20.06 The genesis of Portuguese journalism

The genesis of Portuguese journalism and the Relações of Manuel Severim de Faria


Jorge Pedro Sousa (Universidade Fernando Pessoa e Centro de Investigação Media e Jornalismo)

Sandra Tuna (Universidade Fernando Pessoa)

 

Introduction

By the end of the first quarter of the seventeenth century, at a time when the Western world was going through complicated times in the outset of Modern Age, and when Portugal had lost its independence, becoming part of the of the Spanish Empire, a Portuguese intellectual, called Manuel Severim de Faria, chanter of Évora’s, using the pseudonym Francisco d’ Abreu, had two multitheme papers, the  Relações, printed. The first issue was printed in Lisbon, in 1626, and repriented in Braga, in 1627. The second issue was printed in Évora, in 1628.

The Relações by Manuel Sveverim de Faria have been mentioned in several historiographies on journalism and literature and, between the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, they were the object of passionate discussions on whether they played a more important role in the genesis of Portuguese journalism than the Restorations Gazettes (vide, for example, Bessa, 1904: 143-146; Cunha, 1929/1930: 358-367; Cunha, 1939: 3-25; Cunha, 1941: 37 e 43-45; Cunha, 1942 a: 8-19; Cunha, 1932: 220-232). However, they have never been studied autonomously and there is a lot of inaccuracy in accounts about them. This study has thus sought to describe and understand the contents and layouts of these publications, within what we could call the scope of Journalistic Studies.

The research questions which underlie this work are as follows:

1. Could we consider the Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria print journalistic specimens or, more specifically, newspapers and hence the first Portuguese print newspapers (at least of the ones that have survived up to today)?

2. How did the Relações present themselves? (layout, design, contents and content format)?

3. How did they reflect, in discourse, the circumstances of those times?

To carry out this research, we gathered information by looking into bibliographic material in the main Portuguese libraries and developed an analysis of the Relações’ discourse features, both qualitative and quantitative.

 

1. The Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria

The Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria (written under the pseudonym Francisco d’ Abreu) are three print multi-theme newsbooks, published in 1626, 1627 and 1628.1627’s issue is, however, a re-edition of 1626’s issue, with few differences, which resulted from the printing job or from the author’s own revision.

These Relações were like news yearbooks, true collections of news on past events over a period of time. At a time when the purposes and boundaries of journalism were rather blurred, the Relações served both journalistic and historiographical intentions, also feeding the author’s correspondents network. They may thus be regarded as sharing the tradition of newsbooks, broadly known as mercuries, of which they are late contaminated manifestations, with some features of more frequent periodicals, which were beginning with the gazettes.

They are part of the great work of History – História Portuguesa e de Outras Províncias do Ocidente, Desde o Ano de 1610 Até o de 1640 da Feliz Aclamação d’El Rei D. João o IV Escrita em Trinta e Uma Relações[1] – by the same author, which integrates 31 handwritten news acounts, of which no 16 (1626, re-edited in 1627) and no. 17 (1628) were printed.

The print Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria (including the re-edition of the first issue) were made of A5 linen paper (roughly 14x20 cm). They do not have hardcover, which means the first and the last pages are printed in the same type of paper. The design is simple and similar to other books at the time. In fact, for people at the beginning of the seventeenth century there were no big differences between the Relações and any other book. They were only one more ‘book’, or one more publication.

The front page – page one – includes a title (the first line in capitals, then the remaining normally  in upper case and lower case – above and below), the name of the author, a xylographic illustration (only the first two editions of the first issue), the date and the printing place and  house. The two editions of the first number also include ‘with all required licenses’, in the first one, and a dedication, on the second issue’s front page.

The second page contains the licenses and taxes (in the first edition of the first number of the Relações, there are two pages reference to licenses).

From page 3 on, there are news, printed in one column, without any interval (only introduced by different paragraphs) and, in the first number, without any other graphic differentiation whatsoever (in the second issue news are displayed country by country).

In all of the three Relações the news text begins with a capitular letter. A gothic type letter is used in each one of the Relações, though the licenses are written in italics and the remaining text uses normal typeface. Administrative text is graphically different from that of the news items, though. Direct quotations (many in Latin) are also in italics. Paragraphs are signalled by two- or three-space right hand tabs. In the second issue of Relações, as mentioned, information was divided into country sections, similar to modern newspaper sections. Margins were large enough to give eyes some rest. There is no advertising. As far as graphical features are concerned, the Relações are generally rational, organized, clear and sober. The Relações seem to be targeted at a thoughtful audience, with time to consume information and think rationally about it. Even contents that may a reveal an aggressive, unpredictable, threatening, chaotic world, graphic features suggest control over that world.

The first of the Relações under analysis, as described in its title, includes news items from March 1625 to September 1626. It was printed in Lisbon, in 1626, and reprinted in Braga, in 1627, even though there were some small changes in content and in transcriptions (see appendices 1 and 2). The title of the Relações’ s second issue reveals that it contains news from March 1626 and August 1627, which means that there is some time overlap in news. This shows the author was not really concerned with drawing precise borders in his papers.

It should be noted that, formally, the title of each one of the Relações by Severim de Faria is singled out and placed on the front page heading. The title matches the contents, which strengthens the identity of the publications.

 

Table 1[2]

Synopsis of the  Relações

Title

Referenced author

Publication year

Place of publication

Printer

No. of pages

Relação Universal do Que Sucedeu em Portugal & Mais Províncias do Ocidente e Oriente, Desde o Mês de Março de 625 Até Todo Setembro de 626. Contém Muitas Particularidades & Curiosidades. (1ª edição)

 

[Universal Account of What Happened in Portugal & Western and Eastern Provinces, From March 625 to September 626. It Contains many Peculiarities & Curiosities (1st edition)]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francisco d’Abreu, natural desta Cidade de Lisboa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1626

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geraldo da Vinha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

Relação Universal do Que Sucedeu em Portugal & Mais Províncias do Ocidente e Oriente, Desde o Mês de Março de 625 Até Todo Setembro de 626. Contém Muitas Particularidades & Curiosidades. (2ª edição)

 

[Universal Account of What Happened in Portugal & Western and Eastern Provinces, From March 625 to September 626. It Contains many Peculiarities & Curiosities (2nd edition)]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francisco d’Abreu, natural da Cidade de Lisboa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1627

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frutuoso Lourenço de Basto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

Relação do Que Sucedeu em Portugal e Nas Mais Províncias do Ocidente e Oriente Desde Março de 1626, Até Agosto de 1627

 

[Universal Account of What Happened in Portugal & Western and Eastern Provinces, From March 1626 to August 1627. ]

 

 

 

Francisco de Abreu, natural da cidade de Lisboa

 

 

 

 

1628

 

 

 

 

Évora

 

 

 

Manuel Carvalho, impressor da Universidade

 

 

 

 

18

Remarks to the 1628 Relação:

On page one, there is an ostensive dedicatory to a French Knight, Gil de Nicola: ‘I dedicate this paper to your Excellency, as it is owed to you and therefore I had to dedicate it to you to show you my gratitude. It is such a small token, which you will receive as if it was great, and it is offered with great enthusiasm. Please allow me to please you, as it will be of enormous satisfaction to me that you read it. May God … etc.’

Note: The Relações printed in Lisbon and in Évora are kept in the General Library of the University of Coimbra; the Braga’s issue is stored in the National Library of Lisbon, and is available for consultation in microfilm.

 

The question of the first number’s re-edition is rather interesting. If there was a re-edition, that was because there was a large circulation of the first edition, making a second edition necessary. It might also have been because few copies got to the North of the country and hence it was reprinted in Braga.

A strange fact, also noted by Alfredo Cunha (1932: 226), is that the circulation licenses of the first number are from April 1626, but the publication covers news up to September 1626, which may mean that there were hypothetically news items that escaped censorship, perhaps due to the confidence Manuel Severim de Faria got from censors, clergymen like himself.

It is worth mentioning that the Relações by Faria were made to circulate and to be sold, as taxes paid may confirm. This feature makes them identical to today’s journalistic devices.

 

2. Relações’ relevant discourse features

From a global and qualitative point of view, we may say that the Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria are essentially a record of several events which occurred in Portugal, Spain and other places, a summary of news items on individual and apparently sporadic facts, unconnected, but presented successively and sometimes analysed, commented on, and framed according to their religious character and other elements of culture and knowledge of the time. In the end, the Relações are some kind of historiography of daily life, different form the composition of real History, but a good source of information for it, as claimed by Beltrão about journalism (1992: 71).

As far as news value is concerned, the Relações are not so different from what we find in current newspapers. There are negative news, often about death, and news that that emphasise the value of proximity news, news items on elite people and countries, news items with a clear meaning for seventeenth-century Portuguese, according to their expectations, uncommon news, news on development of previously covered happenings, and strong news in many ways. They also report on more mundane affairs of the Madrid Court, such as births, deaths, office appointments and deeds by important people, amusing consequences of the lack of horse carriages in Lisbon, the foundation of the Indies Company and the developments of this process, the fights overseas and at sea, the preparation of Portugal defence, bizarre events, such as the birth of deformed animals, accidents and catastrophes, such as storms, shipwrecks, floods, tempests, house  downfalls, wars and battles all over Europe (Spanish Philips monarchy ruled several territories in central Europe and they were natural allies, through family bonds, of the German Hamburg monarchs, who held the crown of the Sacro-Empire), etc. This selection stresses the cultural dimension – ‘timeless’ – of news contents, the idea that there is novelty without change (Philips, 1976), even though the world may vary according to the specific way each society faces it at a given moment in history.

It is possible to maintain that the reading of the Relações would allow its readers to confirm a vision of the world. The representation of reality at the beginning of the seventeenth century constructed in the Relações discourse is both multifarious and realistic in the sense that it provides relevant signs of what was going on. It is also a representation based on what was known, culturally rooted in the way the world was seen from Portugal, and where it is possible to identify sense archetypes  (social structure, divine intervention, endangered community, heroes and villains, ‘we’ and ‘them’…) which informed collective awareness, culture, and the way 17th century Portuguese viewed the world.

It should be underlined that the rigid social structure at the time, in which upwards mobility was difficult, is symbolically reinforced in the Relações, which means they possess an ideological dimension. Besides showing deference to the king (for example, the appointing of  Portuguese for the State and War councils in Castille took Severim de Faria to comment that it showed ‘the great love the King has for the Portuguese’), it is important to see that noblemen and clergymen tend to be singled out in discourse as individuals (by using their name, rank and/or title, for example: the Archbishop Principal of Spain, Monsignor Afonso Furtado de Mendonça, appointed Archbishop of Lisbon), whereas members of the people were normally referred to by means of collective nouns (‘soldiers’, ‘women’…). This personalization, which is a discursive feature of current journalistic accounts, points to the evocation of individuality and the notion of individualism. Besides, the King, in particular, are presented as the ones endowed with the power to act, and who should be followed and obeyed, as the following extract may illustrate: ‘We should also congratulate the government of Portugal, through the Earls Diogo the Castro and Diogo da Silva (…) who now have as colleague the Archbishop Principal of Spain, Afonso Furtado de Mendonça, appointed by Our Highness.’ [italics added]

It should also be noted that the printing of the Relações required licensing and involved censorship. We could think this is the reason why these papers did not challenge social structure. However, we would like to propose another interpretation, since the print version is not so different from the manuscript issues. We believe the Relações reflect the way Portuguese elites, to which Manuel Severim de Faria belonged, viewed the world. That was why not even the exaggerated discourse of the Faria’s Relações, praising Portugal and its individuality as a Kingdom, was censored.

On the other hand, the world’s menacing character is reinforced by the huge amount of miseries in which the deictic ‘we’ (Portuguese, Portuguese and their allies, namely Spanish, Catholics, etc.) appears as opposed to ‘them’ (Spanish, various enemies, namely English, Dutch and Maghrebis, protestants and members of non-catholic communities…). Thus, there is not a definition of a single community, but of several intertwined communities, outlined as discursively opposed to the remaining ones.

 

2.1 Informative goal

The main discourse register in the Relações, and the one which is important to underline, is the intention to inform, expressed in the news content, as we may observe in the following extracts of the two  Relações:

 

Table 2

News samples from the Relações[3]

1st Issue

2nd Issue

Entraram de novo no Conselho de Estado de Portugal Nuno de Mendonça, presidente da Mesa da Consciência, o Conde da Ericeira, D. Diogo de Meneses, e o Conde de Santa Cruz. O mesmo lugar deu Sua Majestade a D. Henrique da Silva, Conde de Portalegre, e o fez Marquês de Gouveia, e a D. António de Ataíde, Conde de Castro d’Aire.”

 

[Nuno de Mendonça, president, the Earl of Ericeira, Sir Diogo de Meneses and the Earl of Sta Cruz have been appointed again for the of the State of Portugal Council]

“Em Abril de 1626, alcançou o governador D. Diogo de Castro licença para ir a seus negócios particulares à Corte, conservando o título de governador e foi bem recebido e ouvido de S. Majestade, e continua em Madrid até ao presente.”

 

[In April 1626, Governor Diogo de Castro was granted a permit to go on private business to the Court, maintaining the title of Governor. He was warmly welcome by  Our Highness, and continues in Madrid up to the present.]

“Faleceu, em Março de 1625, D. Jerónimo de Azevedo, Vice-Rei que foi da Índia, na prisão do castelo de Lisboa.”

 

[Sir Jerónimo Azevedo, once Vice-King in India, died in March 1625 in the Lisbon Prison.]

 

“Em Junho se levantaram alguns cativos portugueses com um navio de Argel, e matando os turcos, com bravo ânimo e ventura, sendo desiguais no número, e sem armas, entraram com o baixel em Lisboa, que era de grande porte, e reconhecendo a felicidade deste sucesso à nossa Senhora, foram em procissão à sua casa de Penha de França, que está na mesma cidade, onde por troféu deixaram a bandeira turca.”

 

[In July some Portuguese in captivity rioted in a ship from Algiers and killed the Turkish with great bravery and courage even though they were outnumbered and had fewer weapons. They entered with the big boat in Lisbon and thanked the Virgin Mary for this deed, and went to Her home in a church in this same city, where they left the Turkish flag as a trophy.]

“A 21 de Novembro de 1625, na corte de Madrid, pariu a Rainha Nossa Senhora uma filha.”

 

[On 21st November 1625 in the Court of Madrid, Our Queen gave birth to a daughter.]

Está nomeado para governador da ilha da Madeira D. Francisco de Sousa; para a ilha de S. Miguel, D. Rodrigo Lobo; para Cabo Verde, João Pereira Corte Real, que no ano passado veio por capitão-mor das naus da Índia.”

 

[Sir Francisco de Sousa has been appointed as Governor of the Madeira Island, Sir Rodrigo Lobo has been appointed as the Governor of S. Miguel Island and João Pereira Corte Real, who, last year came back in the ships from India as Captain, has been appointed as Governor for Cape Verde.]

“No mês de Agosto deste presente ano de 1626, foi Nosso Senhor servido de dar ao Exército Católico da Alemanha e ao seu general, o valoroso Conde de Tilly, uma notável vitória [a de Lutter] contra o Rei da Dinamarca [Cristiano IV]”.

 

[In Augusto f the current year of 1626, Our Lord gave the German Catholic Army and its General, the brave Earl of Tilly,  a remarkable victory (Lutter) against the King of Denmark.]

 

“Na Frísia se perdeu a cidade de Grol, que os inimigos de Espanha tomaram por cerco, com condições honestas pelos nossos lhe não puderem acudir, por mais que o tentassem.”

 

[In Frisia, we lost the city of Grol, which the enemies of Spain have taken in a siege, with honest conditions, as we could do nothing no matter how much we tried.]

 

The data in table 2 show that, in fact, the Relações were mostly news-oriented, and were generally aimed at disseminating news information. Besides, in spite of the extracts’ religious or sometimes mythical frameworks, and style, which is different from contemporary news diffusion, the subject matters contained in the Relações, like today’s, are structured around a factuality network (Tuchman, 1978), as we may observe in two news pieces in table 3. It is hence possible to claim that seventeenth-century news providers sought to reflect the reality of news, as faithfully as possible, by presenting successive facts in news reports, which reveals that this feature of journalists’ professional culture has long historical roots.

 

Table 3[4]

Fact network in the Relações news items

Fact

Example of the news item in the 1st Issue

Example of the news in the 2nd Issue

 

 

1

Entraram de novo no Conselho de Estado de Portugal Nuno de Mendonça, presidente da Mesa da Consciência, o conde da Ericeira, D. Diogo de Meneses, e o Conde de Santa Cruz, e o mesmo lugar deu Sua Majestade a D. Henrique da Silva, Conde de Portalegre

 

[Nuno de Mendonça, president of the ‘Table of Conscience’, the Earl of Ericeira, Sir Diogo de Meneses and the Earl of Sta Cruz have all been appointed again for the State of Portugal Council, and Sir Henrique has also been appointed for the same place.]

Em Abril de 1626, alcançou o governador D. Diogo de Castro licença para ir a seus negócios particulares à Corte, conservando o título de governador

 

[In April 1626, Governor Diogo de Castro was granted a permit to go on private business to the Court, maintaining the title of Governor.]

2

e o fez marquês de Gouveia

 

[and made him Marquis of Gouveia.]

(...) e continua em Madrid até ao presente.

 

[(…) and continues in Madrid up to the present.]

3

e a D. António de Ataíde, conde de Castro d’Aire (...).

 

[and António de Ataíde, Earl of Castro d’Aire.]

Entretanto, ficou governando o conde D. Diogo da Silva até que em Setembro chegou o Senhor Arcebispo então eleito de Lisboa, D. Afonso Furtado de Mendonça, a quem Sua Majestade tinha nomeado por governador.

 

[In the meantime, the Earl Diogo da Silva was in charge up to September, or the arrival of the then elected Archbishop of Lisbon, Afonso Furtado Mendonça, whom Our Highness appointed as Governor.]

 

 

 

4

Atentou-se no Conselho de Estado que, para remediar as conquistas fora da barra, o melhor meio que havia era ordenar em Lisboa uma companhia de comércio ao modo da que em Holanda fizeram as Províncias rebeldes, na qual fosse toda a mercância livre e se desse a cada parte a razão da quantia de dinheiro com que entrasse.

 

[In the State Council it was discussed that, in order to resolve the conquests out of court, the best way would be to set up a company of commerce in Lisbon, like the Dutch did in rebel provinces, in which all trade is free and both parties earn according to what they invested.]

Continuou o conde D. Diogo da Silva no governo até 6 de Abril de 1627,

 

[The Earl Diogo da Silva continued to govern until 6 April 1627,  ]

 

 

5

E que esta companhia mandasse as frotas à Índia, Guiné e Brasil, e que pagando somente Sua Majestade seus direitos, os lugares nas naus, os fretes, as tomadias, e tudo o mais que resultasse do comércio ficasse das partes.

 

[And that this company could sent their fleet India Guinea and Brazil, and that they would pay the King only its rights, the places in the ships, shipments, captures, and everything that results from exchange between parties]

em que as naus saíram barra fora,

 

[when the  ships left the harbor,]

 

6

E que o governo da companhia consistisse no Presidente da Câmara de Lisboa e seus vereadores, com mais quatro deputados, dois fidalgos e dois homens de negócio.

 

[And that the Company should be governed by the Lisbon Mayor and its delegates, two noblemen and two businessmen.]

e no mesmo dia retirou (...) a Loures, onde esteve alguns dias no mosteiro dos Capuchos da Arrábida, da Ordem de São Francisco.

 

[and on the very same day, he returned (…) to Lourdes, where he spent a few days in the Capuchos Monestry, of the Saint Francis Order.]

 

 

7

E porque para isso era necessário grande cabedal, mandou Sua Majestade três ministros seus (...) pelo Reino, com cartas a todas as câmaras, em que lhes pedia que contribuíssem para este efeito.

 

[And because this required Great force, Our Highness sent three ministers to all city/town halls, with letters recommending this course of actiion.]

E daí foi para Condeixa, junto a Coimbra.

 

[And from there he travelled to Condeixa, next to Coimbra.]

 

8

E posto que desta diligência se tem consignado passante de trezentos mil cruzados, contudo ainda não se acaba de concluir esta obra (...).

 

[And as this diligence has required more than three hundred thousand crusades, this work has not yet been completed.]

 

Não puderam acabar com o conde rogos de amigos, nem de parentes, nem outros maiores, que não deixasse o governo.

 

[and the Earl did not attend to the requests from friends, relatives and others not quit to government.]

 

Table 3 also shows that the style of the Relações is essentially realistic, before the emergence of Realism, in which the effect of the real over the narrative is clear. In other words, there is clearly an intention of faithfully representing the reality of texts over readers’ subjectivity. Finally, as shown in table 4, Manuel Severim de Faria seeks to analyse and comment on the circumstances as well as intervene in the world’s religious framework:

 

Table 4

Examples of reports containing opinion and analysis[5]

Laudatory political-social opinion

 

“Está (...) com geral aplauso o Governo de Portugal nos condes D. Diogo de Castro e Dom Diogo da Silva, a cujo zelo e diligência se deve grande parte dos bons sucessos deste ano.” [itálico nosso]

 

[The Government of Portugal is worth great praise due to the Earls Diogo de Castro and Diogo da Silva, who were the authors of most successful deeds this year’]

 

Laudatory political-social opinion

 

“Em Castela, foi promovido no Conselho de Estado de Espanha (...) Dom Duarte, irmão do Duque de Bragança (...), demonstração grande do amor que Sua Majestade tem aos portugueses, pois não só os escolhe para o governo de sua Real Casa mas ainda para o supremo de sua Monarquia.[itálico nosso]

 

[In Castile, Sir Duarte, the brother of the Duke of Bragança (…), which is a sign of the great esteem Our Highness has for the Portuguese, since they were chosen not only to the Government of the Royal Home, but also for the supreme of the Monarchy.]

 

Laudatory social opinion

“No estado eclesiástico, vagou o Arcebispado de Lisboa, aos 30 de Junho, por falecimento do Senhor Dom Miguel de Castro, varão que nas virtudes e caridade, piedade, pureza e temperança se pode comparar aos padres da primitiva Igreja.[itálico nosso]

 

[In the ecclesiastical state, there was a vacancy for Archbishop of Lisbon, on 30 July, due to the death of  Monsignor  Miguel de Castro, a man whose virtue, charity, devotion and moderation could be compared to the  priests of the ancient church.]

 

 

Social-economic analysis

A fertilidades destes dois anos mostrou claramente que sem vir de fora pão se podia sustentar o Reino, e porque o cuidado da sua agricultura é grande parte da abundância, mandou Sua Majestade renovar a lei de El-Rei Dom Fernando, ordenando aos corregedores que, por conta das câmaras, fizessem lavrar todas as herdades que estivessem sem lavrador, para que a avareza dos donos não fosse causa da esterilidade da terra.”

 

[Abundant crops in the past two years has clearly shown that the Kingdom could be fed without importing bread, and because this abundance was due to careful attention given to agriculture, Our Highness has renewed the law issued by King Fernando, which ordered that all town halls had all abandoned farms cultivated, so that the owners’ laziness did not result in land sterility.]

 

 

 

Military analysis

“(...) se alojaram os fidalgos pelas casas dos arrabaldes, fazendo cada um a gentileza de ficar mais perto da artilharia inimiga, excesso grande, em que deve acudir o general com muito rigor, pelo manifesto perigo em que se põem muitas vezes as pessoas de maior importância no campo, perdendo infrutiferamente as vidas (...). Deste modo recuperámos a Baía, e alcançaremos sempre semelhantes vitórias se se proceder da nossa parte com boa ordem militar, no assentar dos quartéis, fazer das trincheiras, na destreza dos artilheiros, sobretudo na obediência dos soldados.”

 

[(…) the noblemen found accommodation in the outskirts, each one of them staying closer to the enemy’s artillery, an excess, to help the general, as it clearly endangers the lives of  many important people in the field, who waste their lives (…). In this way, we recovered Baia, and we will obtain identical victories if we act with a good military order: settle our quarters, set our trenches, have skilful artillerists, and above all obedience from the soldiers.]

 

Analysis of procedures undertaken after a shipwreck [shipwrecks were common]

“Soube-se (...) da miserável perdição do galeão São João na costa do Natal, do qual saindo em terra mais de trezentas pessoas chegaram a Moçambique menos de vinte. Tende por certo que a causa de tão grande mortandade foi a errada resolução que tomaram fazendo o caminho ao longo da praia, coisa que tem custado muito aos nossos, porque as praias não são mais do que areias estéreis, ou penhascos vivos, faltos de fontes e cheios de ribeiras salgadas e inundáveis, por já crescidas se comunicarem com o mar, pelo que a fome, os rios, a aspereza dos caminhos são bastantes para consumir a todos, o que entendeu bem Nuno Velho, quando se perdeu no galeão Santo Alberto e fez viagem pela terra dentro e trouxe sempre a gente sã e farta até chegar prosperamente a Moçambique.”

 

[We heard about the sad loss of the Saint John galleon in the Natal coast, which carried more than tree hundred people, but only les than twenty got to Mozambique. You may be sure that the cause of such fatality was the wrong decision to follow the way along the beach, something which has cost many lives to our people, as the beaches are no more than sterile sand or huge cliffs, with springs and salt water brooks that communicate with the sea. So, hunger, rivers and the rough paths are enough to consume everyone, a fact that Nuno Velho understood well when he got lost in the Santo Alberto galleon and made his journey by land, and thus managed to bring health and wealthy people to Mozambique.]

Critical analysis to the careless way the Portuguese act and concern for the collective reputation of the Kingdom

 

 

“Este abominável descuido [inexistência de armas] com que os portugueses vivem fora da barra, com tanta segurança como se estivessem no sertão de Portugal, os tem muitas vezes trazido às maiores misérias do mundo, pois pelejando sem armas com inimigos armados, forçosamente hão-de ser vencidos ou escapar por milagre do Céu, e assim perdem as fazendas e liberdade, não por falta de valor, mas de instrumentos de sua defesa, nos quais se empregassem uma pequena parte do que empregam em outras mercadorias, não perderiam tudo para poupar um pouco, e o que pior é, [não perderíamos] a honra e reputação do (...) Reino.”

 

[This abominable neglect [no weapons] with which the Portuguese live outside abroad, as if they were safely camping in a province of Portugal, has often resulted in great misfortunes, since fighting without weapons with armed enemies, definitely means  they will lose, or only escape by miracle. Therefore they will lose farms and freedom, not due to lack of value, but of defense instruments, in which they could use a small part of what they spend in other goods. They wouldn’t lose everything if they saved a little, and what’s worse, we [would not lose] honor and reputation of […] our kingdom.]

Direct religious Framework (sin/punishment)

“Porém, os que ainda continuaram sentiram rigorosamente o castigo, e Portugal e suas conquistas não menos favores do Céu que juízos para sua emenda.

 

[Nonetheless, those who continued felt the hardships of punishment, and Portugal and its conquests did not get as many favors from Heaven as judgments for its correction.]

Direct religious Framework (sin/punishment)

Alto e profundo é o juízo de Deus (...) pelo que podemos dizer piamente que estas mortes não foram menos prémio dos que as padeceram que castigo deste Reino.

 

[High and profound is God’s judgment  (…) so we may say clearly say that those deaths were no less prize than for those who died as a punishment of this Kingdom.]

Enquadramento religioso directo

Foi mercê particular que Nossa Senhora quis fazer a este Reino, em recompensa de tantos trabalhos passados.

 

[It was a concession Our Lady wanted to grant our Kingdom as a reward for all the troubles we went through]

Indirect religious framework

 

“Em Junho levantaram alguns cativos portugueses com um navio de Argel e matando os turcos, com bravo ânimo e ventura, sendo desiguais no número e sem armas, entraram com o baixel em Lisboa, que era de grande porte, e reconhecendo a felicidade deste sucesso à Nossa Senhora, foram em procissão à Sua casa de Penha de França que está na mesma cidade, onde por troféu deixaram a bandeira turca.”

 

[In July some Portuguese in captivity rioted in a ship from Algiers and killed the Turkish with great bravery and courage even though they were outnumbered and had fewer weapons. They entered with the big boat in Lisbon and thanked the Virgin Mary for this deed, and went to Her home in a church in this same city, where they left the Turkish flag as a trophy.]

 

Mythical framework

As causas superiores destes excessos [instabilidade do clima] causaram também, nos animais, monstruosos partos; qual, entre outros, foi o de uma Ovelha que, em Barcarena, como me contaram pessoas dignas de crédito, pariu um anho com pele de cabra e unha de águia, tendo no rosto um só olho, de grandeza de uma laranja, e debaixo dele outra unha de águia.”

 

[Unknown powerful forcess of this extreme weather instability also caused monstrous births in animals, as in the case of a sheep that, in Barcarena,  gave birth to a lamb with goat skin, with only one eye, as big as an orange, and below it an eagle’s claw, so I was told by trustworthy people.]

 

 

Information in table 4 reinforces the idea that, despite news diffusion intentions and the character of factuality that informs the news items, Manuel Severim de Faria gets sometimes carried away by the discursive object and proposes frameworks with both cultural and ideological implications. The imposition of such frameworks underlying discourse determines reading grids which reveal Manuel Severi de Faria’s perceptions on the world and, especially, on the country, which the author wishes to transmit to the reader so that the latter may share his ideas. The reading grids on the world proposed by Severim de Faria point to the possible circumstances of discourse production (for example, the compliments to the King, governors and clergymen may have been the result of complicity between elites, of which he was part, or of the peculiar context of that time).

Likewise, we may observe in table 4 that discursive frameworks present in the Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria include several subtypes. There are mere opinions, essentially subjective, and more ‘objective’ analyses (preponderance of object over subject) in their appraisal of reality, connected with multiple matters, such as political judgment, social life, military events, frequent shipwrecks, socio-economic affairs, etc. We may therefore make a subtle distinction between opinion (grounded judgement in an essentially personal view of the problems) and analysis (correlation of data, empirically grounded judgment) in the work of the chantry of Évora’s Cathedral. In the Relações, however, there are plenty of indicators that reveal that the Portuguese culture at the time was deeply marked by catholic religion, with the implying view of the world, both directly (through Severim de Faria’s own views on the world) and indirectly (via perspectives of others reported by Severim de Faria). The religious readings proposed are often intersected with judgments of a social or other nature.

In conclusion, it is possible to stress that Manuel Severim de Faria wanted to take part in the discussion on the way the Kingdom was going, somehow anticipating the transfer of the voice of reason and opinion to the newspapers, which became particularly visible with the mergence of political party press, by the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th century. In that sense, Severim de Faria can be seen as an opinion maker, though in a narrow scale, proportional to the limited paper circulation at the time. On the other hand, working as a ‘journalist-analyst’, Severim de Faria largely anticipates the trend of today’s specialized press (cf. Pinto, 1997).

 

2.2 The sources of the Relações

There are few direct references to sources of information. However, Manuel Severim de Faria provides some clues on the way he obtained information, as the following extract may show, by referring to witnesses of the defence of Baía against the Dutch:

 

“E antes de referirmos a tomada da Baía, daremos brevíssima notícia do desgraçado sucesso da sua perda e do que o governador Diogo de Mendonça fez na defesa da cidade, tendo por testemunhas o sargento-mor (...) e outras pessoas de ser, qualidade e verdade [qualificação das fontes pela pertença às elites] (...) e de cartas que vieram aos padres da Companhia [de Jesus − jesuítas], escapando muitas que não chegaram e onde referiram a verdade do assalto e sua defesa.’[6]

 

First of all, the Chantry of the Évora’s Sé Cathedral was part of a correspondent network which ensured news production, diffusion and circulation. By looking at his personal history and his private library, it is possible to infer that he may have acquired foreign news publications, which may have provided part of the raw material for building international news items in the Relações. Secondly, Manuel Severim de Faria tells us the ships bought ‘news (…) from India’, which were spread and got to the Chantry of Évora, who would wait for them. It is therefore possible to observe that the arrivals and departures of ships contributed to shape the appearance of new information. Ship crews, soldiers and other travellers worked as privileged sources of news items.

Thirdly, Severim de Faria used to consult other people, or write about what other people would tell him on their own initiative, as they were aware of his vocation for news reporting (Severim de Faria would mostly develop a secondary discourse, as a result). Therefore, when writing about deformed animals, as Manuel Severim de Faria was probably a bit unsure about these facts, claims that such information was given by ‘trustworthy people’, thus legitimating the sources. This defensive strategy, which transfers responsibility to the source, is very common in today’s journalism, and is aimed at defending journalists from criticism, lawsuits and accusations, as documented by Tuchman (1978).

Furthermore, Manuel Severim de Faria is narrates events that he himself witnesses: military exercise and other preparatory actions for the defense of the kingdom, particularly in Lisbon and surrounding areas.

Finally, sources are always quoted using paraphrase, except for two citations, one from the bible and the other from a religious decree.

 

2.3 Quantitative data in the Relações’ discourse

The fact that the Relações are essentially news vehicles, even if they had a likewise historiographical ambition, is visible in the data of table 5:

 

Table 5

Journalistic genres in the Relações

 

Subject Matters

 

1st issue

2nd isuue

Total

 

N.º

N.º

N.º

%

Short factual news piece (up to 4 periods)

21

13

34

29,06

Long factual news piece (feature) (5 or more periods)

11

21

32

27,35

Short comment (up to 4 periods)

12

6

18

15,38

Long comment (5 or more periods)

17

16

33

28,21

Other genres

0

0

0

0

Total

117

100

 

By observing table 5, we may see that all subject matters in the Relações may be categorized as news items. We know, and Manuel Severim de Faria’s Relações, so confirms, that journalism was born with an informative character, and news articles were their initial distinctive genre. On the other hand, most news in the Relações were identified as ‘long’ (65 subject matters, 55.5%), that is, news items with 5 or more periods. Thus, it is possible to say that, despite space restraints, the author of the Relações tried to provide detailed complete information as much as possible, so it could satisfy readers, favoring the extension of news items in detriment of the number.

51 (43.59%) are commented news pieces, even when they contain factual information. It is possible to claim that, in view of the data presented, the inexistence of, or maybe just seminal, notion of separation between information and opinion, in addition to the scarcity of information, which encourages the filling of such information with comments, constitute the main reasons that took to the publishing of 43.59% of commented news in all articles of the Relações.

 

Table 6

Portugal in the Relações

 

Subject matters

 

1st issue

2nd issue

Total

 

N.º

N.º

N.º

%

Articles on events occurred in Portugal

19

13

32

27,35

Articles on events in Portuguese territories outside  the European continent

12

6

18

15,38

Articles on events outside Portuguese territories but  in which Portguese are involved

7

14

21

17,95

Matérias sobre outros acontecimentos

News items on other events

23

23

46

39,32

Total

117

100

 

Although, according to table 6, the Relações include mostly matters on Portugal and the Portuguese (71, or 60.68%) for reasons such as proximity and identity of both author and readers, we should point out that there is a large number of news on occurrences abroad without involvement of the Portuguese (46 news items; 39.32%). On the one hand, the peculiar circumstances of the Dual Monarchy would draw attention to what was happening in Spain and Spanish territories, as well as to conflicts in Europe in which Spain was involved. On the other hand, the Relações reveal a feeling of belonging to Europe, which may have increased interest in international European information, as Europe was the stage of conflicts, in which Portugal could have taken part, and wars have always stirred up interest in Man (let us be reminded of the first literary manifestations of the Iliad, and literary-religious books, such as the Old Testament, which are full of warfare references). Finally, the circumstances related to the Discoveries and the transmission of the Gospel to the world, to which Severim de Faria refers a lot, may have also favored the production and insertion of international news items.

 

Table 7

Geographical incidence of information

 

No. of references

 

1st issue

2nd issue

Total

 

No.

No.

No.

%

Portugal (as country)

12

8

20

4,16

Spain (as country)

24

10

34

7,08

Other countries

35

53

88

18,39

Lisbon

25

16

41

8,54

Oporto

3

0

3

0,62

Braga

0

1

1

0,20

Coimbra

6

1

7

1,46

Évora

1

2

3

0,62

Other Portuguese places, regions or provinces

42

9

51

10,62

Places, provinces and lands in Portuguese property outside the European continent

59

23

82

17,08

Madrid

6

3

9

1,87

Other Spanish places, provinces and lands within Iberia

40

8

48

10

Places, provinces and lands in Spanish property outside Iberia

8

5

13

2,70

Other places, countries, lands and provinces

33

47

80

16,66

Total

480

100

 

By analysing the information in table 7, we may verify that, possibly for reasons of proximity, the Relações focus on Portugal and its places, provinces and Portuguese territories (208 references, 43.33%), especially Lisbon (8.54%), where Severim de Faria was living when he wrote the Relações. Évora, his homeland, is scarcely mentioned (3 times, 0.62%) and at a time when, unlike today, many cities competed for 2nd place in the country status, Coimbra, for example is a lot more mentioned than Oporto. There is also a vast number of references to Spain and lands under the domain of the Spanish Crown (21.65%), but very few to Madrid (1.7%), even though it was the capital of the Dual Monarchy, which may indicate that, in the view of seventeenth century Portuguese people, nothing really important happened in Madrid, or that there was little interest in matters of the Castilian crown.

It should be pointed out that 35.05% of references concern countries, regions and places outside the Philips Monarchy’s domain, which means that, according to data, great attention was given to what was going on abroad, not only due to the Discoveries, but also to missionary activities, and to the troubled times all Europe was going through (the European interests of the Dual Monarchy cannot be ignored either). The Relações reflected all those circumstances.

 

Table 8

Major themes

 

Subject matters

 

1st issue

2nd issue

Total

 

No.

No.

No.

%

Political and administrative life

13

15

28

23,93

Social and religious life

19

15

34

29,06

Economic life

3

0

3

2,56

Military events and warfare

22

20

42

35,90

Catastrophes and natural disasters

5

3

8

6,84

Diseases and famine

0

1

1

0,855

Crime

0

0

0

0

Bizarre occurrences

0

1

1

0,855

Total

117

100

Note: The classification of subject matters concerns only the main theme covered in the news items. Thus, for example, a piece of news in the first issue of the Relações on the birth of deformed animals, included in an article about  tempests and draughts all over the year, was labelled as news on ‘catastrophes and natural disasters’ and not as news on ‘bizarre occurrences’.

 

 

Table 8 reveals that news coverage in the Relações is not very well balanced, as they concentrate mostly on warfare events (35.9%), politics and administration (23.93%) and religious and social life (29.06%). We should bear in mind that religion at the beginning of the 17th century was the main motive of social life (mass, processions, religious feasts…). News balance was an informative criterion with little importance those days, with the exception of news on politics and administration, warfare and social and religious life.

In terms of what was actually news worthy, the Relações are not so different from today’s generalist newspapers. Patterns of information, as argued by Stephens (1988), have remained similar throughout time. Yesterday, like today, politics and administration, warfare and relevant community events make up most of the news content.

 

Table 9

News protagonists

 

No. of references

 

1st Issue

2nd Issue

Total

 

No.

No.

No.

%

King and Queen

83

66

149

16,34

Noblemen

199

109

308

33,77

Clergymen

63

42

105

11,51

Soldiers

211

46

257

28,18

Bourgeois (businessmen, traders, “industrialists”...)

5

5

10

1,10

Common people

64

19

83

9,10

Total

912

100

 

Table 9 shows that history as narrated by the Relações is a history of elites and a warfare history. It may therefore be said that yesterday, like today, many news pieces are about dominant social actors.

 

Table 10

Gender protagonism in the  Relações

 

No. of references

 

1st Issue

2nd Issue

Total

 

No.

No.

No.

%

Individual female protagonists

12

6

18

1,34

Collective female protagonists

4

3

7

0,52

Individual male protagonists

401

199

600

44,54

Collective male protagonists

329

76

405

30,07

Institutional protagonists and the like

143

40

183

13,59

Other collective protagonists

78

56

134

9,94

Total

1 347

100

 

Finally, data in table 10 show that the history composed by the Relações is mostly masculine gendered (74.61%) and very personalized (45.88% of references concern individual characters), as we could suppose if we consider the historical circumstances of the Old Regimen.

 

Conclusions

The main conclusion we can draw from this study is that in pre-industrial context journalism the Relações by Manuel Severim de Faria were like annuaries, which may be regarded as the first Portuguese news reporting multi-theme print papers, or at least the oldest of which there are still copies or document records. Even though the Relações may not be regarded as the first Portuguese periodicals, since their publication was occasional, they have a journalistic character, as they possessed the one which may be one indelible mark of journalism: convey news in a distance, to a given audience (they were printed precisely to take the news to a given audience). They provide news on recent, notable, sometimes dramatic, events (within the context of that time). It is true that they were written, both the beginning and the end, as if they were personal letters, as they resulted from the handwritten accounts that Manuel Severim de Faria, a member of a network of news craving people, produced to correspond with his distinguished fellows, but the Relações had very little personal character. They were aimed at public transmission. They sought mostly to publicly circulate news information obtained form several sources. Some of the news items may not correspond to today’s concept of what is ‘current’ or updated, but facts covered were presumably new for those who received them, who were previously unaware of them. It should be emphasized that being new or up-to-date is not an indentifying feature of all journalism, nor enough to draw a line between what is and what is not journalistic. Documentaries, reports which provide in-depth analysis and include themes that have already been covered, and historical features are good examples of that. Besides, the Relações describe real occurrences, some very thoroughly, extensively rather than comprehensibly, some rather briefly, as short news articles, but all of them selected as newsworthy, according to criteria that are used today in the journalistic process. In some cases, the Relações explore the causes and consequences of events, provide judgment and opinion. In short, their basic features in this way are not so different from what we could find in today’s papers. What is more, despite Severim de Faria’s analytical and stylistic liberties, intended to enhance and contextualize (sometimes religiously) accounts, texts are visibly produced with an intention of truthfulness, rigor and craving for faithfulness to facts, with several detailed references to dates and places, direct quotations or paraphrase, etc. The Relações seem to exhale the author’s own craving for truthfulness of facts, following the tradition of historiography, initiated by authors such as Tucidides and Xenofonte in Ancient Greece. Therefore, the journalistic value of reporting is visibly historically validated, a value which transposes the borders of journalism itself.

 

Bibliography

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BELTRÃO, L. (1992). Iniciação à Filosofia do Jornalismo. São Paulo: Editora da USP e Com-Arte.

BESSA, A. (1904). O Jornalismo. Esboço Histórico da Sua Origem e Desenvolvimento Até aos Nossos Dias. Lisboa: Livraria Editora Viúva Tavares de Castro.

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[1]  History of Portugal and Other Western Provinces, from 1610 to 1640, the Year of the Happy Acclamation of Kin John IV, Wriiten in Thirty-One Accounts. (our translation)

[2] Our translation into modern English (in all of the extracts).

[3] Our translation in all of the quotations.

[4] Our translation in all of the extracts.

[5] Italics added. Our translation in all of the extracts.

[6] ‘Before we write about the occupation of Baía, we shall mention the miserable success of its loss and what the governor Diogo de Mendonça did to defend the city, having the sergeant and other important worthwhile people as witnesses [qualification of sources as belonging to elites] (…) as well as letters from priests of the Company [of Jesus – Jesuits], except some that were lost and which mentioned the truth of the assault and its defence.’ (our translation)

 

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Jornais UFP,
31 de out de 2010 02:29