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The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Portugal

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This page contains a list of the greatest Portuguese Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,577 Politicians, 134 of which were born in Portugal. This makes Portugal the birth place of the 26th most number of Politicians behind Netherlands and Belgium.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Portuguese Politicians of all time. This list of famous Portuguese Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Portuguese Politicians.

Photo of António de Oliveira Salazar

1. António de Oliveira Salazar (1889 - 1970)

With an HPI of 77.00, António de Oliveira Salazar is the most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 76 different languages on wikipedia.

António de Oliveira Salazar (, US also , Portuguese: [ɐ̃ˈtɔni.u ðɨ ɔliˈvɐjɾɐ sɐlɐˈzaɾ]; 28 April 1889 – 27 July 1970) was a Portuguese politician who served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. Having come to power under the Ditadura Nacional ("National Dictatorship"), he reframed the regime as the corporatist Estado Novo ("New State"), with himself as a virtual dictator. The regime he created lasted until 1974, making it one of the longest-lived authoritarian regimes in Europe. A political economy professor at the University of Coimbra, Salazar entered public life as finance minister with the support of President Óscar Carmona after the 28 May 1926 coup d'état. The military of 1926 saw themselves as the guardians of the nation in the wake of the instability and perceived failure of the First Republic, but they had no idea how to address the critical challenges of the hour. Within one year, armed with special powers, Salazar balanced the budget and stabilised Portugal's currency. Salazar produced the first of many budgetary surpluses. He promoted civilian administration in the authoritarian regime when the politics of more and more countries were becoming militarised. Salazar's aim was the de-politicisation of society, rather than the mobilisation of the populace. However, Portugal remained largely underdeveloped, its population relatively poor and with low education attainment when compared to the rest of Europe.Opposed to communism, socialism, syndicalism and liberalism, Salazar's rule was conservative, corporatist and nationalist in nature; it was also capitalist to some extent although in a very conditioned way until the beginning of the final stage of his rule, in the 1960s. Salazar distanced himself from fascism and Nazism, which he described as a "pagan Caesarism" that did not recognise legal, religious or moral limits. Throughout his life Salazar avoided populist rhetoric. He was generally opposed to the concept of political parties when, in 1930, he created the National Union. Salazar described and promoted the party as a "non-party", and announced that the National Union would be the antithesis of a political party. He promoted Catholicism but argued that the role of the Church was social, not political, and negotiated the Concordat of 1940 that kept the church at arm's length. One of the mottos of the Salazar regime was Deus, Pátria e Família ("God, Fatherland and Family"), although he never turned Portugal into a confessional state.With the Estado Novo enabling him to exercise vast political powers, Salazar used censorship and the PIDE secret police to quell opposition. One opposition leader, Humberto Delgado, who openly challenged Salazar's regime in the 1958 presidential election, was first exiled and then killed by Salazar's secret police. Salazar supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War and played a key role in keeping Portugal and Spain neutral during World War II while still providing aid and assistance to the Allies. Despite being a dictatorship, Portugal under his rule took part in the founding of some international organisations. The country was one of the 12 founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, joined the European Payments Union in 1950 and was one of the founding members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960; it was also a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1961. Under Salazar's rule, Portugal also joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1961 and began the Portuguese Colonial War. The doctrine of pluricontinentalism was the basis of Salazar's territorial policy, a conception of the Portuguese Empire as a unified state that spanned multiple continents. After Salazar fell into a coma in 1968, President Américo Tomás dismissed him from the position of prime minister. Salazar's rule is widely described as dictatorial and was characterised by systematic repression of civil and political rights, mass torture, arbitrary arrests, concentration camps, police brutality against civil rights protestors, electoral fraud and colonial wars that left hundreds of thousands dead. The Estado Novo collapsed during the Carnation Revolution of 1974, four years after Salazar's death. In recent decades, "new sources and methods are being employed by Portuguese historians in an attempt to come to grips with the dictatorship which lasted forty-eight years."

Photo of António Guterres

2. António Guterres (1949 - )

With an HPI of 74.03, António Guterres is the 2nd most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 105 different languages.

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres (, European Portuguese: [ɐ̃ˈtɔnju ɣuˈtɛʁɨʃ]; born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician and diplomat. Since 2017, he has served as secretary-general of the United Nations, the ninth person to hold this title. A member of the Portuguese Socialist Party, Guterres served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. Guterres served as secretary-general of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He was elected prime minister in 1995 and announced his resignation in 2002, after his party was defeated in the 2001 Portuguese local elections. After six years governing without an absolute majority and with a poor economy, the Socialist Party did worse than expected because of losses in Lisbon and Porto, where polls indicated they had a solid lead. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues assumed the Socialist Party leadership in January 2002, but Guterres would remain as prime minister until the general election was lost to the Social Democratic Party, led by José Manuel Barroso. Despite this defeat, polling of the Portuguese public in both 2012 and 2014 ranked Guterres the best prime minister of the previous 30 years.He served as president of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005, and was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. Guterres was elected secretary-general in October 2016, succeeding Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of the following year and becoming the first European to hold this office since Kurt Waldheim in 1981.

Photo of Manuel I of Portugal

3. Manuel I of Portugal (1469 - 1521)

With an HPI of 72.60, Manuel I of Portugal is the 3rd most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Manuel I (European Portuguese: [mɐnuˈɛl]; 31 May 1469 – 13 December 1521), known as the Fortunate (Portuguese: O Venturoso), was King of Portugal from 1495 to 1521. A member of the House of Aviz, Manuel was Duke of Beja and Viseu prior to succeeding his cousin, John II of Portugal, as monarch. Manuel ruled over a period of intensive expansion of the Portuguese Empire owing to the numerous Portuguese discoveries made during his reign. His sponsorship of Vasco da Gama led to the Portuguese discovery of the sea route to India in 1498, resulting in the creation of the Portuguese India Armadas, which guaranteed Portugal's monopoly on the spice trade. Manuel began the Portuguese colonization of the Americas and Portuguese India, and oversaw the establishment of a vast trade empire across Africa and Asia. Manuel established the Casa da Índia, a royal institution that managed Portugal's monopolies and its imperial expansion. He financed numerous famed Portuguese navigators, including Pedro Álvares Cabral (who discovered Brazil), Afonso de Albuquerque (who established Portuguese hegemony in the Indian Ocean), among numerous others. The income from Portuguese trade monopolies and colonized lands made Manuel the wealthiest monarch in Europe, allowing him to be one of the great patrons of the Portuguese Renaissance, which produced many significant artistic and literary achievements. Manuel patronized numerous Portuguese intellectuals, including playwright Gil Vicente (called the father of Portuguese and Spanish theatre). The Manueline style, considered Portugal's national architecture, is named for the king.

Photo of Afonso I of Portugal

4. Afonso I of Portugal (1109 - 1185)

With an HPI of 71.55, Afonso I of Portugal is the 4th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Afonso I of Portugal (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈfõsu]; 1106/1109/1111 – 1185), also called Afonso Henriques, nicknamed the Conqueror (Portuguese: O Conquistador) and the Founder (Portuguese: O Fundador) by the Portuguese, was the first king of Portugal. He achieved the independence of the County of Portugal, establishing a new kingdom and doubling its area with the Reconquista, an objective that he pursued until his death. Afonso was the son of Theresa of León and Henry of Burgundy, rulers of the County of Portugal. Henry died in 1112, leaving Teresa to rule alone. Unhappy with Teresa's romantic relationship with Galician Fernando Pérez de Traba and his political influence, the Portuguese nobility rallied around Afonso, who revolted and defeated his mother at the Battle of São Mamede in 1128 and became Count of Portugal soon afterwards. In 1139, Afonso renounced the suzerainty of the Kingdom of León and established the independent Kingdom of Portugal. Afonso actively campaigned against the Moors in the south. In 1139 he won a decisive victory at the Battle of Ourique, and in 1147 he conquered Santarém and Lisbon from the Moors, with help from men on their way to the Holy Land for the Second Crusade. He secured the independence of Portugal following a victory over León at Valdevez and received papal approval through Manifestis Probatum. Afonso died in 1185 and was succeeded by his son, Sancho I.

Photo of Pedro I of Brazil

5. Pedro I of Brazil (1798 - 1834)

With an HPI of 70.57, Pedro I of Brazil is the 5th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Dom Pedro I (12 October 1798 – 24 September 1834) was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil, where he was known as "the Liberator". As King Dom Pedro IV, he reigned briefly over Portugal, where he also became known as "the Liberator" as well as "the Soldier King". Born in Lisbon, Pedro I was the fourth child of King Dom John VI of Portugal and Queen Carlota Joaquina, and thus a member of the House of Braganza. When the country was invaded by French troops in 1807, he and his family fled to Portugal's largest and wealthiest colony, Brazil. The outbreak of the Liberal Revolution of 1820 in Lisbon compelled Pedro I's father to return to Portugal in April 1821, leaving him to rule Brazil as regent. He had to deal with challenges from revolutionaries and insubordination by Portuguese troops, all of which he subdued. The Portuguese government's threat to revoke the political autonomy that Brazil had enjoyed since 1808 was met with widespread discontent in Brazil. Pedro I chose the Brazilian side and declared Brazil's independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822. On 12 October, he was acclaimed Brazilian emperor and by March 1824 had defeated all armies loyal to Portugal. A few months later, Pedro I crushed the short-lived Confederation of the Equator, a failed secession attempt by provincial rebels in Brazil's northeast. A secessionist rebellion in the southern province of Cisplatina in early 1825, and the subsequent attempt by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata to annex it, led the Empire into the Cisplatine War. In March 1826, Pedro I briefly became king of Portugal before abdicating in favor of his eldest daughter, Dona Maria II. The situation worsened in 1828 when the war in the south resulted in Brazil's loss of Cisplatina. During the same year in Lisbon, Maria II's throne was usurped by Prince Dom Miguel, Pedro I's younger brother. The Emperor's concurrent and scandalous sexual affair with Domitila de Castro tarnished his reputation. Other difficulties arose in the Brazilian parliament, where a struggle over whether the government would be chosen by the monarch or by the legislature dominated political debates from 1826 to 1831. Unable to deal with problems in both Brazil and Portugal simultaneously, on 7 April 1831 Pedro I abdicated in favor of his son Dom Pedro II, and sailed for Europe. Pedro I invaded Portugal at the head of an army in July 1832. Faced at first with what seemed a national civil war, he soon became involved in a wider conflict that enveloped the Iberian Peninsula in a struggle between proponents of liberalism and those seeking a return to absolutism. Pedro I died of tuberculosis in September 1834, just a few months after he and the liberals had emerged victorious. He was hailed by both contemporaries and posterity as a key figure who helped spread the liberal ideals that allowed Brazil and Portugal to move from absolutist regimes to representative forms of government.

Photo of Sebastian of Portugal

6. Sebastian of Portugal (1554 - 1578)

With an HPI of 69.83, Sebastian of Portugal is the 6th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

Sebastian (Portuguese: Sebastião I [sɨβɐʃˈti.ɐ̃w]; 20 January 1554 – 4 August 1578) was King of Portugal from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578 and the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz. He was the son of João Manuel, Prince of Portugal, and his wife, Joanna of Austria. He was the grandson of King John III of Portugal and Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal. He disappeared (presumably killed in action) in the battle of Alcácer Quibir, against the Saadians of Morocco. Sebastian I is often referred to as the Desired (Portuguese: o Desejado) or the Hidden (Portuguese: o Encoberto), as the Portuguese people longed for his return to end the decline of Portugal that began after his death. He is considered to be the Portuguese example of the King asleep in mountain legend as Portuguese tradition states his return, in a foggy dawn, in Portugal's greatest hour of need.

Photo of John II of Portugal

7. John II of Portugal (1455 - 1495)

With an HPI of 69.44, John II of Portugal is the 7th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

John II (Portuguese: João II; [ʒuˈɐ̃w]; 3 March 1455 – 25 October 1495), called the Perfect Prince (Portuguese: o Príncipe Perfeito), was King of Portugal from 1481 until his death in 1495, and also for a brief time in 1477. He is known for re-establishing the power of the Portuguese monarchy, reinvigorating the Portuguese economy, and renewing his country's exploration of Africa and Asia.

Photo of John I of Portugal

8. John I of Portugal (1358 - 1433)

With an HPI of 68.99, John I of Portugal is the 8th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.

John I (Portuguese: João [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃]; 11 April 1357 – 14 August 1433), also called John of Aviz, was King of Portugal from 1385 until his death in 1433. He is recognized chiefly for his role in Portugal's victory in a succession war with Castile, preserving his country's independence and establishing the Aviz (or Joanine) dynasty on the Portuguese throne. His long reign of 48 years, the most extensive of all Portuguese monarchs, saw the beginning of Portugal's overseas expansion. John's well-remembered reign in his country earned him the epithet of Fond Memory (de Boa Memória); he was also referred to as "the Good" (o Bom), sometimes "the Great" (o Grande), and more rarely, especially in Spain, as "the Bastard" (Bastardo).

Photo of John III of Portugal

9. John III of Portugal (1502 - 1557)

With an HPI of 68.98, John III of Portugal is the 9th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

John III (Portuguese: João III Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈɐ̃w]; 7 June 1502 – 11 June 1557), nicknamed The Pious (Portuguese: o Piedoso), was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 1521 until his death in 1557. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. John succeeded his father in 1521 at the age of nineteen. During his rule, Portuguese possessions were extended in Asia and in the New World through the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. John III's policy of reinforcing Portugal's bases in India (such as Goa) secured Portugal's monopoly over the spice trade of cloves and nutmeg from the Maluku Islands. On the eve of his death in 1557, the Portuguese empire had a global dimension and spanned almost 4 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles). During his reign, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to make contact with Japan (during the Muromachi period). He abandoned the Muslim territories in North Africa in favor of the trade with India and investments in Brazil. In Europe he improved relations with the Baltic region and the Rhineland, hoping that this would bolster Portuguese trade.

Photo of Afonso V of Portugal

10. Afonso V of Portugal (1432 - 1481)

With an HPI of 68.93, Afonso V of Portugal is the 10th most famous Portuguese Politician.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Afonso V (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈfõsu]) (15 January 1432 – 28 August 1481), known by the sobriquet the African (Portuguese: o Africano), was king of Portugal from 1438 until his death in 1481, with a brief interruption in 1477. His sobriquet refers to his military conquests in Northern Africa.

Pantheon has 134 people classified as politicians born between 180 BC and 1986. Of these 134, 21 (15.67%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include António Guterres, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Aníbal Cavaco Silva. The most famous deceased politicians include António de Oliveira Salazar, Manuel I of Portugal, and Afonso I of Portugal. As of April 2022, 24 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Isabel of Barcelos, Beatrice of Portugal, and Teodósio II, Duke of Braganza.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2022)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.