International Congress

Bicentenary of the 1820 Revolution

Assembleia da República
12-14 October 2020


The Bicentenary of the 1820 Revolution presents both an opportunity and a challenge to revisit and better understand a crucial period in contemporary Portuguese history. The international congress marking this event is designed to indicate the main lines of interpretation that are to be found in the abundant historiography currently existing on this subject, as well as to encourage the presentation of new approaches and perspectives of analysis.


Call for Papers

The 1820 Revolution was the founding event of liberalism in Portugal and Brazil. It was part of a broader movement that spread across Southern Europe and the two Latin American empires of the Atlantic region. In all cases, the epicentre consisted of political constitutions, inspired by the Spanish model of the 1812 Cadiz Constitution. The Nation, understood as a new political pillar of the constituent power of parliament, lay at the foundations of the broad concept of national sovereignty that characterised the first Portuguese Constitution of 1822. National independence was an aim that was inscribed in the goals of the 1820 revolution, as was also the case in other southern countries. The parallel outbreak of the movement for independence in the colonies of Latin America resulted in conflicts that would subsequently reveal the imperialist nature of Iberian liberalism.

The liberal movement in Southern Europe was counter-cyclical in relation to the political situation of Central and Northern Europe, namely France and England, which were now incorporated into the Holy Alliance, formed to guarantee the political stability of Europe after Napoleon. It was against this unfavourable international background that the complex process of the independence of the South American colonies first began to unfurl. The programme of this Congress seeks to reflect upon this geopolitical perspective of the revolutionary movement.

One of the characteristics of the revolutionary movement was its formal prudence. Frequently, the word “regeneration” was preferred to the term “revolution”, since it suggested moderation. The spectre of the violence of the French Revolution hung over both sides, those who wished for a change and those who defended the conservation of the status quo. The desire for moderation and the fear of unleashing conflicts were visible features of all the activity of the Cortes of 1821-22. However, the mere proclamation of the  Basis of the Constitution   and the rights of citizenship represented a profound shock to the existing society. The very concept of citizenship was revolutionary in itself and represented a major innovation in the relationship between the individual and the State, calling into question the corporative society of orders. A constitution defining the newly-established powers also represented a rupture with the pre-existing concept of royal power. This was how its enemies immediately understood things. Revolution and counter-revolution were the two different faces of this time, within which the thematic axes that form the structure for the programme of this Congress are also to be found intertwined.

Different generations of essayists and historians have turned their attention to the 1820 Revolution. Despite the considerable bibliography already existing about this event and its time, the commemoration of the bicentenary represents a challenge for reviewing the subject in the light of present-day historiography, as well as providing a stimulus for the presentation of new approaches and new perspectives of analysis. Accordingly, we now present the academic community with the programme for the Congress, setting out the thematic panels that seem to us to be the most relevant. In each case, the presentation of the themes is the responsibility of the coordinators who were invited to organise the respective sessions.


Those interested in submitting a proposal for a paper to be presented at the International Congress of the Bicentenary of the 1820 Revolution must complete the form available at https://cbr1820.com/call-for-papers/ and submit it by 30 September 2019.

The proposals must indicate the thematic panel under which the paper is to be presented (see below the description of the thematic panels).

Each applicant may present only one proposal for a paper.

All decisions relating to the acceptance of papers will be taken by the coordinators of the thematic panels, and applicants will be informed of the respective decision by 2 December  2019.

The authors of accepted papers must deliver the text of their papers (in accordance with rules to be established in due course) by 31 May 2020.

The final programme for the Congress will be established once the texts of the approved papers have been received.

Languages for the Congress: Portuguese, Spanish and English.


Thematic Panels


1. The Revolutions in Southern Europe

Javier Fernandez Sébastian


Universidad del País Vasco, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales
Maurizio Isabella


Queen Mary University of London, School of History

The 1820 Revolution in Portugal coincided with a wave of events in Southern Europe involving Spain, Piedmont, Naples, Sicily and Greece. Historiography has generally ignored this moment in the period of revolutions, preferring instead to emphasise the Atlantic context and the events that took place later in France. However, contemporaries regarded the revolts that occurred in 1820-1821 as a sign of the regeneration of Southern Europe and their impact was felt far beyond this region. These revolutions were simultaneous and interconnected, sharing various convergent features.

This panel will examine the exchange of ideas and the movement of people in this region during the revolutions, adopting a comparative approach to the study of both the culture and the political practice of these events and incorporating them into a broader context characterised by imperial crises and the reconceptualisation of territories. The aim of such an approach is to discover new legacies and new perspectives of analysis about the nature of constitutionalism and the extent of political participation in the continent’s southern peripheries.


2. The Revolutions in South America

Ana Frega


Universidad de la República de Uruguay, Instituto de Ciencias Históricas
Lúcia Maria Bastos P. Neves


Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Departamento de História
Maria Beatriz Nizza da Silva


Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas

This panel will seek to discover the repercussions in the former Iberian-American colonies generated by the 1820 Revolution in Portugal and the liberal movements in other parts of Europe during this period. The aim is to arrive at a more precise characterisation of the political culture that was emerging at that time and the reactions that it caused. Importance will be given to the use of new sources, such as the literature written at that time, the press and any private documentation.

First of all, the panel will look for the multiple echoes of constitutionalism in the disconnected provinces of the Kingdom of Brazil, which, since 1815, had formed part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves; in the Cisplatina Province, which then belonged to that political space; as well as in the other countries being formed in South America. Secondly, it will seek to deepen the discussions, already being undertaken for that geographical region, about such concepts as constitution, freedom, politics, sovereignty, nation and religion, as well as the political languages of liberalism that prevailed in that conjuncture, showing how these ideas circulated between the two sides of the Atlantic. Thirdly, an analysis will be made of the associations, festivities, symbols and rituals associated with constitutionalism. And, finally, it will re-examine the historiography that has tended to attribute a dual character to the 1820 Revolution: liberal in Europe and recolonising in America.


3. Nation and Empire

Sandra Ataíde Lobo


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Cristina Nogueira da Silva


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Direito

The vintismo movement’s plan to found a multicontinental Nation State, with its capital in Lisbon and provinces in Europe, America, Africa and Asia, brought with it elements of inequality, concealed by the ideas of the unity of its territory and the common citizenship of its inhabitants. Aware of these inequalities, the Portuguese from America proposed alternative notions for the concepts of Homeland and Nation, as well as a federal project, which was rejected by those from the metropolis. These disagreements lay at the origin of Brazilian independence, although Portugal still clung to the idea of its being a multi-continental Nation, non-colonialist because it was composed of free and equal Portuguese with the right to be represented in the national Parliament.

This panel aims at a better understanding of this conjuncture and the visions about the Empire and the Nation that it stimulated, as well as the continuation in the subsequent century of the debates and the political model that it inaugurated. In this context, the panel will seek to answer the following questions: How was Brazilian independence perceived by the ‘overseas’ elites, namely those that were European, ‘native’ and ‘Luso-descendant’? What role did these elites play in the construction of the “imperial Nation”, and what other alternatives were formulated? Who were the overseas deputies, what relevance did they have, and what interests did they represent? What tensions were generated by the idea of the equality of territories and populations, when confronted with ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, with the continued permanence of legal statuses and social conditions that placed people in a subordinate position (slave, freedman, servant), or with political underrepresentation. Who, after all, were the “Portuguese citizens”? Was it possible to think of a “multicultural” or “multi-religious” nation? In what way was the liberal discourse about citizenship and rights constructed, or appropriated, by the local populations of the Empire? 


4. Political Process: Revolution and Counter-revolution

Maria Alexandre Lousada


Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Letras
Nuno Gonçalo Monteiro


Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais

The main aim of this panel is to describe and analyse the political process as a sequence of actions and proposals that were to generate dynamics of political mobilisation and, finally, of political polarisation, which were clearly accentuated in the Portuguese case in the 1820s. To a large extent, it can be described as a series of episodes in an intermittent civil war, which, at some points, involved thousands of participants, on both sides. The tensions of a longer period were further accompanied by singular events, together with new forms for the dissemination of opinions and sociability and with several proposals for change or its emphatic rejection. In its various dimensions, the prolonged political dispute was one of the greatest novelties of this period, resulting in the formation of groups that were faced with a geographical, social and institutional profile that was not entirely symmetrical.

It is hoped that the theme of this panel will contribute to in-depth research about the preparation, realisation and participation of the electoral processes inaugurated by the vintismo movement; the means of political action and the forms of mobilisation adopted by the liberals and the counter-revolutionaries; and the different spaces existing for the formation of public opinion. This approach cannot dispense with a consideration of the close links and imitations that connected the political process in Portugal and Brazil, with Spain, Iberian America and other contexts.


5. Parliament and Constitution

Zília Osório de Castro


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Luís Bigotte Chorão


Universidade de Coimbra, Ceis20

The meeting of the Extraordinary and Constituent Cortes, whose first preparatory session was held on 24 January 1821, served to legitimise the events of August and September 1820 – which had “placed the Nation in possession of the sacred rights of its representation”, as was stressed at that time – and the wording of the Political Constitution. But the meeting of the Cortes not only served these aims, since this institution had also situated itself at the centre of the exercise of political power and the debate on the plans for the reform of the State and the governance of the Country, establishing the “foundations of the Constitutional Edifice”.

It will therefore be important to consider the criterion of its organisation and its way of functioning, as well as the identity and status of the deputies, with this latter element revealing a conception of the legislator and the exercise of the legislative and constituent powers. Since the foundations on which “the majestic edifice of the Constitution should be erected” had been immediately established as the continuation of the throne, as occupied by João VI, and the maintenance of the Catholic religion, it will be necessary to reflect in particular about these constituent determinations, so that in the light of these same elements, other questions of fundamental importance can be analysed, such as, among others, the question of civil liberty, the individual safety of citizens and the ownership of property.

With the Constitution being understood as a new social pact, it becomes essential to identify the influences that determined certain normative solutions, namely those relating to the sovereignty and organisation of the powers of the liberal State, looking at the Project for the Bases of the Constitution and the discussion of its clauses, while naturally also considering the views expressed in reaction to the 1882 Constitution.


6. Ideologies and Currents of Political Thought

Ana Cristina Araújo


Universidade de Coimbra, Faculdade de Letras
Luís Reis Torgal


Universidade de Coimbra, Faculdade de Letras

The 1820 Revolution imprinted a redemptive vision on political activity. The liberals who made the Revolution brought with them revolutionary ideals that had been either confirmed or rejected by the historical experience of other peoples and nations. The memory of the generation that planned the 1820 Revolution considered both successes and failures, recording triumphs and refreshing values, and seeking to distance itself from the revolutionary excesses that had been experienced in France and Spain.

The three-year period of vintismo was also built on the politicised and fictionalised memory of the history of Portuguese nationhood which the liberals sought to reconcile with the events and processes that, in different ways, had affected civil society and marked the participation of citizens, patriotic societies and associations based on different political sensitivities and ideological currents.

The central concern of this panel will be to study the idea of revolution, and, in particular, the ideas underlying the 1820 Revolution, to which its proponents were committed. This will involve analysing the speeches, authors and the national and foreign doctrinal texts that marked the political debate, looking at the conflicting nature of the narratives constructed at that time about the political process and the effects of parliamentary rhetoric on the ideological shaping of public opinion. The aim is not to lend an air of self-sufficiency to the parliamentary speeches and the liberal, conservative and counter-revolutionary doctrinal texts, but to contextualise the uses made of speeches, the reasons for ideological dissidence, the rhetorical strategies, the political currents and the historical effects of the ideological combat arising from the Revolution.


7. State, Church and Religion

Daniel Alves


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Ana Mouta Faria


ISCTE-IUL – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, CIES-IUL
Sérgio Ribeiro Pinto


Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Centro de Estudos de História Religiosa

The implantation of political liberalism gave rise to changes in the previously existing relationship between the State and the Church. These changes, enshrined in the reforms of religious structures in those national areas where there was a Catholic majority, and determined by the new political institutions, represented the main theme examined by contemporary historiography, regardless of the field in which such historians were situated (Political History, Ecclesiastic History, the History of Ideas) and the interpretations that they produced. In the twenty-first century, greater attention is being paid not only to the knowledge of the new geographical spaces in which political change has called for a fresh analysis of the place of religion in the social pact, but new approaches have also been adopted, frequently centred on the secular world or the ecclesiastical world as part of the social fabric.

This panel will seek to guarantee the presence of three lines of research into the Luso-Brazilian space in the years between the final phase of the Ancien Regime and the mid-1820s: (1) Social History, through the analysis of the changes resulting from the liberal reforms, where there is a shortage of studies about the abandonment of the ecclesiastical condition, the evolution of the confraternities and parishes or the resistance to ecclesiastical reforms; (2) Political and Ideological History, through the study of the debates about the place of Catholicism, both in the vintismo movement in Portugal and in the process of Brazilian independence, its relationships with religious minorities, the formation of public opinions about matters of faith and the forms of opposition to political change in the name of religion; (3) new methodologies and sources about religious history and the relations between the Church and the State.


8. State and Peripheral Powers

Paulo Jorge Fernandes


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Susana Serpa Silva


Universidade dos Açores, Departamento de História, Filosofia e Ciências Sociais
Luís Espinha da Silveira


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas

The modernisation of the State is indisputably one of the great legacies of the Liberal Revolution, of which, in Portugal, the period from 1820 to 1823 represents one of the first stages. The major transformations occurred at the level of the structure of the central State, its regional and local apparatus and the organisation of the territory. Changes were made to the forms of access to public offices and a modern bureaucracy began to emerge. The State sought to strengthen its monopoly of power, but met with the resistance of competing peripheral powers, among which were those of the Church, aristocracy and municipalities. In the context of a new institutional framework, the relations with these latter bodies also changed.

All of these processes occurred over a long time, but the Liberal Revolution, whose origins, seen from various perspectives, are to be found in the years from 1820 to 1823, represented a milestone in this change. Furthermore, the State was an essential field of political combat and a decisive instrument for achieving the aims of the groups in confrontation with one another. Papers will be welcomed that propose new approaches to the subjects outlined above, to which Portuguese historiography has already paid some attention, as well as about other topics that have been less frequently studied, such as the officers of the various State bodies, the judicial apparatus, the military forces and the police, municipal power, the inframunicipal forms of government and the institutions of power in the European archipelagos and the Portuguese imperial space. Papers will also be welcomed about other countries, particularly when they adopt a comparative approach to the study of the process of modernisation of the State in Europe and in the American continent.


9. Economy and Public Finances

José Luís Cardoso


Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais
Jorge Pedreira


Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas

Is there an economic explanation for the 1820 Revolution? What were the economic consequences of the Napoleonic wars, the trade treaties with Great Britain and, above all, the loss of the exclusive colonial trading rights after the court moved to Brazil? Is it possible to define the social basis of the support for the revolution in economic terms? What was the situation and the relative importance of the various sectors of the Portuguese economy on the eve of the revolution? Who were the agents and institutions responsible for the development of economic life after 1820 and how did they behave? These are some of the crucial questions for arriving at an appropriate understanding of the economic conjuncture and the structural problems that, despite being repeatedly and conventionally mentioned in relation to the causes and effects of the 1820 Revolution, still lack a historical and statistical basis.

Also needed is an analysis of the State’s financial situation, the structure of its income and expenditure, the nature of the tax burden, the problems of managing both the internal and external debt, the issue of treasury bills and paper money, and the credit activities, before and after 1820.

In the discussion of these themes of an economic and financial nature, there was an intensification of the debate taking place in the public sphere (above all through the Chamber of Deputies, the periodical press and declarations of interest by commissions and organised economic agents), in which there was an evident spread and appropriation of economic ideas with implications for the definition and execution of concrete policies whose aims and justifications require a deeper understanding and knowledge.


10. Individuals, Groups and Social Movements

Jorge Fernandes Alves


Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Letras
José Viriato Capela


Universidade do Minho, Departamento de História

The affirmation of individuality was an essential component of the historical wave that brought us the liberal regime, of which one of the most notable contributions was, precisely, the constitutional guarantee of individual freedoms, rights and guarantees. Within the historical context of vintismo, how may we question the contributions made at the individual level by some leading personalities whose ideas converged with or diverged from the overall direction of the social changes taking place, paving the way for revolution or just continuing along the paths of traditionalism and counter-revolution? In what sense can we talk about their connections with organised groups? What was the space for the affirmation of specific social interests, namely in matters relating to the defence of women’s participation in civic life? How were the eventual social movements linked to the vaster process for the implantation of liberalism?

This broad range of questions, spanning the period between the Enlightenment and the Liberal Revolution, calls for papers that look into the problematics of the different positionings of individuals and groups, ranging, for example, from enlightened reformists to revolutionaries, from the dominant elites to the emerging elites of the political, cultural or socio-professional groups, as well as those that discuss the broader meanings of the social movements at a time when new cultural, political and constitutional horizons were coming into view.


11. Culture and Political Networks in Exile

Grégoire Bron


École Pratique des Hautes Études, SAPRAT
Gladys Ribeiro


Universidade Federal Fluminense, Instituto de História

The 1820 Revolution and the process of Brazilian independence – which culminated in the Constitutional Charter of 1824 and the treatise of 1825 – both formed part of the Atlantic revolutions at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They each lead to questions that are relatively understudied and are related with the histories of exiles. In Portugal, the Revolution made it possible for the exiles who had been expatriated by the absolutist government to return to their home country. As an epilogue, in Brazil, it ended up provoking the voluntary or involuntary departure of the staunchest supporters of the Ancien Regime. In turn, in Portugal, the conflicts of the end of the revolutionary period and the return of absolutism gave rise to a new wave of exiles of liberals, which was important both for the outcome of the struggles that would subsequently take place on Portuguese soil and for the directions taken by the Brazilian government in the late 1820s.

Although the studies on Italian, Spanish, French or Spanish-American exiles in the Luso-Brazilian empire of the early nineteenth century have multiplied in the last few years, recent historiography has analysed the phenomenon of both emigration and immigration only marginally from the political point of view. Starting from the current historiographical trend that considers exile as one of the main features of the expansion and affirmation of liberalism, this panel will examine the transnational dimension of political emigration, both prior and subsequent to the three-year period of vintismo, bringing new perspectives for analysing the polarisations that took place on both sides of the Atlantic.


12. Language, Press and Public Opinion

Fátima Sá e Melo Ferreira


ISCTE-IUL – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Departamento de História
Telmo Verdelho


Universidade de Aveiro, Departamento de Línguas e Culturas

The Liberal Revolution of 1820 reshaped the nature of people’s social interactions and promoted communication in the Portuguese public space; it stimulated “public opinion” and had repercussions on literary and everyday language. In short, these are the vectors of change that this panel will examine in greater depth:

The expansion of the space for the circulation of the public word, especially through the extraordinary increase in the periodical press and the emergence of a parliamentary assembly and clubs, associations and other guilds motivated by professional and ideological interests;

The reinvention of the political discourse in profane oratory, which gradually differentiated itself from sacred oratory, accompanied by the development of ideological confrontation and pedagogical doctrine and theory, with an increase in discursive conflict and controversy;

The circulation of new words, as well as words with new meanings, and the promotion of the transformation in vocabulary, responding, on the one hand, to the expressive requirements of political change, and, on the other hand, motivating the use of these changes in a performative way;

The intensification and enhancement of interlinguistic exchanges and the interaction with the great European languages, especially French, together with the lesser importance given to the teaching of Latin, leading to an increase in the publication of translations and the transfusion of foreign loanwords into the Portuguese language;

The constitution of new stylistic and literary paradigms with the recreation of genres and literary forms, giving rise to a prolonged process of democratisation of the language, of writing and reading.


13. Education, Culture and Science

Luís Alberto Alves


Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Letras
Maria Fátima Nunes


Universidade de Évora, Departamento de História

Under the scope of the transformations taking place in Portuguese society as a result of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, we are calling for interdisciplinary contributions in the field of a golden triangulation: Education – Culture – Science. Our aim is to promote a dialogue between different historiographical generations of the vintismo movement, combining old agendas with new and well-grounded visions of historiographical production, in a transnational and comparative perspective. This panel will seek to bring Portugal into the European debate about the History of Education and Culture, opening up horizons for the analysis of the alterations that Science and Technology introduced into the configuration of the public space opened up by Liberalism.

The aim is also to develop an innovative approach to the triangle of Education – Culture, in its different manifestations, especially the artistic ones – Science, in the overall framework of the economic, social and political transformations taking place at that time. Special attention will be paid to the signs of permanence and innovation between the Enlightenment and Liberalism, in which we will consider the importance of the role of the scientific and cultural press, associated with the manifestations of sociability that intersected with the liberal education and which represented factors of renewal and modernity. In this way, the thematic panel will also be opened up to the field of the arts: music, painting, theatre/opera, covering the festive aspects of the revolution, between the profane and the religious.


14. Representations, Memories and Legacies of the Revolution

Maria Isabel João


Universidade Aberta, Departamento de Ciências Sociais e de Gestão
Sérgio Campos Matos


Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Letras

The 1820 Revolution gave rise to the first liberal political experience in Portugal. It was one of the founding events of the country’s political modernity and was to be subsequently evoked in multiple contexts and supports – commemorative or otherwise – ranging from the periodical press to parliamentary debates, and including historiographical works, chronicles, autobiographies, pamphlets, sermons, dramas, poetry, and other works of a literary nature, without, of course, forgetting the visual and the decorative arts. But, if the concept of revolution was little used by the political agents of vintismo themselves (compared with its more frequent use by its counter-revolutionary opponents), the first liberal revolution would not take long to be incorporated into the genealogy of other revolutionary movements that followed on from this same movement throughout the nineteenth century (1836, 1846, 1851, 1891) and the following century (1910, 1974). Or to be invoked in a negative sense by the counter-revolutionaries and traditionalists of various political shades, as a factor illustrating the nation’s “decadence”.

What memories and counter-memories were constructed of the vintismo movement? Were there any memorial debates centred around the legacy of those years? What commemorations and civic festivities evoked the movement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? How has it been incorporated into the historiographical narratives constructed by posterity? What memories did the Portuguese revolution imprint on other European and Iberian-American cultures, especially in Brazil, Spain, Italy and France? These are some of the thematic lines of study to be considered in treating the problems analysed by this panel.




Executive Committee

Miriam Halpern Pereira (ISCTE-IUL), President.

Jorge Fernandes Alves (UPorto/FL), Ana Cristina Araújo (UCoimbra/FL) José Luís Cardoso (ULisboa/ICS/), Zília Osório de Castro (UNL/FCHS), Maria Alexandre Lousada (ULisboa/FL), Luís Espinha da Silveira (UNL/FCHS).

Scientific Committee

José Viriato Capela (UMinho), Fátima Sá e Melo Ferreira (ISCTE-IUL), Sérgio Campos Matos (ULisboa/FL) Maria Fátima Nunes (UÉvora), José Miguel Sardica (UCP/FCH), Cristina Nogueira da Silva (UNL/FD), Maria Beatriz Nizza da Silva (USP), Susana Serpa Silva (UAçores), Luís Reis Torgal (UCoimbra/FL), Isabel Vargues (UCoimbra/FL), Telmo Verdelho (UAveiro).


Information and contacts: cbr1820@gmail.com