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A Portuguesa! The Portuguese National Anthem

The "A Portuguesa" is the Portuguese national anthem. The lyrics originate from the 19th-century Portuguese republican movement, who were opposed to the lavish life of the monarch. Surprisingly the tune, tempo and even the lyrics were not harmonised until 1957. The Portuguese National Anthem has a very catchy chorus of “As armas! `As armas!” (To arms! To arms!) which is sung with passion by the Portuguese during international sporting events.

An English Translation of the Portuguese National Anthem

The following section translates the lyrics to the "A Portuguesa":

*This original line expressed the outrage of the Portuguese over the Africa land demands enforced by the British but this line was altered at the turn of the century.

History of the A Portuguesa! The Portuguese National Anthem

The Portuguese National anthem was originally written in the 19th century by the Republican movement of Portugal who were disgusted at the way the Portuguese royal family had agreed to British demands over land rights in Africa. The British had demand great areas of Portugal’s African colonies and the anthem encourage Portugal’s workers and armies to rebel and fight the British, hence the undiplomatic 5th line of the original A Portuguesa.


The song still echoes the original intent, the verses and especially the chorus speak of a call to arms, the third verse speaks of "insults" and "embarrassment", which is how the Portuguese saw the British ultimatum. The song developed into a protest song not just against the loss of lands but against the monarchy itself, this change of focus caused the national anthem to be banned from being sung in public.

The punishment for this act of defiance was severely punished with conspirators sent off to the harsh African colonies or long spells in jail. In 1957 a standardised version of the song was proposed as previous there were versions with different words tunes and even tempos. To decide on the official words/tune a commission was created and the official A Portuguesa was agreed on 16 July 1957 which has remained as the Portuguese National anthem to this day.


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