Which Country Is England's Oldest Ally?


3 Answers

Mark Henderson Profile
Mark Henderson answered
England's oldest ally is Portugal. (Note that the act of union establishing the United Kingdom wasn't passed until 1707.)

England's oldest ally

The Anglo-Portuguese alliance was first established by the treaty of 1373, and by 1386 the alliance was ratified at the Treaty of Windsor. The relationship is the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world which is still in force.

The first Anglo-Portuguese treaty wasn't signed until 1373, but English-Portuguese relations predated this event by several hundred years. The first account of English military aid to Portugal was the siege of Lisbon in 1147, where English and other European Crusaders stopped en route to the Second Crusade in order to assist Portugese King Afonso Henriques conquer the city.

  • English Crusaders help the Portugese King conquer Lisbon in 1147.
  • The first official treaty between the two countries was signed in 1373.
  • This alliance was then affirmed with the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.
  • The Anglo-Portugese treaty is the oldest alliance still in existence in the world.

20th Century
Over 500 years after the treaty was signed, it was still invoked a total of four times during the 20th century.

  • During World War One, after German incursions into Portugal's African possessions, the treaty was enacted, and Portuguese troops subsequently fought on the side of the Triple Entente.
  • In the Second World War, Britain and the allies were allowed to establish bases on the Portugese Azores - even though Portugal was officially neutral.
  • Portugal invoked the treaty in 1961, when the Portuguese possessions of Goa, Daman and Diu were invaded.
  • The last time the treaty was enacted was during the Falklands War of 1982, when the Azores were again offered to Britain to use as a military base.
Aun Jafery Profile
Aun Jafery answered
Though America due to its great military might may seem the greatest ally of England, the honour of the oldest ally of England falls to Portugal. Their friendship begins in the year 1147 when the English fleet on its way to the crusades made a pit stop in Portugal, and ended up massacring the Moors of Lisbon in return for promises of land made by the then new King of Portugal Afonso I. A little while later, an Englishman became the Bishop of Lisbon. The 12th century saw John I, the illegitimate son of the previous King Ferdinand, and taker of an English wife, came to the throne. But it was finally a treaty in May 1386 proposed by John I - known as the Treaty of Windsor - which was binding in its terms and which has since then never been revoked. This is why Portugal is sometimes described as the oldest ally of England.

The Portuguese once gave Bombay as dowry to the British on the nuptials of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II. Only the dowry seems illegitimate here.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The author of the original question is correct in his use of the term 'England'. The question was 'Which Country Is England's Oldest Ally'. The act of union which created the United Kingdom, and in turn the British, did not happen until 1707. As pointed out by the writer of the original post England's relationship with Portugal began in 1147.  Wales was (and arguably still is) a principality of England and not a country in its own right.

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