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Postal Service in Portugal - 500 Years SI

Postal Service in Portugal - 500 Years

What happened in the most diverse states of Europe, also happened in Portugal. In the rst centuries of our nationality, no organised system to transport correspondence was available to citizens. Indeed, sending letters was a prerogative of kings and the nobility, who entrusted this task to their squires and stable boys. With the commercial development in the Middle Ages and the emergence of an increasingly strong mercantile bourgeoisie, the posting of Crafts Corporations began to emerge, guaranteeing the exchange of correspondence between its members, thus responding to the speci c needs of these classes.

The Church, which was spread everywhere, felt the need to establish its own private mail, using the valuable service of monks and religious orders, who regularly walked from town to town. The Discoveries and the Portuguese conquests, starting from the fteenth century, brought people related to trade and to navigation from the most diverse places to Lisbon, giving the capital a new cosmopolitan face and turning it into a thriving, intense business scene.

In the sixteenth century, Portugal was at the centre of the economic, commercial and even cultural world and its Crown began to relate more closely with other European courts and with the main trading posts, by dint of spices, precious stones and gold that came from India, Brazil and Mina.

In this context, King Manuel I, aware of the importance of providing the country with a communications infrastructure that allowed a quick connection to Europe, as well as to the interior of the kingdom itself, created the Ofício de Correio-Mor (High- Courier), by Royal Charter of 6 November 1520. Luís Homem was appointed to the position, a knight of the Royal House who had ful lled the mission of bringing royal correspondence to various capitals of Europe several times.

As the kingdom's rst High-Courier, Luís Homem was entrusted with organising a public postal service in Portugal, enabling any citizen, upon payment of a certain amount, to have the right to send their own correspondence.

The Royal Charter, issued in the city of Évora, detailed a set of obligations that the High-Courier was bound to. He should arrange to have the couriers (as the holders of the letters were designated) necessary to meet the services required by the king or by private persons; to direct and to provide adequate clothing to the sta ; to settle the price of delivery of correspondence with stakeholders, according to the distances and the speed of delivery; and nally, to provide post horses in the most convenient locations to ensure the e ectiveness of the service.

In the early days, the mail services found themselves unsuitably organised, sometimes not having set shipping days because this depended on the requests of citizens. The transport of mail was on foot and on horseback, depending on the distances involved. The routes were di cult and dangerous and were often infested with criminals.

With the institutionalisation of Postal Services in Portugal, the rst postal dynasty was initiated, consisting of four regally appointed High-Couriers. Thus, from 1520, the rst step was taken for establishing one of the most important infrastructures, which would prove essential to the development of the country.

Fernando Moura 

Technical Details

Issue Date: 10.10.2016
Designer: Carlos Barahona Possollo
Printer: INCM
Process: Offset
Size: Stamp size: 40mm x 30.6mm Minisheet size: 125mm x 95mm
Values: €0.45, 0.58, 0.75, 0.80
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