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History & Culture of Portugal - Part 16

King Dinis IPortuguese Arts, Science & Culture. Portuguese artists, composers, musicians and more.


Luis Vaz de Camoes (c.1524-1580) – Os Lusiadas (The Lusiads)
Gil Vicente (c.1465-1536) – A Trilogia das Barcas
Fernão Mendes Pinto (1509 – 1583) – Pilgrimage, “Fernão Mentes Minto”
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) – Mensagem, The Book of Disquiet
Jose Saramago (1922-2010) – The Gospel according to Jesus Christ, (Nobel Prize) - Raised from the Ground


King Dinis I (1279-1325) – 200+ cantigas (songs)


Amalia Rodrigues – Fado singer (Rainha do Fado – Queen of Fado)
Ana Moura – Fado singer
António Variações - Popular singer, symbol of Carnation Revolution
David Fonseca, Tiago Bettencourt – Popular singers


Fado = destiny, fate, traced to 1820's in Lisbon, a form of song characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fate and melancholia. This is loosely captured by the Portuguese word saudade, or longing, symbolizing a feeling of loss. (Morna – Capo Verde, Modinha – Brazil). Connected to the music of a historic Portuguese urban and maritime proletariat (sailors, bohemians, dock workers, port traders, fishwives and other working-class people, in general). Backed by guitarra portuguesa, and the viola or viola baixo.

Fado singers

Coimbra Fado
Medieval troubadours linked to the University serenaded in a style that became recognised as Coimbra Fado,
on the steps of the Monastery of Santa Cruz and the old cathedral.

Cante Alentejano
Vocal music without instrumentation from the Alentejo region. Its origins come from a similar popular music
genre created in the region of Minde by campinos (cattleherders), as a habit of singing without instruments
common in bullherding as a means to coordinate their efforts.


Vasco “Grao” Fernandes (c.1475-1542)– Jesus in the House of Marta, Last Supper, Pentecost


Portugal's patron saint is Saint George.

Nuno Álvares Pereira attributed the victory of the Portuguese in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 to George, because of the English archers present. During the reign of John I of Portugal (1357–1433), George became the patron saint of Portugal and the King ordered that the saint's image on the horse be carried in the Corpus Christi procession. The flag of George (white with red cross) was also carried by the Portuguese troops and hoisted in the fortresses, during the 15th century. "Portugal and Saint George" became the battle cry of the Portuguese troops, being still today the battle cry of the Portuguese Army, with simply "Saint George" being the battle cry of the Portuguese Navy.

Estado Novo

Portugal increased literacy from 20% (1900) to 97% (1970), and Salazar promoted nationl themes – god, fatherland, family ==> Fado, Fatima, Football, means to occupy yet repress the masses. Yet Salazar preferred to create elites, rather than teach people to read. By his death Portugal was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe, due to financing the colonial wars.

Read other parts of this series HERE.

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