Portuguese Boys' Clothes and Activities: Poverty

Figure 1.--The photo was taken in in Lisbon during the early-20th century, possibly the 1910s. Notice the cart in the backgrond. The news boys are smoking in front of the Santa Apolónia railway station where the hope to sell newspapers. Almost certainly they never attended school which the smoking suggests. :egally some years of primary school was compulsory, but the law was notvstrictly enfirced. Only about 20 percent of Portuguese children attended primary school in the early-20th century. The boys are wearing wearing caps that look rather like berets. Th shirts are popular patterns at the time. The pants are evidence of their poverty, but notice they are not rags, but carefully sewn together. This suggests that they have a mother looking after them. Boyh are barefoot and it likely that they never or almost never have worn shoes.

We have very limited information on Portuguese boys' activities at this time. Many activities were probably very similar to other European countries, especially neighboring Spain. One factor that made growing up in Portugal different than other countries was the endemic poverty in the country dating back to the time Portugl changed from being a European leader to its decline as the Inquisition and intolerance became firmly entrenched in national life. Portugal's succes at the onset of the Eyropean maritime outreach was due to a combination of gography and technological innovation. Geography meaning an Atlantic coast and a promimity to the America and coast of Africa did not change. Technology did change. Portugal's closed Catholic di=ominated society did not encourage technological innovation. As a result, small Portugal and even larger Spain could not keep up with the rapidly innovating countries of northern Europe. s a result bith Portugal and Spain even with huge empires declined into poverty which was the case into the 20th century. The povery of Portugal was an importnt factor in boys' activities and the general childhood experience in Portugal. This impeded the ability of Portuguese children to participate in activities enjoyed by children in more affluent European countries. It mean that rather than school and ply, many Portuguese children had to work.


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Created: 7:56 PM 11/30/2017
Last updated: 7:56 PM 11/30/2017