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, February 22, 2015


This is a post (and one that I have been wanting to write about for a long time) about a word that for most of you has a different meaning than the one I'll be telling you about. Today I'll be talking about a different usage of the word “Jacobite” and how it came into the Portuguese day-to-day life during the French Invasions.
For the sake of the general knowledge, a Jacobite is a person who follows the political movement that started in Great Britain and Ireland between late 17th to mid 18th centuries to restore the Roman Catholic Church in that country and that was supported by King James the 2nd (Jacob being latin for James). Seems pretty far away and with no connection to Portugal whatsoever. But like in so many thing about History, there's always a twist.
Many Catholics took refuge in France during this entire process of Jacobite risings and battles and occupations, specially Catholic Scots and specially after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. It is in this new country that many formed new Freemasonry lodges so called the “Moderns”, which in time got involved in other types of conflict within the Freemasonry itself but which is of no consequence to this post. And it is exactly at this point that we can make a connection to Portugal and it's French Invasions.

  The Battle of Culloden, by David Morier.

Portugal being a strong Catholic country (I have talked about the catholic Puritanism in this country in a previous post) would, of course, be a chosen place to live for a Catholic refugee and it wouldn’t be strange for a person from Great Britain to emigrate here, since Portugal always had a large number of English speaking nationals. But it was through France that the greater influx of “Jacobites” came to live here, and many of them with ties to the Freemasonry. Not forgetting that Portugal was known for it's long time Freemasonry tradition.
So, throughout the 2nd half of the 18th century some French Jacobites (let's call them that way) came to live on this end of the Iberian Peninsula, or at least have a good amount of influence in the Portuguese national intellectual scene.
But the plot thickens even more: the French Revolution vs. the Portuguese Holy Inquisition.
1stly, some of the “French Jacobites”, through their Freemasons, brought new ideas to Portugal, ideas of liberalism, etc. Not all of them, but yet with ideas that were forbidden by censorship controlled by the Inquisition. So, therefore, many of the most illustrious and influential Frenchmen were spied upon and followed. There should be no talk against the Political and Religious Institutions of Portugal, which acted as one (officially, but actually it was the Roman Catholic Church that controlled the King, the Courts of Law, daily life, a.s.o).
2ndly, it is late 18th century that France sees a great shift in it's not only political regime (changing from Absolutism to many different forms of elections) but also political system (changing from a Monarchy to a Republic). It is this and notions of Separation of Powers that bring to Portugal a 2nd influx of French refugees. In the pursuit of separating Church from State (lets not forget that France was a Roman Catholic country too), this country and it's people fell into extremism, being public manifestations of religion absolutely forbidden (I believe that there are examples of soldiers being shot for treason for having their children baptized). So therefore, again, religious refugees from France took Portugal as their 2nd home. Some of them supporters of a Monarchy, some of them not. Portugal being a Monarchy, didn't supported these new French changes and was afraid of how much influence the Revolution could bring to this territory.

 "Die Inquisition in Portugall" ,from the book: "Description de L'Univers,Contenant les Différents Systèmes de Monde,Les Cartes Générales&Particulières de la Géographie Ancienne&Moderne", by Jean David Zunner,1685

 "Execution de Robespierre and his supporters on July 28th 1794", Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1794

 It is in this entire process of revolution in France that we see a little young man called Napoleon rise in power. It is this man that became not only the chosen political leader of France (we could debate on this matter for hours alone, if the was or not elected), but also the leader of the biggest war the world had seen so far. Napoleon decides to create an Empire controlled by him and, therefore, invade several countries in Europe, Portugal included. Now, what does this has got to do with Jacobites.
Whilst during the 1st French invasion (as seen in a previous post on this blog) the main idea was to keep peace and the the French military as our allies, it was between the 1st and the 2nd invasion that the mentality quickly changed and saw everything that looked French, be French, spoke French, as enemy of the State. A witch hunt started. Civilians would take justice upon their own hands and kill everyone that looked suspicious., whether they were French or not. There's even a story of two translators working for Wellington's army being seized in the city of Porto and almost being killed by locals for carrying letters written in French. Rescued in a nick of time.
But not that Portuguese officer, Bernardim Freire de Andrade, for failing to stop the French and building a defense along the Northern Portuguese border. He faced 3 times the accusations of helping the French army, once by the soldiers under him and arrested by them, second time by the locals soon after the soldiers released him and a 3rd time when he was sent to prison by the poplar’s demand and fear of them uprising, and then was killed by them on March 18th 1809 and so was another officer on the same day, Custódio José Gomes Vilas Boas.

Body of Bernardim Freire de Andrade being draged through the streets, by Roque Gameiro, in "Quadros da História de Portugal", 1932

And how would these French, or supposedly French looking people be called? Jacobites! If you were walking down the street and someone behind would yell «JACOBITE!» referring to your person, you'll better run for your life. It was, yet again, a time for seeking refuge somewhere else for French people living in Portugal.
And this is how a simple word we recognize as a being part of different country's History can be linked to the Napoleonic Wars, more specially to it's part in Portuguese History.
I hope you have enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Saudade - the Portuguese Nostalgia


Here's an interesting article about that Portuguese word that has no translation: Saudade.
According to a British Company called "Today Translations" it is the 7th most difficult word to translate in the world.
Now, what is Saudade you ask?
It is a nostalgic feeling that translates the absence of home, friends and family and that emerges when we remember it/them. The closest word would be "to miss something or someone" and we can "kill" it. Actually, there's a Portuguese expression that says "to kill Saudades", which means to do something that can heal that hurtfull feeling.
According to this article the word was put in use during the Portuguese Maritime Discoveries, when we colonized Brazil, so 16th century. There are also other countries, like Cabo Verde, that use the same word ("Sodade"), but that is logical, we colonized those islands as well.
In Portugal, there's a type of music that translates the feeling of Saudade very well, it is Fado (comes from the latin word Fatum, meaning "Destiny"). Of course, this type of song started around the same time-period: the "Discoveries" of new lands by the Portuguese and then the migration to those new countries.
And here's a modern Fado sung by Carlos do Carmo that speaks very well of the Portuguese nostalgia:


To know about a time-period Fado, please go to the post "Period Cartoons, Expressions and Songs" - https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6736468087800388053#editor/target=post;postID=5390659523460437604;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=9;src=postname