Computational Logic in Multi-Agent Systems
11th International Workshop
Lisbon, Portugal, August 16-17, 2010

Lisbon History


Lisbon dates back to pre-Roman times - legend has it that Ulysses founded the city, although it was more probably the Phoenicians. Its early years were spent as a constant battleground, with Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians in turn overthrown. In 205 BC the Romans began their two-century reign in Lisbon, and it became the most important city in the western Iberian region, renamed Felicitas Julia by Julius Caesar.

In 714 the powerful Moors arrived from Morocco, replacing a succession of northern tribes. They fortified the city and held out against Christian attack for an impressive 400 years. By 1147 the Moors' luck had turned and the Christians finally recaptured Lisbon. (It took another century for Christian forces to complete the reconquest of Portugal.) In the mid-13th century Lisbon replaced Coimbra as Portugal's capital and developed rapidly on the back of booming maritime and inland trade.

The 15th century brought the Age of Discoveries - Portugal's golden era of sea exploration. Not satisfied with repelling the Moors from Portuguese soil, Prince Henrique (Henry the Navigator) decided to sap Islam's economic power by finding a way around it by sea. He put to work the best sailors, map makers, ship builders and astronomers he could find. In 1434 one of his ships sailed beyond the much-feared Cape Bojador on the West African coast, breaking a maritime superstition that this was the end of the world. The Prince was rewarded with gold and slaves from West Africa. In 1497 came Vasco da Gama's famous discovery of the sea route to India. The wealth from these expeditions transformed Lisbon into the opulent seat of a vast empire. It also spawned the extravagant Manueline architectural style, best typified in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém.

Lisbon's glory days as the world's most prosperous trading centre were short lived. The cost of expeditions, maintaining overseas empires and attempting to Christianise Morocco brought Portugal to its knees. In 1580, in a bitter blow to national pride, Felipe II of Spain claimed the throne and it took 60 years for fed-up nationalists to overthrow their traditional rival and return Portugal to its people. By the late 17th century the tide had well and truly turned and the discovery of gold in Brazil saw Lisbon enjoy another period of profligate expenditure. Again, however, this extravagance was cut short. In 1755 a massive earthquake reduced the city to rubble and Lisbon never recovered its power and prestige. After Napoleon's four-year occupation of the city Lisbon, like the rest of the country, fell into political chaos and military insurrection for over a century.

In the early 20th century, a 16-year period brought 45 changes in government. Yet another coup in 1926 brought António de Oliveira Salazar onto the scene. Quickly rising from finance minister to prime minister, he ruled Portugal for 36 years, heading an authoritarian regime that lasted until 1976. During his rule, political parties and strikes were banned. Censorship, propaganda and brute force, exemplified by a feared secret police force, kept the country in order.

Revolution in 1974, in response to the continued unpopular military suppression of Portuguese colonies, brought a a slow road to democracy. More political turbulence gradually changed to stability and ultimately membership of the European Union in 1986. With the support of the EU, and its much-needed injection of funds, Lisbon (and Portugal) finally began to shake off its depressed Salazar-era looks and lifestyle.

In recent years, more stable government combined with massive EU funding (especially welcome in Lisbon after a major fire in 1988 destroyed the Chiado district) has led to the city's rejuvenation. In 1994, it returned to the limelight as European City of Culture. The following years of spectacular economic growth were boosted by major infrastructure projects such as the Ponte de Vasco da Gama, the longest river crossing in Portugal. Redevelopment schemes throughout the city have included restoration of historic neighbourhoods such as the Alfama. Lisbon was given a further sprucing for its role of host to Expo '98. In the run-up to the Expo, the metro was expanded, port facilities extended, hotel construction went into high gear and leading architects created some stunning monuments. Lisbon has now regained some pride in its past and, with a revitalised and vibrant urban life and more huge infrastructure projects planned, looks forward to a future firmly within Europe.