France

   The continental European country with which Portugal has had the closest and most friendly relations since the Middle Ages and whose culture since early modern times has been the most important model for Portugal's culture. Beginning in the Reconquest, French groups assisted the Portuguese in fighting the Muslims, and Portugal's first royal dynasty was Burgundian. Various French religious orders settled in Portugal and brought new skills and ideas. Franco-Portuguese relations in diplomacy went through various phases after a virtual break between the two monarchies during the Hundred Years' War and Castile's campaigns to conquer Portugal up to the battle of Aljubarrota (1385), when France was the main ally of Castile. France gave Portugal vital assistance in the 16th and 17th centuries against Spanish aggression. French aid was given to Dom Antônio, Prior of Crato, who opposed Filipe's domination of Portugal, and to restoration Portugal during the War of Restoration (1640-68). With the important exception of the disastrous Napoleonic invasions and war (1807-11), Franco-Portuguese relations in diplomacy, trade, and culture were exceptionally good from the first quarter of the 19th century.
   In part as a response to unpopular Castilianization during Spain's domination, the Portuguese found French culture a comforting, novel foil and prestigious alternative. Despite Great Britain's dominance in matters commercial, diplomatic, and political under the Anglo- Portuguese Alliance, French culture and politics came to enjoy primary importance in Portugal. Even in commerce, France was Portugal's third or fourth best customer during the 19th century. Especially between 1820 and 1960, French influence provided a major model for the well-educated.
   A brief list of some key political, literary, philosophical, and artistic ideas Portugal eagerly embraced is suggestive. King Pedro IV's 1826 Charter (A Carta) was directly modeled on an early French constitution. French models of liberalism and socialism prevailed in politics; impressionism in art; romanticism and realism, Parnassian-ism, and symbolism in literature; positivism and Bergsonianism in philosophy, etc. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Portuguese language, including vocabulary and orthography (spelling), experienced extensive Frenchification. French became the second language of Portugal's elite, providing access to knowledge and information vital for the education and development of isolated Portugal.
   French cultural influences became pervasive and entered the country by various means: through the French invasions before 1811, trade and commerce, improved international communication and transportation, Portuguese emigration to France (which became a mass movement after 1950), and close diplomatic and intellectual relations. An example of the importance of French culture until recently, when British and American cultural influences have become more significant, was that works in French dominated foreign book sections in Portuguese bookstores. If Portugal retained the oldest diplomatic link in world history with Britain, its chief cultural model until recently was France. Until after the Revolution of 25 April 1974, the largest portion of Portugal's educated elite studying abroad resided in France and took French higher degrees. The pattern of Portuguese students in higher education abroad has diversified in the years since, and now a significant portion are studying in other European continental states as well as in Britain and the United States. Diplomatic posts in France rank high in the pecking order of Portugal's small foreign service.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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