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Commemorative exhibition

Banco de Lisboa, the legacy of the first bank in Portugal

Discover the history of Banco de Lisboa, the first bank in Portugal, and its role in the foundation of the country's economic and financial structure, through a documentary exhibition from the Banco de Portugal Historical Archive.

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Bicentennial of Banco de Lisboa
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A documentary exhibition to discover the first bank in Portugal

Established on 31 December 1821, Banco de Lisboa, the first bank in Portugal, direct predecessor of Banco de Portugal, celebrates its bicentennial in 2021.

To mark this anniversary, Banco de Portugal created this exhibition of pieces from its documentary and museological heritage, in order to bring the public into contact with the life of this institution, within the context and social and economic situation of Portugal in the second quarter of the 19th century.

History awaits you!

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Part I

The situation

The presence of D. João VI and his court in Rio de Janeiro, resulting from the French invasions, as well as the British interference, favoured a political and economic environment, which promoted national discontent. The military pronouncements of 1820, in August in Porto and in September in Lisbon, demanded the king's return to Lisbon, and the establishment of a provisional government to prepare the convocation of a parliamentary assembly whose main mission would be the drafting of a Constitution.

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Part II

The precedents

Portugal did not follow the movement to establish specialised banking institutions that developed in the main European markets. The projects undertaken (and only effectively implemented at two moments of particular political significance) may be considered tardy. The creation of the Banco do Brasil (after the king and court had moved from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro as a result of the Napoleonic Wars) in October 1808, and in December 1821, when the first Portuguese bank, the Banco de Lisboa, was finally established.

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Part III

The foundation

Spurred on by a broad consensus on the absolute need for a national public bank, on 13 December 1821 the deputies of the Constituent Assembly began discussing the proposal to create a bank that would later be named the Banco de Lisboa.

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Part IV

The operation

The institutional nature of Banco de Lisboa had characteristics similar to those of other private banks created in Europe at the same time, with purposes articulated by two primary functions of service to the needs of the modern fiscal State: amortization and management of public debt securities and issuance of notes convertible banks, for the benefit of the efficiency of currency circulation.

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Part V

The crisis

At the Banco de Lisboa’s General Meeting sessions held in 1826 and 1827, the main shareholders made clear their concerns about the government’s pressure to issue a new loan and to make advance payments through the Bank to various branches of public administration. The liquidity problems caused by the demand for metal currency to be exchanged for an increasing amount of discounted paper money were also evident, while it was found that the latter’s process of extinction and progressive substitution by banknotes was far from achieving the desired outcome.

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Part VI

The renewal

A new crisis in 1846 on the eve of and amid new political turmoil (the Patuleia Civil War) eventually determined the expected institutional outcome of reconfiguring banking and financial institutions that would lead to the merger of the Banco de Lisboa with Companhia Confiança Nacional and the genesis of the Banco de Portugal.