet as soon as the reforms were implemented.

A former ambassador to Austria and Britain whom she favored deeply and with whom King Joseph I himself had met and befriended before even becoming King, the man suggested by the Archduchess was none other than the future Marquis of Pombal.


Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo
Marquis of Pombal, Count of Oeiras
Head of Portuguese Government 1750 – 1782
Father of the Modern Portuguese State

Born on the 13th of May of 1699, ‘Sebastião de Carvalho e Melo’, more famously known for his title as ‘Marquis of Pombal’, was a son of a minor noble, educated in Portugal at the University of Coimbra and with connections to the masonry. He would be remembered as a statesman of sharp economic and political mind, albeit weak military interest, who had received his first appointment as an ambassador to London in 1738. Seven years later he would serve diplomatically in Austria, the Queen Mother’s home, where the Queen had him marry the daughter of the Austrian Marshall Leopold Josef, Count of Daun. In 1749, the Marquis, then bearing no title, had his first shot at government as the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the reign of John V the Magnanimous.

Politically restless, visionary and despotically demanding, the Marquis of Pombal had well defined ambitions for his career as a Minister in the newly formed cabinet. He comprehended Portugal’s weaknesses and believed to know exactly how to operate in the major theater of things so as to keep the best interests of the nation protected. More importantly, he realized the dangers he was treading upon by accepting the job and using it to further his goals, as less than harmless feet would be stepped upon before he held any sort of real power. The careful checking of each threat to his position and manipulation of the events around him would prove vital to his continued work and ‘health’ for the rest of his time in Lisbon.

Above all, as a result of the time spent in London and Vienna, the statesman was known to the court as an ‘estrangeirado’. These figures were usually exposed to the environment of more enlightened courts such as the French or Austrian one, which had embraced the ideals of the Scientific Revolution. This alone made him an odd case in the Portuguese Court, composed mostly of nobles who reflected the backwardness of the nation.

Said spent time had the much more significant effect of allowing him to understand Portugal’s backwardness and the need change it. He shared with Dom Joseph I a desire to address the issues that plagued the country and soon gained the king’s trust and support and the Portuguese government quickly came under his control. He ruled the cabinet and high institutions with a strong hand and throughout his rule his main policy was to promote the monarchy and to use it for the furtherance of a comprehensive scheme of reforms.

It was his vision that would transform Portugal from a backwards, declining empire back into a semblance of a modern, healthy state. His reforms and cabinet work not only touched all regions of Portugal and its overseas lands but all aspects of Portuguese society. He laid the groundwork and provided the vision that was continued by his successors to today. It is safe to say that Portugal would not be the country it is today were it not for the Marquis of Pombal.

But while the fateful head of state was chosen ahead of time, much of the minister array he and the king idealized was not yet formed, not to mention his iron hand and enlightened ideas would attract the wrath of the old Portugal much sooner than it would fix it. Challenges still awaited the future Marquis before he acquired the necessary power to carry out his reforms.

Moreover, two great catastrophes would yet assault the nation, spelling out the death of the old empire. As the Seven Years War began and as the city of Lisbon was rocked by unprecedented tremors, Pombal would not only face the greatest challenges of his career, but also the gateway to the inferno that would burn the old empire to the ground.

Merry Xmas, I hope everyone enjoyed our latest installment. Remember to provide your comment, questions and feedback as well as return next week on December 27 for next part of "Prelude of Dying Empire" section titled "Death of Empire".
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Prelude Of A Dying Empire - Death of the Empire - Lisbon Earthquake


Prelude Of A Dying Empire (cont.)

Death of the Empire
By the beginning of King Joseph I’s reign and Pombal’s first term as a minister of Portugal, the nation found itself still lingering on the same state of conservative decadence and backwardness it had been suffering of since the early stages of the Iberian Union. Slow to adopt new methods and picky in their adoption in the first place, the Portuguese society was deeply religious, believing to own each and every historical success to the merit of brave aristocrats and loyalty to the Catholic Church. Though the minds wishing for reform were many, they had little power and exposure, more often than not fearing these things due to social retaliation.

Magistracies were practically non-existent, with micro administrations being left in the care of priests and bishops, whom the people preferred to obey than government appointees or even nobles. Outdated religious orders such as the Jesuits had strong tentacles of control and overseeing in most cultural and educational matters, from schools to theaters to assemblies, many modern commercial practices vital to free trade were seen as ‘sinful’, such as moneylending and centralized treasury administration, and few matters were decided upon without taking the opinion of the priests into mind.

Indeed, an impious king was an unpopular king and whole wars were started by Portugal with the Papacy and the preachers as demanders, even well into the early 18th Century. Society was under the grip of strong outdated precepts which prevented natural growth and advancement from occurring, but a great catastrophe would soon happen that would shake the people off their blindness and expose to the Portuguese the jarring reality of their beloved pious Empire.

Lisbon Earthquake of 1755

Lisbon Earthquake of 1755
On November 1st, 1755, five years into King Joseph I’s reign and Pombal’s government, on the morning of the All Saints’ holiday when most people where at church and the king, by fateful coincidence, was away from Lisbon, earth-shattering seismic waves standing between monstrous magnitudes of 8.5 and 9 originating 200 km southwest of Cape St. Vincent reached the Portuguese Capital through the sea and shackled the very foundation of the Seven Hills City with rampart destruction of shaking so powerful the majority of the buildings standing by the shore would be razed to grounds in a matter of minutes.

Marked as one of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history, it arrived as suddenly as it spread its destruction, rocking its might through walls of cement as old as the nation itself. Entire urban areas found themselves sinking and falling into the trembling ground in escalating series of terrifying collapses. Palaces, homes, museums, artifacts and monuments all felt at once the natural wrath the kingdom had no memory of, destroying churches and homes packed to the brim by the religious festivities with families and burying them beneath their own roofs.

All at once the city moved back and forth with each tectonic pounding and the waves of the Tagus rose like no sailor or fisherman had ever seen before. Between the three to six minutes it lasted, the catastrophe did what it pleased with the aged capital born from the Iron Age, causing 5 meter fissures all across the city wide enough to open in the central areas of Lisbon. Countless survivors fled as they could, many dying under collapsed rubble or trampled by their peers, all in search of the docks and open spaces where they hoped to find relief.

As the waves receded from the Tagus shores, however, revealing a bed floor littered with corpses, lost cargo and shipwrecks, those who survived the shacking and fled realized that the destruction was far from over. Approximately 40 minutes after the quake, a large tsunami revealed itself in the horizon and rushed towards the harbor and downtown area so fast the only people who escaped were those on horseback who galloped to the upper grounds as fast as they could.


The Tsunami and the Fires spread by the Wind

Two more waves would yet come splashing on the areas the first tsunami missed. The final, most deadly part of all, however, was yet to come, for the destruction of the earth and the water was then followed by the breaking out of fires and flames exacerbated by the strong winds, which raged for full five days consuming what was left and killing the most out of all the tragedies that day.

Lisbon in 1750s before the earthquake was one of Europe’s leading cities with over 250,000 people, rich in history and monuments constructed from the wealth and culture of its Empire, but by the time the catastrophe was over, 60,000 people laid dead, with latter estimates calculating almost to a 100,000 victims.. The quake being followed by a tsunami and fire resulted in the near total destruction of Lisbon. Many landmarks and infrastructures were destroyed either by the earthquake, tidal wave or subsequent fires. This included monuments, government buildings such as the palace, churches and cathedrals as well as the houses and businesses of thousands of people. Much of the artistic wealth accumulated by John V was also completely annihilated along with the palaces that stored them.

Countless cities across the southern Portuguese coast had also been heavily damaged, particularly in Algarve. Innumerable coastal fortresses and homes in the Algarve region were razed with the miraculous exception of Faro, which was protected by the sandy banks of the Formosa River. The interior was not left unscathed and even some towns in the Star Mountain Range were affected. Moreover, virtually every port in the Madeira and Azores archipelago were destroyed and shock waves were felt as far as Finland and the Caribbean.

The effects, however, were their most dramatic in Lisbon. Previously inhabited by approximately 200,000 people at the time, the Portuguese capital lost almost up to half its population in the disaster and the ensuing refuge conditions. Much of the investment made by the late King João V was lost and the tomb of national hero “Nuno Álvares Pereira” was obliterated. In total, it was the most traumatic event in Portuguese History and the climate of impending doom and fear would plague the nation until the end of the Portuguese-Spanish War of 1801, almost fifty years later.

Dom Joseph I immediately ordered the government to provide relief to the people and rebuild the country. He put the Marquis of Pombal in charge of this enormous undertaking. The Portuguese government under Pombal’s guidance immediately began a program of helping the survivors and preventing the spread of disease. Within three days the fires raging throughout Lisbon were brought under control. The army was brought in to maintain order and stop people from fleeing. The survivors were housed in tent cities (shanties) that were created around the capital; corpses were quickly removed and in most cases buried at sea.[1]

The damage, however, was irreparably traumatic for the nation as a whole. The horrifying destruction, caused on a revered religious holiday at that, was the final nail in the Portuguese Empire’s strength coffin, something perhaps symbolized and punctuated by the loss of the tomb of ‘Nuno Álvares Pereira’, whose victory over Castile 400 years earlier had started the chain of events which led to the first conquests in Morocco and birth of the Empire in the first place.

Lisbon, the capital of the Portuguese Empire, the city which formed the foundation of the conquests across the African coast and the expeditions to India, which took in all the riches of the New World and at one time became one of the wealthiest cities in the planet, was brutally and utterly destroyed, finalizing the story of the realm sung of by the ‘Lusiadas’ and leaving nothing in its wake but the death of a glory once revered in Europe. Periods of war that would follow shorty would aggravate this misery and the need for urgent and extreme change would be obvious to all, but not before the rest of the country was assaulted by a foreign attack that would see the rural populace feel as much blooding as the capital one.

[1] This was done under orders of Pombal much to the distress of the people and displeasure of the church officials in the city

Lisbon 1755 Earthquake narrative stories

We hope that everyone is enjoying the festive season and that 2017 is full of peace and health.
Note: This is one of the defining moments in Portuguese history and crucial in the transition of Portugal to modern nation. Please return on January 3 for the next part of this section.
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Very good so far, but when do we get to the PoD? :p I've literally heard this story a hundred times.

Also, just a relatively minor quibble...

Lisbon in 1750s before the earthquake was one of Europe’s leading cities with over 250,000 people

Previously inhabited by approximately 200,000 people at the time, the Portuguese capital lost almost up to half its population

So...did Lisbon have approximately 200,000 people at the time or over 250,000?


Very good so far, but when do we get to the PoD? :p I've literally heard this story a hundred times.

Also, just a relatively minor quibble...

So...did Lisbon have approximately 200,000 people at the time or over 250,000?
The population of Lisbon city was over 200,000 but greater Lisbon was over 250,000.

I understand that those familiar with Portuguese history this information about earthquake might seem stale but just like the information about 4th dynasty it provides a setting about situation in Portugal at start of Joseph I reign.

It is important to understand the mindset of Portuguese who counted themselves as "the most pious" Catholics. We must realize also that the earthquake occurred on All Saints Day when most were at church. We will discuss the phycological impact of that later.

As for POD it will happen soon but do not want to talk about it before it happens.
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