Sebastianism is part of Portuguese and Brazilian mythology and culture. It means waiting for a hero that will save Portugal and lead it to the Fifth Empire, known as Eu nacional (“national Self”).
The name “Sebastianism” derives from King Sebastian of Portugal (January 20, 1554 – August 4, 1578), Grandson of John III, who became heir to the throne due to the death of his father, João, Crown Prince of Portugal in 1554 two weeks before his birth, and who succeeded to the throne three years later.
This period saw continued Portuguese colonial expansion in Africa, Asia and Brazil. The young King grew up under the guidance of the Jesuits. He also convinced himself that he was to be Christ’s captain in a crusade against Muslims in Africa.
Almost immediately upon coming of age, Sebastian began plans for a great crusade against the Moroccans of Fez. The Portuguese crusaders crossed into Morocco in 1578 and, against the advice of his commanders, Sebastian marched deep inland. At Ksar El Kebir (Field of the Three Kings) the Portuguese were routed by Ahmed Mohammed of Fez, and Sebastian was almost certainly killed in battle or subsequently executed. But for the Portuguese people, he had just disappeared and would return home one day.
After his death (or disappearance), the Portuguese nobility lost its independence to Spain in 1580. Sebastian passed into legend as a great Portuguese patriot and hero – the “sleeping King” who would return to help Portugal in its darkest hour, on a misty morning.
Were you aware of Sebastianism?
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