From Caravels to Carnations
by Christopher Massy-Beresford

Date: Thursday 20 January 2022

The development of Portugal’s trading empire over three centuries and its sudden end only 45 years ago

From Caravels to Carnations

This talk covers the phenomenon of Portugal’s adventurous spirit from the 15th Century and the development of a trading empire that spanned the world for three centuries - through to Portugal’s role in two world wars and the surprisingly sudden and far reaching changes in society that began in the spring of 1974.

The main events of Portugal’s history are highlighted along with sketches of its most influential personalities; while the geography of its former possessions is explained, together with the development and influence of its language, which remains a major and interesting legacy of its empire.

Included are some vignettes arising from many visits to Portugal itself, its autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, and its former colonial territories of Angola and Mozambique.

The talk concludes with a detailed account of the coup d’etat that brought this empire to an end, suddenly with great tension but hardly any violence. It was major surprise event in European history only 45 years ago, which is in danger of receding into the past without being sufficiently understood and appreciated - perhaps even by many of today’s Portuguese themselves.

Christopher’s degree was in PPE but modern languages came to be a defining feature of his commercial career and interests.

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