February 1

This Day in History

General Interest

Feb 1, 1908:

Portuguese king and heir assassinated

On February 1, 1908, King Carlos I of Portugal and his eldest son, Luis Filipe, are assassinated by revolutionaries while riding in an open carriage through the streets of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.

Carlos ascended to the Portuguese throne in 1889 after the death of his father, King Louis I. Although he possessed considerable administrative talents, the kingdom Carlos inherited was beset with political stagnation and financial troubles, especially in regard to Portugal's rapidly declining colonial empire in Africa. Severe economic recession led to a revolt in 1906, and Carlos responded by empowering Joao Franco, head of the conservative Regenerative Party, to establish a dictatorial government. Carlos insisted that Franco's dictatorship was necessary to end the corruption and inefficiency that plagued the country's Parliament, but most citizens saw it as a betrayal and the king's court as the nation's main source of corruption.

Widespread criticism of Franco's regime led to a revolt in early 1908, in the course of which the king and his eldest son were shot dead in the streets of Lisbon. Carlos' second son, Manoel, succeeded him to the throne, but in October 1910 a republican revolution forced King Manoel II to abdicate and flee to England with the rest of the royal family. In the same year, Teofilo Braga, a well-known writer, was chosen the first president of the newly democratic republic of Portugal.

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