Brief History of Olive Oil in Portugal

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The Olive Oil was one of the first products exported by Portugal.

In Portugal, the reference to the olive tree is very old. The Visigothic Code, the laws of protection to agriculture, prescribed a fine of about five cents for others who snatch olives, paying for another tree just three pence.

Some authors state that further development of this culture is seen in provinces where the reconquest came later. The charters of the Moors liners Lisbon, Almada, Palmela and Alcacer do Sal, given by D. Afonso Henriques in 1170, and later the Moors from the Algarve (1269), and Evora (1273), expressly refer to this culture of olive trees.

In what regards to the Beira Baixa there is only one mention of "planting new olive trees on a floor covered within the village of Covington in 1359." Looking at the tables of medieval toll (rights), we can conclude what the major genres of the local trade: salt, oil, bread, wine, live animals, fresh or salted fish. In the XIV century, there is news of two counties in which they cultivated the olive tree, Evora and Coimbra. In the latter the king grants the same privileges as Lisbon, that is, "could carry the oil into the river and estuary of Mondego, so out of the kingdom as to the interior. "

At the time of the Discoveries in the century XV and XVI, oil and wine are still part of the list of exported products. Like in the XIV century, Coimbra, Évora and its terms were the major production regions of the century.XV. In 1555 consumption of oil has greatly increased since he began to be frequently used in lighting. In this century, the olive oil was sold within the kingdom and they were exported to destination markets of Northern Europe and overseas, especially to India. In the time of the Filipe's domain 'black market', hoarding and speculation burdened the product, we understand that the cause for the decrease in the export, althought Manuel de Sousa Faria have praised the quality and abundance, stating that the export went to Flanders Germany, Castile-a-Velha, Province of Leon, Galicia, India and Brazil.

In the XVIII century Coimbra were no longer the main center of Olive Oil producer, coming the best quality from Santarém. The monopoly of mills in the possession of the grantees and the Masters of the Orders, was the cause of several complaints that resulted in low production. However, even in the century. XIX and despite the still rudimentary manufacturing processes, the Portuguese olive oil was awarded in the Paris Exhibition of 1889. (Wikipedia info).

Local History of the Olive Oil