Placed in an emblematic space in the historical centre of the city of Porto, in the Centro Português de Fotografia, the exhibition European Discoveries: from the new world to new technologies is on its second edition, from November 19 to 22 January 2023, after its opening to the public at the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in 2021, in Lisbon.
As the documents in this exhibition so clearly show, European discoveries were carried out in several contexts, throughout history and involving people from different countries and regions.
The diversity of documentary typologies shown in the exhibition confirms the variety of themes and contexts in which the desire to discover was evident: letters, books, photographs, X-ray images, drawings, maps and reports, among others, dating from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Preserving the memory of discoveries and inventions, scientific progress and technological advances is one of the features of the European identity and heritage.
This transmedia exhibition was displaced to the northern region of the country in order to bring the public closer to this topic, besides spreading the assumptions of the European Digital Treasures project.
The Centro Português de Fotografia, such as the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, is part of the Directorate-General of Books, Archives and Libraries. It is housed in a building that served as a prison called “Cadeia do Tribunal da Relação” in the 16th century (from 1501 to 1600), being located in the heart of Porto’s Historic Centre, next to the Torre dos Clérigos, an equally emblematic monument of the city.
Nowadays, when Europe is facing serious migration crises, the present exhibition, the outcome of the European cooperation, analyzes issues like exiles and migration flows from a historical perspective, through 47 key documents spanning several centuries, kept in European archives. These documents are divided into three main categories:
work-related migration, encompassing stories of individuals and groups of individuals, but also of the transfer of expertise, vital to the economic and cultural development;
war-related migration, covering various types of conflicts, from rebellions and civil wars through to the world wars of the 20th century;
human costs associated with political uprising, turmoil and persecution.
As in previous exhibitions, this one combines different technological tools that allow the public to get to know our written past through multiple channels. Visitors can interact with original documents, digital reproductions, quiz and video games, augmented reality experiences to explore parallel worlds and videos presenting the project.
On display are also the merchandising products, inspired by the selected documents for the three Digital Treasures exhibitions.
The opening was chaired by Silvestre Lacerda, General Diretor from the Books, Archives and Libraries of Portugal, by Severiano Hernández, General Subdirector of the Spanish State Arquives, by María Oliván, Head of Unit of Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents of the European Commission and by Ole Gausdal, International Director at The National Archives of Norway.
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.
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.
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.
As one of the major parts of the European Digital Treasures project, the Archival Literacy Online Course has been developed to assist teachers in introducing students of grade 9 and higher to the world of archives.
One of the teachers who has been using this tool in her teaching is Teresa Gomes, History teacher at Mem Martins Secondary School in Portugal. In an online presentation of the Archival Literacy Online Course on May 6, 2021, she will give insights into the course together with other lecturers. To join this event, please register here.
Teresa Gomes is the author of the following text.
Project “Digital Treasures”
This text aims to be not only a reflection on the pedagogical component of the training performed, but also on the social and informational functions associated with the archives, for the role they play in keeping the memory of the different communities and individuals.
The preservation of memory, throughout history, has been possible through the multiplicity of testimonies that allow the reconstitution of the timeline for the succession of events. The act of preserving the record of these actions constitutes the original basis of the archives which, by subjecting the documents to archival procedures, have allowed access to information through their reuse.
As mentioned in the document Aprendizagens Essenciais for the discipline of History A, must have a teaching that encourages in students a method that values the exhaustive analysis of diverse sources promotes the development of a critical perspective, enabling the deconstruction of information, identifying error and illusion (2018:2), which attributes to pedagogical tools such as those presented during “Digital Treasures” formation a particular highlight in the analysis of primary sources.
An example of the partnership between the Archive and the School was promoted through two initiatives that counted with the collaboration of the Arquivo Municipal de Sintra (AMS) and the School Library of the Mem Martins Secondary School (BE ESMM): An exhibition of the existing AMS documents, with particular emphasis on written and iconographic documents about the localities Algueirão-Mem Martins and Rio de Mouro, given that the educational community is located in these places.
During the fortnight in which the exhibition was in the BE ESMM, a lecture was held with the head of the AMS on the dematerialisation of and accessibility to documents, using digital media. During the lecture, it was shown how to navigate through different types of documents related to local and regional history was performed.
Later, in the classroom, the students worked on the website of the Assembly of the Republic and National Archive of Torre do Tombo/Digitarq to read and analyse documentation relating to the Liberal Revolution of 1820 and the Civil War between Liberals and Absolutists, as well as the involvement of the municipality of Sintra in both events.
For the knowledge of the historical context under study, the students are thus led to the reading and analysis of coeval written production as well as to the observation of records of images of the time or that in histography allow the identification of elements that promote the hermeneutic and heuristic analysis of the sources, namely in the subject of History A, in secondary education.
“Considering the behaviours of the Gypsies that “commit theft, deceit and many other offences and outrages”, the king orders that “no one in this kingdom… uses the costumes, the language or the contraptions of the Gypsies… that they don’t live together, or occupy more than two houses per street, or walk together on the roads”, but use the way of life of the people of the land.”
The 8th of April was officially declared as the International Roma Day in 1971, having been accepted by the majority of associations of Romani communities, with a view to promote the Romani culture.
The National Archive Torre do Tombo presents a law of 1708, of King John V, on the Romani people.
This law, like others issued in previous and posterior kingdoms, is a significant document for the knowledge of the history of the condition of the Romani minority in our country that, since its arrival to Portugal in the 15th century coming from Spain, was the object of discriminatory laws.
Besides the rejection of nomadism and other habits and traditions – like language, costumes and fortune-telling – these laws established penalties like working in the galleys and being exiled to Portuguese colonies, like Brazil.
It would take four centuries of living in the Portuguese territory for the Romani people to be granted the Portuguese citizenship, in 1822, by the Constitution of the Liberal Monarchy.
The Romani people, widely known for their negative visibility, are however still unknown for their history, culture and traditions.
The Roma were victims of the Holocaust (25 to 50 percent of the population) but were only tardily recognised as such: it was only in 2012 that the first monument in memory of the Romani victims of the Holocaust was inaugurated in Berlin, Germany.
Throughout Europe the hostility against the Romani people has been increasing, which today represent 12 to 10 million people in the European Union. In Portugal, they represent only 0.3 percent of the population, about 35 thousand people.
Zeljko Jovanovic, the director of the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office, states that “The situation of the Roma reflects the deep European values and liberal democracy crisis” (…) “Many politicians all over Europe have learned that they can manipulate society against the Roma to gain votes.”
The European Romani people are still particularly vulnerable to poverty and exclusion, being considered the poorest ethnic group, with worse living conditions, undereducated and the main target of racism and discrimination in modern societies.
In response to this problem the European Union implemented, from 2011, an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.
The evaluation reported by the European Commission indicates that the goal is far from being achieved: the access to education has improved (the attendance of early childhood education has increased and early school-leaving was reduced), but there is little advance in health, the housing situation is still critical. In the employment area there was no relevant improvement, there is even more youth that neither study nor work and, in some countries, the hostility has increased.
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
We present another designer product born within the framework of the European Digital Treasures project. Its creators are the designers Diogo Bessa, Mário Fonseca e Ana Catarina Silva, from the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave (IPCA). Their source of inspiration was one of the several folios of the atlas of Fernão vaz Dourado, dated 1571, whose holder is the Torre do Tombo National Archive (ANTT).
About its author, Fernão Vaz Dourado (c. 1520-c.1580), we know he was a soldier and one of the three portuguese cartographers probably born and formed in Portuguese India. He mapped the known world of Europeans at the time, the coastline of the continents visited by sailors along their voyages. With the exception of polar zones, the only missing elements are the costs of some islands in Oceania (including Australia and some islands north of this continent) the North and North East coasts of Asia (north of Japan) and the entire North West region of North America, as well as the interior of the continents.
However, and according to what is known in our days about the cartographic workshops, such works could have been the product of a slow, complex, segmented and collective effort.
The new merchandise product is an écharpe, presented in an transparent envelope, which is 100% recycled material, containing contextual information about the document that gave rise to it and about the National Archive.
Lucília Runa, Senior Technician / E-administration and innovation, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libaries, Portugal
The different stages of its creation and development process are presented in the following video: