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The Moors in Portugal

Much of the legacy of the Moors was supposed to be destroyed following their period of rule. Fortunately for us today, there are remains, such as the red sandstone walls of Silves castle.silves castle

On 19th July 711, despite being vastly outnumbered, Moorish forces led by Tariq ibn-Zayid defeated the armies of Roderic, Visigoth King of Iberia at the Battle of Guadalete; thus began the Moorish occupation of Iberia.

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The Visigoths

We continue our History of Portugal with The Visigoths.iberia_map

In the early 5th century, Germanic tribes invaded the peninsula, namely the Suevi, the Vandals and their allies, the Alans. They occupied the area shown on the map in green.

The Germanic tribe of the Buri also accompanied the Suevi in their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and colonization of Gallaecia (modern northern Portugal and Spanish Galicia). The Buri settled in the region between the rivers Cávado and Homem (now Braga).

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The Roman Occupation of Portugal and Conimbriga

The modern name of Portugal was not used until the 11th cen­tury.

The names in italics are the ones that were used at the time of the Roman Empire. conimbriga2

In 210BC the Romans entered the southern Iberian peninsula and quickly subdued the Mediterranean coast and the south of Spain and Portugal. In the central Iberian region they met great re­sistance and in 193BC the Lusitani rose up in arms. Based in central Portugal between the Tejo and the Lima rivers the Lusitani were known to the Romans as ‘Strabo’ “the most powerful of the Ibe­rian peoples, who resisted the armies of Rome for the longest period”. Under the rebel leader Viriato, possibly born in the area of Loriga in the Serra d’Estrela, they held up the Roman advance for 50 years, only finally losing in 139BC.

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The Pillory Of Tomar

Pillories are stone columns, although some were made of wood, placed in a public place, in a city or village, where the criminals were tortured and publicly humiliated. In Portugal, the pillories of the municipality were located in front the City or Town Hall from the 12th century onwards. Many had on the side a small cage-shaped hut, with iron bars, where offenders were exposed as a form of public shame. These kinds of pillories usually consisted of a base, on which a column or shaft rested, and ended in a capital. Some of them were extremely adorned and served as a symbol of the power of judicial authorities. Its presence was intended to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.

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Taking the Bull by the Horns - an Historical Perspective

Corrida de Touros, Feira Taurina, Tourada – the Portuguese Bullfight, under this or any other name, evokes mixed emotions. Love it or hate it, if you live in Central Portugal you won’t be far from one such spectacle. Not to be confused with its Spanish sister and her sullied reputation, the Portuguese ‘bloodless’ bullfight (so called because the bull is not killed in the ring) is a festa rich in history and tradition, where human, equine and bovine combine in a unique art form.bulls3

The importance of the bull, with it’s characteristics of strength, power and virility, can be traced back to Minoan Crete. The sport of the bullfight also has Roman antecedents, while the sacrifice of the bull has religious connotations. However, perhaps a more direct historical connection for the Portuguese bullfight can be derived from the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. History tells us the Moors set fire to the tails of bulls, creating stampedes to initialise their attacks. Portuguese horses and riders were the principal defendants of such attacks. For a people who had previously spent recreational time running bulls on horseback before lancing them, the combination of recreational pastime and wartime necessity resulted in a skilful bonding between horse and rider, an equestrian art today exemplified in the Portuguese Bullfight.

Read more: Taking the Bull by the Horns - an Historical Perspective

History of Portugal Pages

  • The Moors in Portugal +

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  • The Visigoths +

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  • The Roman Occupation of Portugal and Conimbriga +

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  • The Pillory Of Tomar +

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