chapter  3
19 Pages

Portuguese Society

WithWalter C. Opello

Education during Portugal’s formative years was provided in cathedrals and monasteries to a small number of individuals who became the country’s intellectual and ecclesiastical leadership. In many ways the history of Portugal until has been the history of church-state relations, which at times were cordial and at others conflictual. The country’s fledgling monarchy was launched with help from the Holy See; Catholic missionaries accompanied Portuguese explorers during the epoch of the discoveries. Owing to the rigors of fishing and labor-intensive agriculture as well as the emigration of young men, women have substantially outnumbered men in the Portuguese population since the first census. The most distinctive feature of Portuguese society is its homogeneity. Portuguese society has never been plagued by the religious and linguistic struggles that have marred the development of other nation-states in Western Europe. Traditionally, the position of women in Portuguese society was subordinate to that of men.