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Heading for Iberia after leaving France
By Donald H. Dool
September 21, 2017

Most of the French possessions have probably been featured in earlier columns, so we will move on to Spain by way of Andorra and Portugal. But before leaving France, I must mention one recent acquisition. It is a World War I military token used in Bourges and that is all I could find out about it. Perhaps a reader knows something about it.

 When we are finished with Spain, we will the move on eastward to Italy.

Andorra is first noted as a territory in the Acta de Consagració i Dotació de la Catedral de la Seu d’Urgell (Deed of Consecration and Endowment of the Cathedral of La Seu d’Urgell). Dated 839 this document depicts the six old parishes of the Andorran valleys, five in Spain and Andorra. Andorra was often looked upon as a desirable acquisition and had no means to protect itself. To remedy this, in 1095 a declaration of co-sovereignty over Andorra was signed by the Lord of Caboet and the Bishop of Urgell. Later, as a result of the marriage of the Lord of Caboet’s granddaughter to Roger Bernat II, the French Count of Foix. They became co-sovereigns of Andorra (shared with the Bishop of Urgell).

However, sometime in the 13th century, the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix had a military dispute in the aftermath of the Cathar Crusade. In 1278, Perell, King of Aragon, mediated a settlement resulting in the First Paréage of Andorra, a document “which provided that Andorra’s sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the Bishop of Urgell, in Catalonia. This gave the principality its territory and political form” (Andorra). The Second Paréage, Nov. 6, 1288, supplemented and clarified certain parts of the First Paréage. These were the law of the land until 1993, when the constitution was ratified.

After going over or around the Pyrenees we arrive in Portugal. Longtime readers might remember that there was a series on the Portuguese explorers. That was when my column was called “Dated Coppers.”

Portugal, like all of Europe, has seen its share of invasions since prehistoric times. The Pre-Celts, Celts, Carthagians,Romans,Visigoths, Suebi Germanic peoples and the Moors.

The northern part of modern Portugal was part of Gallaecia, an area freed from the Moors by Vímara Peres on the orders of King Alfonso III of Asturias. There had been two major cities, Portus Cale on the coast and Braga in the interior, along with many other towns that were now deserted. Vímara Peres decided to rebuild them and settle them with Portuguese and Galician refugees and other Christians.

In 868, King Alfonso III named Vímara Peres Count of Portugal after the reconquest of the region. Thus, the First County of Portugal was born.

The county existed, although there were varying degrees of autonomy and brief periods of division until 1071. Count Nuno Mendes, desired greater autonomy for Portugal, but was defeated and killed in the Battle of Pedroso by King García II of Galicia. The independent county was abolished, its territories remaining within the crown of Galicia. Galicia then was absorbed into larger kingdoms of León and Castile.

A few years later, the former Kingdom of Galicia was given by Alfonso VI as a county to his son-in-law Raymond of Burgundy. This would be the Second County of Portugal. However, in 1096, he had second thoughts about Raymond’s growing power so separated Portugal and Coimbra from Galicia and granted them to another son-in-law, Henry of Burgundy.

When Henry died his widow, Theresa, took the reins on behalf of her young son. In order to challenge her sister, Queen Urraca, she entered into an alliance with Galician nobility.

However, she was defeated by Urraca in 1121 and became subservient to the Leonese state. In 1128, her son, Afonso Henriques, after defeating his mother’s forces in the Battle of São Mamede, took the reins of the government.

After winning a series of battles, which then led his troops to proclaim him King of Portugal after the Battle of Ourique in 1139. Alfonso VII of León and Castile finally recognized the de facto independence of Portugal in the Treaty of Zamora in 1143.

During the Reconquista period, Afonso Henriques and his successors, pushed southward to drive out the Moors. At this time, Portugal covered about half of its present area.

“In 1249, the Reconquista ended with the capture of the Algarve and complete expulsion of the last Moorish settlements on the southern coast, giving Portugal its present-day borders, with minor exceptions.”

I’ll now leave it to the reader to delve into Portuguese history from this point to the 20th century.

On February 1, 1908, the King Carlos I of Portugal and his heir apparent, Prince Royal Luís Filipe, were assassinated. His rule had been marked with social turmoil, economic disturbances, protests, revolts and criticism of the monarchy.

He was succeeded by Manuel II, who was eventually overthrown by the revolution of Oct. 5, 1910, which abolished the regime and created, what was called, the First Portuguese Republic.

The Republic was actually against the power of the church and repressive, more on the lines of what is now called left-wing. Along with a weak economy and political instability, this led to a coup on the May 28, 1926, and the creation of the National Dictatorship (Ditadura Nacional). This was followed by the right-wing dictatorship in 1933 of António de Oliveira Salazar’s Estado Novo.

Among other things, Salazar’s government resisted the decolonization of its overseas territories. In April 1974, there was a bloodless left-wing military coup in Lisbon, known as the Carnation Revolution. This led the way for the independence of Portugal’s overseas territories in Africa and Asia, as well as for the restoration of democracy.

There was two years of a transitional period known as PREC (Processo Revolucionário Em Curso). During this period there was social turmoil and power disputes between left- and right-wing political forces.

The Junta de Salvação Nacional governed Portugal until the legislative election of 1976. The Portuguese Socialist Party won the election. Its leader Mário Soares, became Prime Minister of the First Constitutional Government on the July 3. He was Portugal’s first democratically elected prime minister.

 Contact Don Dool with questions, corrections and comments at

Works Cited:

Andorra. 3 Sept. 2017. <>

County of Portugal. 4 Sept. 2017. <>

Gadoury, V. Élie R. Monnaies de nécessité françaises. 1789 – 1990.

Krause, Chester L., and Mishler, Clifford.  Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900. Editor Colin R. Bruce II. 3rd. edition, Iola, Wis., Krause, 2001.

…, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-Present. Editor Colin R. Bruce II, 29th ed. Iola, Wis., Krause, 2002

Neumann, Josef. Beschreibung der bekanntesten Kupfermüzen. 6 vols. Prague: 1858-1872. Rpt. 7 vols. Leipzig: 1966.

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