Portugal's Painful Birth at The Battle of São Mamede, 24th June 1128 - Context Travel

Portugal's Painful Birth at The Battle of São Mamede, 24th June 1128


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A feverishly ambitious son, Dom Afonso Henriques, is today painted as a chivalric hero. Yet how justified was he in putting his mother in chains? Dona Teresa's much-vilified role will be thoroughly re-examined. Far from a woman overstepping herself, we will consider how queenship was a role which became increasingly, and deliberately, minimized by the male rulers after her demise. More generally, Portugal's early steps as a state are as contentious as its first significant battle. Much myth and dubious recording surround this event, yet it was to alter the fate of everyday people in continental Europe's extreme West for the next millennium.

While the rest of feudal Europe bore only a few nation-states in the 1100s, Portugal consolidated its lands centuries before what is now Spain. While partially going forwards, Portugal arguably takes several steps back in its early process of expelling its four centuries-old Muslim caliphates. Alongside this, Dom Afonso's certain Machiavellianism brought welcome news for the Pope; yet the king's presence was not always positive for the ordinary people, those who would become the inhabitants we know as the 'Portuguese'. Exploiting original images captured on-site, Pascal draws a vivid picture of the local landscape of São Mamede and its neighboring city, Guimar‹es, known today as "the cradle of Portugal". We will also undertake the difficult task of uncovering the daily realities of ordinary people in early Christian Portugal, exploring also the fate of Jews and Muslims, who suffered considerably in the painful birth stage of Portugal.

Led by an expert on cultural history, Pascal Ansell, this interactive seminar will embark on the rocky first steps of one of Europe's oldest states. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased awareness of the stifled voices that silently shaped our founding national histories.

Born in Oxford to an Anglo-Belgian family, Pascal graduated with a first-class B.A. honors in English & Music after studying in Leeds and Berlin. He approaches the city with the senses, absorbing the magic of the everyday. Pascal's collaborations with local musicians have helped build him a colorful (and loud!) picture of a city, one which resonates with a passion for the moment. As a local concert promoter, English teacher as well as Pilates instructor, Pascal has a broad insight into everyday working Lisbon and can sing the praises of the seemingly ordinary aspects of Portugal, revealing the hidden histories behind everyday life.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.