Portugal Street – named for a Queen

Portugal Street is about 300 metres long, running broadly east -west between Kingsway and Serle Street, in central London.

 

It is named after  Catherine of Braganza (Portuguese: Catarina de Bragança; 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) who was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685).

The Queen’s Chapel, St James’s Place, was restored at the time of  their marriage [ see on map here ]

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The Queen’s Chapel.   See more photos here,

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Plaque at entrance to The Queen’s Chapel

 

Catherine was born into the House of Braganza,  then (and still now! )  the most senior noble house of Portugal. The House of Braganza became Portugal’s royal house after Catherine’s father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV following the deposition of the Spanish  House of Habsburg which had ruled Portugal from 1580 to 1640.

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Since Vasco da Gama’s 1497-1499 sea voyage from Europe via Africa’s Cape Hope to India, Portugal – soon followed by England and others! –  had had an expanding global empire.

As dowry for Catherine’s marriage, England received from Portugal seven islands that with later landfill have become today’s Mumbai,  as well as Tangiers,  plus some money  and  trading rights. In exchange Portugal received much needed British protection from Spain.  Possession of Mumbai was the start of Britain’s long involvement with India.

Catherine  bore no live children. She is credited with introducing the custom of drinking tea to the Britain,  a practice common among the Portuguese nobility. Her Catholicism was contentious at the time.  Some 14 years after Charles’ death she returned to Portugal in 1699. She supported the 1703 Treaty of Methuen which, amongst other things, boosted the Port trade with Britain.

Charles II, the son of executed Charles I, was known as the Merry Monarch, not least for his string of mistresses amongst whom was the actress Nell Gwyn.  This was the time of playwright Shakespeare, diarist Samuel Pepys,  the great fire of London (1666), and the development of world trade by Portugal and Britain  in the Far East.

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See Portugal Street  on map here. 

The area these days hosts the many buildings of the London School of Economics.

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Dom Duarte Pio, Prince Royal of Portugal, Duke of Braganza (born 15 May 1945), is the current pretender to the former Portuguese throne, as the head of the House of Braganza. While there are no serious movements for the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy, Dom Duarte Pio does represent Portugal in cultural matters outside of the  Country.

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