HomeLIFESTYLEDo you know all the lyrics to A Portuguesa?

Do you know all the lyrics to A Portuguesa?

The Portuguese national anthem was composed in 1890 as a patriotic and indignant response against the English ultimatum, with ‘A Portuguesa’ becoming the country’s official anthem in 1911. That is, shortly after the establishment of the Republic following the revolution that on October 5, 1910 would eventually depose the last king of Portugal, D. Manuel II🇧🇷

With lyrics by Henrique Lopes Mendonça and music by Alfredo Keil, the Portuguese national anthem was not only a theme of patriotic resistance against british arrogancebut also a republican symbol, an idea of ​​government that was clearly spreading in Portuguese society at the end of the 19th century.

On January 31, 1891, a failed coup d’Ă©tat, with its epicenter in Harborwhich had as its objective the deposition of the monarchy, already had this musical theme as the anthem of the rebels.

national anthem: cannons or britons?

Although historians tend to differ, it appears that the lyrics of the Portuguese national anthem have not always been “against the cannons march, march”. As a response to the infamous English ultimatum, the lyrics would be “against the Britons, march, march”, a clearly warlike and confrontational language against Her Majesty’s subjects, at the time Queen Victoria.

However, there are those who also argue that the original version always referred to cannons and that the term Bretons was introduced later, in the heat of the political struggle.

The truth is that ‘A Portuguesa’ would end up being adopted as a national anthem, replacing the ‘Hymno da Carta’, which had existed since May 1834, and which was written at the time by nothing more, nothing less, than king D. Pedro IV🇧🇷

However, over the years several versions circulated, not only in the melodic line, which is why, in 1956, a commission was created in charge of fixing a final version. The proposal that this commission prepared was approved in 1957 and, since then, the national anthem is as we know it today.

angry british

But what could have so revolted the Portuguese nation, that even an anthem was composed to exalt patriotism and call the people to arms? Basically, it was the ultimatum that the British government, then led by Salisbury, delivered in 1890, demanding from Portugal the withdrawal of its military forces, then led by Serpa Pinto, from the territory of connection between Angola and Mozambique🇧🇷

These territories, present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia, were part of the famous ‘Pink Map’, a document presented by the Kingdom of Portugal at the Conference of Berlin and where they were claimed as part of the Portuguese overseas empire.

This Berlin conference, held between November 1884 and February 1885, had as its lamentable objective the territorial division of the African continent between the European colonizing powers. Obviously, each country pursued its own interests, with the sole aim of enhancing the economic relationship it had with Africa and that fed a substantial part of the state coffers, and beyond, Europe outside.

commercial interests

The English did not like the Portuguese position one bit, based on the alleged historical right of our country over those territories. The truth is that Portuguese influence and hegemony in Africa was being seriously threatened by the growing presence of English, French and Germans on the continent, attracted by the increasingly interesting commercial potential that the whole continent represented.

However, the main reason that led the English to be angry with the Portuguese proposal was the fact that it irreversibly conflicted with the megalomaniac project of the British Company of South Africa to build a railroad that would cross the entire continent, linking Cairo in the egypt, to Cape Town. Hence the ultimatum for the Portuguese forces to abandon the territories in question. Then the resistance began and even the national anthem appeared.

Overview of Coimbra

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national anthem: surrender and revolt

King D. Carlos would end up giving in to the British in every possible way, giving rise to a popular revolt that the republican current tried to capitalize on as much as possible. Immediately afterwards, the government fell, being replaced by an executive led by AntĂłnio de Serpa Pimentel.

In Africa, explorer Silva Porto failed to negotiate with the locals and set himself on fire, wrapped in the national flag, a suicide attributed to disgust at the English ultimatum. In the summer of 1890, the Treaty of London consummated the Portuguese humiliation and defined the borders of Angola and Mozambique.

The national anthem ‘A Portuguesa’ is one of the many reactions against the English ultimatum, but there were many others, some more poetic, others more practical, others still of a somewhat violent nature. The truth is that the national political reality would never be the same again, which would lead to the regicide, in 1908, and the definitive establishment of the Republic, on October 5, 1910.

Young people singing the anthem

By the way, here is the complete version of the lyrics of the national anthem, by Henrique Lopes de Mendonça, which almost nobody knows:

Heroes of the sea, noble people,
Brave, immortal nation,
I got up again today
The splendor of Portugal!
Among the mists of memory,
O Fatherland, feel the voice
From your egregious grandparents,
Who will guide you to victory!


To arms, to arms!
Over land, over sea,
To arms, to arms!
For the Motherland to fight!
against the cannons
march, march!

Unfurl the undefeated flag
In the living light of your sky!
Shout Europe to the whole earth:
Portugal did not perish!
Kiss the soil your jucundo
The ocean, roaring with love,
And your winning arm
Gave new worlds to the World!

To arms, to arms!
Over land and over sea,
To arms, to arms!
For the Motherland to fight!
against the cannons
march, march!

Salute the rising sun
About a smiling future;
Be the echo of an affront
The sign of resurgence.
Rays of this strong dawn
They are like a mother’s kisses,
That protect us, sustain us,
Against the injuries of fate.

To arms, to arms!
Over land and over sea,
To arms, to arms!
For the Motherland to fight!
against the cannons
march, march!

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