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Empires at War1911-1923$
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Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702511.001.0001

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The Portuguese Empire

The Portuguese Empire

(p.179) 9 The Portuguese Empire
Empires at War

Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses

Oxford University Press

This Chapter examines the relationship between the metropolis and the two principal colonies, Angola and Mozambique, during the First World War. It seeks to demonstrate how Portugal’s economic weakness and inability to rally its population around the war effort meant that, whereas other Allied colonial powers were able to mobilize their empires to aid them in the fight against Germany, Portugal actually exhausted itself in the struggle to protect its African possessions, to no practical military end. The nature of Portuguese politics, and the country’s structural backwardness, also meant that the scale of the sacrifice never really entered the nation’s consciousness. Nevertheless, the scale of the human and material sacrifice was sufficient to allow the Portuguese Republic’s representatives at the Paris Peace Conference to ward off foreign (notably South African) interest in their country’s colonies, although promises of improved administrative practices had to be made.

Keywords:   Portugal, First World War, Angola, Mozambique, Africa

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