Why Did Valarte Die? Death of a Danish Knight during Expedition to West Africa in mid-15th Century

Africa Map from 1502

‘The fame of their affair having spread through the different parts of the world, it arrived at the Court of the King of Denmark and Sweden and Norway; and as you see how noble men venture themselves with the desire to see and know such things’

The Atlas Miller


This gem in the history of cartography is the outcome of the combined efforts of the workshops of the first two ‘schools’ of Portuguese cartography

Philippa Langley: The End of Richard III and the Beginning of Henry I

Philippa Langley placing a rose on Richard's casket. Will Johnston - Leicester Cathedral.

Amidst all the excitement, and the whirlwind that was Richard III’s reburial in Leicester, I managed to catch up with one of the world’s most famous Ricardians, ‘the Kingfinder’, Philippa Langley.

The Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado

FVD-11 001

Vaz Dourado authored at least four different nautical atlases, each of them including 20 maps, painted between 1568 and 1580, which is to say at the pinnacle of Portuguese cartography.

Besteiros Do Conto (Crossbowmen): Organization, abuses of power and irregularities during the reign of Dom João I (1385-1433)

Besteiros Do Conto (Crossbowmen/archers)

The aim of this paper is to examine an aspect of social life linked to one of the most important and original forms of military organization in the whole of Portuguese history—the besteiros do conto (crossbowmen).

Anatomy of a Crusade: The De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi and the Lisbon Crusade of 1147

The Conquest of Lisbon painting by Alfredo Roque Gameiro (1917)

This paper will argue that the author crafted the speeches largely after the fact, and that Raol was able to graft ecclesiastical crusade theory onto the siege. In effect, he was able to marry a military success to the growing body of crusade propaganda.

Beyond the Border. The aristocratic mobility between the kingdoms of Portugal and León (1157- 1230)

Alfonso IX of León

During the reigns of Fernando II and Alfonso IX, the kingdom of León became home to several Portuguese aristocrats. Their relations with the Galician and Leonese nobility helped them create many cross-border ties and a powerful network of family-based relationships which heavily influenced the course of the main political conflicts of this period.

The Rise of a Tax State: Portugal, 1367-1401

Pieter Brueghel the Younger - 'Paying the Tax' (The Tax Collector)'

This paper uses the case of fourteenth-century Portugal to question a common assumption of “fiscal history” literature, namely the linear relationship between war-related fiscal demands increase the level of taxation.

Petrus Hispanus (circa 1215-1277) and ‘The Treasury of the Poor’

Pope John XXI (Petrus Hispanus)

The identity of Petrus Hispanus is a matter of some controversy. Part of the problem is centred on the fact that ‘Hispanus’ covers the general region of the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in medieval times as ‘las Españas’ (the Spains), incorporating both present day Spain and Portgual.

The Physicality of Service in German Ideas of Knighthood, c.1200-1500

German Knight - Jörg (Georg) von Ehingen

Jörg’s memoir is a particularly informative example of how one knight understood his own calling to knighthood and his practice of it. The medieval knight had a voice, and although precious few memoirs like Jörg’s exist, knightly perspectives inform a considerable breadth of primary materials.

Writing the Antithesis of María of Aragón: Alvaro de Luna’s Rendering of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris


Of the many works that form the canon of the debate on women in the fifteenth century, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, there is a text that often omitted. This lesser known text was written by one of the most notorious figures in Spanish history: don Alvaro de Luna.

Ferdinand the Saint Prince of Portugal

Image of the Portuguese Ferdinand the Holy Prince (Fernando o Infante Santo), depicted as a prisoner in a Moroccan jail in Fez. Center panel of a tryptych commissioned c. 1455-1460 by Prince Henry the Navigator, possibly painted by João Áfonso, depicting the life and passion of Ferdinand, to be placed in the chapel of Henry the Navigator at Batalha monastery.

Ferdinand was doomed to have a very sad story.

Philippa of Lancaster, Queen of Portugal

Detail of a miniature of the marriage of John, king of Portugal to Philippa of Lancaster

As far as possible, Philippa and Joao went everywhere together. They put forth the image of a loving and happy family. They agreed to name their first born child a Portuguese name if it were a boy and an English name if it was a girl and then alternate names, irrespective of sex.

Interview with Dana Cushing, on De Itinere Navali

third crusade book

The other interesting story is the manuscript’s survival itself – it was nearly destroyed three times in the past two hundred years alone! Who knows how many narrow escapes it had just from war, fire, neglect, ignorance, and so forth before that?

De Itinere Navali: A German Third Crusader’s Chronicle of his Voyage and the Siege of Almohad Silves 1189 AD

third crusade book

Eleven shiploads of German crusaders from the cities of Lübeck and Bremen departed the Holy Roman Empire in 1189CE, part of Frederick Barbarossa’s crusader army destined for the Holy Land via England, Portugal, and the Mediterranean polities.

Castle for Sale in Portugal

castle for sale portugal

Also known as Saint Clement’s Castle, this fortress was built between 1599 and 1602 in order to defend the River Mira and town of Milfontes from pirate attacks.

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice: From Oriental Bazar to English Cloister in Anglo-French

Medieval Market Spice Stall

Until recently, such limited interest as late Anglo-French was able to arouse amongst scholars specializing in medieval French has been confined, with only a very few exceptions, to the efforts made in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries to teach what was by now a language unknown to most of the inhabitants of a country moving inexorably towards the unchallenged dominance of English as the national language.

“Vir sapiens dominabitur astris”. Astrological knowledge and practices in the Portuguese medieval court (King João I to King Afonso V)

John I of Portugal

Offers a brief explanation on the foundations of medieval astrology. Astrology reveals itself as a complex body of knowledge, with specific rules and methods. Its principles were based on the natural movement of the celestial bodies: the rising and setting of the Sun, the sequence of the seasons, the phases of the Moon.

The Cone of Africa . . . Took Shape in Lisbon

Africa - medieval map

The year that Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic and Isabel and Ferdinand expelled the Jews from Spain, an unheralded event took place. A cartographer in Lisbon, Portugal, drew an amazing map detailing the coasts of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and western Africa.

The Crusades Go Global: Crusading in the 16th Century

Spanish Conquistadors

Today I will argue that the crusades, an already well-established, world-historical movement went global in the 16th century.

Beyond chicken: avian biodiversity in a Portuguese late medieval urban site

Medieval birds

Between 2003 and 2004, prior to the construction of an underground parking in the Avenue Miguel Fernandes, an archaeological rescue excavation was carried out by a team of archaeologists from the company Crivarque…The excavations uncovered 137 silos, of which 109 were fully excavated. The high concentration of silos turned out to be the most striking find of the archaeological works.

King João II of Portugal “O Príncipe Perfeito” and the Jews (1481-1495)

Portrait_of_John_II_of_Portugal/King João II of Portugal

King João II of Portugal, who reigned over the Portuguese from 1481 un- til 1495, has enjoyed a rather positive posthumous reputation in Portugal and in Portuguese historiography…In Jewish historiography, however, the ruthlessness of King João II has earned him considerable infamy.

Patronage and indebtedness: Portugal, Castile and the papal Court around the year 1300

Pope Boniface VIII, fresco by Giotto di Bondone in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome

At the time of Nicholas IV’s election in February 1288, for thirteen long years the king and kingdom of Portugal had been suffering the consequences of excommunication and interdict, as specified in ‘De regno Portugalie’, Gregory X’s ‘constitution, ordinance and provision’ of September 1275.

Portuguese ecclesiastics and Portuguese affairs near the Spanish cardinals in the roman curia : 1213-1254

Portugal in the 16th century

The lives, families and clienteles of Pelayo Gaitán and Gil Torres, the two cardinals whose actions I wish to analyse here (1213-1254), seem to be a good example of how instrumental, their ‘natio’ proved to be, in the management of
the affairs they were summoned to deal with.

The Cluniac Priories of Galicia and Portugal: Their Acquisition and Administration 1075-ca.1230

Monastery of Santa María de Villaverde de Sandoval, 12th c.

It goes without saying that two topics are central to progress on all the rest, and it is to these that the present paper will address itself. First, the problem of acquisition…Secondly, the problem of administration…

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