Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to roam around and learn a bit more about Portuguese History. To find your interests, please, have a look at the right side of the page, where you can find all the posts arrenged into labels, such as "Society", "Politics", etc. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


In 1808 the Portuguese king Manuel the 2nd decided that a monument commemorating the 1st centenary of all of those national anonymous heroes of the Peninsula War that fought the French should between the years of 1807 and 1814 to be placed in Lisbon in the Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque, today known as the Entrecampos Roundabout.

In the meanwhile the crown fell and the 1st Republic came to power and during that 1st period, political and civil instability and the 1st World War didn't allow the project of the monument to be continued.
It was only in 1933, during the Military dictatorship, before the “Estado Novo” period (the 45 years dictatorship), that the project was finally concluded.

Done by the brothers Francisco de Oliveira Ferreira and José Oliveira Ferreira, inaugurated by our President, General Carmona, it is one of many homages one can find across the country regarding that period, specially the one in Porto which has a lion crushing an eagle with his weight.
As you can see, it has several elements located on it's 4 sides. Unfortunately, although I found a website that had the different elements explained, I cannot explain all the symbolism of this monument. But here goes what I could find:

Monument of the People and Heroes of the Peninsula War, in Lisbon.
Pictures taken by me.

- Civilians, clerics and soldiers standing next to the tomb of the Portuguese Poet Luis de Camões;
- French soldiers pulling a cannon;
- A lion clenching his claws;
- A young woman kneeling at a man's feet, what it seem to be looking for protection;
- Around it are the12 shields representing the 12 locations involved in the war.
- On top the female figure representing our Nation and beside her soldiers with their weapons aiming the Napoleonic eagle.

For more info and pictures, please take a look at the following link:

Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsula War, in Porto. Picture taken from Wikipedia.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nicola & Bocage

The coffe house Nicola's front. Picture from a business card I was given, after being denied to take photos.

The coffee house Nicola was one of the emblematic places of Lisbon, where intellectuals and noticeable people would meet in the 18th century. It opened according to that period fashion of places where you could drink and enjoy those new world beverages like chocolate, tea and, of course, coffee.
This particular establishment, Nicola, was was situated in the new built Lisbon plaza D. Pedro IV, in Rocio, after the earthquake and was given it's name after the Italian who founded the coffee house - Nicola Breteiro – in July 1794.

The Dom Pedro IV plaza in Lisbon. Painting by Charles Legrand, circa 1850.

To understand the importance of such places during this time-period, besides the beverages, I can compare them to today's internet and TV: it was where one could get the latest news and the most intellectual opinions. They were the most fashionable places to be... or to avoid.
The Nicola had the nickname of “Academia” exactly because of the presence of the Portuguese (uncensored) intellectual world.
It was forced to close in 1838 because of constant problems with the law, fight breaks that gave it a bad reputation.
In 1929 it re-opened and got it's Art Deco looks.


Painting of Manuel Maria de Barbosa du Bocage, dedicated to António Araújo de Azevedo, Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs and War between 1804 and 1808.

Bocage (Manuela Maria de Brabrosa l'Hedois du Bocage) was a Portuguese poet who lived and wrote between 1765 and 1805.
What does he got to do with the coffee house Nicola? He used to spend most of his time there.
Inside of the coffee house is a painting by Fernado dos Santos depicting Bocage being aproached by the police outside of the “Nicola”and his answer to the police's questioning (who he was, where he came from and where he was going):

«Eu sou Bocage
Venho do Nicola
Vou p’ro outro mundo
Se dispara a pistola»
(I am Bocage, I come from the Nicola, going to the other world if you shoot that pistol)

Bocage being approached by the police. Painting by Fernando dos Santos (20th century) hanging inside of the Nicola.

His father, José Luis Soares de Barbosa, a Portuguese judge, arrested for not diverting money, and his mother, D. Mariana Joaquina Xavier l'Hedois Lustoff du Bocage, of French origins French, 2nd niece of the famous French poetess Anne Marie le Page du Bocage.
Much of his life is unknown but his life as a well established poet is quite the opposite.
One thing that I find curious is the fact that he has his mother's last name, instead of hos father's. Perhaps because his mother has noble origins? Did she had noble origins? The title in her name (D. = Dona) does make us think so... Couldn't find much on her though...
He was known to be a libertarian, a free spirit, writing satires of people who belonged to the establishment, criticising the backward mentality of this country, a.so.
He got on the censorship’s radar (Superintendent of the Police, Pina Manique) immediately, because of his erotic poems and also for some of his writings complementing the French revolution and Napoleon. But he wrote some texts defending the portuguese population against the French invador.
He got arrested for it, in 1797 and stayed in the Inquisitional prisons (the holy Inquisition was still in vigour in Portugal; it lasted almost 300 years in total) almost a year, being then moved to a hospice and a convent where he only was freed at December 31st 1798. He was a changed man, dedicating his life to translating French and Latin and writing some simpler poems.
He died because of an aneurysm at the young age of 40.
On a last note, the poet Bocage was honoured by being represented on the former 100 escudos bill.

A 100 escudos bill, from the 1980's (before the Euro) depicting the poet Bocage.