domingo, 28 de março de 2010

So, About My Absence...

Well, I've been neglecting this place awfully these past two months, haven't I? In my defense, these past few months have been hectic with the school and tests changing dates because of public function strikes. However, I was in France this past week with no access to the Internet (oh, the horror!). But I'm back now to my beloved Portugal, with some juicy Luso-French gossip and a copy of Petitfils' Louis XVI. Stay tunned!!

domingo, 17 de janeiro de 2010


"Each individual in his homeland should do all he can for the benefit of mankind." - D. Antónia Ferreira (July 1855)

sábado, 9 de janeiro de 2010

Empress Isabel's Pearl

I heard the other day a very curious story. Anyone familiar with Tizian, will recognise this painting of the beautiful wife of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

On the Empress' dress, one can see a gigantic jewel pinned to the front of said dress and the enormous pearl hanging from it.

Now, on to the story. It was brought to my attention that the famous pearl is now in the possession of...

Elizabeth Taylor!

The size of it is correspondent with Miss Taylor's taste in jewelry, but one can only wonder... Is it fact or just an "urban legend"?

quinta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2010

Book Review: Empire Adrift

Author: Patrick Wilcken

Review: It's refreshing, in a way, to read about this period in time from a non-Portuguese or non-Brazilian perspective. And even those are rare. Mr Wilcken is writting from a neutral stand, as he neither has crippling hate for, say, the Royal Family, or blind adoration.

I especially liked the sources, particularly Lord Strangford, the oportunist sleaze-bag that he was. Others though, are the basic. Marrocos' correspondence remains a 'must read', for anything relating the transference of the Court.

That alone is one of the most staggering moments of the Napoleonic Era. The Royal Family, hundreds of courtiers, burocrats, servants, most of the Royal Library, carriages, furniture and anything else that can be thought of was just packed up and moved across the Atlantic.

The odd-balls tht composed the Royal Family must truly have been a sight for the brazilian eye. The insane queen, the Louis XVI-esque Regent Prince, the wicked 'Regent' Princess Carlota of Spain that spent half her time trying to depose her husband and the other half attempting to crown herself as Queen ot the Spanish territories in America.

The kiddies were a doozie as well. The vulgar and rebelious offspring were as weird as their parents, and some of them racked more chaos than their mother, which is a feat in itself.

The life of the court in Rio is narrated with extraordinary detail, (even if sometimes the portuguese translation was less than stellar).

What I really, really liked, though, was that at least, Mr Wilcken gave some air time to Portugal, after the Court's escape. A chapter recounts the horrific situation that resulted of the Invasions, whilst also mentioning the gruesome fates of some French soldiers that ended up captured by the vengeful portuguese peasents and guerilla fighters. Some included crucifications.

It then ends with the long-awaited return to Portugal due to an insurrection in Porto. A brief summary of the long and bloody Civil War that followed ends this wonderful book that I heartly recomend.

segunda-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2009


"I have a circle of girl friends who decorate me with the title of maestra (if you laugh I will forgive you) most of them know music and they say with their beautiful voices that I can not be without you." - Leonor de Almeida, Marquise of Alorna (during her incarceration) to the Countess of Vimeiro

domingo, 13 de dezembro de 2009

Spot the Diferences!! Henrietta and Catherine

I noticed something funny today when I found a portrait of Henrietta Marie of France. I thought I looked awfully familiar and then I noticed why. It was because of a portrait of Catherine of Braganza by Peter Lely. Lely obviously tried to copy the previous painting of Henrietta Marie, to the point that even the poses and the folds in the dresses and in the ermine are identical.

On the left is the one of Henrietta Marie. This one is a lot darker. She's dressed in black, which might suggest mourning, but I'm not sure,

On the right is Catherine of Braganza, in a much brighter painting. She's dressed in blue, and even the clouds outside look less stormy than in the Queen-Mother's portrait. Instead of flowers on the table like in the previous one, in her's there's a crown.

There are some more subtle diferences, particularly in terms of fashion. Look at Henrietta's sleeves. Look familiar? She's worn them several times before.

Detail from a portrait of Henrietta Marie by Van Dyck, 1632/1635

And her bodice is much shorter than Catherine's. The bodices started to get longer and more pointed as the decades went by. The hair is also a pretty big indicator. Each Queen wears a hairstyle from their time. Henrietta from the 1630s, and Catherine from the 1660s.

Regarding the artwork alone, I gotta go for Henrietta's painting. Lely was too acustomed to painting those pale, heavy-lidded seductresses to quite capture Catherine's mediterranean looks.

quinta-feira, 3 de dezembro de 2009

The Restoration

So I'm a couple of days late, sue me.

When Sebastian I decided that it was a smashing idea to go off to Africa and fight the Muslims, he forgot one teensy, weensy, insignificant detail. He was single and childless.

So when he went missing, the result was one gigantic problem which I'll sum up. Phillip II of Spain had a large claim to the throne, but Catarina, the Duchess of Bragança had a bigger one. He, however, had big armies.

Well, the portuguese nobles didn't forget Catarina's claim, and after 60 years of Spanish rule, they were a bit ticked.

Catarina's grandson didn't want the throne, but his wife did. When he was undecisive about the whole plot, she had their youngest daughter brought to them, and asked him if he was going to deny their daughter the right of being an Infanta.

On December 1st of 1640, the nobles raised up arms and headed to the Terreiro do Paço, where the Vice-Queen of Portugal, the Duchess of Mantua and her lover, Miguel de Vasconcelos had set up shop.

He was found hiding in a closet, dragged out, stabbed, thrown out of a window and torn to pieces by an angry mob, courtesy of the Duke.

In comparison, the Duchess could count herself very lucky. She was abducted and informed that if she didn't command all Spanish military posts in Portugal to surrender themselves, their officers would find themselves a head short. She accepted and seven days later the Duke of Bragança was crowned João IV of Portugal and founder of the Dinasty of Bragança.

I'm sure you can guess who the daughter was.