International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Portugal
Praça de Dom Pedro IV
Company: Geogad Inc
lovely square called Praça de Dom Pedro IV or, more popularly,
Rossio is easy to spot with its black and white blocks arranged
in wave patterns. For centuries, it has been one of the most popular
squares in Lisbon and the center of much of Lisbon's activity. Not
only does it have its own metro station, but it is also home to
the Rossio Train station, which is located to the northwest of this
This building was
constructed in the latter half of the 19th century and is a Romantic
reproduction of the "Manueline" architectural style, that
was created during the rebuilding of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake.
This square and its transportation hubs is the starting point of Baixa,
Today Rossio is a busy area filled with cafés, restaurants and
souvenir shops. In the past it has been the site of festivals, military
parades and Portuguese-style bullfights. The original Portuguese bullfight
ended with the death of the bull in the ring until Dom José I
passed a law in the mid 18th century forbidding the bull to be killed.
The king was unfortunate enough to preside over a bullfight in which
a young noble was killed. The young noble was the son and heir of the
Marquis of Marialva and was fighting the bull from horseback. The bull
attacked his horse, which threw the young man to the ground. The bull
then turned and kicked the young noble to death. According to legend,
the Marquis of Marialva, the nearly 70-years-old father of the young
noble, jumped out of his seat into the ring and killed the bull with
The Rossio has seen darker events than bullfights. The worst was the
Portuguese Inquisition. In 1536, the Portuguese Inquisition, the Roman
Catholic Churchs movement against heresy, was officially established
by the king João III. The Portuguese Inquisition is not as well
known to the world as the Spanish Inquisition, but it does have ties
to it. Its targets were heretics and people of different faiths. One
of the most heavily targeted groups was Catholics who had formerly been
Jewish. Portugal had many Jewish citizens even before over 100,000 Jews
were expelled from Spain in 1492. Many of them settled in Portugal where
their skills in science, education and trade were of great benefit to
Portugal. However, their contributions to all areas of education, science
and commerce could not relieve the unease that the Catholic Portuguese
leaders felt at their practice of their Jewish faith. Any semblance
of tolerance ended in October of 1497. The Portuguese King Manuel I
decided to marry a Spanish princess to give greater legitimacy to his
claim to the throne. The princess refused to marry him unless he expelled
all of the Jews from his kingdom. Manuel I did not want to lose the
benefits brought to his kingdom by the Jewish residents, so he came
up with a plan. He ordered all Jews to leave his kingdom before the
expulsion deadline of October, 1497, and he then made it very difficult
for the Jews to leave. As the deadline approached, the Jews trapped
in Portugal with no way to leave were forced to convert to Christianity
to save their lives. Even living publicly as Christians did not remove
the suspicions or jealousies of their Catholic neighbors. Sometimes
their neighbor's emotions erupted into violence. Over the next 30 years,
thousands would lose their lives. When the Catholic Church gave its
official approval for the Portuguese Inquisition in 1536, the violence
was formally legitimized as "auto da fe", which literally
translates as "act of faith". The first official auto da fe
took place in Lisbon on September 20, 1540.
If a person was found guilty of rejecting the Catholic faith, secretly
practicing another religion, or corrupting the doctrines of the Catholic
Church, they would be tried by Church authorities. The auto da fe itself
was a religious event to judge offenders, which was presided over by
the officials of the Catholic Church. During the auto da fe, the Church
officials determined the guilt or innocence of the accused and decided
their punishment. But the Church did not carry out the sentence; that
was the responsibility of the state. As a result, the auto da fe itself
was not to include torture or executions. The auto da fe was held in
the headquarters of the Inquisition, which used to be located on the
north side of this square in a building called the Palácio de
Estaús. If found guilty and a punishment was determined, the
condemned would be publicly paraded to the Rossio where their sentences
were read out to all. The actual punishments and executions were enforced
by the government authorities after the auto da fe had ended, often
in this very square. These punishments ranged from burning a person
in effigy, especially if that person had managed to escape, to beatings
and torture and death, often by burning.
The former center of the Portuguese Inquisition, the Palácio
de Estaús, used to stand on the north side of this square and
was one of the few buildings that survived the earthquake. The rest
of the buildings surrounding this praça were rebuilt in a neoclassical
style known as Pombaline after the Marquês de Pombal, who took
charge of the rebuilding of Lisbon after its destruction in the 1755
earthquake. The Palácio de Estaús even managed to survive
the end of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1821. But it was eventually
destroyed by a fire in 1836. On the ground where it used to stand is
now the neoclassical theatre "Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II".
This theatre is easily identifiable with its six huge Ionic columns
that were recovered from a church destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.
It is still a popular place to see plays and concerts. The theater is
named after Queen Maria II, who was the daughter of Dom Pedro IV, after
whom this Praça is officially named.
The statue on top of the long column in the middle of the square is
of Queen Maria II's father, Dom Pedro IV, king of Portugal and also
known as Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil. The reigns of kings and
queens are rarely quiet, and the reigns of Pedro and Maria were some
of the most challenging to the throne of Portugal. Dom Pedro IV's life
began relatively quietly with his birth near Lisbon in 1798 as son to
the prince and future king, João VI, and Charlotte of Spain.
The invasion of Portugal by Napoleon's troops and their conquest of
Lisbon on December 1, 1807 forced the royal family to flee to the Portuguese
colony of Brazil when Pedro was only nine years old. Brazil was promoted
from a colony to the status of a kingdom, and the royal family ruled
the empire from Brazil. There, Pedro enjoyed a more relaxed lifestyle.
As a young boy, he played in the streets with the uneducated children
of ordinary people. He grew to have a more liberal view of monarchy
than his brother Miguel, who embraced the absolute monarchy principles
of centuries past.
Napoleon's troops were eventually run out of Portugal due in large part
to the British and Portuguese citizens who remained loyal to their king.
King João VI quite enjoyed living in Brazil and saw no reason
to rush back to Portugal while the English forces maintained control.
Unfortunately for him, French ideas of revolution had been building
since Napoleon's troops had conquered Portugal, and these finally led
to the failed Liberal Revolution of Oporto in 1820. At that point, the
British demanded that King João return to Portugal. He reluctantly
conceded in 1821, 13 years after he had been run out by Napoleon.
King João VI left his 23 year old son, Pedro, to rule Brazil.
Within a year Pedro was ordered to return to Portugal, but, like his
father, he liked Brazil and refused to obey. After receiving orders
from Portugal that would limit his powers and reduce Brazil's political
status to a mere colony again, Pedro drew his sword near the Ipiranga
river in São Paulo on September 7, 1822 and shouted the famous
expression: Independence or death!
proclaimed Brazil independent from Portugal in 1822 and himself
as monarch. His father eventually forgave his son's rebellion and
even wanted Pedro to replace him as King of Portugal. The king feared
that if his other son, Miguel, were to become king, his love of
absolute monarchy would result in political instability as the people
of Portugal, like the rest of Europe, were moving to more liberal
principles of equality. After his fathers death in 1826, Pedro
took the title of King of Portugal for a short time, but nobody
in Portugal or Brazil wanted him to rule both countries. He abdicated
the Portuguese throne to his daughter, Maria, who was only 7 years
old at the time
The theater in this
square was eventually named after her. Miguel, Pedro's brother, did
not like losing the throne, especially to a little girl. He took over
the Portuguese throne and fought a three-year civil war with Pedro.
Pedro won, Miguel was exiled, and Maria was placed on the Portuguese
throne while Pedro installed his son on Brazil's throne. Even as the
fighting came to an end, Pedro died in Portugal of tuberculosis at the
age of 35. In his short life, his accomplishments led to Brazilian independence
and allowed the Portuguese royal throne to continue for another 75 years
until the early 20th century.
To learn more about this location, please visit geogad.com
by Matt Ricciardi March 2009
ricciardi.matt at gmail.com
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.