In the service of the Crown: The use of heraldry in royal political communication in Late Medieval Portugal

Sala dos Brasões
Die Sala dos Brasões in Sintra, ca. 1515-1518 (HenGomes via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The goal of this project is to understand the construction of the image of royal power in the Late Middle Ages and the start of the Early Modern period through the analysis of the use of heraldic communication for this purpose. By taking the example of the Kingdom of Portugal, the project will study the principal visual tools of the diffusion of the royal message by heraldry in the multitude of its plastic and painted expressions in the framework of architectural monuments and examine their relations with political doctrines circulating at that time, in particular in the personal environment of the Portuguese kings. Due to the early and distinctive centralisation of the royal power in Portugal at the end of the Middle Ages and the variety and intensity of its use of heraldry in the service of the royal propaganda, the Portuguese example provides us with a particular suitable material for a case study.

Despite the wealth of the sources, heraldic communication and its political applications remain little studied in Portugal and are still largely unknown to the rest of Europe. The proposed series of studies offer a chance to reveal this subject to the Portuguese as well as the European historiography and establish links between the scholars who are interested in this topic.

For more information please see:

Miguel Metelo de Seixas (Lisbon)
Torsten Hiltmann (Münster)

This project is funded by the VolkswagenFoundation as part of its funding programme “Support for Europe”.