Rimas de Tradição Oral (Portuguese Edition)

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View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Showing an apparent distance from the normal commonplaces, he sought to establish a preponderance of the nobility of merit over the nobility of blood by creating a discourse that was kept clearly within these two boundaries and denied the possibility of the existence of a nobility outside these two categories.

Everything that fell outside the boundaries of this explanation, just as in all nobility treatises, was not a matter of nobility and therefore its inclusion in the text made no sense. This explanation of noble actions as a way of achieving honors must not be interpreted as a negation of the theory of blood nobility; it means merely that a conjunctural explanation is being provided of the mechanisms necessary for the ennoblement of certain individuals. In view of everything that has been said, we are faced with an ambiguous structure since we are dealing with a discourse in which the access of the middle ranks to the noble estate is permitted, but without this being allowed to detract from the political and symbolical importance of the noble condition itself.


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The first basic concept for our author was the idea of antiquity. The endurance of nobility over time not only stressed a temporal question, but it also set nobility in a specific time within a certain space and political reality. When Vera wrote about the Sousas, he first of all established time as one of the first indicators of nobility: Antiquity was understood as the biological continuation of a certain lineage and was related to the political category of blood. Yet, it was the succession of virtuous deeds that enhanced the fame and reputation of the lineage.

It was a tool for legitimization constructed by genealogists and nobility experts who, like Ferreira de Vera, were converts to the cause; publicists whose job it was to transmit a certain idea of nobility for the greater glory, not only of a certain lineage, but also of the entire estate and its social and symbolic prestige.

According to the omnipresent Nobiliario del Conde don Pedro , the history and life of the distinguished family members was presented as a succession of virtuous deeds, totally deserving of honorable recognition. The medieval origin of many lineages was linked to armed exploits, which would later evolve into other services.

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These services were related to the idea of individual valor, which pertained only to noblemen. Without any doubt, service had its own particular space in noble identity. At least in the case of Iberian nobilities, it did not lead to the creation of a particular distinction between noblemen serving in government or in the army. In the Portugal of the kings Filipe, the concept of nobility was founded upon the cult of the memory and the idea of prestige. To such an extent that the use of memory as a strategy for communicating the idea of nobility transformed each of the ideas of antiquity, blood and service into a political category.

Based upon these three axes, a discourse was constructed, which was sometimes tautological and closed, and at other times quite open to external influences.

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It offered information that had been objectified over time about the importance and value of the concept of nobility. It incorporated patterns of conduct upon which a discourse could be developed, and conferred a particular meaning to the dominant role of the nobility during the Early Modern Age in any kingdom of Catholic Europe.

In this way, the social memory of the concept of nobility existed within a space dominated by the idea of prestige. Nobility was thus the result of a set of social practices taking place at a political level. It was symbolic and consisted of representations which the treatise writers ascribed to a question of continuation over time. The physical space afforded the narrative about nobility the support of verisimilitude, but above all it gave nobility a substantial practical component.

In this sense, blood ceased to be a biological artifact and became a political and symbolic fact upon which the theoreticians of nobility concentrated their analysis, endowing it with a certain singularity and seeing blood as a factor of social distinction based on both visual and written memories.

Thus, the peerage books and heraldic texts became descriptions of the features of social prestige and were reinforced by the nobility treatises themselves. And with this, we reach the third of the political categories, service.

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Regardless of whatever social prestige one might wish to attribute to the nobility treatise, which perhaps derived from the lack of prestige enjoyed by the book itself BOUZA, These aspects were in themselves the framework that sustained the concept of honor as an important nobility value, offering a varied demonstration of the nature of the doctrine of nobility treatises. For 16th-century authors, the difficulties in defining the true nature of nobility were compounded by the intellectual limitations of their time, so that most of them resorted to the commonplaces of Western thought.

The fundamental axis was the binomial of virtue-honor honra , as reflected in the intellectual theme of the temple of virtue, which was also taken up by Ferreira de Vera: From this stems the reason why the law so venerates and honors them, determining that they shall be revered by all, granting them great privileges and immunities, because honor is a reverence which is paid as a testimony to the virtue that existed in such a lineage. A concept of natural nobility was identified, which served to explain the concept of political nobility.

The qualities of noblemen became established in spite of their categories. Thus, generally speaking, the classification and hierarchic composition of the Portuguese nobility shared the same values as the ones expressed in the binomial virtue-honor. This was not a random identification. Nobility and genealogical writing presupposed a degree of public esteem.

Histórias - Narrativas -Tradição Oral

The noble values applied to the Portuguese nobility seemed to concur with traditional Castilian practices. Despite basing himself on the classical influences affecting the general thought upon the idea of nobility—Aristotle, St. Thus, in , an author such as Ferreira de Vera who would differentiate between natural nobility and political nobility has to make us reflect upon the shift that had taken place in the way the estate itself was considered. Did this represent a change in direction or was it just a confusion about a fact that had not undergone any change? The author himself defined political nobility as follows: It would seem obvious to think that, despite the linguistic games, nobility was not changeable as a concept.

Our author dedicated the whole of the second chapter to this problem, dividing it in turn into two clearly different parts. We have already discussed the first one in some detail, but the second had the singularity of dealing with a Portuguese phenomenon, that of the fidalgos and their distinct foros or privileges. Most of the Portuguese writers of nobility treatises explained, commented on and highlighted the hierarchic composition of their nobility, describing the mechanism of access to each of its levels. And more so at some times than at others, obliging his king to grant new favors and increases greater than those that are owed to his house, in whose founder religion has found its defender, and the kings have found love and truthfulness with many splendid services rendered to the country, reputation and his perpetual glory.

Ferreira de Vera further identified the material values deriving from the exercise of certain professions and services and linked them to a set of immaterial values which would, nevertheless, be an argument legitimizing the social position of the individuals and formed the basis of their petitions: They serve their kingdoms with splendor and honor, and defend the royal crown with strength, and their merits and services must be rewarded with honors and dignities that feed their spirits born for great enterprises, without letting [these honors] be extinguished with the death of their predecessors, so that, in continuing to be worthy, they may imitate their example, for the blood that warms their veins is the same as that of the generous spirits that spur them towards emulating heroic deeds, it being certain that the fathers and grandfathers live on in the sons and grandsons.

This comparison allowed for the generation of spaces of communication for the nobility and their strategies of legitimizing actions, based on the support provided by the idea of time. Lineages and individuals extended their services over time, conferring the status of political truth upon the genealogical and historical data which were to be found spread between books and treatises. Distinction, which the author dated back to the Roman world, served as the first qualitative proof of the distance between the titled and the non-titled.

This tradition was linked to a deed that we also find mentioned in the work of Manuel Severim de Faria in his Noticias de Portugal , published several years later. Nonetheless, he clearly recognized this to be an undoubtedly excellent idea with regard to the consideration of the noble family: The heraldic language, so closely linked to nobility, was an essential part of its social prototype. In order to create the latter, it was necessary to make use of the knowledge provided by the peerage books, which clearly explained the reality of each of the individuals of a family or lineage.

However, their explanation was not to be found only in the peerage books, because the treatises were the place where the real nature of heraldic devices were explained beyond their purely formal aspects. Something similar occurred when the origins of the distinct noble hierarchies were narrated.

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This can be plainly seen in the already mentioned Nobiliario del Conde don Pedro and the successive updates produced by Lavanha, Ferreira de Vera and Faria e Sousa, where we can see how certain surnames were linked to a title. Finally, Ferreira de Vera devoted one of the last chapters of his book to trying to explain the mechanisms of access to privilege. The urban nobilities found in the nobility treatises the perfect medium for defining their political, ethical and cultural attitudes, for it offered them a complete system for the representation of their values. If we take the high nobility as an example, we see that a discourse was built around the question of social merit, service to the sovereign and blood, based on the recognition of honor.

As a result of this, many of those honored with distinct graces and favors in Habsburg Portugal found in the treatises the culmination of their personal strategies for the attainment of prestige, singling themselves out and linking themselves to the great nobility of blood, represented in the ambiguity of natural nobility-political nobility, without forgetting that: In accordance with its basic principles, the noble identity is built upon two equally important foundations: The idea of nobility is founded upon the public image, the public space where its own ethical code is enacted.

These limits on the other hand, were marked by the historical circumstances of the time and the different social strategies. What should definitely be highlighted is the practical relationship between the exercise of a certain social function and the maintenance of a political dynamic.

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The fact that the key to ennoblement was the combination of virtus and gratia would then explain the relationship between the nobility and the crown. The sovereign became the guarantor of noble privilege: In both cases the aim was to define a space in which the action of the central power, the King, prevailed over other circumstances traditionally linked to biological nobility and its related conceptions.

Now, the question was how to reconcile into one definition the conflict of powers within society. Once again the solution chosen was to comment on the situation through the repetition of commonplaces. Based on the Aristotelian system, which regarded inheritance as the main source of nobility, the nobility experts concocted an argument about the idea of nobility and goodness being transmitted by blood.

The same situation occurred when virtue was chosen as the origin of ennoblement, considering that the latter was a capacity which enabled the individual to enjoy certain qualities that could be claimed by his descendants, having recourse to the same system and form of communication. In this way, the idea that nobility was the fruit of virtue was openly defended by all the experts, who based themselves on the accounts of the qualities that adorned nobility and were defined by authors such as Tiraqueau. The latter established a series of basic categories, such as wealth, virtue, knowledge, the prince, the fief, jurisdiction, the military, the clerical order, custom and homeland.

We can sum up this list of words in the triptych Lineage-Function-Wealth. As has already been explained, this author tried to include both categories in a general concept that would overcome possible disagreements, both theoretical and practical, about the subject-matter of the nobility treatises. The important thing is that, in these cases, the nobility theorists resorted to quoting authority as a strategy for justifying their own discourse. The debate about the nature of nobility continued throughout the 16th century, and was of greatest importance in the 17th century.


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Only in the 18th century did we witness, at least in theory, an apparent victory of the theorists who defended the superiority of service over blood as a factor of ennoblement. At the same time, these social categories slowly entered into common law and became an essential aspect for the evolution of the idea of nobility. On the one hand, the need for a certain social mobility within the estate was justified, but, on the other hand, some values had become established that were peculiar to the nobility and were directly linked to the idea of blood.

The strength of the argument lay in the radical defense of the values of nobility, as well as of an idea of nobility based on the twin notion of virtue-honor, itself the result of building an idea of service of a more holistic nature. Lineages, coats of arms and official posts became the identifying marks of nobility, its quality further enhanced by its permanence over time. And what great social importance all these features represented during the Early Modern Age, a period that we can qualify as the age of nobility since the latter boasted a set of common characteristics that turned it into the very centre of power.

There were also other values, such as virtus , demonstrated by the energy and skill with which nobles fulfilled certain social functions, and, finally, the so-called certa habitatio , that is to say the possession of a certain territory, affording jurisdiction over the land and its population. These elements represented the basis for the arguments defined in the nobility treatises in general and by Ferreira de Vera in particular. The discourse about nobility was clearly developed along classical lines, in which honor was seen as the supreme value, extensible both to the families and their members.

Parafita, Alexandre 1956-

In its definition, the individual became combined with the collective, prestige with merit, and blood with service. I similarly wish to thank Nani, who also summoned up enough courage to read it. Some of the details of his thesis can be found in a more updated form in his book Filipe I We owe the existence of this peerage book to, among others, Juan Bautista Lavanha, who, at the request of the 2nd Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo, prepared an edition and guaranteed its publication.

Eiusdem de Nobilitate Christiana liber tre published in The full text of the dedication says: Miscellanea do sitio de N. Brito, Bernardo de []. Flos Santorum y Tryunphos das suas Virtudes. Livro en que se trata da Origen dos Reis e quantos Houve em Portugal e como sucederam. Varias Antiguidades de Portugal. Faria, Manuel Severim de Franckaneau, Gerhard Ernest Guardiola, Juan Benito Machado, Diogo Barbosa Os livros de linhagens medievais.

Mariana, Juan de Historia de rebus Hispaniae. Morales, Ambrosio de Salazar y Castro, Luis Salgado de Araujo, Ioan Sumario de la familia Ilustrissima de los Vasconcelos. Sousa, Manuel de Faria

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