Conference paper “Visual communication during the Portuguese revolt of 1640”
Visual communication during the Portuguese revolt of 1640 will be the topic of Joana Fraga’s talk at our up-coming conference on the visualisation of revolt and punishment in Constance.
Joana has has written her PhD on the picturing of the big revolts under Spanish rule in the mid-17th century (Catalogne, Portugal, Naples).
Her present paper aims at analyzing the visual representations produced during the Portuguese revolt (1640-1668). On December 1st 1640, after a coup d’état the duke of Braganza, D. João, was acclaimed king of Portugal. One of the priorities of the new monarch was to fight the notion of rebellion and demonstrate the legality of the new dynasty. To do so, the king sent men of his trust to the main cities in Europe: Paris, London, Stockholm, Munster, Venice and Rome. These agents were responsible for creating a network that favored the exchange of correspondence. They expressed their opinions on foreign policy, but they were often in charge of publishing books and portraits to support the legality of the Braganza. This correspondence shows the concerns about the importance of the circulation of these materials. They often made remarks on their production (quality and quantity) and how important they expected the images to be. Regarding the diffusion of these visual products, the Portuguese agents found two main moments for spreading them: the first couple of years after the revolt and the conferences of peace in Westphalia. During the negotiations of peace, the Portuguese agents tried to fight for their right to participate and despite their failure to do so, they kept an intensive activity of publishing and diffusing. However, these activities were not always risk-free: often the Portuguese agents were in danger and their lives were threatened by their Spanish enemies. In Venice, the Portuguese delegate was hidden in the house of the French ambassador and in Rome, the Portuguese Bishop had to face all sorts of adversities to survive. To sum up, this paper will analyze some of the most representative images produced during the Portuguese revolt at the same time that it will consider their commissioners, the context in which they were spread and the impact they had.