The Unstable Status of Sebastianism
Sebastianism is considered the most original and imbedded Portuguese myth, one that lasted three centuries, from the 1570s to the 1860s, and was still being vigorously debated in the 1920s. This article challenges the idea of Sebastianism as a myth that remained unchanged for three centuries, defining national consciousness. It contends that Sebastianism changed both its aim and its function over time, a contention that defies essentialist or ahistorical interpretations. Three questions will guide our inquiry: how can the foundational elements of Sebastianism be interpreted? What roles did Sebastianism play in Portuguese political and historical culture? How original is this phenomenon within the European cultural and historical setting?
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