Portuguese American Journal

Book | Historical Dictionary of Portugal | by Douglas L. Wheeler – Editor’s Note

Portugal is a small Western European nation with a large, distinctive past replete with both triumph and tragedy. One of the continent’s oldest nation-states, Portugal has frontiers that are essentially unchanged since the late 14th century. The country’s unique character and 850-year history as an independent state present several curious paradoxes. As of 1974, when much of the remainder of the Portuguese overseas empire was decolonized, Portuguese society appeared to be the most ethnically homogeneous of the two Iberian states and of much of Europe. This, in spite of the fact that Portuguese society had received during 2,000 years of infusions of other ethnic groups in invasions and immigration: Phoenicians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Suevi, Visigoths, Muslims (Arab and Berber), Jews, Italians, Flemings, Burgundian French, black Africans, and Asians. Indeed, Portugal has been a crossroads, despite its relative isolation in the western corner of the Iberian Peninsula, between the West and North Africa, Tropical Africa, and Asia and America. Since 1974, Portugal’s society has become less homogeneous as there has been significant immigration of former subjects from her erstwhile overseas empire.

The third edition of Historical Dictionary of Portugal greatly expands on the second edition through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on important persons, places, events, and institutions, as well as on significant political, economic, social, and cultural aspects.


“This third edition of a title in the Historical Dictionaries of Europe series covers Portuguese political, economic, cultural, and social history. The volume begins with physical and political maps of Portugal, a chronology from 15,000 BCE to 2008, and an introduction to and overview of Portuguese history. This material is followed by entries in alphabetical order and appendixes listing monarchs, prime ministers, and presidents. An extensive bibliography concludes the work. Though Portugal is one of the oldest nation-states in Europe, much of its history may be unfamiliar to North American readers. Some interesting facts: England and Portugal share the longest alliance in European history; Portugal was the last European country to use cavalry in combat; following the massive earthquake in 1755, Lisbon was rebuilt in grids and became the first planned city in Europe. Part of the value of a dictionary such as this is convenience; a great deal of information is presented in a single volume. A good purchase for academic and large public libraries.” — Abbie Landry

“Historical Dictionary of Portugal updates what is most likely one of the finest academic resources available for the study of the history and culture of Portugal. … Wheeler and Opello, two of the foremost scholars in North America, have delivered an outstanding resource for anyone interested in studying this fascinating country and culture. … The Historical Dictionary of Portugal is definitely an outstanding resource for any students or scholars interested in Portugal. ― American Reference Books


About the Author

 Douglas L. Wheeler has taught, lectured, and widely published a broad range of scholarly materials since 1961 and who has advanced the study of Portugal in the wider world also through professional journals he edited and research organizations. He has been honored by two decorations awarded in 1993 and 2004 by Portugal’s Government.

Walter C. Opello Jr. retired in 2002 from the Department of History at the University of New Hampshire. Since then he has been part-time instructor at the University of New Hampshire and at Granite State College.


Book Details

Title: Historical Dictionary of Portugal

Author: Douglas L. Wheeler & Walter C. Opello

Publisher: Scarecrow Press

Publication Date: 3rd Edition, May 10, 2010

Series: Historical Dictionaries of Europe

Language: English

Hardcover: 428 pp

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