On 11 January 1890, the United Kingdom issued an ultimatum demanding Portugal to give up its intentions of occupying the lands between the African colonies of Angola, on the western coast, and Mozambique, on the eastern coast, thus joining the two territories as proposed on the Pink Map [no pun intended!]. Despite popular uproar, the Portuguese government was forced to accept the British terms. This measure contributed to the growing unpopularity of King Carlos I and the monarchy, and gained supporters for the already boosting republican movement.
The night after the ultimatum, composer Alfredo Keil elaborated the melody for A Portuguesa as patriotic-inspired protest march, as a suggestion of a group of friends that included the likes of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro and Teófilo Braga. Inspired by the mutual feeling of outrage among the people, writer Henrique Lopes de Mendonça answered positively to Keil's request and created a poem for his melody. In the words of Mendonça, A Portuguesa was intended to be a song "where the Motherland's wounded soul would merge with its ambitions of freedom and revival", an anthem aiming to be fully embraced by the people and that could carry the sentiment of national revindication.
The anthem's official version consists of only the first stanza and chorus from Mendonça's poem. The last line of the chorus — "Contra os canhões marchar, marchar!" (Against the cannons, march, march!) — is a late alteration (1957) of the original "Contra os bretões marchar, marchar" (Against the Britons, march, march!), an angered reference to the British ultimatum.
In 1956, there were a number of variations of the anthem, not just in its melodic line but also in the instrumentation. Recognizing this, the government named a commission charged with determining the official version of "A Portuguesa." This commission prepared a proposal which, approved by the Council of Ministers on 16 July 1957, remains in effect to this day.
Valiant and immortal nation,
Now is the hour to raise up on high once more
From out of the mists of memory,
Oh Homeland, we hear the voices
Of your great forefathers
That shall lead you on to victory!
On land and sea!
To arms, to arms
To fight for our Homeland!
To march against the enemy guns!
In the bright light of your sky!
Cry out all Europe and the whole world
That Portugal has not perished.
Your happy land is kissed
By the Ocean that murmurs with love.
And your conquering arm
Has given new worlds to the world!
On a smiling future:
Let the echo of an insult be
The signal for our revival.
The rays of that powerful dawn
Are like a mother's kisses
That protect us and support us
Against the insults of fate.
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A Contemporary Opinion Article: With allies like the British we do Not need Enemies
by Jorge Fiel
I was never a fan of the Brits [Bifes]. I started looking at them with askance in the night of 26 July 1966 (when I was ten years old), when I saw Eusébio leaving the Wembley footbal field to clear the tears to the shirt that I knew to be grenat but appeared to be black on the screen of Nordmende TV that my father bought, in installments, to see the "Magriços" in the World Cup in England.
I do not have the slightest doubt that we were stolen in that mid-final and that the English were 'carried on the lap' up to the title.
The first bad impression of the English has been dimmed as I was being presented to the Carnaby Street style, the music of the Kinks, Beatles and Stones, the pop culture and the minis-skirts of Mary Quant.
Everything has gotten worse with the deepening of my knowledge of History. The Treaty of Windsor (signed in 1386 between Portugal and England) may be the oldest diplomatic alliance still in force, but it was a bad deal for us.
After all, the illustrious generation of children (particularly Henrique [Henry the Navigator] and Duarte [Edward of Portugal]) which the English Filipa de Lencastre [Philippa of Lancaster] educated and gave to Portugal, was the most profitable extraction of six centuries of alliance created by D. João I [John I of Portugal].
The historic weakness of the Portuguese industry plunges its roots in the Treaty of Methuen (1703), which opened wide our doors to the English woolen cloth. The exports of Portuguese wines to Britain was a weak hand in return - as they were at war with the French, they had not many alternatives for supply...
But the great stab that the perfidious Albion stabbed on our back was the ultimatum of January 1890, which hurted to death our monarchy.
D. Carlos [Carlos I of Portugal] accepted the British demands and renounced to the Pink map (which consisted in the occupation of the actual territory of Zambia to Zimbabwe, connecting Angola to Mozambique).
This humiliation triggered a national wave of patriotic indignation, which had as hymn A Portuguesa, a poem by Henrique Lopes de Mendonça which concluded with an explicit appeal: "Against the Britons / march, march." Later on, when the Republic chose this song for its national anthem, the "Britons" turned into "cannons".
With allies like the British we do not need enemies. We put up with the hordes of English drunks in Albufeira. We bear with infinite patience the international circus that they built regarding Maddie. We tolerate the derision of bad taste and in terrible education of the London Press.
When I read the British letter rogatory where it is referred that our Prime Minister "has asked", "has received" or "has eased" (or as I say,"has gone to take a coffee", "has gone give a bath to the dog"...), the licensing of the Freeport; I immediately felt a willingness to propose that the "Britons" replace the "cannons".
PS. I'll suggest to Luís Pedro Nunes that the Inimigo Público [Public Enemy] sends a reporter to England to investigate what Manuela Ferreira Leite went there to do when she alleged that she was visiting her grandchild.
Source: Various and the Diário de Notícias