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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Quick research VII - June 7th of 1759

This is the 3rd coat of arms of Oeiras. For more info go to (sorry, only in Portuguese):

Since today is the 7th of June, I decided to give you a small insight to the importance of this date in the town I live.
I have told you in the past of the possible stay of Wellington here in Oeiras at his arrival during the 1st French Invasion, I also have told you about the importance of the town of Oeiras in the Wellington Lines as the maritime defense of the river Tagus (still need to develop tha subject in a future post) and also that Oeiras was the home of the Earl of Oeiras, Marquis of Pombal, the most notorious man in 18th century Portuguese History (for better and for worse). Perhaps I should write a post on this man one day. He has done many wonderfull and also terrible things during his lifetime.
What I have never told you was anything related to the History of this town.

 The Fort of São Lourenço do Bugio, at the "entrance of the Tagus river. Photo taken by me.

Relation to the municipal town of Oeiras to the rest of the country. You can see how it lays exactly at the mouth of the river Tagus.

Well, there have been living people around this area since the paleolithic time and iron age up to the Roman and Arab occupation. It always has been a fisher town, but during the Maritime Discoveries it grew in importance being situated exactly on the shoal line of the river Tagus. Fortifications were built, like the Forte de S. Julião da Barra and the Fort of São Lourenço do Bugio, as part of the Maritime Defense Line (which later were included by Wellington in the more general defense of Portugal against the French invasions), quarries and lime kilns emerged as part of the hustle of military defense versus maritime discoveries, and even the building of the gunpowder factory of Barcarena, which I wrote about on a previous post: http://myneighborwellington.blogspot.pt/2012/04/royal-gunpowder-factories-at-end-of.html

 Gunpowder factory of Barcarena. Photo taken by me.

 Lime kiln of Paço de Arcos, Oeiras. Photo taken by me.

Oeiras grew very quickly and in 1759 it became a town, through a regal letter written by our king D. José the 1st, granting the Marquis of Pombal the title of Count (Earl) of Oeiras. Not only was this small settlement, that has existed since the 12th century, elevated to a town, but also Oeiras became a municipality a month later as a reward by the king to his minister (Marquis of Pombal) for his efforts in rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake in 1755.
There are a lot more interesting facts linked to this town and which I'll post as a link (in English).

But one that isn't mentioned is that during the French Invasions, the Earls palace (which had not been inhabited for a long time) was “visited” by some French soldiers, probably being part of one of the many camps along the coastal line of the Tagus, or part of the wounded soldiers being taken care after around this town. Legend tells that they weren't able to steal anything and we don't know the reason why. People say it was the Virgin Mary that intervened, but most likely it was a more earthly reason.
And there you have it, the importance of this date, of today and why it is a local holiday. It seems that oeiras has been linked to the Portuguese History for a long time and today is the day that those links should be remembered.

The palace of the Earl of Oeiras, or better know as the Palace of the Marquis of Pombal.. Photo taken by me.

I cannot forget to mention the importance of religion in Catholic Portugal, specially in the month of June where a lot of towns celebrate their Patrons (including St. Anthony, patron of Lisbon) making this day also the day of Our Lady of the Candle , which is this town’s Patron Saint. Also called Our Lady of the Light or of Purification, it is a patron established in many towns, including Almeida, and is part of the Mariology movement. For more on the devotion of Mary go to:

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