The People of the Orient as Seen by the Chroniclers of King Manuel I
By Anabela Miranda Soares
Sights and insights: interactive images of Europe and the wider world, edited by Mary N. Harris and Csaba Lévai (Pisa University Press, 2007)
Abstract: The aim of this work, based on specific documentary sources – the chronicles relating to King Manuel I, who ruled from 1495 to 1521 – is to examine descriptions of the habits and customs of the peoples the Portuguese navigators encountered. Knowing that these Portuguese navigators opened the way to another world and another set of civilizations, little known in Europe, these chronicles present different values and different ways of life which confront those of the Christian West.
It is in this context, through the lens of a set of European rules and laws, that the Portuguese would look at such others and embrace their world. And these others lived in a world not entirely unknown, whose differences would, however, produce perplexity, wonder and even fantasy, as seen in writings which would in turn give rise to others, reinforcing the expectations of those leaving Lisbon to reveal the secrets of the sea.