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, August 17, 2014

Humble Pie

Today I want to share with you a post of an acquaintance of mine on Facebook and a keen blogger , whose blog I follow (http://kleidungum1800.blogspot.com/). Her words are truly amazing and put so simply, something I have thought for a very long time. It has nothing to do with the purpose of this blog and, yet, I feel compelled to write about it.
Here are Sabine Schierhoff's words:

«There's a group of highly skilled researchers I truly think are incredible and they do not even have an academic degree...they are interested in everything and spend the whole day doing research, never forgetting that joy is also to be found in the most simple things and how much more fun it is to share what you've found out rather than to keep it to yourself. They do not work for fame or fortune, but solely for gaining a deeper understanding for life...you often see them smile and laugh and even a minor setback doesn't upset them for long or keep them from trying again...actually we've been one of them - probably years ago. Never forget that approach to learning things like you did as a child.»

There are several ideas behind this statement and that I would like to break it down for you:

1 – The idea of non academic people doing research
I like to call myself a self-educated researcher (autodidact) and there are, probably millions, of others like me out there.
There's is nothing wrong in being a non academic researcher. In fact, it is quite commendable. It shows that curiosity and the will to strive are still part of the human basic condition.
Being a non academic researcher does not lessen the value of the research, even if there isn't a scientific approach to it. Being an academic doesn't assure that either. Being part of an University doesn't eliminate the human ability to fail or approach research the right way, nor does it devalue the skills and successes of those who don't belong.
How many times have I witnessed that Praxis answers many of the academic questions. And by this I mean, those many times where a simple group of re-enactors has answered, in it's own way, something that academics have been puzzling about for years, just because the 1st group uses a particular instrument or garment instead of approaching it theoretically.

2 – Sharing the results of your research
Now here's a topic that has driven me crazy for years!
Firstly, I strongly believe in sharing. I've never been a selfish person so, therefore, I cannot understand those who are.
Secondly, I understand that by unselfishly sharing a research that has, sometimes, taken years to built, is a good way for others to steal it. But that is for those who are Academic researchers and for those who write books on subjects that have never been studied before.
The work of non academic researches is, often, much simpler and based on the work of others. But not always! There are times were, myself included, some subjects have been picked up for the 1st time in centuries. And yet, we share it!
Thirdly, the hypocrisy of those non academic researchers (and I include re-enactors in this lot) that behave like they were the nicest people around, but in fact never mum a word.
I believe in sharing research results, because sharing is teaching and sharing shows pride in your work. I have done so in the past, still doing it now and, most likely, will do it until I die.

3 – The personality of having the ability to smile at setbacks
How many times have I encountered (and the last time just this last week) malicious behavior towards my attitude and personality. Just because I'm easy going doesn't mean I'm stupid.
There's a common thread amongst those who are non academic researchers and that is their personalities: being able to still smell the roses, not having forgotten the joys of life, even when facing setbacks, including other people.
It is the fact that these setbacks exist that make our research taste even better. We strive on doubts and lack of answers. That is what makes us go on. And it is because we're such smiley faces that setbacks come easy to us. You don't need an ultra-serious face to be a serious researcher or to be taken seriously. The results of your work show that.

4 – Never forgetting you inner child
Now here's a good advice!
If it is true for so many other moments in life, it is specially true when it comes to research. The constant questioning, the constant curiosity, the positive attitude, the joy of self-discovery are inherent characteristics of childhood and have been forgotten by so many adults. Non academic researcher haven't.
We still nag with all of our questions, we still let setbacks slide down our backs, we still squeak of joy when we resolve a problem and we still continue to approach research with that same attitude of wanting to soak out all the marrow of life.

So, for all of those of you who have shown rude behavior and rough answers to those simple people who just want to learn and ask many questions: Humble pie!
An academic title or an academic research doesn't make you any better then the rest of us. Your knowledge, academic or not, doesn't make you better just because you have it. Your attitude towards life and others does!
And raising your hands and coming to the conclusion that one is just what one is (being humble) is one of the greatest and empowering feelings around!

A salute to all of the bloggers I follow because you are the words of Sabine Schierhoff!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pitoresque review of the costume of the Portuguese

Here's another link I have been given about Portuguese garments of the 19th century. Although it is probably from 1836 and, so therefore, outside the purpose of this blog, I thoght it might interest you, since it is a "pitoresque review" and I found the link to the entire digitilized book in our National Library.



If you cannot access these, or are just interested in the link I was given, then go to:

Sunday, August 10, 2014


In the past I have posted a research similar to this called Period Cartoons, Expressions and Songs that I had, mostly, taken out of a magazine.

Since that time, I have been gathering more expressions which I now want to share with you. But please, don't forget, many of them still need verification! These expressions I have gathered from word-of-mouth and they are close to hearsay, so, not proven to be completely right!

Expression that comes from the Middle Ages in the Iberian Peninsula during the Reconquista period in which the Christian rulers fought the Muslim occupation. It actually means “Dog Killer”and refers to what Christianity perceived to be the infidels.
In defensive medieval architecture the expression means Machicolation, which is an opening in the floor of a battlement through which hot water or hot oil, stones, arrows or other could be dropped to kill the enemy.
And with this, we can understand the origins of the name. This is the official explanation you can find. But it gets more interesting. Besides being the name of places and villages across the Iberian Peninsula (we can only imagine what happened there!), it is said that it is what the local population called the invading French. Since the word “dog” was still a pejorative expression, it would make sense for them to call the enemy that and yelling “Kill the dogs” (mata-os-cães) when defending their own.
Curiously enough, in Torres Vedras, Portugal, near the Wellington Defensive Line, there is/was a village called Matacães, but probably the name has a more ancient origin then the Napoleonic one.

“Friends of Peniche”, meaning a false friend or someone that is more interested in receiving then equally giving back.
Officially the origin comes from the succession crisis of 1580 when Portugal and Spain shared the same King, Felipe the 2nd of Spain and 1st of Portugal.
The war that proceeded this succession had the help of our English allies and around 20 thousand men under the command of Francis Drake who disembarked on the island/peninsula Peniche and took the fort back from the Spanish occupiers. In the meanwhile, in Lisbon everyone awaited these “Friends that would come from Peniche” but soon rose suspicion when Drake's men plundered the maritime towns on their way and when news came that the ships didn't had the artillery capability needed to end the blockade of the Portuguese and Spanish supporters, as promised by Elizabeth the 1st. When facing the power of the enemy, the English allies understood that they didn't had enough fire power to strike back and, soon later, many of them had died from the plague anyways.
There are 2 other meanings to the expression and they come from the French Invasion period:
1st, that the people of Peniche had promised to send goods to the Lisbon population that was under the French siege, and the help never came; 2nd, that the population of Peniche called the Brits that when they understood that they were better treated by the French then the new occupiers.

 The island/peninsula of Peniche, Portugal. Image taken from the web.

“The position in which Napoleon lost the war”, meaning a prostrating-faced-down position showing, in a humiliating way, the rear end of the body.
It might have had the origin at the end of the battle of Waterloo when Napoleon was struck by a bullet and fell on the ground, or it might have had the origin of the several French soldiers that returned after the war in Russia and fell dead on the ground in starvation, cold or of tiresome.
Funny enough, we can later find this same expression in relation to the 1st World War when referring the loosing Germans.

There are 2 explanations:
1- That this expression emerged around 1830 after the UK tried to convince Brazil to end it's slave traffic, by forcing the government to adopt new laws, which everyone knew wouldn't be followed. Hence the, “For English (men) to see”.
2- That this expression came from the growing touristic interest of the Iberian Peninsula, more so the unknown Portugal, after the Napoleonic Wars. Travelers would be interested in having a cultural and local experience and the population would put up a “show” just for the English people to see. Still used in the same context today, be warned!

The first expression comes from the fact that in old times shops would have a nail on the wall inside of the establishment where all the unpayed bills were put. When the debt was payed, the paper would be removed from the nail. “To put on the nail”: It refers to situations where money is owed, of course, but also pawn shops.
The second expression means to drive a nail into something, but also to the act of borrowing something which the person cannot or has no interest in returning. Commonly used in situations where money is asked or a cigarette.
What I have heard, is that these two would have been used during the French Invasions period when the British allies stayed in Portugal and their officers occupyed houses belonging to local wealthy families. A nail with an official paper would be driven in the estate's door, informing the family that they had a certain amount of time to vacate, for the British officer to live there.

Pawn Shop Scene in London. Taken from modernurbanspace.blogspot.com

Some of the explanations have an interesting and believable background, other not so much. Could they be true? Is it what really happened? Would love more information on it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

How guys tried to pick up girls

So good, you must read it! Some of the good advice would be considered harassing these days....

Conway Shiply ESO 2

I have written a post in the past about a British sailor who was the only one to die in 1808 during the skirmishes between the occupying French and the arriving allies - the Brits. So here are 1 or 2 more details I can add to that post and the correction of his name, which I found in a mini-article in a local magazine. But 1st, here's the link to the previous post:


So, it is true that the landmark is a monument to the heroic death of Sir Courray Shipy (name corrected!), 25 years of age, who was captain of the S.M.B. The Nymph at an attack of a French vessel on the Tagus river.
I hope it has added a bit more to what was written before.