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Historical Archive

The Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal collects, preserves and discloses documentation of interest to the Bank’s history and supports related research.

The Historical Archive has a reading room and a specialised library open to the public.

 

Collection

The Historical Archive’s collection contains fonds with documents of Banco de Portugal, of its forerunner, Banco de Lisboa, of the financial companies created with the support of Banco de Lisboa and companies wound up by Banco de Portugal:

Banco de Lisboa (1821-1846)

Founded: 31 December 1821

Ended: 19 November 1846

Created by Royal Charter of 31 December 1821, Banco de Lisboa was simultaneously a commercial bank and a bank of issue. 

Banco de Lisboa was granted exclusivity to issue banknotes during the twenty-year period set for its operation.

It was conferred the power to issue banknotes to be accepted and considered in Exchequer offices on the same terms as metal coins and was exempt from any taxes on its operations.

These privileges were confirmed by Royal Charter of 7 June 1824, which extended the period of operation of Banco de Lisboa from 20 to 30 years (until 1854).

However, with the creation of Banco Comercial do Porto in 1835, equally empowered to issue banknotes, Banco de Lisboa lost the exclusivity it had been conferred twice. 

In compensation for these prerogatives, the Bank had to contribute to the redemption of paper money, by lending the State 2,000 contos de réis in the first year of its operation.

Banco de Lisboa was authorised to: discount bills of exchange and other credit instruments; lend against pledges or mortgages; purchase and sell paper money and other credit instruments, as well as gold and silver; and open private demand or time deposit accounts. It was, however, prohibited from entering into any business involving risk or insurance, purchasing or selling commercial goods, or holding real estate assets for its own account. 

Banco de Lisboa published its first Regulation on 25 June 1822 and started operating on 20 August.

By way of a licence dated 16 March 1825 a request by the bank’s General Assembly for the creation of a branch in Porto was deferred and the proposed regulation was approved and confirmed.

On 19 July the Board approved the Internal Regulation of the Porto branch and it started operating on 1 August. 

As from 1838, Banco de Lisboa participated in the establishment of several financial companies (Confiança, Crédito Nacional, União, Auxiliar, Confiança Nacional) created to grant credit to the State.

In 1846 lack of payment on the part of the Government, of successive loans contracted from Banco de Lisboa and Companhia Confiança Nacional led both institutions to a critical situation, culminating in the signing of the Decree of 19 November. By virtue of this Decree the assets and liabilities of Companhia Confiança Nacional were integrated in the assets and liabilities of Banco de Lisboa, which took on the name of Banco de Portugal. 

Banco de Lisboa’s documents contained in Banco de Portugal’s Historical Archive fully cover its entire period of operation and reflects all its activity. It contains minutes books, shareholder records, accounting books, correspondence records, banknote issue and redemption terms, and staff records. 

Some books have been continued by Banco de Portugal and contain information which may contribute to the study of its forerunner.

Documentation dates: 1821-1846 

Number of items: 146 

Extent: 8.16 LM 

Search aid: Arquivo do Banco de Lisboa.1985 (Col. Inventários, 1) 

Access: No consultation restrictions 

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Banco de Portugal (1846- )

Founded: 19 November 1846

Origin: On 19 November 1846, Queen Maria II signed the Decree that determined the merger of Banco de Lisboa, which was founded in 1821 and operated as a combination of issuing bank and commercial bank, with Companhia Confiança Nacional, a financial institution created in 1844. Thus, Banco de Portugal was formed. 

Created as a legal person governed by private law, it remained a public limited company until it was nationalised in 1974. It then became a legal person established under public law, with administrative and financial autonomy and the nature of a state-owned company. 

Accompanying the evolution of the country’s economic and financial environment, Banco de Portugal ceased to perform a number of its activities, whilst taking on new functions. In 1887, through a contract signed with the State, it becomes the sole issuer of banknotes, a right it has hitherto shared with other banks, as well as becoming banker of the State and Government cashier.

In 1931 Banco de Portugal is entrusted with the task of ensuring the stability of the Portuguese currency and regulating currency circulation and the supply of credit. 

In 1962 it assumes the role of issuing, central and reserve Bank, responsible for coordinating cash in circulation with the cash needs of the economy, regulating the functioning of the money market, ensuring the settlement of foreign exchange operations required by the Portuguese economy, and acting as lender of last resort to the banking system. 

In 1975, in accordance with the Organic Law of 15 November, Banco de Portugal, central bank of the Portuguese Republic, performs duties as banker of the State, financial adviser to the Government, supervisor and overseer of monetary and financial policy, manager of the country’s foreign assets and intermediary in international monetary relations.

For the first time it takes on the role of supervisor of the banking system. In the 1995 Organic Law, price stability becomes the Bank’s main mission and it is given more responsibilities in the area of payment systems.

On 1 June 1998 Banco de Portugal becomes an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. As such it is responsible for ensuring domestic financial stability, managing the country’s foreign assets, acting as intermediary in the international monetary relations of the State, advising the Government on economic and financial issues, and collecting and compiling monetary, financial, foreign exchange and balance of payments statistics. 

Documentation dates: 1846-

Search aid: In preparation

Access: Partially available

Part of the documentation is microfilmed and digitised.

 

Companhia Auxiliar (1844-1845)

Founded: 9 March 1844

Ended: 21 August 1845

In February 1844 the Government requested authorisation from Parliament to contract a new loan up to the amount of 2,000 contos de réis.

After receiving the authorisation, the Government started negotiations with the group of capitalists that had created Companhia de Crédito Nacional and Companhia União, which resulted in the creation of a new company, Companhia Auxiliar. This Company as well as its statutes were approved by Executive Order of 9 March 1844 and its capital could total from 800 to 1,000 contos de réis

Of the five members of the Board, two were from Banco de Lisboa, which also participated in the setting up of this Company. 

A Decree of 9 March also approved the terms and conditions of the loan agreement, to the amount of 800 contos de réis in cash that the Company wanted to enter into with the Government. On 9 May an additional loan agreement was signed regarding another loan of 200 contos de réis. Together, the two loans totalled 1,000 contos de réis, guaranteed by Government-issued Treasury bills. 

Companhia Auxiliar was wound up in August 1845, nearly one year and a half after its creation.

Documentation of Companhia Auxiliar contained in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal includes bookkeeping records, promissory notes records, correspondence sent and sundry documents, consisting of 5 volumes.

This documentation covers the Company’s entire period of operation and reflects all its activity.   

Documentation dates: 1844-1845      

Number of items: 5

Extent: 0.1 LM   

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia Auxiliar. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 5)

Access: No consultation restrictions     

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Companhia Confiança (1838-1845)

Founded: 26 March 1838

Ended: 8 September 1845

In January 1838 Banco de Lisboa and Associação Mercantil de Lisboa proposed a number of measures to Parliament to address the serious crisis the country was facing. One of those measures envisaged the creation of a Company intended to lend 2,400 contos de réis to the Government. The funds would be provided by Banco de Lisboa and by the capitalists and retailers interested in taking part. 

At a session held on 19 February, Parliament endorsed the establishment of this Company and, by an Executive Order of 2 March 1838, approved the conditions for its organisation. The entity thus created was called Companhia Confiança.

On 26 March a loan agreement was entered into with the Government to the amount of 2,400 contos de réis, to be repaid from public revenue coming into local tax offices. 

An Executive Order of 20 November approved the conditions for a "second association" to grant another loan to the Government, to the amount of 830 contos de réis, whose agreement was signed on 23 November. 

An Executive Order of 19 December 1840 approved the conditions for the organisation of a "third association", for the granting of a loan to the amount of 630 contos de réis. This loan agreement was signed also on 19 November. 

In 1841 a "fourth association" was established, whose conditions were approved by an Executive Order of 24 May, in order to grant a 420 contos de réis loan to the Government.

The Company kept separate accounting records for each “association”, although there are common elements, such as the name of the Company, the members of the Board and the shareholders.

Companhia Confiança ceased its activity in 1845. 

This Company was housed in the premises of Banco de Lisboa. 

The documentation of Companhia Confiança contained in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal, consisting of 30 books, covers its entire period of operation and reflects all its activity.  

Documentation dates: 1838-1845 

Number of items: 30

Extent: 1.04 LM   

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia Confiança. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 2) 

Access: No consultation restrictions. 

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Companhia Confiança Nacional (1844-1846)

Founded: 25 September 1844

Ended: 19 November 1846

Companhia Confiança Nacional and its statutes were approved by a Decree of 25 September 1844.

This Company stemmed from the awarding of the Contrato do Tabaco, Sabão e Pólvora (Tobacco, soap and gunpowder contract) on the basis of a prior agreement between the founders of the Company and the Contract bidders, to which the Government associated a 4,000 contos de réis loan. 

After establishment of the Company, the bases for the sublease of the above-mentioned loan were fixed. The respective deed was signed on 19 December and approved by Decree of 27 January 1845. 

According to its statutes, the purpose of the Company was to "carry out all lawful transactions deemed convenient by the Board" and its capital could reach 8,000 contos de réis, with the first issue of shares amounting to 3,000 contos de réis

The subscription of 600 contos de réis by Banco de Lisboa gave rise to an amendment to the statutes of Companhia Confiança Nacional, approved by a Decree of 5 October 1845. The number of the members of the Board was increased from seven to nine, to enable inclusion of two members of the Board of Banco de Lisboa.

However, a Decree of 4 November approved new statutes, reducing the number of Board members to the original seven.

On 27 November the Company signed a contract with the Government, approved by a Law of 12 March 1845, whereby the former committed to founding savings banks (caixas económicas) in Lisbon and Porto followed successively by all district capitals. The statutes were approved by Decree of 20 March.

The Company opened the Lisbon savings bank (Caixa Económica de Lisboa) on 20 April and the Porto savings bank on 15 September, but did not open any others. 

In September 1845, on the occasion of the opening of the Porto savings bank, the Company established an agency there to receive all the money from deposits with this savings bank.

The consecutive loans granted to the Government and the lack of repayment on the part of the latter led the Company to a situation of financial distress, culminating in the signing of the Decree of 19 November 1846, by means of which the assets and liabilities of the Company were integrated in the assets and liabilities of Banco de Lisboa, which took on the name of Banco de Portugal.

The documentation of Companhia Confiança Nacional belonging to the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal, consisting of a total of 35 volumes, reflects all its activity during its two-year period of operation.

Documentation dates: 1844-1858   

Number of items: 35

Extent: 1.09 LM  

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia Confiança Nacional.1985 (Col. Inventários, 6)  

Access: No consultation restrictions   

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Companhia de Crédito Nacional (1842-1844)

Founded: 31 December 1841

Ended: 30 November 1844

Companhia de Crédito Nacional was created with the purpose of addressing the 1841-1842 budget deficit.

The statutes of the company were approved by Executive Order of 31 December 1841.

By Decree of 31 December 1841, the Company committed to lending the State 6,975 contos de réis, partly in cash and partly in public debt securities. The Government committed to delivering 6,520 contos de réis in Inscrições (public debt securities) at an annual interest rate of 5%.

According to the statutes, the Company’s capital would amount to 2,800 contos de réis or 2,400 contos de réis, if the Board deemed this amount sufficient to meet the commitments undertaken.

Banco de Lisboa entered into the Company’s equity with a total of 600 contos de réis. This corresponded to the value of wage receipts owed to the Army and Navy, which Banco de Lisboa had agreed with the Government and were due for payment.

Companhia de Crédito Nacional was liquidated in 1844, the year set out in its statutes for it to cease activity. 

Like other companies in which Banco de Lisboa had shareholdings, Companhia de Crédito Nacional was also housed in its premises. 

The documentation of Companhia de Crédito Nacional contained in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal, consisting of 10 books, covers its entire period of operation and reflects all its activity.

It consists of bookkeeping records, promissory notes and share issuance records, shareholders indices and inventory of furniture and furnishings.

Documentation dates: 1842-1845   

Number of items: 10

Extent: 0.27LM

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia de Crédito Nacional. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 3)   

Access: No consultation restrictions

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Companhia União (1843-1845)

Founded: 29 July 1843

Ended: 16 December 1845

By Executive Order de 5 July 1843, under the authorisation conferred by the Law of 28 June of that year, the Government announced its intention to earmark the income from the tithe (rendimento da décima) of the fiscal year 1842-1843 and from other taxes collected in 1843-1844, to raise the necessary funds to meet public expenditure.

Thus, with the collaboration of Banco de Lisboa and Sociedade Brandão e Sousa, Companhia União was created, which went on to negotiate a loan of 1,250 contos de réis with the State.

By Executive Order of 29 July the constitution of this Company was approved as well as its statutes. Its 1,000 contos de réis capital was fully subscribed by 117 shareholders. Banco de Lisboa was the main shareholder.   

By Executive Order of 29 July 1844 the conditions relative to the organisation of the Company were approved, to make a second loan available to the Government, to the value of 450 contos de réis. The capital of the Company for this loan was 350 contos de réis, subscribed by the original shareholders, in the same initial proportions.  

After repayment of both loans, Companhia União closed its accounts in December 1845. 

The documentation of Companhia União contained in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal is exclusively composed of six account books covering its entire period of operation.   

Documentation dates: 1843-1845   

Number of items: 6

Extent: 0.14 LM   

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia União. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 4) 

Access: No consultation restrictions

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Companhia Obras Públicas de Portugal (1845-1855)

Founded: 19 December 1844

Ended: 2 January 1856 

By way of a public deed dated 19 December 1844, a group of capitalists – Carlos Morato Roma, Francisco Ribeiro da Cunha, Joaquim Honorato Ferreira, José Maria Eugénio de Almeida, Manuel Cardoso dos Santos, Manuel Gomes da Costa São Romão and Tomás Maria Bessone – formed a company under the name Companhia das Obras Públicas de Portugal, with the purpose of "accomplishing all the great public works legally authorised for the improvement of the country’s communications".

The creation of this entity and its statutes were approved by Decree of the same date.

Its capital was set at 20,000 contos de réis. Banco de Lisboa and Companhia Confiança Nacional each subscribed 4,000 contos de réis.

On 1 March 1845, Companhia das Obras Públicas de Portugal entered into a contract with the Government, whereby it was entrusted with carrying out the necessary works so as to improve the country’s communications, namely the opening and improvement of several roads, the construction of the Eastern railway line, the improvement of Porto harbour and the construction of Porto Customs House, the Lisbon ring road, a penitenciary, among other works to be indicated by the Government. Approval of the plans and supervision of the works were the Government’s responsibility. 

The Company was granted exclusivity to establish the entire service of stagecoaches, postal carriages, transport vehicles, etc., for the transport of passengers and merchandise on the roads and railways it built or improved, enjoying such privilege for 40 years on the roads and 99 years on the railways. 

Despite the facilities granted, the Company was not able to accomplish its ambitious plan. Owing to serious financial hardship, it spiralled into decline, having only undertaken the construction and improvement of some roads and performed studies for the Lisbon ring road and Eastern railway lines, whose construction it did not manage to see through since it was replaced by other companies that had emerged in the meantime and with which the Government had already entered into contracts (Companhia Utilidade Pública and Companhia Central Peninsular dos Caminhos de Ferro de Portugal).

Companhia das Obras Públicas de Portugal closed down with a negative balance at the end of 1855 and its accounts were closed on 2 January 1856. 

The archive of Companhia das Obras Públicas de Portugal stored in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal contains accounting books and records of correspondence sent, consisting of 12 items and covering its 10 years of operation.   

Documentation dates: 1845-1856

Number of items: 12 

Extent: 0.37 LM 

Search aid: Arquivo da Companhia das Obras Públicas de Portugal. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 7) 

Access: No consultation restrictions

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

Soc. Geral Agrícola e Fin. de Portugal (1873-1897)

Founded: 10 September 1873

Ended: 31 December 1895

Sociedade Geral Agrícola e Financeira de Portugal was set up by a public deed signed on 10 September 1873, as a public limited company, having its head office in Lisbon and unlimited duration.

It was created with national and foreign capital (chiefly French) and its capital stock amounted to 10,800 contos de réis. According to its statutes published in the Official Gazette of 22 September, the Company had the following purposes:

"1st Acquire, explore [...], cultivated and uncultivated land and land reclaimed from rivers and tides;  

2nd Lend money against mortgage, pledge or duly secured by a personal guarantee to any agricultural company or to the benefit of rural businesses; 

3rd Carry out all agricultural credit transactions; 

4th Promote and assist […] by means of a cash loan or public works contracts of any nature, with the State, districts, municipalities and other public authorities, with societies, companies and private entities, the works or companies related to: the drainage of marshland and the fixing of moveable assets and all kinds of agricultural improvements; water systems and recovery; improvement of harbours; the establishment and use of docks; the construction of housing for workers and all those working in the embellishment and utility of cities or villages; the construction of all classes of roads and high speed roads and tracks; traffic and circulation on the latter and, in general, all works of general or local public interest, or of particular convenience;

5th Acquire, open and lease, by sale or letting, any types of mines; 

6th Contract and negotiate public loans of the State, districts and municipalities […];

7th Negotiate or make discounts and loans on any security or trade values, public debt securities and shares of banks or accredited companies, to carry out all bank operations involving discount, deposit and circulation under the terms of the laws […];

8th Provide agricultural, life and pension insurances and life or temporary annuities and any other risk and insurance contracts”. 

The Society was managed by a Governing Board consisting of 14 members, 9 residing in Lisbon and 5 in Paris. The latter formed the Paris Branch of the Board or Paris Committee, whose President, Baron Maximilian Koenigswarter, contributed to the association with foreign capital.

In 1881, the Paris Committee ceased operating on the death of Baron Koenigswarter and the Society entered into an agreement with the foreign shareholders. All the shares in their possession, reaching a total of 6,350 were transferred by endorsement to the Society. 

The Society granted a quarter of such shares to a national capitalists’ syndicate, created for the purpose. 

As a result, the General Meeting of 30 January 1884 approved the new statutes, and the capital was reduced to 3,024 contos de réis.

Thus, the Society lost its projection abroad and went on to be constituted by exclusively Portuguese capital.

As a result of the economic crisis of 1890 the Society entered into a process of decline. The official liquidation proceedings began in 1895.

The documentation of Sociedade Geral Agrícola e Financeira de Portugal is contained in the Historical Archive of Banco de Portugal, as the liquidation of this Company was carried out by Banco de Portugal.

The documentation reflects its entire period of operation and not only the period of its liquidation.

Documentation dates: 1873-1897  

Number of items: 116

Extent: 4.3 LM

Search aid: Arquivo da Sociedade Geral Agrícola e Financeira de Portugal. 1985 (Col. Inventários, 8) 

Access: No consultation restrictions

All documentation has been microfilmed, digitised and is available in the online catalogue (in portuguese only).

The Archive also holds Banco de Portugal’s photographic collection, its collection of architectural plans and drawings of its buildings and a collection of sundry documents on the various aspects of Portuguese banking activity from the late 18th century to the early 19th century.

 

Services

  • Catalogue search
  • Physical and online consultation of documents
  • Reference library
  • Search for information and support to research by expert staff
  • Free Wi-fi 

 

Opening hours

The reading room and the Historical Archive’s library are open to the public on working days, from 09:00 to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 16:00. Making an appointment is advised.

 

Address

R. Francisco Ribeiro, n.º 2, 1150-165 Lisboa, Portugal

Travel information: Metro – Green line (Anjos station); Carris bus routes) 708, 712, 726 and 730

 

Contact us

Telephone: +351 213 130 305

Email: arquivo.historico@bportugal.pt