Assassination of Sidónio Pais

The 4th President of Portugal, Sidónio Pais, was shot and fatally wounded at the Lisboa-Rossio Railway Station in Lisbon, Portugal on 14 December 1918.[1] The act was carried out by the left-wing political activist José Júlio da Costa.

Assassination of Sidónio Pais
Murder of Sidonio Pais at Lisboa-Rossio Railway Station.jpg
José Júlio da Costa shoots President Pais with a pistol.
LocationLisboa-Rossio Railway Station, Lisbon, Portugal
Coordinates38°42′N 9°8′W / 38.700°N 9.133°W / 38.700; -9.133Coordinates: 38°42′N 9°8′W / 38.700°N 9.133°W / 38.700; -9.133
Date14 December 1918
Evening (around 11 pm)
TargetSidónio Pais (died the same day of his wounds)
PerpetratorJosé Júlio da Costa (Died in Psychiatric Hospital 16 March 1946)
MotiveRevenge, Political Ideas


President Sidónio Pais was on his way to the Lisboa-Rossio Railway Station after having dinner at the restaurant Silva, located at the Chiado. The President was accompanied by his brother and his son, he was going to take the train to Porto to confer with the Board of the Northern Military. When he entered the station at around 11PM on 14 December 1918, he was received by a Republican Guard who would protect the President. There was a failed assassination attempt on the President on 6 December so the security was higher than ever, this however couldn't ruin the mood as a band played a popular song when the President entered the station.[2]

Morro bem! Salvem a Pátria! [I die well! Save the Fatherland!]

Reporter Reinaldo Ferreira, describing Sidónio's Pais supposed dying words, 14 December 1918.

What the President didn't know was that José Júlio da Costa was waiting for him, having with him a pistol which the assassin had concealed in his Alentejo Cloak. When the President passed by the assassin on the first floor of Rossio station, the assassin penetrated the double police cordon that surrounded the President and fired two shots from the pistol hidden under his Alentejo cloak.

The first shot hit Pais in the right arm and the bullet became lodged in his arm, but the second shot hit the President in the stomach which made a fatal wound. The President fell immediately to the ground and a panic broke out. During the confusion, four innocent bystanders were fatally wounded by the guards and the assassin who didn't try to escape was arrested after being brutally beaten by the crowd.[3]

The President was still alive at this point and was rushed to St. Joseph hospital, he however died of his wounds en route to the hospital shortly before midnight.


The assassination was a traumatic moment for the First Republic of Portugal, then from any semblance of stability vanished, settling a permanent crisis that only ended after almost eight years with the National Revolution of 28 May 1926 which ended the regime. New elections were held two days after his assassination so a new president could be elected.

His funeral was momentous, bringing together tens of thousands of people. The funeral however was interrupted by multiple violent incidents since some viewed him as a dictator. He was called a true King President, he entered the Portuguese imaginary, in particular that of the most conservative Catholic sectors. He is viewed as a mix of savior and martyr among some Portuguese.

This image of a martyr led to the emergence of a popular cult, similar to what exists around the figure Sousa Martins, who made Pais holy with promises of honors and ex-votos, which still remains to this day. It is common to lay flowers and other votive elements next to his grave.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Sidónio Pais". 8 October 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Death of Sidónio Pais". Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Alentejo assassins". 2013. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2015.