Why is Portugal independent of Spain?
This is a question that my visitors ask us when visiting our wine tours. And to me, who loves history I have read a little about the subject. I am not a scholar or a historian, I just like to tell and write stories to my visitors and read and listen to stories with a glass of wine in hand.
Therefore, if someone considers that what I am telling is inaccurate, I will be happy to receive information that allows me to be more precise and adjusted to reality.
I am not going to enter at the moment what happened before the Romans because it would extend me a lot.
The Romans conquered the entire Iberian peninsula. After the fall of the Roman Empire came people from central Europe that spread throughout the peninsula.
In 711 the Arabs entered from the south of Spain and conquered in 7 years the entire peninsula except a small strip in northern Spain, which is now Asturias. For this reason Asturians say with pride that Asturias is Spain and the rest is conquered land.
In 718 for the first time Christians beat the Arabs in Covadonga and begins what has been called the Reconquest that lasted more than 700 years in Spain.
In those first years of the Middle Ages the kingdom of Leon was of great importance. It was Leon’s kingdom that reconquered northern Portugal. There, over time, a kingdom dependent on the kingdom of Leon was established.
Years passed and what was growing considerably was the kingdom of Castile whose main objective was to conquer land in the south.
That kingdom of Portugal, not being tremendously powerful, depended on Leon who was not as expansive as Castile. Portugal also had a defender of its rights to the Roman Catholic church. The church did not see well that the Christian kingdoms fought between them. That protective mantle of Rome made Castile not look west and focused on moving south
For a long time the Duero River was the border between Christians and Arabs.
It was said that in the area of Ribera del Duero there was only nomadic population that was dedicated to grazing could survive because it did not matter who came to that area. Whether they were Christians from the north or Arabs from the south, if they found someone they would kill him and burned their crops. Therefore, the population could only survive through the economy of the sheeps and being a nomad.
In the year 1086 Alfonso VI conquers Toledo. This marks a milestone in the reconquest.
This King asks his son in law to build different fortresses to make an imaginary line of protection to prevent a potential reconquest from the arabs.
What is happening in that time in Portugal? The Portuguese realize that with the revolution in navigation that was taking place that allowed sailors to venture offshore they saw their opportunity at sea. They started sailing south without separating much from the coast. They found in Africa all kinds of wealth that allowed them to understand that they were on the right track.
And they go down and down the African coast.
In 1456 the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans takes place. Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This meant the drastic cut of the silk route that so many desirable things for Europe came along this route. Spices, silk and many other things were coming from China and India. From the capture of Constantinople, all traffic is drastically cut.
That was an incentive for Portugal that discovers the Cape of Good Hope in 1460 and finally arrives in India and China.
In this way, tremendously profitable traffic is established for Portugal under a monopoly regime.
Cristobal Colon was aware that his main candidate to finance his trip to the Indies was Portugal. It was the first country in the seas but Portugal felt so fantastically well with the new route they had opened through southern Africa that the Columbus project was not of interest to the portuguese.
Columbus discovers America and there is a large conflict between Spain and Portugal that was resolved by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 that came to divide the world into two halves between the two most important countries of the time.
Then came the wealth of these two countries and then the slow decline in favor of the countries of northern Europe and their industrialization.
But that is another story.
I insist that I do not pretend to be the person who knows the most about the subject. Moreover, the more I read, the more aware I am of the little I know. So if someone wants to make a contribution I will be happy to correct and add details to the story.
My only intention in making my visitors have a pleasant time and now also my readers.
Oh and if you read this I would invite you to read it with a glass of wine in your hand. Everything is prettier with a glass of wine in hand and the history of Spain is too.
If you come with the Winebus it is this type of stories that you are going to find in addition to visiting wineries and the places where those stories happened. We will do it with a glass of wine in hand.
Ceo of Winebus