Portuguese Hidalgo Manuscript
A Fidalgo Gets His Coat of Arms. Galvão, Pedro Affonso. “Livro ebrazaõ das armas fidalguia e nobreza do Leçençeado Pedro Afonso Galvaõ.”
Patents of nobility and grants of coats of arms were important for legal and social reasons in Luso-Hispanic society of early modern Europe. Establishing one’s status as a fidalgo (hidalgo) carried with it certain legal exemptions and privileges, as well as social cachet.
In this manuscript we learn that Leç. Galvão is a native of Campo Maior, Portugal, and a resident in Arahal, Spain, and that he has petitioned for the granting to him of a coat of arms and recognition of his status as a fidalgo. He presents numerous witnesses from the town of Campo Maior in support of his claim, who all testify that his parents (João Gonçalves Galvão and Maria Mexia), paternal grandparents (Pedro Affonso Galvão and Leonor Gonçalves), and paternal great-grandparents (Francisco Vaz and Margaida Annes) were/are all legitimately married and that their first-born males were legitimate children and that the leçençeado is also a legitimate child of a legitimate marriage. The witnesses further state that all the individuals are all free of Moorish and/or Jewish blood.The manuscript begins with a full-page accomplishment on vellum of the coat of arms that has been granted. It is finely painted in red, black, blue, and silver and illuminated. The “title-page” is indited in black ink within a highly decorative border of grotesques, urns, flowers, and architectural elements in sepia, the whole within an outer frame of black and red rules. Each page of the text is contained in a similar black and red frame and is accomplished in an exquisite hand that replicates printing from a common press! That is, rather than being a manuscript showing off one of the classic calligraphic “hands,” it is a manuscript attempting to appear to be (or at least evoke the aesthetic of) a fine printed book.The Portugal Rey de Armas does grant the petitioner’s claim and issues detailed instructions as to the coat of arms and its colors. The signatures and certifications on the final two pages of the manuscript are written in fine, flourishing, official styles.
Colonialism / Diaspora
This collection features objects related to human colonization and displacement.