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Tomar (tŏmärˈ) [key], town (1991 pop. 14,003), Santarém dist., central Portugal, in Ribatejo. It has paper and textile mills and other industries but is noted chiefly as the center of the Knights Templars and later of the Military Order of Christ. The knights under Gualdim Pais in 1190 successfully resisted the assault of Yakub and his Almohad forces—an important event in the Christian reconquest of Portugal. The Templars were suppressed early in the 14th cent., but the Order of Christ was founded (1319–20) immediately afterward. The great convent-castle on the hill overlooking Tomar dates from the most glorious days of the order, just after it was under Prince Henry the Navigator, although there are mementos of the earlier years. There are other churches, principally of this period. The order grew rich from Portugal's overseas expansion, and the city flourished. In 1581 it was chosen by Philip II of Spain for the proclamation of his rule. Thereafter it declined.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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