The King and the Duke had an appointment with Death on that day


King Carlos of Portugal and his son the Duke of Braganza had an
appointment with Death on Saturday, February 1, 1908. One of the most
arbitrary public-security laws in the history of Portugal was published that
morning in the Journal Officiel. The new law was designed to rid Portugal of
radicals opposed to the dictatorial policies of the monarch, King Carlos, and
his Prime Minister turned dictator, Joao Franco. The decree provided for
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special tribunals and the immediate deportation of political criminals to
King Carlos and Queen Amelia along with their sons Luis Filipe and Manuel
returned to Lisbon on that fateful Saturday afternoon from a short visit to Vila
Vicosa, the seat of their ancient House of Braganza. The royal family
disembarked at about five in the afternoon from the ferry-boat Dom Luiz,
which had carried them from Berreiro to the Terreiro do Paco, They were
greeted by Cabinet Members and dignitaries, then got into an open carriage
and headed for the Necessidades Palace.
Joao Franco had always been careful to secure his own person, frequently
moving from house to house, yet he provided inadequate security for the
royal family that day. The King's usual reckless bravado was really to blame
for the lax security. Queen Amelie was well aware of the dangers due to the
political turmoil: she had repeatedly opposed the exposure of her sons to the
dangers of the conspiracy in Lisbon. In any case, riding in a landau with
lowered hoods was certainly not the wise thing to do in view of the political
circumstances exacerbated by Franco's crackdown. Among other things,
suspected Carbonaris were lurking about with concealed weapons. The route
to the Palace was crowded with spectators. The royal family were sitting
As the royal carriage approached the corner of the Praca do Commercio up
the street from the Arsenal, a young assassin, a Lisbon cashier named
Alfredo Costa, stepped from the crowd, jumped up behind the carriage and
fired a pistol at King Carlos. Queen Amelia tried to beat down the assassin's
arm with a bouquet of flowers that her little god-child had given her on the
quay shortly before, but to no avail: one of the assassin's bullets passed
through her husband's throat, severing the carotid artery - King Carlos, a
vigorous man in his prime, was killed instantly.
Amelia placed herself in front of her youngest son, Manuel, looked squarely
into the revolver aimed at him, but the shot was not fired. A struggle took
place. According to the conflicting reports, a policeman either shot the
assassin dead or ran him through with a sword. At that point the Queen's
lady-in-waiting, Countess Figueiro, tried to take her proper post in the
carriage, but Amelia cried out, "Get away! Get away! I don't want you to be
killed too!"
The coachman whipped the horses - the carriage lurched towards the corner
of the arcade. Shots rang out from the crowd. Amelia turned and found her
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first-born son Luis Felipe mortally wounded, struck in the face and chest. The
fatal deed was reportedly done with a carbine wielded by a black-bearded
assassin, an ex-calvary sergeant and dismissed village schoolmaster named
Manuel Buica - he had been lurking behind the pillar of the Ministry of the
Interior. Because four chambers in the Crown Prince's revolver were found
empty, a report credited him with firing at the assassins four times, perhaps
wounding or killing one of them - another accounts stated that he did not get
a single shot off. The bearded assassin took aim again and fired, slightly
wounding Manuel in the arm. At this juncture the King's brother, the Duke of
Oporto, and aides de camp rode up with sabres drawn. Everyone believed to
be an assassin was reportedly hacked to pieces - an innocent bystander was
allegedly killed in the process.
The carriage hurried to the medical department of the marine Arsenal where
King Carlos was declared dead on arrival. Crown Prince Luis Felipe expired
minutes later.
Hence on that terrible day the eighteen-year-old Duke of Braganca became
King Manuel II, last king of Portugal The next day he promised to uphold the
Constitution, and with his mother managing he soon proceeded to dismantle
the repressive machinery of his father's regime. The regicides, allegedly
members of Carbonari cells, were tried in secret and executed - numerous
aggrieved republicans staged a demonstration on the graves. The number of
assassins involved was unclear. Sometime later a third man, Jose de Alpoim,
tried to take credit for the killings, but he, a known braggart, was given little
Carlos searched for a wife before he took the throne of Portugal. To his good
fortune he found a beautiful princess of France in the person of Amelie Louise
Helene, Duchesse de Orleans, daughter of the Comte de Paris - heir apparent
to the throne of France.

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Dona Amelia d'Orleans, per Graca de Deus, Rainha de Portugal

The Orleans line had become a collateral branch of the House of Bourbon
following the marriage of Louis XIV's brother, Philippe I (1640-1701). After
the Restoration of the French monarchy following Napoleon Bonaparte's
Republic and Empire, Louis XVIII and Charles X of the Bourbon House ruled,
and then the French Revolution of 1830 disposed of Charles X. The Bourbon
candidate for kingship, the so-called "miracle child" who had unexpectedly
been born after the assassination of the Duc de Berry, was passed over, and
the July Monarchy of the Citizen King, Louis-Philippe of the House of Orleans,
was established. That bourgeois monarchy prevailed from 1830-1848. the
Revolution of 1848 gave Louis-Philippe due cause to abdicate in favor of his
young grandson, the Comte de Paris; however, Louis Bonaparte Napoleon,
wrongly believed to be a moron who could be disposed of at will, was
wheeled in to temporarily head up another Republic pending the resolution
of certain troubling political issues. Shortly thereafter, by virtue of a coup d'
etat, the so-called moron became Emperor Napoleon III. He ruled over
booming times until the disastrous Franco-Prussian war proceeded in 1870,
hence the Third Republic was established (1870-1940). The remnant of the
main Bourbon line perished in 1883, therefore waning Bourbon hopes as well
as that of other Legitimists vainly rested with the Comte de Paris of the
House of Orleans.
Amelie she well endowed in several respects when Carlos first met her.
Besides being a very wealthy noblewoman, she was a classic beauty. True to
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her class, her bearing was self-confident and poised. A famous photograph
captured her secret Mona Lisa smile. She was a pleasant, mentally active
woman, accustomed to getting her way, probably a match for any man,
certainly not a coy or wilting woman, but rather a fine lady who nevertheless
might like to wear pants and play the tomboy when afforded the opportunity
to do so discreetly.
Queen Amelie of Portugal was duly noted for an impossibly slim waist for her
age, in stark contrast with that of her increasingly portly husband. Besides
being the best dressed woman in Europe, she was the only member of
European royalty who had a doctor's degree. She was persuasive queen with
a boundless influence over her husband's mind. She was described by her
contemporary, Francis Gribble, a British biographer of romantic personages,
as the subject of a strenuous education, dignified but "also brilliantly clever,
exceedingly accomplished, and endowed with the indefinable charm which
causes people to be styled 'sympathetic'.... At the same time, she displayed
the shyness and timidity generally evinced by young people of superior merit
in the presence of those who are at once grandiose and commonplace."
Gribble recounts that a German prince had his eye on Amelie, but she was
too patriotic to oblige a German. Her husband-to-be had a handsome
German appearance but was also Portuguese by birth and nation. She
preferred to live simply. She loved to leap her horse over walls, and to walk
on the seashore with her husband. Depending on the critic, she was either a
pious do-gooder or a bigoted fanatic, either charitable or extravagant.
Gribble relates:
"The Queen encouraged the re-establishment of the religious order in
Portugal; and there is unhappily only too much evidence to show that, when
religious orders come in at the door, all prospects of thorough-going reform
fly out the window. Or that, at all events, was the view of the new school of
reformers then arising in Portugal: the earnest and clean-handed anticlericals from the University of Coimbra - men in whose eyes the buzzing
monks and cackling nuns were like a plague of flies settling on a carcass."
George Young, a diplomat, writes: "The queen, whose piety and philanthropy
had never won her any popularity, was suspected of being in the hands of
the Jesuits, those traditional traducers of Portuguese national liberties."
Amelie was popular in some quarters despite the cultural prejudices against
her, not only among Catholics but with the victims of tuberculosis and their
families; in fact, she led a crusade against the disease: in 1899 she
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sponsored a private foundation of free clinics, hospitals, sanitariums, and a
The Queen loved poetry, art, and music, and was of course a patroness of
the arts. For example, her personal patronage was deeply appreciated by
Guilhermine Suggia (1885-1950), the "Queen of Cellists", one of the first
women to make a career of playing he cello. After Amelie heard her play, she
sent her abroad to study in Leipzig.
According to Jean Finot, a French journalist who visited Portugal, the
Portuguese favored King Carlos' mother, Maria Pia, over Queen Amelie, who,
after all, was a Catholic Frenchwoman:
"(Queen Maria Pia) is a 'true queen.' Above all, she is majestic. A true
daughter of kings, she is good-natured and generous. The other queen? Still
young and distinguished-looking, she brought with her to Lisbon a royal, a
divine beauty. She is without doubt the most beautiful woman who has ever
reigned over Portugal. Ever since she came she has tried to win all hearts.
Amiable and prepossessing, she is careful to ignore, not to accentuate,
distinctions in rank. She is as economical as the dowager is prodigal.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese prefer Maria Pia. Queen Amelia is a Clerical,
which offends the people."
Amelie was heroically inclined. Germany and Sweden awarded her with their
respective medals of honor for saving the life of a drowning fisherman. The
poor man had been injured trying to save his overturned boat, whereupon
Amelie jumped into the water fully dressed, swam out and rescued him. The
Queen appreciated the same sort of heroism in others: an unemployed
cobbler, who had been awarded medals by the humane societies of several
countries for saving seventeen lives from drowning, applied to Queen Amelie
for a job at the customs house, where he would have the chance of saving
more lives while earning his daily bread. Amelie kindly granted his request,
but he died before he could assume his post. Furthermore, as we see from
the reports on the Lisbon assassinations, she tried to fend off her husband's
killers with a bouquet of flowers, and then interposed herself between the
assassins and her son.
Sometimes a man's hobby or avocation tells us more about him than his
regular job. King Carlos, king of Portugal from October 19, 1889 until he was

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assassinated on February 1, 1908, did not choose his royal occupation: he
was born into it.

King Carlos’ Yacht Amelie, Passion de la mer

Portugal, a small nation with a long and illustrious history, looks out upon its
oceanic calling from a scant 300 miles of coastline. King Carlos gazed upon
the vast ocean as well; but for him, land bound as he was by courtly duties
and love for his queen, the sea was a beloved avocation - King Carlos had a
passion de la mer.
The King proudly possessed a series of recreational yachts, each named after
his beloved Queen Amelie. Amelia I was 35 meters in length; Amelia II, 45
meters; Amelia III, 55 meters; Amelia IV, 70 meters. The first three yachts
had sails; the first two had compound engines; the last two had triple
expansion engines, to reduce coal consumption.
King Carlos was an excellent artist, as can still be seen from his lavishly
illustrated catalog of the birds of Portugal and his loving sketches of his
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yachts. Besides his sketches, we may view photographs of the yachts - every
one of his Amelias is beautiful.
An old saying has it that possession is nine-tenths of the law. The king
possessed the royal yachts, but there was some confusion over who actually
owned them, the nation, or the king. Of course there are ample precedents
to cite for the idea that a king owns his kingdom and everything in it, but the
law was changing in a revolutionary or liberal direction.

King Carlos

Not every king or queen of Portugal was wealthy - quite to the contrary.
Although Portugal was once the richest nation on Earth, she invested little of
her wealth on public improvements at home and had a long record of wasted
fortunes, wars, civil strife, epidemics and other natural calamities, to the
point that some of her monarchs had to go to great lengths to cloth
themselves and put food on the table. Carlos had inherited the usual deficit,
from his artistically inclined father, King Luis. Indeed, the House of Braganca
was sorely pinched for funds. The King Carlos’ ministers resorted to several
stratagems to aid the king financially. For instance, the king's current yacht
and the queen's carriage house museum were sold to his kingdom, a creative
accounting maneuver that soon became a national scandal: the socialist

Page 8 of 27

faction protested that the king had obviously done something fishy; to wit,
that he had sold the nation's own property to itself and pocket the proceeds.
We who are not certified to make a competent judgment on the transaction
dare not say the king was a crook. No doubt he relied on expert advice; yet,
with our post-modern accounting scandals in mind, we may imagine how
fishy the transaction smelled in those days. Nevertheless, let us not conclude
that the king was a selfish man, merely entertaining himself and his guests
with expensive pleasure cruises while grinding his poor subjects further into
No, the yachts named Amelia were not your usual “money holes”, but were
investments in the greater good. The good king had an altruistic reason for
his extraordinary expenses, as was demonstrated, for instance, by the fact
that the Navy-staffed Amelias were getting progressively longer in length to
accommodate a benevolent social end. You see, King Carlos is known to this
day as "The Father of Portuguese Oceanography," and as such he needed
more room for his ocean-going laboratory.
Between 1896 and 1907, His Highness went on a series of oceanographic
cruises along the southern Portuguese coast. In 1897, he published the
preliminary results of his 1896 cruise, introducing his study as follows:
"The numerous oceanographic researches that foreign countries carried out
in recent times with such auspicious results, the importance of these studies
for the fisheries industry, one of the most important in our country, and the
exceptional variety of bathymetric conditions of the sea along and off our
coasts, suggested to us last year the idea of the scientific exploration of our
sea, and to make available, by regular work, not only a knowledge of the
fauna of our continental shelf but also that of the abysses that are found in
certain regions only a few miles off the coast, a situation almost unique in
Carlos collaborated with only one scientist, one Albert Arthur Alexander
Girard, a gentleman who had immigrated as a child to Portugal from New
York. Girard served as the King's expert for the Fisheries Commission. Carlos
also associated with a blue-blooded oceanographer, Prince Albert of Monaco,
who called Carlos, "Le monarch savant.”
The King's main oceanographic interest was in fish. If the biology and
ecology of fish were better understood, he believed, the knowledge acquired
would be a boon to Portuguese fisheries. Wherefore he used bottles to study
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the currents. He drew bathymetric charts, used beam-trawls and dredges to
collect specimens, and so on. He was particularly curious about the depletion
of fish caused by the steam crawlers off the shelf - Portuguese fishermen
were still using sailboats in those days. A sardine crisis in 1902 off the French
coast caused the French to believe that the sardines had fled to Portugal, but
Carlos pointed out that there were several possible causes for such dramatic
shortages, and reported that he had noticed no increase in sardines in
Portugal. Moreover, in 1904 the King published an extensive study of the
sharks of Portugal. His sea-faring scientific activities were known to the
public through various national and international exhibits - the specimens he
shared with museums still exist.
The King referred to his scientific studies as "mon repose et ma recreation."
At least his repose and recreation were good for his kingdom. Of course the
impact was small in comparison to the global impact of his most illustrious
predecessor, Prince Henry the Navigator, who established the first
geographic institute in 1418. Prince Henry rarely sailed, and then not far, but
his hobby gave Portugal a scientific foundation for the discovery of the half of
the world many Europeans were oblivious to.
Now the glory days were over for monarchs when King Carlos sailed his
yachts. Portugal's kingdom would come to a ridiculous close a short time
after the King’s death. The great country barely mourned the loss of the King
and Crown Prince after they were assassinated in an open carriage, but the
Lisbon assassinations were not part of a popular or concerted plan to
overthrow the monarchy. Random terrorists, reputedly from a Carbonari cell,
did the erratic deed.
Nearly three years after the king and his eldest son were murdered, his latest
yacht Amelia served as the getaway vessel for Queen Dowager Amelia and
Manuel II, who had assumed his father's throne with a promise to abolish
repressive laws and the misappropriation of public funds.
At eighteen years of age, Manuel was simply too young and inexperienced to
rule. A pundit remarked that he was "an orphan not an heir." He had been
reared for the most part at Villa Vicosa, his mother's estate, and he often
visited his grandmother, the Countess of Paris, who resided nearby at her
chateau, Villa Manrique, in Andalusia. Manuel was certainly was a pleasant
young gentleman. He liked to hunt, and was an excellent shot. He loved
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horseback riding even more than his mother. He chased the famous giant
bulls across the plains, and was pursued by them in turn.
Amelia was an accomplished horsewoman and horseshoer - she complained
that blacksmiths were ruining horses. She was wont to accompany Manuel
on his hunting expeditions, in part because she feared for his safety. She had
taught him to ride when he was little, "dragging him through forest and fen."
He learned horseshoeing to please her. He did not have, however, her
fondness for poetry, painting and literature. He delighted in playing skittles ninepins - and was a good tennis player. We find this interesting note in
Britannica’s Current Literature (1908):
"The Portuguese character is noted for its refinement and for what oldfashioned novelists were wont to term sensibility. Gentleness is its "note" and
King Manuel has that. But he has no taste for the arts and literature. This,
opines the Paris Gaulois, may tell against the young monarch in so literary
and so artistic a court as that over which the late Carlos held sway. Society at
Lisbon, and Manuel must live in it if he means ever to rule, is extremely blue
stocking in a Latin, feminized way. At the court of Lisbon everyone tries to
dazzle everyone else. There are innumerable men of superficial elegance,
superficial talent, and superficial science. Peers dabble in poetry, dabble in
biology, dabble in culture. Nobody studies hard and all live high. The ladies
are the best dressers in Europe and they expect their hands to be kissed by
the men, who must go down on one knee when they do so. Manuel is not of
this breed. He is the bonnie sailor boy type, laughing and vigorous, who has
learned sincerity and bluffness in the navy. He would never dream of
translating Shakespeare into Portuguese, as his father and grandfather
contrived to do between them. Like his father, however, he learned very
early to speak both English and French fluently, to say nothing of his native
Portuguese and his second mother tongue, Spanish. He has his father's smile
of good-humored complacency and extremely blond hair, forming a fringe
around the brow. But in most respects he is a great contrast to the
unfortunate Dom Carlos."

Page 11 of 27

King Manuel II

Manuel II ruled Portugal in name only - Amelia was in charge. Her sister,
Princess Waldemar of Denmark, said the widowed queen was acting "as the
man of the family." Her attempts to combine leaders of the opposing parties
into a "Ministry of Concentration" in order to achieve a reformed
constitutional monarchy failed. The old Rotative System of taking turns
dividing the spoils between two almost equal parties continued apace. There
were the same old intrigues. The secret Carbonari cells were still armed.
Plots were hatched to kill the fledgling King. The fall of the monarchy was
such a foregone conclusion that reporters, anticipating the event, had
arrived in advance of the fact.
Manuel was sent off to Paris to further his education. Soon after his return,
his friendship with a dancer scandalized the nation. Francis Gribble reports
on the affair without mentioning her name. The friendship was supposedly a
true friendship; that is, not for money. But the dancer advertised the
romance at every opportunity, right down to showing off the garter given to
her by the King during one of her visits to the Palace. The public would
normally not be surprised to hear rumors of dancing girls and perhaps even
an orgy or two in the Palace. But the newspapers had a field day with this
particular love affair, giving the radical republicans - now a Republican Party
filled with 'Puritans' - more ammunition.
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Hardly anyone opposed the revolution when came in October 1910. About
100 men were killed and another 500 wounded. It might easily had been put
down were it not for misinformation delivered to Manuel and Amelia about
the status of the revolt. Manuel’s own warships shelled the royal Palace. Both
Manuel and his mother resolved that it was the King's duty to die in Portugal
rather than flee. But then they fled for England on the yacht Amelia, and that
was that: the rather absurd fate of Portugal's eight centuries of monarchy.
No doubt King Carlos would have enjoyed that voyage and the destination as
well - not only was he fond of sailing, he was related by Saxe-Coburg blood to
King Edward and was quite popular with the English court – but that voyage
was not fated for the man with a passion de la mer.
The news of the assassination of the King of Portugal and his eldest son the
Duke of Braganca on February 1, 1908, reached London the following day:
"The news of the murder of King Carlos and the Crown Prince of Portugal
reached London on Sunday, February 2, 1908, and was received with
astonishment as well as horror. Little attention had been paid by the general
public to the progress of the struggle, and there had been no thought that
the enemies of the Dictator might turn their vengeance from him to the
Crown. The murdered King was popular at the English Court, and had
repeatedly visited Great Britain. Sympathy was expressed universally, from
the Court downwards, and on Monday, February 3, notice was given in both
Houses that an address to the Crown would next day be moved expressing
the "indignation and deep concern" of Parliament at the murders, and
praying His Majesty to signify to the King of Portugal their abhorrence of the
crime, and their sympathy with the Royal family and the people. In the
Commons this address was moved (the members uncovering) by the Prime
Minister, who depicted in vigorous words the indignation and horror
everywhere shown at the murder of "the kind, manly, friendly King - an
outrage on humanity redeemed only by the courage of a woman.' Mr. AkersDouglas, in the absence of Mr. Balfour, added a few appropriate words on
behalf of the Opposition. In the Lords a similar motion was moved by the
Marquess of Ripon and seconded by the Marquess of Landsdowne." (The
Annual Register 1908 London: 1909, Longmans, Green & Co.)
The English public has good reason to be astonished by the assassinations.
The public were relatively uninformed of the progress of the civil struggle in
Portugal because the news was censored in Portugal beforehand and was
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difficult to get out of the country. But the courts of Europe were apprised of
the volatile situation well before the murderous deeds were done. Queen
Amelie herself had visited in England in 1907 for the marriage of her sister,
Princess Louise of Orleans, to Charles of Bourbon:
"Throughout the wedding festivities the Queen of Portugal, who, the London
papers say, kept up a constant communication by telegraph with Lisbon,
seem grave and preoccupied. Dispatches from her husband's capital told
that the situation both for King Carlos and the dictatorial premier whom he
persists in maintaining at the head of affairs had become one of extreme
difficulty. Each day witnessed an addition to the number of monarchist
politicians who made declarations "in a republican sense," abandoning their
former support of the King. The only method of dispatching press news from
Portugal last month was to proceed by train from Lisbon to the frontier and
telegraph by way of Madrid; but for the sake of the queen of Portugal the
rigors of this system were relaxed. Her majesty got news so serious on the
even of the wedding, says one account, that she referred jestingly to the
possibility of making her home at Wood Norton in the near future...."
(Current Literature vol. XLIV 1908)
We are further informed that "the Queen of Portugal made her visit to Wood
Norton for her sister's wedding the occasion for presenting her husband's
side of the case to her family." Gossips had it that the King of Spain, Alfonso
XIII, would meet with King Carlos at Wood Norton, where they would discuss
the instability in Portugal The Spanish king had reportedly tolerated
Portuguese dissidents to operate in Spain, a sort of dissidence which he
would not tolerate if his own constitutional monarchy was at stake. Since
Carlos had stayed behind in Portugal, his queen allegedly took up the matter
with King Carlos when the Bourbon family conferred at Wood Norton, from
whence they went on to Windsor, where a total of five Queens and three
Kings "discussed the Bourbon crisis in every aspect."
"(Queen Amelie) won to her way of thinking not only all the Bourbons but it is
said King Edward herself. Don Carlos has seen reason to feel aggrieved at
the freedom with which revolutionary Portuguese juntas are permitted to
agitate in Madrid. Spain is a constitutional monarchy. Alfonso XIII claims to
act always within the limits of the organic law of his kingdom. Madrid,
however, is the news center of Portuguese revolt. The extent to which the
influence of the Queen of Portugal was exerted in England to terminate her
husband's embarrassments from Spanish sources is one of the most delicate
topics connected with the great family gathering of the house of Bourbon....
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"Stories of the imprisonment of the crown prince of Portugal by his own
father, of the discovery of republican conspiracies in the army and of the
contemplated flight of Don Carlos from Lisbon, in connection with the rumors
of what may have been said at the Bourbon family conference... leave the
whole subject of the month's events in obscurity. It was impossible for even
the best equipped newspapers in Europe to get uncensored dispatches out of
Lisbon. The suspension of the newspapers continued with the sanction of the
King. It is thought significant that among the organs thus punished are
various Roman Catholic, clerical and conservative journals. At the various
Portuguese legations in Europe it is maintained that the month's rumors
have to do with nothing more serious than measures against anarchists and
republican agitators. This sort of talk is pronounced "silly" by that sincere
friend of the Portuguese dynasty, the Paris Temps. The King, it says, is
"outside legality" and the question is now when he will return to "legality."
The Paris Temps had indeed been inclined to support the "legality" of Joao
Franco's dictatorship under King Carlos, as well as the dictator's right to
make decrees, as had the London Times. Portugal was formally a
constitutional monarchy at the time, but the King and his strong man had
resorted to a temporary dictatorship to curb political corruption at the
highest levels and to strangle threats to the very existence of Portugal's
centuries-old monarchy from below. The wealthy, energetic and youthful
(about forty) Senhor Joao Franco, who lived in Spartan simplicity in Lisbon
with his rich wife, had been ruling Portugal since May of 1907, "unassisted by
Parliament," by virtue of a dictatura or legislative lacuna, which, the Paris
Temps pointed out, had been regularly exercised over successive opposition
ministries. Franco's "rule or ruin" methods were favorably described in some
European quarters as bona fide imperialism.
Such is a sample of the gossip and news prior to the Lisbon assassinations.
Whether censored or not, the well established papers were wont to favor the
prevailing authority. Sometimes we are tempted to compare newspaper
editors with the priests of Apollo, who were inclined to interpret the Pythias’
rants favorably; that is, in favor of the party most inclined to win. In this
case, the illiterate and conservative Portuguese masses, at least according to
the Temps and other papers, favored their King and his dictator. Since the
established political parties were biting each other's backs, and the
republican faction consisted of thinkers, talkers and dreamers, it appeared
from a distance that the current authority would rule as usual.

Page 15 of 27

Even Franco, who was intimate with the situation and who thought he was on
top of it, was confident of his ultimate triumph on behalf of his king.
Dissidents were doing what they do best in Lisbon and Oporto - talking and
writing tracts and poems. The army was subsidized with bribes and doublepay for the officers.
No, Franco might not have seen the assassins coming. And King Carlos liked
to show off his machismo, going about with little or no security. Nevertheless,
as we have seen, Queen Amelie was uneasy and she feared for the lives of
her sons if not for herself and her husband. As a matter of fact, she was at
Villa Vicosa, her oasis-estate near the border of Spain, just prior to the
assassination. She could have easily slipped over into Spain with her sons in
the event of revolution. She did visit her mom just over the border at Villa
Manrique, returned to Villa Vicosa, then on to Lisbon, where her husband and
eldest son would be murdered before he eyes on the way "home." Yet to the
public imagination, all might have seemed well beforehand.
And Queen Amelie, rich in her own right, owning the finest private estate in
Europe, splendid horses, fancy poultry, adoring husband and sons, seemed
the happiest of women when she bade her mother good-bye at Villamanrique
and returned to Villacosa.
A century has passed since the 1908 Lisbon assassinations. Some historians
familiar with the murders consider them to be of no great moment. After all,
King Carlos was a minor king of a small impoverished nation. In fact the
entire year of 1908 seems rather unimportant in comparison to the worldshattering events soon to come. Besides, political assassinations were passé
around the turn of the century, hence the killing of a president or tsar, a
prince or king, was rather commonplace. Nevertheless, we are mindful of
Leopold Ranke's dictum, that all historical moments are important in some
way because they are equally near to God. Wherefore we are bound to find
something of interest everywhere in human history, especially if we dig into
the devilish details presumably presided over by the Supreme Being.
One devilish aspect of a detail is that it is related to countless others. So
many of them seemingly stand in a cause and effect relationship that
superstitious people have been led to believe in an ambiguous world spirit,
or in the existence of gods and devils summed up as God and Satan,
personal entities allegedly behind all the scenes or at least dually innate in
alienated human beings, hence present everywhere in universal history.
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Innumerable details led up to the slaying of the King and the Crown Prince of
Portugal in an open carriage on the streets of Lisbon on February 1, 1908.
Reference to even a few of them might bore us until we realize that we are
talking about ourselves again, in another context.
Portugal became an independent monarchy in 1139, when Alfonso Henriques
assumed the title of king. King Carlos was born into the Portuguese House of
Braganca, the dynasty that ruled Portugal from 1640 to the fall of the
monarchy in 1910. England mourned King Carlos when he was assassinated
in 1908. England and Portugal were very old friends. In fact, there would
probably be no Portugal absent England's frequent meddling and occasional
interventions. The advantages to Great Britain were ample: an excellent
foothold on the continent; superb Port wine; Brazil's developing markets, her
brilliant diamonds, glittering gold, smooth coffee and sweet sugar. After all,
besides companionship, what are friendships for?
King Carlos was personally popular at the English court. He was a handsome
man with polished manners and he had diverse interests and skills. He was a
marine biologist, bullfighter, skilled marksman, accomplished artist, sculptor,
patron of the dramatic arts, and master of seven languages - he helped his
father translate Shakespeare. Furthermore, the friendly relationship between
King Carlos and King Edward VII was cemented by blood.
King Edward was the son of Queen Victoria and Duke Albert of Saxe-Coburg
(Bavaria). King Carlos's father was King Luis of Portugal, the son of Maria da
Gloria (Maria II) of Portugal and Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
When Maria II died in 1853, at the age of thirty-four, her eldest son, Pedro V,
was a minor, therefore her husband Ferdinand governed as regent for a few
years hence the Portuguese house was technically the House of CoburgBraganca. But the Portuguese did not care to use the Germanic reference.
Neither did the British care much for Germans in their ruling house, despite
the fact that Prince Consort Albert was an inspiration to their great Queen.
When Edward succeeded to the throne, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was, correctly
speaking, the royal house; however, in 1917, after a horrendous war with
Germany, George V proclaimed "Windsor" to be the surname of Queen
Victoria's descendants.
Economically motivated historians claim that Maria II's son, Pedro V, was the
most attractive of the later Bragancas because he was keenly interested in
the industrial and material improvements that Portugal direly needed after it
had been wracked by Napoleonic invasions and civil wars. Maria II had
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managed to resolve the constitutional struggles that took place after the War
of Two Brothers, the war between her father, Pedro I of Brazil, and his
brother, Miguel. But Maria II died in 1853, at the young age thirty-four. Alas,
in 1861, her promising son, Pedro V, also died an early death at age twentyfour. He was succeeded by his artistically inclined brother, King Luis, Carlos'
King Luis entertained his court with performances on his violoncello and
translated several of Shakespeare's plays. In keeping with an old Taoist
adage, it is said that he did not do very much during the twenty-eight years
he reigned, yet he got a lot done. At least the country grew wealthier due to
its industrial progress.
Equally important, Carlos' father is credited for advancing Portugal's cultural
renaissance. High culture had suffered a terrible set back with the French
invasion of Portugal in 1807. As the French advanced into Lisbon, Maria I and
her regent Joao fled to Brazil with the court and a retinue of about fifteenthousand persons, on thirty-six ships escorted by British men-of-war. They
took the bulk of the most valuable cultural artifacts of Portugal with them;
what they did not take was looted by the French if not stolen by the English
and Portuguese defenders of Portugal.
King Luis died in 1889. When Carlos took the throne on October 19, the
modern imperial scramble was going full steam ahead. Germany, recently
united under Prussia, was already vying for a place in the Sun in order to
save the world. Several countries still had kings, but monarchy was going out
of style - its vestiges were certainly not appreciated by Portuguese
"republicans" - democratically inclined radicals. Not only was Carlos a king by
accident of birth, he was otherwise flawed to begin with as far as the
republicans were concerned. He had his father's looks: blond, Teutonic, and
stout, he looked like a handsome German field marshal. And he had a
Catholic queen, a princess of France, his beloved Amelie. To make matters
worse, the branch of the House of Braganca which ruled the independent
Kingdom of Brazil was overthrown on November 15, 1889, by antimonarchist bourgeois liberals, and a republic was established there.
As if all that were not bad, Carlos' personal prestige was dealt a severe blow
in 1890 when he capitulated to Great Britain's Ultimatum in the Rosy Colored
Map Affair. The Ultimatum and capitulation were due to a conflict between
the colonial interests of Great Britain and Portugal. Portugal wanted to
connect its Angola colony in West Africa to its Mozambique colony in East
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Africa by grabbing the area in between. But Rhodes in South Africa had his
eye on the same land, which a Portuguese minister had painted pink to
graphically illustrate the concept of a giant, coast-to-coast Portuguese
empire in Africa.
Things came to a head in Africa in 1889. A British official was sent to Africa to
order Serpa Pinto, the Portuguese surveyor who was tracing out a route for a
railroad, to back off. He refused to withdraw. Britain issued an Ultimatum, the
purport of which was to get out of the disputed area or else. Carlos made a
wise decision - he backed down. Financially strapped Portugal had been
trying to bite off more than it could chew anyway. Nevertheless, this doublecross from the historical ally and Carlos' subsequent capitulation infuriated
many Portuguese people - it was in sum a national disgrace, a grievous blow
to Portugal's pride and further inspiration to republican nationalists. They
accused King Carlos of selling out to Great Britain, of using his royal
relationship with the British Crown simply to maintain himself on the throne.
"The effect of the ultimatum," Young explains, "in weakening the monarchy
was combined with a strengthening of the Republican movement by the fall
of the Emperor of Brazil, and this from no personal fault or political defeat of
the constitutional monarchy, but from a preference for the Republican
principle.... Republicanism was no longer a mere protestant principle and a
profession of an unknown faith, but a political program and a procedure for
reform. Just as the American Revolution contributed to our (British) national
liberties at the cost of our imperial possessions, so the collapse of a
Portuguese Empire in South Africa and the conversion of a Portuguese
Empire into a Republic in South America gave a moral stimulus and a political
status to republicanism and reform in Portugal."
Carlos inherited yet another problem with his crown, perhaps the most
crucial one of all: political-party Rotativism, the rotating system in the Cortes
(Parliament) whereby the two dominant parties, the Regenerators and the
Progressives who took turns governing and exploiting the kingdom.
After the French Revolution Portugal's political struggles took the typical
dynamic form of a flying bird: left wing-central body-right wing. The
absolutists on the far right wanted no constitution at all. The chartists or
moderates in the middle wanted a liberal constitutional monarchy granted by
the monarch. The radicals on the left, the 'republicans,' wanted a constitution
embodying the principles the French Revolution - liberty, equality, fraternity.

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After Miguel and his Miguelites - the absolutists on the extreme right who
wanted no constitution at all - were finally defeated in 1834, the political bird
drifted a bit to the left flank and political conflict continued between the two
constitutionalist factions, the chartists and the republicans.
The chartists wanted the liberal charter that had been granted to them in
1826 by Pedro when he abdicated the throne of Portugal in favor of his
daughter Maria da Gloria providing, of course, that she marry her uncle
Miguel and that he accept the charter. But Miguel took the throne and did not
want any liberal baggage so he tossed it out - his betrayal provoked civil war,
the War of Two Brothers. The republican faction wanted the radical
constitution which had been drafted by a constituent body in 1822. It was
intended to be an interim constitution until such time as the monarchy could
be abolished. In fine, one constitution was a gift of the monarch, while the
other constitution was a demand upon the throne. Not only were heated
words exchanged over the relevant issues but a great deal of blood was shed
as well, usually after one political leader or another made a 'pronouncement.'
Finally, the net result and main achievement of Maria II's reign was a
modified version of Pedro's 1826 charter and the discontinuance of violence.
Thereafter, under the formal constitutional monarchy the chartist party or
conservatives were called the Regenerators, eventually led by Ernesto Hintze
Ribeiro. The ostensibly more liberal party, the Progressives, were headed by
one Jose Luciano de Castro. But there was really not much difference
between the Regenerators and Progressives, and many people were getting
sick and tired of being routinely exploited by "the ins" and "the outs." That is,
under the rotative system, the two parties took frequent turns governing the
exploitation of the kingdom. There was little chance for radical political
reform short of revolution or tyranny. Not that Portugal was lacking in
radicals on its left wing - the term 'radical' was reserved for the 'republican'
constitutionalists who had been nearly squeezed out of the Cortes.
A period of stable corruption ensued as the Regenerators and Progressives
rotated governments. A Regenerator cabinet headed by Ernesto Hintze
Ribeiro and Joao Franco took its turn at government from 1893 to 1897.
The government began with liberal reforms in mind, but it soon turned
dictatorial because of the growing criticism of the monarchy: a harsh
crackdown on the press and a prohibition of public assembly ensued. The
elected portion of the House of Peers was abolished. The Progressives in the
House of Deputies refused to vote, hence an all-Regenerator Cortes. An
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apparent plot to kill the king was discovered. A severe decree mandated
secret trials of political dissidents and their transportation out of the country
upon conviction. The unpopular decree resulted in a backlash that forced the
Regenerator ministry to resign in 1897. The Progressives were in, and then
out in 1900.
This time Joao Franco took no place in the Regenerator cabinet, preferring
instead to stand back and criticize Hintze in the Cortes, and then he seceded
from the party with 25 deputies and formed a liberal splinter party. Hintze
was infuriated: until his death in 1907, he did everything he could to crush
The rotating parties continued to roll along regularly exploiting the
countryside after Carlos took the throne. Hintze gerrymandered voting
districts so that voting in rural areas would outweigh republican voters in the
two major cities of Oporto and Lisbon, and party bosses went about
drumming up support from eligible voters in the country towns, from local
magnates and clergy.
As far as the largely illiterate and apathetic masses were concerned, the
political agitation was a lot of malarkey about nothing. Most of the proletariat
did not see anything in it for the working man. As for the peers, the
revolution they contemplated to overthrow Franco was of no avail to them
since the king was on his strong-man's side. Franco, figuring all the factions
would offset each other and amount to nothing much in their divisiveness,
was confident of the future. But trouble was brewing among some of the
more hot-headed members of the proletariat, as well as among urban
Disgruntled republican intellectuals were cultivating seeds of dissent at the
university in Coimbra. The most notable dissidents were Professor Teofilo
Braga, and the idol of republican students, Senhor Bernardino Machado, and,
of course the noted poet, Albilio Guerra Janquiero. A slightly respectable
Republican Party was afoot, and there was a Socialist faction formed as well.
Joao Franco, via his brand new Centro Regenerador Liberal party, spoke out
against the rotativism of Hintze's Regenerators and Luciano's Progressives.
Franco's new agenda was called Franquismo - the Republicans took
advantage of its liberal aspects. So in 1905 there were five political parties:

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More dangerous to the monarchy were the conspiring secret cells of the
Carbonari. Membership therein was rumored to be rapidly rising - everybody
and their brother were at one time or another suspected of belonging to a
Wood Shop. Hintze was out again in 1904, Castro's Progressives took another
turn at the trough, but their stay was brief because of Luciano's deteriorating
health. Hintze was back as Prime Minister in 1906. He asked the king for a
dictatura or period of dictatorship to stabilize the country. Carlos obviously
believed that Hintze would not be a good strong man. "Woe betide those who
can only rule in such a manner," said the king. His letter of refusal was
tantamount to a request for Hintze's resignation. Hintze resigned. Joao
Franco, whom many people believed was an honest, loyal, courageous, and
resolute man somewhat along the lines of the classical true conservative,
Cato, was called up to head the cabinet. He cut expenses right away and
abolished sinecures; of course the old Regenerators and Progressives were
duly outraged and called for his resignation, which he immediately tendered
to the King, who, of course, refused it and gave Franco the dictatura he had
denied Hintze. Wherefore the Cortes was dissolved and the "temporary"
dictatorship established for the purpose of reform.
George Young opined that the Portuguese nobility and gentry with failing to
follow a long-standing tradition to "fulfill their function, as in our (Great
Britain's) constitutional history, and act as trustees in the transfer of the
sovereign power from the prince to the people." He believed that Carlos was
honoring "cosmopolitan concessionaires or those too politic politicians who
were looked upon by the public as robbers and traitors." As for capital
shortage in poor Portugal, Young played the Jewish card and mentioned the
"passive invasion" of Jewish German bankers: the Portuguese could not rely
on them because a collapse of the Portuguese monarchy would only add to
their Germanic advantage in Africa.
"Under the monarchy," wrote Young, "rotativism seemed likely to have a long
reign, and in consequence the Cortes was quite useless even for dealing with
the one pressing political problem. This was no less than the question
whether Portugal could pay its way as a nation. If it could not be made to do
so, then obviously it could not hope even to maintain its position as a
sovereign State, still less to make good its pretensions to be a world-empire."
The political world, motivated by greed, rotated around money. King Carlos
himself was described as a cynical man who was devoted most of all to
sensual pleasure. Jean Finot, who was in Portugal for awhile, claimed that
Carlos "sought oblivion in orgies sufficiently innocent, but which in Lisbon, a
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large provincial town, were thought the fetes of a Nero. In truth, he was
bored. He courted all the pretty women, and was always dreaming of foreign
travel," and he says, "Brave to a fault, Dom Carlos used to walk about the
streets of his capital alone without an escort, everywhere meeting looks of
hostility, indifference, or even disgust from passers-by. Thus he threw in the
face of his people an insult which the longed to avenge in his blood."
However that may be, Carlos was well aware of the threat to the monarchy;
he sympathized with the complaints below. He was corrupted by ministers
who persuaded him to use devious devices to take more money from the
public coffer to support his royal needs than was budgeted. He took the
"bribes" against his better judgment, and he took steps to curb corruption
elsewhere, but he was weak. His Prime Minister Franco was "the strong man"
and was in effect the last monarch in Portugal. Franco, Portugal's "Cato,"
became the villain of the drama - Carlos looked on and lost his life. A
contemporary historian, Vincent de Bragancaunha, stated, "The
assassination of the King and the Crown Prince stands as proof of the
political mistakes committed by Franco, which the country cannot easily
forget or forgive."
King Carlos refused to see representatives from the Cortes after it was
dissolved. And he ignored the clamor of various other distinguished
petitioners. During an interview with a reporter from the Paris Le Temps,
Carlos declared his confidence in his dictator:
"He and I are quite of one mind," Carlos said. "We work together, and he is
completely in my confidence. There people are mistaken who think that I do
not intend to keep him in power. I am quite satisfied with him. Everything is
going satisfactorily. The present state of things must continue - the interest
of the county requires it."
Even worse, Carlos criticized Portugal during the interview, implying that the
Portuguese national character was a dishonest one. Needless to say, this
gaffe enraged the Portuguese public the most.
While Carlos talked, Franco was hard at work. Municipal elections were
postponed. A decree was issued reforming the upper house of the Cortes, the
House of Peers, setting aside the rights it had enjoyed for many years.
Franco had been out of politics for awhile but when he returned to work for
the King he said he had strong democratic instincts; however, the more his
reforms were resisted, the more repressive his measures became, until, in
Cunha's words, his "recklessness was positively criminal." Decrees were
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issued in January 1908 suppressing papers and imprisoning opponents of his
policies. Allegedly at Franco's behest, Carlos signed a decree authorizing
dissidents to be transported to Africa on a moment's notice. Carlos did have
his reservations: he reportedly said upon the signing of one such repressive
decree that he was probably signing his own death warrant. His queen,
Amelie of Orleans, a highly educated woman and staunch royalist, also had
her doubts. Francis Gribble quotes her: "Franco is in the right, I suppose, but
he is very clumsy in his methods." Just before he was assassinated, Cunha
reports that the king had a presentiment of his fate:
"He asked Franco if it was safe for him and his family to drive through the
streets of Lisbon. But the dictator spoke so confidentially that the King relied
more or less on the personal pledge given by his minister for the safety of
the Royal Family. So far from taking the ordinary precautions, Franco even
allowed the King to enter, with the King and the Princes, a two-horse open
carriage that was to drive them to the Necessidades Palace."
We can imagine Franco's shock when he heard about the ignominious
assassinations that ended his dictatorship. Jean Finot said that the news
reached Franco during a diplomatic party at the French Delegation. The
courtiers and ministers avoided him. He, pale and haggard, exclaimed, "They
have killed my King and they have killed his Minister!" Queen Amelia
reportedly said to Franco, "There - you see your handiwork!" And Maria Pia
supposedly said, "You promised to release the monarchy from its tomb, and
all that you have done has been to dig the graves of my son and grandson."
More gossip: Carlos' brother, the Duke of Porto, reportedly got into a fight
with Franco, rolling around on the floor of the Council Chamber after slapping
him in the face and yelling, "Franco, Franco, what have you done to my
Franco resigned immediately, removed himself to Genoa, and never returned
to public life. Joao Franco, a rich man who led a Stoic life, a man with a
reputation for incorruptibility, courage, energy, and good intentions, was a
precursor of the top-down state socialism or national socialism that was
advancing in several European countries. Jean Finot wrote:
"The dictator took no one's advice.... Franco became the real master of
Portugal, a master the more to be dreaded because he held in his hands the
whole political and administrative life of the country. On one occasion he said
to me: 'Our country has suffered and suffers still from administrative
corruption. There is too much extravagance and too many abuses. I shall
Page 24 of 27

have to reform much of the machinery and get new laws passed; and when
some years hence people see what I have accomplished they will excuse my
brutalities and violations of the Constitution.... You must do violence to the
ground before you can sow it....' I had an opportunity of conversing with
several opponents of the dictator. All admitted that, detestable though he
was as a politician, his personal character was not open to attack. He
prevented others from enriching themselves at the expense of the state, but
he did not enrich himself. They told me many lively stories of this plunder of
the state to which Franco had put an end."
Vincent de Braganca Cunha, writing about the outrageous sinecures, said
that Franco had "proceeded to deprive the State parasites of all imaginary
posts so infamously monopolized by them. The corruption was such that a
gentleman appointed Minister of Portugal in China had for two years drawn
2,400l a year without leaving Lisbon."
Moreover, entitled ladies were getting money for the imaginary task of
searching females at the custom house, and so on. George Young relates,
"Joao Franco, a somewhat sinister personality... nor the less courageous and
cynical King Carlos himself... set valiantly to work enforcing economies, most
of them well advised - one or two of them ill-advised, such as the increase of
the civil list in substitution for 'irregular' advances." The civil list listed funds
allotted to the monarch; in other words, Franco openly gave the King a raise;
and dubious transfers were otherwise made. George Young writes, "One
might define Franco as a fiscal reformer who engaged in corrupt practices;
and the inevitable result of this dual activity was that he made two sets of
enemies - the one by his corruption, and the other by his economies."
Franco's King and Crown Prince were dead. Franco was the fall guy in the
service of a king who had full confidence in Franco's crackdown on corruption
and republicanism, a crackdown that made enemies on all sides. It might
have worked given popular support and better luck. Much can be said for
democratic methods when the time is ripe for them, but Portugal was not
ready. The monarchy finally fell to the republicans in 1910 - Queen Amelie
and King Manuel II fled to Gibraltar on the yacht Amelia, and on to England.
The situation deteriorated even further, and the virtual chaos was not
brought under control until the Salazar dictatorship (1926-1974), which was
the longest-lived authoritarian system in Western Europe's history. Despite
the regressive aspects and brutalities of the Salazar Regime, the social
progress it achieved was remarkable.

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Cunha, Vincent de Braganca, Eight Centuries of Portuguese Monarchy, New
York: James Pott, 1911. Vincent de Braganca Cunha was an excellent writer I highly recommend this particular book for its lucid narrative style and
presentation of interesting information about the Portuguese Monarchy.
Gribble, Francis (1862?-1946), The Royal House of Portugal, Port Washington:
Kennikat, 1970 (first published 1915). Francis Gribble was British. He was an
excellent, prolific writer whose many works appear throughout the world. He
wrote biographies of romantic figures, including Balzac, Dumas, Shelley,
Rousseau, Madame de Stael, and George Sand, Madame Collete, and others.
Young, George (1872-1952), Portugal Old and Young, Oxford: Clarendon,
1917, George Young served from 1896-1914 as a diplomat - secretary,
attache, charges de affairs - in Washington, Athens, Constantinople, Madrid,
Belgrade, and Lisbon. He was an authority on Ottoman law. In 1930, Young
was an adviser on international affairs to the Labor Party.
Finot, Jean (1864-1935), 'The Lisbon Assassination', (A.D. 1908), article in
The World's Great Events. Jean Finot was a journalist and sociological
researcher and writer. He was born in Warsaw as Jean Finckelhaus. In 1890
he founded Revue des revues in Paris. He is the author of the still
controversial book, Race Prejudice, wherein he exposed the absurdities of
pseudo-scientific racism. He spoke out against the racial viewpoints which
helped lead the world into the Great War. He expressed approval of Tuskegee
and other black schools.
One Hundred Years of Portuguese Oceanography, In the Footsteps of King
Carlos de Braganca, ed., Luiz Saldanha and Pedro Re, Lisboa: Museu Nacional
de Historia Natural, 1997
Nowell, Charles E, A History of Portugal, New York: Van Nostrand, 1952
Nowell, Charles E, Portugal, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall,
Saraiva, Jose Hermano, Portugal, A Companion History, Portugal: Carcanet,
Livermore, H.V., A History of Portugal, Cambridge: University Press, 1947
Anderson, James M., The History of Portugal, Westport: Greenwood, 2000
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Current Literature, New York: Current Literature Publishing Co., 1908 issues
The Encyclopedia Britannica
Collier's Encyclopedia

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