Cortes, Portuguese

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Cortes, Portuguese

Portuguese Cortes, politico-administrative bodies that, according to some historians, had their roots in national councils of the Visigoth monarchy. The word cortes is derived from the Latin cohors, meaning assembly or party. From the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, the cortes had a significant influence on Portuguese politics. They were composed of members of the clergy, nobles, and lawyers of the towns and cities. They represented the country and legitimized the king's power. Convened by the sovereigns, they discussed economic and financial matters and heard protests brought before the crown by the religious orders. Besides being a primarily consultive body, they acted as mediators, serving to mete out royal power along classic absolutist lines. With the revolution of Pôrto in 1820, however, the cortes were convened by the Provisional Junta of the Supreme Government of the Realm rather than by the king. Although the liberals affirmed they were seeking the reestablishment of the former fundamental laws of the monarchy, the General and Special Cortes had quite a different character. They rejected the old representation by orders and established equitable representation for all citizens. Therefore they became the sole supreme constitutional authority expressing the will of the nation.

See alsoPortuguese Empire .


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Lyra, Maria de Lourdes Viana. A utopia do poderoso império: Portugal e Brasil: bastidores da política, 1798–1822. Rio de Janeiro: Sette Letras, 1994.

Martins De Carvalho, Alberto. "Cortes," in Dicionário de história de Portugal, vol. 1 (1963), pp. 711-715.

Maxwell, Kenneth. Conflicts & Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750–1808. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Piteira Santos, Fernando. Geografia e economia da revolução de 1820, 3d ed. (1980).

                                  LÚcia M. Bastos P. Neves

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Cortes, Portuguese

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