Religious History in Portugal

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2023) | Viewed by 12874

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Center for the History of Society and Culture, University of Coimbra, 3004-531 Coimbra, Portugal
Interests: history of religion; Catholic reformation; witchcraft in the early modern age; Misericórdias; early modern Portuguese history; history of the Portuguese overseas empire; the Iberian union (1580–1640)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The topic of this Special Issue covers Religious History in Portugal since the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The aim is to disseminate, in an international context, the most recent trends of an active and renewed historical research on the field of religious history in Portugal. The proposal has a problematizing perspective and is not enclosed in Catholic institutional religiosity. On the contrary, it is open to the anthropological dimension of the multiform religious experiences of Christianity and other beliefs that have been embraced by the inhabitants of the Portuguese territories. A twofold purpose is achieved. On the one hand, we aim to make a historiographical review of the trends that recently have characterised this field of study in Portugal. On the other hand, we aim to stimulate the production of new knowledge that reveals some of the features and dynamics that have shaped religious life. In the case of Christian/Catholic expressions, we invite scholars, not only Portuguese scholars, to submit proposals that might help to reconstitute and explain how the structures and procedures of the diocesan Church were established and implemented, what human resources it employed, how it marked the physical space and the individual and collective life, with special emphasis on the situation in extra-European territories of Portuguese presence.These imply insights open to the inter-cultural dynamics unleashed by religious life. It is also relevant to grasp the profiles of the secular and regular clergy, as well as the strategies that these agents created to promote and nurture Christianism and the religious life of both Christians and the populations who, having other beliefs, were encouraged or compelled to be Christians. At this respect, it will be of the utmost interest to reflect on the role of the bodies created to oversee and disciplining religious ideas and behaviors. Furthermore, it will be examined how Christianity was experienced by both clerics and the faithful, and in what ways religion impacted on social, cultural and political life.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editor (lejpaiva@fl.uc.pt) or to Religions editorial office (religions@mdpi.com). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Prof. Dr. José Pedro Paiva
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • religious history Portugal
  • historiography
  • Portuguese seaborne empire
  • Diocesan church
  • mis-sions
  • cross-cultural experiences
  • Catholic clergy
  • religious experiences of the faithful
  • inquisition
  • Jews
  • Muslims

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
The Native Clergy in Portuguese America: The Presence of Descendants of Indians and Africans in the Secular Clergy (c. 1670–c. 1820)
by Anderson José Machado De Oliveira
Religions 2024, 15(3), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030353 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 634
Abstract
This article conducts an analytical overview of the controversies and acts that resulted in the formation of a native clergy in Portuguese America. The analysis is limited to the secular clergy and the ways by which descendants of Africans and Indians were incorporated [...] Read more.
This article conducts an analytical overview of the controversies and acts that resulted in the formation of a native clergy in Portuguese America. The analysis is limited to the secular clergy and the ways by which descendants of Africans and Indians were incorporated into this segment of the Church. The author addresses the way parts of these groups developed strategies to access the priesthood, seeking to escape subaltern positions and consolidating processes of social mobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
18 pages, 314 KiB  
Article
Beyond Nation and Empire? Questioning the Role of Religious Missions under Portuguese Colonial Rule at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
by Hugo Gonçalves Dores
Religions 2024, 15(3), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030269 - 22 Feb 2024
Viewed by 759
Abstract
From the beginning of European overseas expansion in the fifteenth century, religious missions occupied an important place in the internal organisation of colonial empires. Their contribution to the ideological structuring of imperialism and the interaction with local populations is undeniable. With the emergence [...] Read more.
From the beginning of European overseas expansion in the fifteenth century, religious missions occupied an important place in the internal organisation of colonial empires. Their contribution to the ideological structuring of imperialism and the interaction with local populations is undeniable. With the emergence of the new imperialism and the scramble for Africa (after the 1870s), the missions, often anticipating the colonial political and administrative presence, enhanced their role as advocates of Europe’s “civilising mission”, above all through the education of the colonised peoples. For Portuguese decision-makers, the religious missions, with a multi-century tradition, had an important role in defending territorial claims overseas and promoting the empire’s nationalisation. However, the lack of national missionaries, Christianity’s inter-confessional competition in the nineteenth century and the emergence of international legal rules protecting missionary activities hindered Portugal’s strategies. Using sources from several archives (in Lisbon, the Vatican, and elsewhere) to emphasise the role of a transnational missionary staff and the international law of missions, this text intersects these aspects, examining their convergence in the controversial case of the exit and replacement of Jesuit missionaries in Mozambique in 1910–1911, to demonstrate the need to look at the missionary issues in the Portuguese overseas domains from perspectives that go beyond nation and empire. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
26 pages, 972 KiB  
Article
The Confederation between the Kingdoms of Portugal and Kongo, 1511–1665
by Jaime Ricardo Gouveia
Religions 2024, 15(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15010038 - 26 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1482
Abstract
In this study I propose rethinking the nature, purposes, and impacts of relations between the kingdoms of Portugal and Kongo in the period between 1511 and 1665. My main argument is that the Pact of Confederation formed by these two kingdoms was decisive, [...] Read more.
In this study I propose rethinking the nature, purposes, and impacts of relations between the kingdoms of Portugal and Kongo in the period between 1511 and 1665. My main argument is that the Pact of Confederation formed by these two kingdoms was decisive, exceptional, and unprecedented. While covert attempts by the Portuguese to gain control of the Kingdom of Kongo were common during this period, the relations spelled out by the pact nevertheless endured for over a century and would have global repercussions. From the vantage point of historiography, the pact presents modern historians with serious difficulties, largely because it spells out modes of interaction that do not fit readily into recognized systems of European colonialism. Central to these modes of interaction is the significant role that religion played in defining Portuguese imperialist policies in Central Africa. In the end, the Pact of Confederation between the kingdoms of Portugal and Kongo forces historians to rethink Portuguese imperial dynamics and the modalities of their presence in Africa and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
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15 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
The Bishopric of Maranhão and the Indian Directory: Diocesan Government and the Assimilation of Indigenous Peoples in Amazonia (1677–1798)
by Pollyanna Mendonça Muniz
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1515; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121515 - 8 Dec 2023
Viewed by 713
Abstract
The second half of the eighteenth century is crucial to understanding the significant role of the Catholic Church in the many transformations experienced by indigenous peoples due to the policies of the Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (Marquis of Pombal) administration in [...] Read more.
The second half of the eighteenth century is crucial to understanding the significant role of the Catholic Church in the many transformations experienced by indigenous peoples due to the policies of the Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (Marquis of Pombal) administration in Portuguese America. No study has yet to examine in depth the collaboration of the episcopate and its agents in this indigenist policy. Here, therefore, I analyse the case of the diocese of Maranhão, in the Portuguese Amazon, from its creation in 1677 until the end of the eighteenth century, demonstrating the jurisdictional dispute between the bishops and the regular clergy over the guardianship of indigenous peoples. I also examine how the appointment of clergy in former indigenous villages took place and how the diocesan structure was expanded to ensure the consolidation of Pombal’s policy amid disputes between diverse actors and interests, including those of the Portuguese state, the bishops and the indigenous population. By analysing a variety of documents using research methodologies that involve varying the scale of observation and pursuing a connected history perspective, I show how the episcopate behaved, despite its limitations and vacancies, in the process of assimilating indigenous peoples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
21 pages, 358 KiB  
Article
From Idolatry to Gentilidade: Assessing Local Christians’ Religious Offences in the Goa Inquisition (17th Century)
by Miguel Rodrigues Lourenço
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1498; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121498 - 3 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1129
Abstract
During the first half of the 17th century, the Goa Inquisition increased its focus on religious offences committed by the so-called Cristãos da Terra (local Christianized populations). Many of these perceived offences occurred in connection with rituals, practices and behaviours stemming from Asian [...] Read more.
During the first half of the 17th century, the Goa Inquisition increased its focus on religious offences committed by the so-called Cristãos da Terra (local Christianized populations). Many of these perceived offences occurred in connection with rituals, practices and behaviours stemming from Asian cultural and religious settings, leading the inquisitors in Goa to assess a variety of external features and performances (“signs”) in order to determine the seriousness of the offence and the penalty to impose. While these actions were primarily labelled as “idolatry”, during the 1620s, inquisitorial personnel in Goa suddenly adopted a new designation—that of “gentilidade”—to refer to a type of offence that involved apostasy from Catholicism in favour of the “Law of the Gentiles.” In this paper, I will analyse the context that led to this epistemic change in labelling religious offences, while also comparing the extant Goa Inquisition trials and summaries with later catalogues of cases where offences first began to be designated as “gentilidade.” I will argue that during the 1620s such changes in classifying religious offences were the outcome of a debate that, even though it was external to the Goa Inquisition, incidentally questioned some of its procedures and prompted its inquisitors and prosecutor to repurpose an already existing term into a broad category denoting heresy and apostasy, thus reinforcing the legitimacy of the tribunal’s judicial practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
16 pages, 352 KiB  
Article
Jewish Presences in Portugal: Between History and Memory
by Claude B. Stuczynski
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1479; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121479 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1329
Abstract
The history of the Jews in Portugal is often divided into three distinct periods: what I call the “time of the Jews”, the “time of the Inquisition” and the “time of return”. In this article, I will argue that the particular role played [...] Read more.
The history of the Jews in Portugal is often divided into three distinct periods: what I call the “time of the Jews”, the “time of the Inquisition” and the “time of return”. In this article, I will argue that the particular role played by the personal and collective multiple memories in each of these historical periods (by analyzing an array of primary and secondary sources, including medieval chronicles, inquisitorial sources and historiographical works), paradoxically blurs their chronological contours (namely, before 1497, between 1536 and 1821 and afterwards), and transforms the Jewish presence in Portugal into a challenging issue, from both a Jewish and a non-Jewish perspective, with far reaching biopolitical implications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
24 pages, 3293 KiB  
Article
Death Commemoration Strategies in Medieval Portugal: A Mirror of Lay Participation in Religious Parochial Life (The Case of Coimbra)
by Maria Amélia Campos
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1443; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121443 - 21 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1125
Abstract
This article will, through the analysis of three parishes in Coimbra between the twelfth and the fourteenth century, investigate practices surrounding the commemoration of death. Through the study of extant wills, post-mortem donations, and necrological documents—such as Obituaries and Anniversary Books—this work seeks [...] Read more.
This article will, through the analysis of three parishes in Coimbra between the twelfth and the fourteenth century, investigate practices surrounding the commemoration of death. Through the study of extant wills, post-mortem donations, and necrological documents—such as Obituaries and Anniversary Books—this work seeks to describe the populations and communities who entrusted their final salvation to these churches. This characterization will allow a description of the typology of the suffrage ceremonies founded by these souls, meanwhile presenting an evaluation of the maintenance and management of these foundations by the churches and its chapters throughout the centuries. This paper intends to highlight what survives after death—not only in terms of memory, but also in light of social relationships, interpersonal and familial connections, and professional solidarities. Focusing on a population that is otherwise poorly documented—and moreover, represents a socio-professional background of a low echelon—this text intends to present a global characterization of the cult of the dead, with a further aim of drawing attention to the intervention and enrichment of parish pastoral care by the lay population in this Portuguese city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
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9 pages, 258 KiB  
Article
Perspectives on Religious History in Early Modern Portugal: Problems, Historiographic Production and Challenges
by Paula Almeida Mendes
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111421 - 14 Nov 2023
Viewed by 977
Abstract
This article aims to outline a panoramic view of the paths taken by researchers, in the last 15 years, in the field of the religious history of the Modern Period in Portugal. Starting from the identification of the scientific production and activities that [...] Read more.
This article aims to outline a panoramic view of the paths taken by researchers, in the last 15 years, in the field of the religious history of the Modern Period in Portugal. Starting from the identification of the scientific production and activities that have achieved a more relevant place in the framework of the study of the religious history in early modern Portugal, since the 1950s, this article draws attention to a set of subjects that urgently need to be debated. It will be argued that research in the area in question continues to constitute a challenge. The focus of this article is the European space of Portugal, not considering productions and research about Portuguese imperial spaces, namely Asia and Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
22 pages, 430 KiB  
Article
Religious History in Portugal from Lusitania Sacra (1720) to the Enciclopédia de História Religiosa (2023): An Overview
by Sérgio Ribeiro Pinto
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1417; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111417 - 12 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1130
Abstract
The religious history in Portugal remains fragmented despite the progress made, especially in the last four decades, compared with other European historiographies. This article intends to identify factors that explain the Portuguese religious history landscape through an exhaustive diachronic presentation of the main [...] Read more.
The religious history in Portugal remains fragmented despite the progress made, especially in the last four decades, compared with other European historiographies. This article intends to identify factors that explain the Portuguese religious history landscape through an exhaustive diachronic presentation of the main works and authors. It aims to present the fundamental milestones of the field’s evolution, both thematically and institutionally. The ambiguous relationship between national memory and the hegemonic Catholic religious tradition, the ideological and political debates surrounding the late modern reset of national identity benchmarks, and the impacts of a dictatorial experience that conditioned the academic landscape for almost 50 years are the reasons for the late emergence of religious history in Portugal and its discreet presence in the academy. After establishing the essential chronology and underlining the main results, this article will outline Portuguese religious historiography’s most pressing tasks and challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
20 pages, 402 KiB  
Article
The Nação Rules: A Comparative Analysis of the Bylaws of Western Sephardic Congregations in the Early Modern Atlantic
by Carla Vieira
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111399 - 9 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1328
Abstract
Religious persecution, segregation, and commercial networks triggered the diaspora of Iberian New Christians and Sephardic Jews throughout the Atlantic in the Early Modern period. Despite the geographical dispersion, the diverse host environments, and the complex religious experiences, the so-called Western Sephardic Diaspora was [...] Read more.
Religious persecution, segregation, and commercial networks triggered the diaspora of Iberian New Christians and Sephardic Jews throughout the Atlantic in the Early Modern period. Despite the geographical dispersion, the diverse host environments, and the complex religious experiences, the so-called Western Sephardic Diaspora was founded on the principles of unity and preservation, which were cemented by the notion of belonging to the Nação. Thus, as a cross-border community connected by common geographical origins, collective cultural identity, and a shared New Christian background, the concept of Nação was structural for the definition and evolution of the diasporic experience of Portuguese and Spanish exiles and their descendants from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This article overviews the most recent findings and perspectives on the concept of the Nação as a unifying element of the Western Sephardic Diaspora. Then, it problematizes the interpretation of this concept in different Sephardic communities established in Atlantic port cities. This problem is approached by analyzing these communities’ internal bylaws (ascamot) under the lens of two critical questions: (1) the concept of Nação as defining the borders of belonging to the community and (2) the unity and preservation of the Nação as essential drifts of the organization and management of the community. This analysis emphasizes the tension between the dynamism and particularities of each community and the conservatism of the idea of Nação, promoted by small social and economic elites that exercised increasing control over the communities and their interaction with the surrounding environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
23 pages, 371 KiB  
Article
Inquisition and Purity of Blood in Portugal during the Seventeenth Century
by Ana Isabel López-Salazar Codes
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1388; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111388 - 6 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1022
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to analyse the role played by the Portuguese Holy Office in the process of social discrimination against New Christians, that is, those who were considered to be descendant of Jews converted to Christianity in the late fifteenth [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to analyse the role played by the Portuguese Holy Office in the process of social discrimination against New Christians, that is, those who were considered to be descendant of Jews converted to Christianity in the late fifteenth century. This article focuses specifically on the different and changing attitudes of the Inquisitors General to the issue of purity of blood during the seventeenth century. In the course of that century, some people considered to be New Christians (with fama or nota) managed to join the Portuguese Holy Office. Nevertheless, this was not due to the fact that Inquisitors General and members of the General Council rejected discrimination using theoretical, religious and moral arguments, but to the impossibility of achieving undoubtful knowledge about the origins of those seeking to join the Inquisition. At the same time, once racial discrimination became institutionalised within the Inquisition during the final third of the sixteenth century, the Inquisitors General became less concerned about the allegations of impure blood made about some of its ministers, so long as it could be demonstrated that they were good Christians and of use to the institution, or else capable of contributing to the specific personal interests of the tribunal’s rector. Nevertheless, not all supposed or real conversos succeeded in joining the Holy Office, as evidenced by cases of self-exclusion and the numerous proofs of “purity of blood” that were not approved. To address these questions, we turn to the proofs of “purity of blood” carried out by the Portuguese Inquisition, as well as to correspondence and documents from other institutions of the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
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