An interesting fact about Xmas greeting cards.
Taken from the book “Portugal no século XVIII – de D. João V à Revolução Francesa” (Portugal in the 18th century - from D. João the 5th to the French Revolution) by the Sociedade Portuguesa de Estudos do século XVIII (Portuguese Society of 18th century Studies), in the International Congress of 1990, chapter “Apontamentos sobre a gastronomia do século XVIII” (Notes on the gastronomy in the 18th Century), by Virgilio Gomes
Many foreign authors, like William Beckford, have compared Portuguese cuisine with the European reality, mainly Paris which was the city which set the fashionable. William Beckford dedicated many pages of his personal journal to critiques to Portuguese cuisine. In his opinion, Portuguese food was abundant, coarse and it's presentation was debatable and old fashioned. To many spices, too salty and still served on huge silver plates (as a sign of Portuguese richness) and there were no restaurants. In fact taverns were a shifty place were gentlemen would not go in to.
In Portugal some traditions hadn't changed since the Middle Ages: Olive oil, wine, soups and dried cod were the most important, as were all other types of fish. In fact fish was so common in Portugal that the Nobility rather saw it as food for the poor. It was cheap and went along with all the religious rulings, like abstinence on Fridays and religious days.
But other recipes became noticeable during this time period and still today are the most traditional and known recipes from Portuguese cuisine: The Cozido à portuguesa (boiled meats and vegetables), Caldeirada (sort of a stew mainly done with fish varieties) and Sopa da pedra (a thick beans, vegetables, noodles and meat soup).
Bread was still the main dish garnishment, but potatoes, sweet maize corn and rice became more and more a expected presence at Portuguese tables.
One of Beckford's pass-times was to take part of religious celebrations in Portugal, where he could watch from up close the religious ceremonial of culinary traditions and this is what he had to say about the ceremonies of Santo Agostinho de Mafra: He had to decline the invitation to eat at the convents kitchen because «...then we would have to sacrifice at least two hours of our time and we would end up half-cooked of the vapours of the fatty braised veal and pork...».
In fact, the way food was presented on tables during celebrations and other similar days was the called Iguarias de Coberta (Covering Delicacies, roughly translated). It means that several dishes and recipes were put at the same time on the table and guests could choose from which one they would eat.
One other important aspect of Portuguese cuisine are the sweets. In the 18th century they have developed into one of the finest delicacies of Europe and with Moorish influences and the amounts of sugar that came from the colonies, Portuguese sweets were never the same, being still today a proud tradition.
Convents and nunneries had their part in this development: Novices would use their imagination to come up with original sweets like Papos de anjo (Angel's maw/goitre), Toucinho do céu (Heaven's bacon), Barrigas de freira (Nun's bellies), etc., and then seduce visitors with them, hoping to get some male attention and, therefore, marriage.
The curious fact is that William Beckord saw nothing wrong with Portuguese sweets but he critiques the lack of ability of Portuguese people to use cutlery.
With the French invasions new fashions appear, like drinking coffee after a meal and hot cocoa.
This is a small overlook on Portuguese food habits. Another chapter to come soon.
And here are some links with mentioned foods in the article (only in portuguese though...):
Lithography from a Portuguese Fidalga from North of Portugal, 1828.
Another thing that was characteristic of the pictures and explanations I saw was about Portuguese culture: Regionalism affected certain aspects of fashion and what you would see in the Minho region, for example, you wouldn't find in Alentejo.
Portuguese peasants: On the left from Alentejo; on the right from the Beiras., by James Murphy in "Travels in Portugal, 1797. Same picture found in the book I've mentioned.
And last but not least, fashion hadn't changed much in the coming years. Even in the 1820's (what many would describe as the romantic era) Portuguese women would still be wearing what they did before, with few changes. That's why I'll be posting some lithographies of that decade to exemplify better some of the topics written below.
The following descriptions are generalized ones, of what everyone would wear, not taking in account a lot of those regionalisms and specially nothing to do with classical regency.
Skirts would be, broadly speaking, made in one colour, preferably dark, and yet we can find some variables, like using a different colour fabric at the bottom, or as personal taste or to save money on fabric.
Stripes, called de indiana (this meaning from India and not Indians) were also used, just as skirts embellished with all sorts of ribbons sewn in or just embroideries, both at the bottom of the skirt.
It was very common, fashion or work wise to lift the front of the skirt and tuck it under the skirts waistband.
Women would also use use a pocket, a bag at the side to keep money and other items.
Washerwoman, by Henry L'Évêque in "Portuguese costumes", 1814. One can see that her skirt is striped and that she wears a pocket.
Made out of white fabric, mostly linen, or cotton and flannel but I could find one shift with stripes. They were always buttoned up until the neck line, not revealing to much. The shift we see being used in other countries like France or England weren't used by Portuguese women, at least not on the images I saw, always linked to the catholic puritan notions of what popper was.
What I couldn't find out is the length of the shifts, but I assume that, opposite of a chemise, the woman's shift would come as far as the ankles.
From 1790 onwards, these were the bodices used, short-stays and similar. Most of them didn't had a low neckline. If they would be a bit more revealing the shift or scarf would cover it up. Not to forget, Portugal was very catholic!
Laced, buttoned or with hooks&eyes. The buttons commonly used were little ones made out of the rests of fabric.
One of the pictures of the book had a woman in a pink bodice.
And even slaves used bodices.
Not only white linen petticoats were used but also cotton and flannel ones in very bright colours in contrast of the colour of the skirt. Yellow, red, blue, blue stripes,etc.
Women that worked would usually lift the skirt so it wouldn't get dirty but soon it became a way to show-of the petticoat (an undergarment!) and that's why these would be made out of strong colours. Some were plain when it comes to sewing techniques but others had pleats, embroideries or were embellished with ribbons. Ribbons would also be used for embroidery on the petticoats. I'm not sure about this but I had the impression that there would be 2 petticoats used to give more volume.
A city woman from Porto, 1828.
As said before, Catholicism integrated Portuguese society. So, to wear religious items was not only common but also expected. Rosaries or golden crosses hanging from golden necklace around the neck. Women would make rosaries out of pinions and sell them on the streets.
As a conclusion of all what was said above I'll post an image of Racine'ts Book “Le Costume Historique” that shows how Portuguese fashion was like. It even shows a partisan (2nd woman of the left).
Drawing of the city of Lisbon before the earthquake of 1775.
The city of Porto at the turn of the 17th century.
Decreat by D. João VI of Portugal to open all Brasilian harbours to trade after the royal family established the new Empire's capital in Rio de Janeiro.
As soon as the Portuguese market realized that it was inevitable that the French would invade, and as soon as the Crown forced the Portuguese Population to stand still and not to defend itself, the national economy started to decrease and prices got higher. And, of course, a country with a serious lack of technological development and relying only on maritime trade, nobody could expect it to return to it's former glory.
Not only was there a change of power to Brazil (which for future generations meant Brazil had it's own Noble lineage and, therefore, trading power) and all the subsequent shift in trade, also the French invasions provoked a tremendous loss of population in result of war and famine, a loss in trade, the ceasing of agriculture and the destruction of most of the Portuguese infrastructures.
The 1st Invasion was the only one where the whole territory was occupied by French (and Spaniards) and this translated into a serious of looting and crimes in all social layers. Soon the French realized how important Lisbon was and soon they underlined their role as new power. Therefore, they demanded a payment to the army, what they called a “loan”. Junot demanded on December 3rd of 1807 the presence of all the richest traders at their local governments to be told to pay this “loan” of 2 million cruzados «in order to satisfy the urgent need of the French army» and that they had 18 days to do so. As impossible this measure was to comply, it became even more difficult after the maritime blockade which stopped all trade. And although it was first called a loan, as soon as it entered the French state's savings it was considered an “extraordinary war contribution”.
Later that month Napoleon Bonaparte demanded further one hundred million francs to serve as ransom to all the occupied properties. The same decree allowed that all the belongings and properties of the royal family and nobles that left for Brazil and wouldn't return until February the 15th of 1808, belonged now to the French Army.
In March, the Portuguese Commerce Junta was forced to collect 6 million cruzados to all mercantile corporations, and this means not only traders but also shop owners and others. The French fiscal decision was clear: the”loan” turned into a “contribution” made it possible to ask for another “loan”.
It is only evident that soon the merchant and entrepreneur part of society offered resistance. So, the “fiscal evasion” was common practice and no threats or demands from the French army made it possible to get the whole amount and they soon changed tactics: instead of getting the money this way they decided to keep all the profit from taxes and trade directly. But what they hadn't foreseen is that with all English merchandise being forbidden to enter the country, made the profits, which upon the French relied, disappear. Then they changed it to allowing the sale of English products but by then it was to late since this measure only brought more crime and corruption. Portuguese merchants then went on refusing to supply the army with various goods instead of money. It is known that Junot and others hadn't bed linens and furniture to sleep upon.
But of all the above what hurt more the economy, specially in cities like Lisbon and Porto, was the decrease of maritime trade, of course. Not only did the French army controlled the rivers but also the English army. What this would do to trafficking and illegal trade , and therefore to the decrease of profits, goes without saying. And even with the departure of the French in 1808 and the demand of the restitution of the initial 2 million cruzados, all what Portugal got was the return of some private belongings.
The 2nd and 3rd invasions weren't as harsh, since they didn't occupied the whole country but by then the Portuguese economy was irrecoverable, specially after the chaotic times that Porto lived at the 2nd invasion and what the blockade at the Linhas de Torres Vedras caused at the 3rd. Lisbon was swamped with homeless people that had to be taken care of on the streets because there was no room for the high amount of people travelling into the capital. All agriculture stopped on the borders and the land became almost infertile after it's burning by the armies. So, the import of essential goods rose and the Portuguese economy became more and more dependant of foreign help.
The state that the Portuguese economy was left in after the retreat of the French army was the perfect condition for English traders to establish commerce with this country. Many authors say that the Methuen Treaty was responsible for the national economy not being able to become independent and for the British government to take advantage of low taxes and getting the monopoly of many trades. So, in 1811, Lisbon was transformed into a big English “warehouse”. The subsequent bankruptcies were inevitable and many merchants were absolved for their inability to pay their taxes; others were taken their properties. And now without a protectionist market and all the cause brought by war, the Portuguese mercantile splendour was long gone.
Arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in Rio de Janeiro in March 7th 1808, by Geoff Hunt.
Women in Church, by Félix Doumet, 1806.
One of the best ways that the Portuguese Church had to control the population was through the so called Devassas, inquests (today this Portuguese word is used to describe women of bad reputation/intention). It was sort of a preventive inspection that wasn't necessarily provoked by suspicion or complaints. It was a supervisory activity to control the population's morals that happened regularly all over the country. Religious representatives would organize local “courts” were everybody could talk or accuse neighbours, family and friends alike about everything that we today consider private, from who-looked-to-much-at-whom to who-had-children-out-of-wedlock. And not only sexual affairs were discussed but also petty crime. These inquests would last a few days and the Church would apply punishment like penitence, fines or imprisonments. In fact, many prisons in Portugal were controlled by Church. Since confession was protected by secrecy, the Devassas were a good way to turn the private into public and these inquiries were a good way to avoid a long judicial process, since the accused would confess publicly the sins and sign a document. Canonic law before secular law (which didn't existed in Portugal).
So, Church had a great impact in the way people interacted with each other, like marriage, sex, reproduction, population growth control,etc. In fact, unlike other countries, the time between sexual matureness and marriage was immense (over ten years) in Portugal. People married late and it wasn't uncommon for young men not to have any sexual experience until then. The average age people married in Portugal in the 18th century was about the age of 28 years. Within wedlock, not many children were born, since women became mothers late and not in their prime any more and many women didn't even married at all. But one thing is to do what religion told you (which was completely anti-natural), the other thing is what really happened in Society. In fact Portugal was the country, in Europe, that had the most baby hatches.
Not only was there a religious aspect that controlled marriage but also an economical one. Young people were economical dependant from their parents and only married when they inherited the family property. Many young women and female orphans were granted dowries by charity to ensure they had a less “sinful” life and could marry. And since 2nd born sons almost didn't inherit, male migration inside the nations borders was common. Young men would travel to the big cities to look for work and to learn a new trade.
Visiting female convents was very fashionable in the late 18th to early 19th century. Here's a drawing by Thomas Rowlandson in "Pastimes in Portugal or a visit to nunneries", 1811.
Portuguese military and civilians fighting the French army, C. Alberto dos Santos.
Detail from a painting of the Battle of Chiclana by Baron Louis-François Lejeune
Take a look at the end of the page of book 11 of the Napoleon Series.
For more information on vivandìeres I recommend reading the text below from the the book "Military Dress of the Peninsula War", by Martin Windrow and Gerry Embleton.
Vivandière, French 15e Léger, 1809-10
«To close this book we have decided to show a single representative of the thousands of women who followed the armies of both sides of campaign, suffering great hardships and danger; in an age lacking the most elementary welfare services for the troops, it was to theses staunch camp-followers that the men looked for some touch of comfort or compassion. Officers were often accompanied by their wifes, who traveled on mules or ponies and each night attempted to set up a little camp which would provide some echo of the comforts of home life. Some of the more dashing, particularly among the French, were accompanied by charming mistresses tricked out in saroual trousers and suitable modified forms of trousers or dragoon uniforms. In the ranks life was harsher. Only six men per British company were allowed to take wifes on the ration strength, and the other camp-followers had to shift themselves. On retreats or forced marches their fate was pitiable but it must be also be said that they were often of unmitigated nuisance, blocking the roads and accepting no sort of discipline. One cannot fail to be moved, however, by the accounts of their sturdy courage. More then one exhausted redcoat would have been left in the road if his wife had not carried him on her back, firelock and all. In the aftermath of the battle the wifes of titled captains an illiterate privates could be seen together, searching among the piles of dead and wounded for their men, while the local peasants stole from cover, knife in hand, and casual plunderers of both armies stripped the corpses and rifled pockets all around them.
A French regiment was usually accompanied by a vivandière, a woman who sold liquor, tobacco and the small luxuries from a cart. They had semi-official status, and were often given a form of uniform to mark their allegiance to the regiment. Some 19th Century prints show trim and jauntily costumed girls but in reality most of them probably looked more like Mother Courage. Nevertheless they were sometimes married to a string of NCO's, according to the chances of war - for on campaign they were as eligible as any brewery heiress! The 15e Léger, who apparently had a vivandière dressed in this braided red jacket faced light blue, served under Loison at Vimeiro, and with Clausel at Bussaco.»
Vivandière of the French 15e Léger, 1809-10
But not only sutleresses accompanied the military. There where all sorts of other camp-followers that where part of a the daily lives in war. I don't need to mention those who had the oldest job in the world (because that goes without saying and a good deal is a good deal!) but I'm going to mention the wives and the partisans.
Here's a good website of the National Army Museum in the UK that dedicates some pages to the subject and that shows wonderful etchings by W. H. Pyne (“Camp Scenes”). My favorite one is the scene with the cart/wagon.
There were also those women, specially during the Peninsula Wars and more particularly in Portugal (given the traumatic experience being invade by the French while the army and King were fleeing), that went into war carrying weapons, alongside with all the militia groups that were formed at the time.
Here's a drawing of one of them, by Auguste Racinet in his book “Le Costume Historique”:
To all of the women witnesses of the Napoleonic War, participating or not in the battles, whatever background or activity they had, I salute you!
Fidalguinhos de Braga:
- 300g of flour
- 100g of sugar
- 50g of butter
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg iogs
- 1 tea spoon of cinnamon
- Lemon zest
Mix everything together and let the doe rest for 1 hour. Then you make little thin roles with the doe that you curve in the middle. Take them into a preheated oven, in medium temperature, for a few minutes until they are golden.
The portuguese king, Dom João VI and his wife Dona Carlota Joaquina.
And so France invaded Portugal with the kings promise not to retaliate. It must have been quite a sight for the people on the Lisbon streets seeing starving French soldiers “settling in” and no one had the permission to do anything against it. The year, 1807; the event, 1st French invasion.
The French army entering Lisbon, 1807.
As if this wasn't bad enough (remember, I said that D. João the 6th was an important character!) the king and all of his court, the government alongside with the creme-de-la-creme of Portuguese military fled to Brazil in 1807, thus leaving the country without a Ruler and army! And in 1810 he transfered the nations capital Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro (which later made the independence of Brazil possible).
The royal family embarking for Brazil at Belem, Francisco Bartolozzi.
On this November morning many of the more important people of the kingdom, clergymen and anyone who had money tried to get in one of the 36 ships available. On the docks the remaining people booed the fugitives and even some tried to stop them by force. Chaos had installed itself. 15.000 people left the country and with them valuable currency.
But what Junot wasn't expecting was the willingness of the Portuguese people to fight back. And fighting back they did!
Even though D. João promised in October to keep the continental blockage and declare war on England, he signed a secret treaty with the later to keep the Portuguese royal crown safe and grant them safe passage. a few months later, in may 1808, he declares all treaties with France null and, therefore, making England a new Allie. This was all that the Portuguese people and the British crown needed to hear.
In Portugal the people organized themselves into militias, in Porto a Junta was formed with the purpose to organize the fight against the French, called Junta Provisional do Supremo Governo do Reino (Provisional Junta of the Kingdom's Government) with D. António de Castro, Bishop of Porto, at it's front. And it was this Junta that will work closely with General Arthur Wellesley, another important character of Portuguese history of the early 19th century.
And so, therefore, the plot of this soap-opera is complete. More on some of the details such as the participation of the civilians, the economy and other matters, will be talked about on further posts.
I hope that this blog of mine will bring you some insight, specially a different one, of this 1st decade and a half of the 19th century.