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Sidónio Pais

His Excellency
Sidónio Pais

4th President of Portugal
In office
27 December 1917 – 14 December 1918
Preceded by Bernardino Machado
Succeeded by João do Canto e Castro
66th Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
8 December 1917 – 14 December 1918
Preceded by José Norton de Matos
Succeeded by João do Canto e Castro
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
11 December 1917 – 9 May 1918
Preceded by Revolutionary Junta
Succeeded by Francisco Xavier Esteves
Minister of War
In office
11 December 1917 – 9 May 1918
Preceded by Revolutionary Junta
Succeeded by João Tamagnini Barbosa
Minister of Finance
In office
12 November 1911 – 16 June 1912
Prime Minister Augusto de Vasconcelos
Preceded by Duarte Leite
Succeeded by António Vicente Ferreira
Minister of Commerce and Public Works
In office
3 September 1911 – 12 November 1911
Prime Minister João Chagas
Preceded by Manuel de Brito Camacho
Succeeded by Estêvão de Vasconcelos
Personal details
Born Sidónio Bernardino Cardoso da Silva Pais
(1872-05-01)1 May 1872
Caminha, Portugal
Died 14 December 1918(1918-12-14) (aged 46)
Lisbon, Portugal
Political party National Republican Party
(Sidonist Party)
Spouse(s) Maria dos Prazeres Bessa
Ema Manso Preto (non-marital liaison)
Children 2 daughters and 2 sons
Occupation Military officer (Major)
Nickname(s) Presidente-Rei (President-King)

Sidónio Bernardino Cardoso da Silva Pais (Portuguese pronunciation: ; 1 May 1872, in Caminha – 14 December 1918, in Lisbon) was a Portuguese military leader politician and diplomat, the fourth President in 1918. He was known as the President-King. On 5 December 1917, he led an uprising against Afonso Costa's Democratic Party government, and established an authoritarian regime and was elected President (unopposed) on 28 April 1918. He was murdered in central Lisbon, 11 days before Christmas 1918.


  • Family 1
  • Life 2
  • Government and Presidency 3
    • Assassination 3.1
  • Descendants 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


He was the eldest child and son of Sidónio Alberto Marrocos Pais (Caminha, Nossa Senhora da Assunção, 1 November 1846[1]Ferreira do Zêzere, Dornes, 27 August 1883), a Law Clerk and Public Notary in Caminha and later in Pedrógão Grande and Sertã of Barcelos New Christian Jewish ancestry (on his great-great-grandfather António Velho da Fonseca),[2] and wife (m. Caminha, Nossa Senhora da Assunção, 22 June 1871) Rita Júlia Cardoso da Silva (Caminha, Caminha, 29 August 1844 – Caminha, Caminha, 9 March 1919). His brothers and sisters were Rita (b. Caminha, Caminha, 1873), Alberto (Caminha, Caminha, 1874 – Caminha, Caminha, 1877), António (Caminha, Caminha, 15 November 1876 – Lisbon, Hospital da Marinha, 27 June 1949), who was also a military and married at the Igreja Matriz de Caminha, Caminha, 7 May 1904 Júlia Cândida de Sant' Ana Cerqueira (Caminha, Caminha, 1 September 1881 – Lisbon, 6 June 1968) and had issue, Ana da Glória (b. Caminha, Caminha, 1878), Alberto (b. Pedrógão Grande, 1881, d. child) and Aureliano (b. Sertã, 1883, d. child).


He was an army officer and taught mathematics at the Army School, and later, at the University of Coimbra. He became a member of Parliament in 1911, and from 12 November 1911 he was the 4th Minister of Finance for a short period. He was ambassador in Berlin from 1912 until 1916, when Portugal joined the First World War on the Allied side.

Government and Presidency

On 5 December 1917, he led an uprising against Afonso Costa's Democratic Party government, and established an authoritarian regime. He became the country's 99th Prime Minister and was elected President (unopposed) on 28 April 1918. He also became the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 11 December 1917 until 9 May 1918.

Assassination of Sidónio Pais on Rossio railway station.

His period in office was short but eventful. It saw a relaxation of governmental hostility to the Catholic Church, the extension of the electoral franchise, the smashing defeat of the ill-prepared Portuguese troops at La Lys in France, and the end of World War I.


He escaped a first assassination attempt, but fell victim to the second. On 14 December 1918 he was shot dead by José Júlio da Costa, at Rossio railway station, in Lisbon, when he was preparing to board a train to Porto. His plan had been to negotiate with the monarchist leaders of the Northern Military Juntas.


Street sign for Avenida de Sidónio Pais in Macau, Macao

He married in Amarante in 1895 Maria dos Prazeres Martins Bessa (Amarante, São Gonçalo, 1868/1869 – Porto?/Lisbon, 14 September 1945), daughter of Vitorino Ferreira Bessa (Penafiel, Luzim/Perozelo, 1810 – Amarante, São Gonçalo, 16 February 1894), a landowner, and wife Bernardina Joaquina/Augusta Pinto Martins (Valença, Santa Maria da Praça, Casa do Assento Militar, 1826 – 15 March 1905), the couple had five children, four sons and one daughter. Out of wedlock, by one Ema Manso Preto (born in 12 September 1871 and wife (m. 22 December 1900) of Álvaro Augusto Leite Ribeiro), he also had a daughter. He is the great-grandfather in the male line of pianist and composer Bernardo Sassetti.


  1. ^ Baptised in Caminha, Nossa Senhora da Assunção, on 2 December 1846.
  2. ^ Os Paes de Barcelos. Subsídios genealógicos para a biografia do Presidente da República Sidónio Paes, priest António Julio Limpo Trigueiros and Armando B. Malheiros da Silva, Barcelos, 1994
  • Fotobiografias do Século XX, Photobiography of Sidónio Pais, Círculo de Leitores.

External links

  • Sidónio Pais page in the English version of the site of the Portuguese Presidency of the Republic
  • Sidónio Pais at the Fundação Mário Soares page
  • (Portugal – Historical Dictionary)Portugal – Dicionário HistóricoSidónio Pais at the
  • (Lusophone Lives)Vidas LusófonasSidónio Pais in the
Political offices
Preceded by
Bernardino Machado
President of Portugal
Succeeded by
João do Canto e Castro
Preceded by
José Norton de Matos
Prime Minister of Portugal
Succeeded by
João do Canto e Castro
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