Monthly Talk 1st February 2018


SPEAKER: Christopher Massy-Beresford

This talk covers the phenomenon of Portugal's adventurous spirit from the 15th century and the development of a trading empire that spanned the world for three centuries - through to Portugal's roles in the two world wars and the surprisingly sudden and far-reaching changes in its society that began in the spring of 1974.

The main events of Portugal's history are highlighted along with sketches of its most influential personalities; while the geography of its former possessions is explained, together with the development and influence of its language, which remains a major and interesting legacy of its empire's influence.

Included are some vignettes arising from many visits to Portugal itself, its autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, and its former colonial territories of Angola, Mozambique and the Cape Verde islands.

The talk concludes with a detailed account of the coup d'etat that brought this empire to an end, suddenly and with great tension but hardly any violence. It was a major surprise event in European history only 43 years ago, which is in danger of receding into the past without being sufficiently understood and appreciated - perhaps even by many of today's Portuguese themselves.


An old friend of the U3A in Bath, Christopher presented a well-received talk entitled "Neutrals at War" two years ago. We are pleased to welcome him back.

He studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at university, but modern languages came to be a defining feature of his commercial career and interests. The last phase of his career has been as a professional translator.

Christopher lives in Beckington, near Frome in Somerset.