ICARUS Lecture: Digitized archival materials from different corners of Europe

On March 23rd, Dorottya Szabó – Senior Archivist and head of department of Digital Services National Archives of Hungary and Anabela Borges Teles Ribeiro, Head of Departments of Digital Contents Conservation and Restoration, at Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, supported by Maria dos Remédios Amaral, gave the ICARUS Online Lecture #5 on the topic: Digitized archival materials from different corners of Europe: birth of transmedia exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project.

The exhibitions aim at telling the stories and experiences hold inside European archives across multiple platforms and formats using various digital technologies, working together with cross-platform media and involving new publics.

Anabela Borges Teles Ribeiro

Anabela Ribeiro and Dorottya Szabó described the process of “making the exhibition”: the choice of documents and scientific work of historians, the digitization, the designer’s work, the creation of merchandising products, videos and entertainment apps in the different environments of Hungarian and Portuguese archives.

Dorottya Szabó


They also addressed the topic of managing these activities during a pandemic, which greatly affected the event’s schedule and opening of the exhibitions. Thanks to the efforts of the archival staff’s this process was successful and the exhibitions are currently open. Exhibition catalogues and materials are available at this page & check the Exhibition timeline.

See the session here or on the ICARUS YouTube channel!

For general information about the EDT Project please click here.

Stay tuned for more ICARUS Online lectures!

Written by Stella Montanari, International Centre for Archival Research.

International Nurses Day: 12th of May

The Order of St. John was set up in ca. 1048 to assist pilgrims in the Holy Land. They opened both hostels and hospitals for this purpose and also started protecting these pilgrims hospital gaining a military character.

After settling in Malta, they started building the city of Valletta in 1566; 12 years later they finished the building of the Sacra Infermeria (Sacred Infirmary), a new hospital which was one of the best in Europe at the time.

The Supreme Head of this hospital was the Grand Master himself, one of whose titles was that of ‘Servant of the Sick’. Another high officer was the Grand Hospitaller, the senior among the French Knights who exercised over-all control in hospital matters.

Initially, the Sacred Infirmary was a male institution; female patients were not admitted. This was remedied by Catherina Scappi, a noble lady, who some time before 1625 donated a house in Valletta for the care of sick and destitute women. The Order realized that a hospital for women was an essential service, and the Scappi hospital was developed as a department of the Infirmary.

The nursing of the sick by the Knights of St John at the Sacra Infermeria in Valletta (Malta). An engraving by Philippe Thomassin (1562-1622) in the Statute of the Order of St John, NLM, Statuta Hospitalis Hierusalem, [Rome], 1586).

The Order of Malta was essentially a hospitaller Order.  Indeed, the Grand Chapter of the Order, convened by Grand Master Fra’ Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle in 1584 in the new city of Valletta, confirmed the early Statute and made hospitality mandatory to all Knights.

The new statutes include engravings by Philippe Thomassin (1562-1622), illustrating life in the Order; one of them is the nursing of the sick at the Sacra Infermeria by the Knights. (Ref NLM, Statuta Hospitalis Hierusalem, [Rome], 1586).

Written by Leonard Callus, National Archives of Malta

Love songs by King D. Dinis (fragments)

On Valentine’s day we retrieve a document with medieval love songs written by D. Dinis, King of Portugal (1261-1325), included in the Exhibition  “The Construction of Europe”.

Love songs by King D. Dinis (fragments). Torre do Tombo Archive.

The document, also known as “The Sharrer Parchment”, discovered in 1990 at the Torre do Tombo Archive, includes musical notation, found for the first time in love songs, and is the oldest known register of Portuguese secular music.

The love songs take us back to a cultural tradition of the European medieval courts, where courtly love was favored, that is an amorous compliment aside from patrimonial, family, and political pressures that were inevitably present in marriage alliances.

King D. Dinis was a prolific and well-known author of troubadouresque poetry of Iberian tradition: 137 poems were identified, 75 love songs, 11 satirical songs and 51 amigo songs. This king developed his musical and poetic genius in the context of the confluence of European cultivated courts to which he was linked by family and cultural bonds: his father, King Afonso III, spent his youth in the court of the king of France (Louis VIII), and married the Countess Mathilde de Boulogne, knowing the cultural atmosphere of the French court.

One of the educators he chose for his son Dinis was Americ d’Ébrard, of Aquitaine, who introduced him to the culture from beyond the Pyrenees and to the troubadouresque schools. On his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Alfonso X, the Wise, King of Castilla and Leon, the author of a vast poetic work, including the well-known “Cantigas de Santa Maria”. Later, D. Dinis married Isabel of Aragon, from a court that cultivated poetry. There was great proximity between Aragon and the South of France and their troubadouresque courts.

The troubadour poetry of courtly love emerged in the Iberian Peninsula, influenced also by the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James, under a strong Provencal influence, considering minstrels and troubadours constituted an international and migratory brotherhood, traveling from one court to another in the Peninsula.

If the amigo songs, where the troubadour embodies a female voice, are part of an Iberian tradition of popular origin, the love and satirical songs belong to a troubadouresque tradition of European courts and feudal lords, of Provencal origin, between the 12th and 14th centuries.

In love songs, the troubadour, a noble man and author of the melody and the lyrics, expresses his passion for “his lady”, a woman of unique beauty and virtue that, according to the canons of this ritualized love, isn’t identified. Only the submission of the troubadour is exposed, who expects a reward, that could be a present, a look or something significantly more physical, being the service and the suffering of the lover the biggest proof of his love.
This “service” of loyalty and love for the lady mirrors, in the romantic relationship, the dependence relations that united vassal and lord in the feudal system.

What is the human reality hidden behind these rituals and conventions? What is the point of all these secrets and precautions? In most love songs the “servant” expects to receive a favor of the lady, but keeps the favor a secret.
For the Portuguese Culture historian António José Saraiva, we have to consider that these protagonists are frequently feudal lords, kings and sons of kings, the songs’ theme is clandestine love, outside of marriage, so the secrecy is a precaution, not literary fiction.
Clandestine love and adultery are a recurrent theme of medieval love literature and of the great romantic couples that the Middle Ages have left us: Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, …

Click here to listen to one of the 7 love songs: A tal estado me adusse, senhor.
In this song, the troubadour tells his lady about the state her beauty and qualities have left him in: nothing gives or will give him pleasure, until he sees her again.

Written by Maria Trindade Serralheiro (text) and Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.)
Senior Technicians, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.

Exhibition Opening at the National Archives of Malta: The Construction of Europe

The Construction of Europe.

The first from the series of three exhibitions was inaugurated at the National Archives of Malta (Rabat, Malta) last Friday, 28th of January 2022. Within the framework of the European project European Digital Treasures, the first exhibition is titled: ” The construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years”.

The narratives displayed here combine different technological tools that allow us to get to know our written past through multiple channels. On the basis that these documents have the remarkable ability to tell the micro-stories that made possible the great construction of Europe, these innovative products allow visitors to experiment and play, to learn and share, as well as to feel moved by our common past.

The opening was attended by partners of the project from Spain, Hungary, Norway, Portugal and Austria!

Read more about the exhibitions here.

Partners of the European Digital Treasures Project.

Written by National Archives of Malta.

The Holy Right Hand of Stephen I, King of Hungary

The Holy Right Hand is a Hungarian national and Catholic relic, which is believed to be the naturally mummified right hand of Stephen I, first king of Hungary, referred also as St. Stephen.

St. Stephen (in Hungarian Szent István) was born around 970-975 in Esztergom. He was a member of the Árpád dynasty, born a pagan but was baptized as a Christian. In 996, he married Gisela of Bavaria, sister of the future Holy Roman emperor, Henry II. After the death of his father, Grand Prince Géza, Stephen combated an insurrection led by his cousin, Koppány, who claimed the throne in accordance with Árpád succession rules. After defeating Koppány, Stephen was crowned as (the first) king of Hungary with a crown received from Pope Sylvester II.

His coronation took place around 1021 years ago, on Christmas Day in 1000 and it signified Hungary’s entry into the family of European Christian nations. Stephen treated the church as the principal pillar of his authority, dispatching missionaries throughout his realm, founding bishoprics and abbeys and making the building of churches mandatory. He died in 1038 and became Hungary’s patron saint.

The king’s naturally mummified right hand is one of the most significant Hungarian national relics, found when his stone grave was opened on August 20th, 1083, in Székesfehérvár. (The identification mark of the right hand was the king’s ring, which adorned the hand.) The relic saw a few adventures in its time. During the Turkish occupation, it ended up in Ragusa (today: Dubrovnik, Croatia), where it was guarded by Dominican friars, attracting a growing number of pilgrims to the city.

Queen Maria Theresa (1717–1780), late successor of St. Stephen on the Hungarian throne, negotiated the return of the Holy Right Hand in 1771, offering to the historical city of Ragusa her protection against the threat of Russian invasion in return. In her charter decree, she set out how the relic, St. Stephen’s mummified hand is to be respected throughout the country.

During World War II, the Holy Right Hand was concealed – similarly to the coronation jewels – near Salzburg, in Austria. The relic arrived back to Hungary in 1945, and it has been on display in Saint Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest since 1987.

The charter issued by Queen Maria Theresa on 7th August, 1772 in Vienna is a parchment volume, sealed with the greater Hungarian secret seal and consists of 10 pages. It is kept by the National Archives of Hungary, in Budapest (under the reference code HU-MNL-OL – C 90 – № 11).


The record is showcased in the first thematic exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project, entitled Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years.

Written by Dorottya Szabó
Senior Archivist, National Archives of Hungary

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

December 2nd is celebrated as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
Although it seems a distant reality, the Global Slavery Index of 2018 reports that, in 2016, around 40.3 million people were in conditions of modern slavery, the vast majority being women (71%). Of these, 24.9 million were in conditions of forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriages.

The historical process that led to the outlawing of human trafficking and slavery in the light of Human Rights was long and tortuous:
By the law of 1761, D. José, king of Portugal, declared free all male and female slaves brought from Asia, Africa and America that disembarked in Portugal.
This law did not translate, however, into the end of slavery, since, in addition to the existing slaves, there were also all those who were born of a slave mother and who, for this reason, remained slaves. Twelve years later, in 1773, a new law was passed, known as the Law of the Free Womb. It determined that children born to a slave mother became free and that all slaves whose great-grandmother was already a slave could be freed.

Law of the Free Womb available here: https://digitarq.arquivos.pt/viewer?id=4662389. This document integrates the Exhibition “The Construction of Europe History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness Over 1000 Years”.

Portugal, a pioneering European country in globalization, stands out for having had, during the history of its long colonial period, an important position in the global trade in slaves from Africa. Between 1450 and 1900, it will have trafficked around 11 million people.
In 1444, the first shipment of private initiative of 235 slaves from Africa arrived in Lagos, Algarve, probably giving rise to the first European slave market of the modern era. In mid 16th century Lisbon, African slaves represented about 10% of its population.

Despite the 1761 law, the illegal entry of slaves from the colonies persisted. With the independence of Brazil, many Portuguese who brought their slaves returned to Portugal. Upon arrival in Portugal the slaves were to become free, but the king granted their owners a special privilege to keep them.
However, the 1761 law is a law of modernity that begins a slow chronology, made up of advances and setbacks, towards the definitive abolition of the slave trade and slavery.
Portugal was one of the first European countries to prohibit the entry of slaves, but also one of the last to abolish, in 1869, slavery in its colonies.

Maria Trindade Serralheiro (text) and Ana Fernandes (trad.)
Senior Technicians, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal
.

The Papal recognition of the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem in 1113

At around 1048 the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mustansir Billah gave permission to some merchants from the Republic of Amalfi to build a hospital in Jerusalem. The community, which was led by Blessed Gerard, ran the hospital and became independent during the First Crusade in around 1099. This was the origin of the Knights Hospitaller.

This Bull, issued by Pope Paschal II on 15th January 1113, is considered to be the founding charter of the hospital. It transformed what was a community of pious men into an institution within the church. By virtue of this document, the Pope officially recognized the existence of the new organisation as an integral and operative part of the Roman Catholic Church.

Papal Bull 1113 – National Library of Malta.

In it, the Pope formally recognized the foundation of the hospital, which became a lay-religious order under the sole patronage of the church. The Bull gave the right to elect its Grand Masters without interference from external authorities.

The Bull includes a list of the Order’s hospitals and hospices in France and Italy, indicating that it was not limited to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and that it already had a European dimension.

This document, from the National Library of Malta, forms part of The Construction of Europe, one of the three transmedia exhibitions developed by the European Digital Treasures project.

Leonard Callus, Head Office National Archives of Malta

Treasures in Archives

Call for audio-visual (short documentary) projects

The partners of the European Digital treasures project have launched a call for short documentaries on the topic “Construction of Europe”!

Application dates: 15th June to 31st October 2021

Audio-visual creators based in Hungary, Malta, Norway, Portugal and Spain can participate in this call.

Our goal is the production of several short documentaries or animated documentaries based on documents held by our archives.  These records, ranging between the Middle Ages and today, will contribute to better understanding of our shared European history and identity.

During this first phase, we are inviting audio-visual creators to submit:

  • a project description, their choice of the documents and a sample of the storyboard;    
  • a short video explaining the project.

After this, the documentaries that are to be funded by our project will be chosen.  

Munster Technological University (MTU) will organize an international encounter for the chosen audio-visuals in Cork, Ireland, on 20-22 April 2022.
Eventually, these audio-visual productions will be presented during the annual convention of the International Centre for Archival Research (ICARUS) during the last quarter of 2022!

Click on the link & become part of it:
https://www.treasuresinarchives.com/
https://www.digitaltreasures.eu/activities/treasures-archives/

Written by Leonard Callus,
Head Office – National Archives of Malta

The Charter of Law of Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1867: a pioneer milestone of European humanism and liberalism

The Charter of Law is included in the first exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project “The Construction of Europe” as one of the records representing the intellectual Heritage of Enlightenment.

Portugal was one of the pioneering countries with a law to abolish the Death Penalty for civil crimes. The law was approved by the Portuguese Parliament and published on July 1st, 1867.

Charter of Law approving the penal and prison reform, with the abolition of the death penalty, 26-06-1867 / 01-07-1867, Lisbon (Portugal) 12 folio sheet containing 3 records, manuscript on paper; 40 x 25,5 x 0,4 cm National Archive of Torre do Tombo Ref Code: PT/TT/LO/003/31/64,
National Archive of Torre do Tombo.

How had this issue been discussed in the early times of European abolitionism in the 18th and 19th century?
It was a time when philosophers, jurists, poets, writers, publicists and some state rulers discussed and implemented, with advances and retreats, penal reforms with more efficient laws against criminality, but also more respectful for human dignity: cruel and corporal punishments, executions exuberantly carried out in public became less common.
Cesare Beccaria, a philosopher and jurist of Milan, published, in 1764, his famous and influential criminology essay “On Crimes and Punishments”. He proposed some of the first modern arguments against the Death Penalty. He was deeply opposed to the capital punishment, which was rare for a time where this sanction was an acceptable response for many crimes. He openly condemned the Death Penalty and argued: the state does not possess the right to take lives; the Death Penalty is a crime legitimated by law; capital punishment is neither a useful nor a necessary form of punishment.

In the mid of the 19th century, Europe saw a new wave of abolitionism. In 1848 the Death Penalty was abolished in San Marino, Freiburg and Neufchatel. In France, Victor Hugo launched a vigorous campaign which contributed to the abolition of the Death Penalty for political crimes in 1848.

Victor Hugo, the French novelist and a fervent abolitionist celebrated the pioneers of the abolition of the Death Penalty in Portugal as an achievement and hope for the European abolitionist movement.
He writes, on the 2nd July, 1867, to Eduardo Coelho, director of the newspaper ”Jornal de Notícias”:

   (…). I congratulate your parliament, your thinkers, your writers and your philosophers! I congratulate your nation. Portugal gives the example to Europe. Enjoy this immense glory beforehand. Europe will follow Portugal. Death to death! War to war! Hate to hate! Hurray to life! Liberty is an immense city, of which we’re all citizens. I shake your hands as my compatriots of humanity.”

European Heritage Label,
National Archive of Torre do Tombo.

As part of its commitment to defending Human Rights, the EU is the largest donor in the fight against Death Penalty worldwide. All EU countries have abolished the Death Penalty in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. All over the world the death penalty seems to decline. Although over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where the Death Penalty continues to exist.

As European citizens we also have the chance to look at this past as a springboard to the future of Human Rights in Europe and in the world.
As an important milestone in the promotion of European Values of Citizenship, with special focus on Human Rights, the Charter of Law was awarded the European Heritage Label, in 2015. The record is accessible in six EU languages.

Written by Maria Trindade Serralheiro, Senior Technician / Information, Statistics and Quality Systems, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal
Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.), Senior Technician / Communication Office, Torre do Tombo National Archive, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal

Opening of the exhibition “The Construction of Europe” at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain)

After more than two years of work in the preparation of the three transmedia exhibitions included in the European Digital Treasures project, yesterday, 29th of June, the first one, The Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 Years, was successfully opened at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (Spain).

This exhibition is the outcome of the European cooperation, a clear example of the combination of the capacities, heritage, diversity, value, and inspiration of all those who have made this project possible.

The narratives displayed here combine different technological tools that allow us to get to know our written past through multiple channels. Visitors can interact with: 8 original documents from 4 different archives, 20 facsimiles from 7 countries, 22 digital reproductions of documents from 6 countries, displayed in interactive booths, 1 quiz game for people who love challenges, 1 memory matching game to encourage observation, 1 infinite running game to reward speed by catching archival documents, 1 interactive RPG game to learn how to work on an archive, 4 augmented reality experiences to explore parallel worlds and videos presenting the project and its merchandising products!

During yesterday’s morning, there was a presentation for the media and, later, after the opening ceremony, a representative of the National Archives of Hungary, Zoltán Szatucsek, responsible for curating the exhibition, did a guided tour for the guests.

The opening was chaired by María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, general director of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain; by Silvestre Lacerda, general director of the Book, Archives and Libraries of Portugal on behalf of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union; and by María Oliván, head of the Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents Unit of the European Commission. It was also attended by the members of the ‘European Digital Treasures’ project from the National Archives of Norway, Hungary and Malta and a representation of the Spanish State Archives, led by Severiano Hernández, deputy director of the Spanish State Archives.

Additionally, the Archive of the Crown of Aragon also hosted a semi-virtual meeting of the European Archives Group (EAG). The first meeting of this group since 2019.

The exhibition can be visited until October 29th, 2021 in Spain, with capacity restrictions and hygiene and safety measures established by health authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Practical information: http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/archivos-aca/destacados/expo-digital-treasures.html

Written by Spanish State Archives