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!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Women and the War III

For the second post of this month I'm sharing with you images I had access trough an acquaintance of mine on Facebook. Sorry for the lack of information about them. The few thing that I could find out were that these images belong to several books by Swebach-Desfontaines, a painter from the French 1st Empire specialized in war scenes, and in one of them, “Encyclopédie Pittoresque”, he drew about 84 images, in 1806. Unfortunately, not only am I only 99% sure about what I'm saying but also not able to give you a free link to it or the names of other of his publications. Even so, I wanted to share them with you.
As you probably already have seen throughout my blog, is that I enjoy period images and these ones really caught my attention, in a multitude of perspectives, specially the one closest to my heart. And by this I refer the day-to-day life in military camps and the presence of women in them. And I repeat it again, I do love people who have left us drawings and painting form back then, and Swebach, just like Lévéque, is now one of my favorites.
Just to think that these drawings were moments that the author captured, just like today's photo cameras. Makes one think what happened in these moments, in these situations, that captured his attention. What happened? Who were these people? Who were these women? What were these women's names? Why were they there? What happened to them? Why were they forgotten?
We all know the general explanations to that, but wouldn't it be great to actually be able to really know about them, if not even possible to speak to those women? Wouldn't it be great to know what went through their minds?
And what would their thoughts be about some of the chauvinistic interpretations of History one can find in today's Napoleonic re-enactment?
Wouldn't they just laugh their hearts out? Wouldn't the men beside them on this images support this laughter? Wouldn't there be thousands of little stories to tell about these women's bravery?
Well, if you still had any doubts, here's the proof of the presence of women in the war scenes across Europe during the Napoleonic wars. And I bet that they weren't all “working women”.Yes, I know... I'm awful!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


As a curious note at the beginning of this year I would like to share with you the following:
Last December I saw an advertisement on the TV about an insurance company and there slogan was about them existing for 200 years. Of course, writing a blog about the county's history of 200 years ago, this interested me and I went immediately on the web to see their site. Although informative, there was some information missing that I thought relevant for a post and I thought it wouldn't hurt to write them an e-mail with some questions. Here's what they've answered , December 19th, and which I will translate to the dot.

«Bonança (how the enterprise was called before) was founded by José Diogo de Bastos, a renowned business man that had been the Director of the Companhia Bom Conceito, replaced in 1804 by the Nova Companhia Bom Conceito, an insurance company extinguished in 1808.
Another element of the business society was one of the most important houses in Lisbon at the time- the heirs of Anselmo da Cruz Sobral – who had been a great friend of the marquis of Pombal (one of the most important figures of 18th century Portuguese History).
Although the marine insurance was the most important of the set of interests of the Company, the first insurance done by Bonança was on September 30th 1808, a fire insurance «on the property of the houses referred at the bridge of Alcântara that are attached to the South to the tercenas (land property) of His Excellency the Marquis of Pombal...» (probable quote of a period text). The ensured person was Ângelo José da Silva Freire, and important industrial. The first marine insurance was done in October 1st and had the purpose the hull and load of the ship that came from Porto to Lisbon, having the ship arrived without loss or damage at it's destiny.
Bonança was born in a troubled time and it's institution represented and exceptional and brave action, since it took the risk of uncertainty of the political situation and the economical depression lived at the time.
On August 30th, only 1 month before the the founding of the Company, the Sintra Convention had put and end to the 1st French Invasions, and there were many uncertainty about the future.
At that time, the largest part of our insurances were in the hands of foreigners because most of the other national insurance companies had closed.
The name chosen for the Company was an innovation comparing to what had been chosen until then for insurance companies, whose names were a result of the business people linked to them.
The chosen name was obviously linked to the aphorism “after the storm comes the calm” (Bonança in Portuguese), what, besides the historic opportunity, implied a strong suggestion to the life at sea.
Another curious point, the today's number 8 building in Chiado, where several of the Company's services still run, was a small palace build in the beginning of the 19th century, which in 1802 served as residence to the ambassador of France, who transfered it in 1805 to General Junot, the new representative of France at the date. In 1808 it was availed to install a part of the Napoleonic General Staff and, after the withdrawal of the French troops, was occupied by the British High Commissioner.»
(picture soon)

I wanted to thank the Communications office of the Fidelidade Insurance Company and more so Mrs (or Ms) Filomena Pascoal for answering my questions. It is always nice not only to be replied but also with such diligence and kindness in sharing information.

For more information on the Insurance Company, here's a link to their site and the advertisement video I was talking about.