L34 (1)

Part III – The foundation

In their first assessment of the project, almost all the deputies involved were unanimous in recognising the advantages and need for a bank both in the national interest and in terms of the profits or dividends that it could provide to its shareholders. They especially insisted on the urgent need to fine-tune the process of redeeming the paper money in circulation.

Lisbon the Largo do Pelourinho, 1830
Engraved by Alfred Robert Freebairn e Robert Batty
Museum of Lisbon / The Lisbon City Council - EGEAC
The creation of Banco de Lisboa

On December 7, 1821, the Finance parliamentary committee presented to the Constituent Assembly the project for the founding decree of a bank in Lisbon, to be discussed in the following days, called the “National Public Bank”. The more liberal fractions of the assembly, however, considered that this designation suggested the State's interference in an institution that was intended to be of a private nature. Of the suggestions considered for the name, including the Banco de Portugal choice, this assembly has decided by Banco de Lisboa.

Law of the General and Constituent Assembly for the creation of Banco de Lisboa

Transcript of the “Law of the General and Constituent Assembly for the Creation of Banco de Lisboa”, in the Official Paper Register. The document constituted this institution as an institution with tax exemption in all its operations, with the power to make loans on pledge of assets, discount of bills and other credit papers, and the power to issue notes, which would be accepted and considered in the Public Treasury Offices as money.


Book 1 of "Official Paper Register", 1821-1824
Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal
The location

By executive order of 19 February 1822, part of the Naval Arsenal building was assigned to the Banco de Lisboa, but this was soon found to be inadequate by the Bank’s management, as promptly communicated to the Finance Minister. Thus, after prospecting for potential sites, the space occupied by the Bailiff’s depository on the first floor of the building of the Council Chambers (now Lisbon City Hall) was chosen and allocated.

Ordinance for the location of the Banco de Lisboa and request to change its location

Shortly after assigning a location to the Bank, the Bank's Management asked the government to change it to a more dignified location.


Book 1 of "Official Paper Register", 1821-1824
Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal
Old white seal of the Bank, with the facade of the Town Hall building

To start its activity, the Banco de Lisboa should occupy part of the Navy Arsenal building. However, the General Assembly found it inappropriate and the directors were authorized to examine any public buildings they deemed appropriate. The choice fell on the right wing of the Public Deposit, future Town Hall, built between 1770 and 1774. It was here that the Bank was installed and opened its doors to the public for the first time, on August 21, 1822.

Money Museum
Engraving of Praça do Município

After the allocation of the space in the Paços do Concelho, it was considered that the separation of this space from the Public Deposit services, made only by a partition, did not offer the required security to the Bank. In addition, the assets held by the Public Deposit, barrels and large furniture, which accumulated at the entrance and by Largo do Pelourinho (today Praça do Município), prevented convenient and decent access to the facilities. After a visit by the Minister of the Kingdom, however, the correction of these situations was approved.

Pelourinho Square, 1863
Lisbon Periodicals Municipal Library
Banco de Lisboa branch in Porto

In 1825, Banco de Lisboa opened its only branch, in Porto. This was installed in a part of the Convent of S. Domingos, rented for that purpose to the Dominican friars.

Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal
Detail of the tapestry in the Assembly Room of Banco de Portugal

In this detail of this tapestry, the delivery, by D. João VI to the Baron of Porto Covo, of the Law of June 10, 1824 is evoked, which rehabilitates the Banco de Lisboa, confirming its privileges and placing it under the direct protection of the King.

Tapestry of the Assembly Room
By Guilherme Camarinha, 1971
Cap04 Min
Cap04 Min Cap04 Min Cap04 Min Cap04 Min
L21 Barão De Porto Covo L44
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.