Livermore states in the preface that he was invited to produce a history of Portugal for a series of short histories on various countries. He had already written a longer “History of Portugal” and a more compact “New History of Portugal” so for this version, he decided to concentrate on the evolution of Portuguese society. This volume covers the main important political events with some interpretation of social organization.
The early chapters cover the origins of Portugal from pre-Roman times to the accession of Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king. This section covers pre-Roman, Roman Portugal, the Suevi, the Muslims and the territory of Portucale. I found this section a bit of a slog. Livermore gives a general outline of social history here but he basically relies on the reader to know some of the events and people he is writing about. This is basic information and I’ve found other books that go into more detail about this era.
Next up is the formation of the country of Portugal, peninsular integration and the Age of Discoveries. This section holds more interest and details much of Portuguese society in medieval times and the improbable rise of Portugal and their seaborne empire. Again, there is a basic outline of the Portuguese discoveries but this book is not meant to cover this era in detail. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this section as it covered the medieval era and has some interesting characters.
Livermore has a good section on the integration of Portugal with the Spanish monarchy. Relevant to my research was an excellent explanation for the expulsion of the Spanish government and the restoration of the monarchy by naming the Duke of Braganza king and the commencement of a new dynasty. The author devotes a long chapter on the eighteenth century, the absolute monarchy and the dictatorship of Pombal. This section includes a lot of economic data and information on trade with the Portuguese colony of Brazil.
From this point on in the book, I really enjoyed Livermore’s description of the “Liberal Monarchy” and the various political factions that emerged in Portuguese government. While all of this is a genuinely tangled web, Livermore makes it comprehensible. The book ends with the dissolution of the Braganza dynasty of kings and the commencement of a republic in Portugal. This is a great little volume and I highly recommend it.
Boy am I lucky. Somehow, I managed to get a first edition of this book published in 1908. It’s filled with portraits and illustrations and dedicated to: “The people of Portugal who gave their princess throughout her life love, loyalty, devotion and by whom in her death she is not forgotten”. What a thrill to hold a book in my hands that is 110 years old. This work has been out of print for many years. My precious copy of this book was donated to the public library in Plymouth, England. It was withdrawn and a bookseller managed to find it and offer it for sale.
The subtitle of this book is “Infanta of Portugal & Queen-Consort of England. Once again, I am reading this book for research purposes. I first read Janet MacKay’s biography of Catherine of Braganza so it has been interesting to compare the two author’s observations on this queen’s life. Davidson is similar in her writing style to MacKay as there is a lot of description and flowery Edwardian language. She has a tendency to go off on a tangent here with long recollections of related subjects such as the life of the Louise de Kerouaille, Charles II’s French mistress. All of this is interesting but it does detract from Catherine’s story and it makes for a long book, 502 pages!
I found Davidson’s early chapter on the House of Braganza and Catherine’s childhood to be thin on information. Catherine’s early years are shrouded in mystery so this accounts for some of the lack of detail. And the particulars of the Braganza family history are questionable from other research I have done. Some of the positives in this narrative are the description of Catherine’s resistance to allowing Barbara Palmer, Lady Castlemaine as a Lady of the Bedchamber and her views of Catherine’s relationship with Charles.
Davidson’s recounting of the Popish Plot which threatened Catherine’s life if not as detailed and insightful as MacKay’s. She also quotes verbatim the letters written in Catherine’s own hand to her brother in arranging her return to Portugal after Charles’ death just as MacKay did in her biography. Davidson’s description of the last years of Catherine’s life in Portugal is not complete. There is a very short bibliography here and she cites some sources that do not appear in her list. But overall, this is a well-researched and detailed biography. She must be given credit for completing the first comprehensive biography of this enigmatic queen based on the sources and methods available in the early 20th century.
I’ve been doing some research on the seventeenth century and found a used copy of this book, originally published in 1937. MacKay wrote this twenty-nine years after Lillias Campbell Davidson wrote her definitive biography. I have been unable to find any biographical information on MacKay, who authored one other book.
There are many primary sources documenting Catherine’s life. MacKay’s writing is flavored with description and fantasy but overall she adheres to the historical truth. I found Mackay has a considerable amount of insight into the personalities of Catherine of Braganza and King Charles II and it makes for interesting reading.
The first chapter on Catherine’s life is short, about twenty pages but this is the only part of Catherine’s life that is not well-documented. The narrative then picks up momentum and describes the various negotiations regarding her marriage to Charles II, the newly restored Stuart King of England. There’s a great description of Catherine’s leave-taking of her mother, her brothers and her beloved Portugal. Once she is in England, her troubles begin with the difficult Lady Castlemaine and Charles’ insistence that she relent in allowing Castlemaine to become a Lady of the Bedchamber.
MacKay gives a succinct and compelling retelling of the Popish Plot which threatened Catherine’s life. Although her time in England had its ups and downs, Charles stood by her the entire time. She was devastated by his death in 1685. Catherine remained in England another seven years and worked tirelessly to return to Portugal. Her marriage contract allowed this but she had a difficult time getting a ship to take her home and some illness which delayed her. Astonishingly, there are eighty letters written by Catherine in the British Library, many of them written to her brother regarding arrangements for her return to Portugal. MacKay quotes these letters extensively to tell the story.
The last few years spent by Catherine in Portugal are well covered here. The book has several portraits. There is an adequate bibliography but it is poorly footnoted as many books were from this era. Nonetheless, MacKay has written an insightful biography which I enjoyed very much.
There is no doubt, the court of King Charles II of England was decadent. This book tells the entire story of this hedonistic king, beginning from his youth in England, through his exile in Europe, his restoration to the throne of England and up until his death. Every mistress is covered here and not just for the king. Pritchard details the lives of some of the noteworthy men of the era such as Charles’ brother, James, Duke of York, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester among others.
All of these men had many mistresses. Some of them are famous such as Barbara Palmer, Lady Castlemaine and Duchess of Cleveland, Louise-Renee Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, Hortense Mancini, the actresses Moll Davis and Nell Gwyn and Charles’ early liaison with Lucy Walter. The Duke of York took as his mistress Anne Hyde, daughter of the Chancellor Edward Hyde and made her his wife, marrying her in secret. Duels were fought over some of these women. The Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting were fair game as well as the maids and servants.
What’s different about this book is that the author is a specialist in seventeenth century and modern literature. He points out how many writers, poets, and playwrights chronicled all of these liaisons in their poetry, lyrics and drama. Many of these are quoted in the book. It gives us insight into how other ordinary folk viewed the libertines at court as well as the women. I have to admit, after a while, reading about all these affairs became a little tedious. But the quoting of contemporary literature makes this book unique and it is worthwhile if the reader is interested in the subject.
I was truly prepared to not like this movie but was pleasantly surprised. Warts and all, the story is well told and the actresses were a joy to watch. Saoirse Ronan played Mary with just the right touch of toughness and vulnerability. John Guy (who wrote the book the movie is based on) has done a great disservice to the reputation of Queen Elizabeth I. It’s beyond me why he doesn’t like her. She is characterized as a dithering, crazed nutcase. But that’s okay. We know what she was really like. Margot Robbie’s makeup and prosthetic nose give a realistic profile that matches the portraits of Elizabeth.
The rest of the supporting cast are great. Guy Pearce is a very suitable William Cecil. My favorite part of the movie is the scene of Rizzio’s murder. IMHO, this is one of the most dramatic moments in history and the abominable act is represented perfectly. I believe Mary’s finest moment followed this act. She rose to the occasion and acted as a strong queen if only for a short time. The movie is not perfect but don’t let that stop you from seeing it. I’m going to go all out and just say, I loved this movie.
This book was recommended to me by a history friend who specializes in eighteenth century English history. I was looking for an all-encompassing history of the East India Company and this book fits the bill. Keay gives a very detailed history of the earliest incarnation of the East India Company starting in the Tudor era and continuing into the Stuart reign of kings down to its liquidation in the nineteenth century. Each ship that sets out in the early years is followed around Africa into the Indian Ocean and into Asia.
The stories told are fascinating. Keay tells us of the brave men who went on these trips, explored the coastlines, set up factories, and bargained with native chieftains and nabobs from Japan to India to China. Some of these outposts worked well and survived and some of the men were scandalously murdered. Many succumbed to fever and disease. There were pirates and private traders. Cargoes were stolen or sunk or arrived in port in England with no problems.
The inner workings of the company are covered here with the raising of subscriptions initially and then stock being issued later. Sometimes the profits were outstanding but many times money was lost. The East India Company at one point was abolished and then reincarnated, causing conflict in the outlying trade posts around the world. Eventually the company raised its own army to protect the factories. The Company became a government unto itself, creating its own trading agreements and fighting wars.
The East India Company has a vast and varied history and this book covers it all. Some of the writing is a little dry but there are plenty of exciting stories to make up for it. The personalities of the men involved were quite interesting. I would recommend this book if you are seeking an overall history of this global corporation.
The subtitle of this book is “The Social and Economic History of a Famous Trade”. I had no idea the history of the tea trade in Britain was so fascinating. The author, Denys Forrest was a writer and journalist before changing careers and working in the tea industry. Consequently he was uniquely qualified to write this book.
Forrest has researched the papers of the English East India Company and those of various tea companies in Britain. He begins with recounting how tea first started to arrive in the country. Early traders found tea in China where it was grown on bushes and then the leaves were harvested and brought to Europe in chests on ships.
At first tea was believed to have had medicinal purposes so it was found in chemist shops. When Catherine of Braganza came to England to marry King Charles II, she introduced the drinking of tea for non-medicinal purposes at the Stuart court. The trade grew and the EEC set up a building in Mincing Lane to receive and auction tea shipments. The tea was sold in coffee shops and then grocers. Demand became astronomical. China limited how much trade could be done in their country so enterprising merchants brought the seeds of tea bushes to India and later Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and began growing it there to meet the demand. Later tea was grown in Africa and even South America. The EEC lost its monopoly in the nineteenth century and the trade in tea was opened up afterwards.
Forrest explains the different grades of tea leaves and how the tea came to be sold and consumed and innovations in the industry. The story of how tea came to be put in teabags is really interesting. There are lots of statistics in this book like how much tea was auctioned for and how much housewives paid for it in shops and stores, and how much tea was consumed per person in Britain. There are stories about shops in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Norwich and histories of different vendors.
Forrest really knows his tea! And he tells us about it with a really light touch and a keen sense of humor. This book was published in 1973 and sadly that’s where the story ends. He laments the invention of iced tea and wonders what will happen to the drinking of tea as the consumption in Britain had declined as the book ended. I enjoyed this book very much.
In searching for books on the royal House of Braganza, this title surfaced. Originally published in 1915 and reissued in 1970, it appeared to be just what I was looking for and turned out to be a complete surprise. I had never heard of Gribble before. I’m unable to find much information about him other than he was born in Barnstaple in the United Kingdom, he lived from 1862 to 1946 and is described as a writer, critic and a prolific literary biographer.
He has a pretty extensive body of work having written biographies of Honoré de Balzac and Emperor Francis Joseph as well as books on the lovers of Lord Byron, Georges Sand, Madame de Stael, and Chateaubriand and his court of women, among others. Curiously, he wrote a great deal about women in history, appearing to specialize in the topic. This is evident in this volume as he describes the women of the House of Braganza as the “men” in the family and writes admiringly of them.
I’m not sure how historically accurate this book is. However, I will say this. It’s a great read. Gribble’s sole purpose for writing this book is to explain the fall of the Portuguese monarchy and how the personalities of the monarchs themselves contributed to their demise. Gribble obviously doesn’t think much of the monarchs of the Braganza dynasty and he tells some pretty fantastic stories. He seems to take great delight in describing the physical appearance of these monarchs, how they dressed, their mannerisms and their personalities, their mistakes and their foibles. This really makes for some fun reading and I found myself laughing as I read it.
Gribble begins and ends the book with the tale of a Parisian dancing girl and her relationship with Dom Manuel II, the last monarch of the dynasty. While this poor woman was not the sole reason for Manuel being chased from the Portuguese throne, she is described as a catalyst. Gribble wrote this book a mere five years after Portugal became a republic so he has a cogent and immediate perspective on events. From reading other histories of Portugal, Gribble’s description of the intellectuals of the University of Coimbra (think the Philosophes of the French Enlightenment) and their proposals and conspiracy to form a republic is very well described and accurate. As I say, I’m not sure about the accuracy of the history of the kings themselves here but I really enjoyed this book. If anyone out there knows of this work and can vouch for its correctness, please leave a comment below.
A.R. Disney published a two volume history of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire in 2009. Volume One covers the history of the country from the beginnings to 1807. This volume covers the history of the Portuguese Empire beginning with the conquest of Ceuta in North Africa and the exploration missions sponsored by Henry the Navigator down to 1807 and the late colonial era.
Disney bases this work on all the latest scholarship published on Portuguese history as he did with Volume One. This book is a great companion to Charles R. Boxers “The Portuguese Seaborne Empire 1415-1825”. While Boxer’s book gives a generalized summary of the entire empire, this book breaks down the history by each area of the world where the Portuguese touched down. Whether this was just for exploration purposes, a stop on the way somewhere else or the establishment of a small or sprawling colony each era is given a great summary of their history.
The social history of each area is explained along with the implications for world-wide trade. I especially enjoyed the history of the Atlantic Islands: Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands, São Tomé and Principe. It is fascinating how these islands were colonized, developed and for the most part ruined although in some cases, the vegetation was restored. The breakthrough to Maritime Asia and the Empire in the East is reported. The colony of Goa in India must have been a pretty remarkable place under the Portuguese viceroys stationed there.
A great deal of the book covers the history of Brazil and the Brazilian Empire. There is an informative section of maps illustrating where the Portuguese explored and settled. There is also a comprehensive bibliography. This book and Volume One give the reader a great grounding in all aspects of Portuguese history, especially for those who don’t speak or read Portuguese. I highly recommend both volumes.
I’m just going to get straight to the point here. I’ve been doing in depth research into the history of Portugal and I love this book. The first of two volumes of Disney’s work covers the history of Portugal from pre-Roman times to the French invasion of 1807. The country of Portugal has no geographical reason to exist. As the country exists today, it has no political roots in its Roman, Germanic or Islamic past. Then in the fifteenth century, this tiny country on the Iberian Peninsula began an unlikely expansion into an economic empire which spanned the entire globe.
The first chapter covers ancient Portugal which included hunter-gatherers and Iron Age farmers. Disney explains the economy of Portugal during this period with its strong emphasis on the mining of natural resources. This era was followed by the Celts and then the Romans. Next, Portugal was invaded by the barbarians including the Visigoths and the Suevi. Finally, the Peninsula was conquered by the Muslims from Africa.
Medieval Portugal sees the Reconquest, the expulsion of the Muslims and rise of the Kingdom with the Burgundian dynasty and later the Avis kings. Although there is conflict and war with neighboring Castile, the time period witnessed the Golden Age as described by Disney. After this there was an era of decline which was followed by the taking of the throne by the Hapsburgs. This lasted from 1580-1640 when the House of Braganza restored the monarchy.
Disney covers the Restoration of the monarchy, the Baroque age, the years of the dictatorship of Pombal, the late eighteenth century and the invasion by Napoleonic France. All of this is told in brilliant and economical detail. Disney’s writing flows and is a joy to read. This is the first history of Portugal to be written in English in a generation and takes into account all the new scholarship since the Portuguese Revolution of 1974. Disney’s research is meticulous with copious footnotes and a long bibliography. He includes all interpretations of the latest historians. Volume Two of this history covers the Portuguese Empire and review of this work is up next. If you are interested in an exact, precise and accurate history of Portugal, this is your book.
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