History of Freedom
The 5 October 2010 marks the Centenary of the Implantation of the Republic in Portugal. A day to celebrate. But in order to better understand the true significance of this date it is necessary to remember “the course of history”.
For the centuries in which the Monarchy reigned, there was a passive acceptance of the social classes — nobility, clergy and commoners — with different rights and duties, different laws, immense wealth for some, labour and poverty for others. If to the high nobility everything was due, the men of the people, no matter what talents they possessed and how hard they tried, would find it difficult to even harbour the hope of a significantly better life. The idea that everything that happened in this world was a result of God’s will helped to sustain the injustices.
If there were different social classes, if some were extremely wealthy and some were extremely poor, only God knew why. And as royal power was attributed divine origin, the decisions of the king, though strange and inconvenient, should be upheld without contest. As time went by, voices were raised against this social model and against the excessive power of the king.
The voices of the bourgeoisie who, despite belonging to the commoners, had had the opportunity to study, to do business, to become wealthy and did not conform to the rigid structures that kept them on an intermediate level, always beneath the nobility. And the voices of the great thinkers like the Englishman John Locke or the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who dared to publicly question the divine origin of royal power and the duty of the people to submit to rulers even they turned out to be tyrants and despots.
But the first “political earthquake” of the Modern Age was the revolution of the English colonies of North America which came to a head in 1776. Up until then, the colonists had remained faithful to the laws of London and paid taxes to England. However, at a certain point, they realized that it did not make sense to continue like this and they revolted, they fought, they declared independence. And they chose for their country — the United States of America — a democratic governance system which had already been tried and tested in Antiquity, the Republic.
This makes sense because, in that vast continent where a new world was being built, it became apparent that each person’s value lies in qualities they possess and the work they do rather than in the fact that they belong to a particular social class.
The American Republic brought about perplexity, controversy and unrest in Europe. But Europe was the old world and European countries were shrouded in traditions that were hard to overthrow. Nevertheless, they were already being challenged and they suffered a rude awakening in 1784 when the French philosopher Montesquieu published a book entitled “Spirit of the Laws”, in which he defended ideas that were absolutely revolutionary for the time such as tripartite power, which would become the basis of liberalism and constitutional monarchies. But the decisive blow to the old regime would be the French Revolution of 1789. Led by the bourgeoisie and inspired by the motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, it riled spirits, it provoked an utter spiral of bloody events, it transformed the country into a stage for violent and disturbing experiences.
But above all it forced the History of Humanity to enter a new phase. Despite the advances and setbacks, the French Revolution did in fact break down the models of political and social organization of the old world, it prepared the ground for the implantation of the Republic in France, it paved the way for European republican parties to be formed.
The Portuguese Republican Party appeared in 1878, during the reign of Dom Luís. It gained many followers during the next reign due to the severe crisis that the country underwent and the dissatisfaction with the governance of the king Dom Carlos. The first republican revolt was held in Porto on 31 January 1891, and was stifled immediately by the authorities. Despite the fact that the people responsible were arrested or exiled to Africa, the republican ideas did not die. In 1910 the Portuguese Republican Party felt that a change of regime was needed and that this change would only be possible through armed combat. The revolution began on the morning of 4 October in Lisbon. There was some resistance from a few military forces that were loyal to the king, who at the time was Dom Manuel II, but by the next morning it was clear that victory was assured. And so, at around 9 o’clock in the morning of 5 October the news of the implantation of the Republic was announced to the people from the veranda of Lisbon City Hall and was received with enthusiasm.
In a Republic, it is believed that people are born and remain free and equal as stated in the “Declaration of Human Rights”. The law is the same for everyone. Nobody has a role determined at birth. Any citizen can become a politician, minister, president, if their professional qualities and career enable them to achieve public recognition.
In other words, in a Republic each person is solely in charge of their own destiny. And this is definitely worth celebrating.
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 02.10.2010
Illustrator: Luiz Duran
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Offset lithography
Colours: 4-colour offset
Size: 40 x 30.6 mm
Values: ?3,59, ?4,90