Not one ‘shhhh’: children making cardboard books at the University Library

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Children proudly showing their work

On Thursday 1st of August the University Library opened its doors to an enthusiastic bunch of children aged 7-13 invited to create their own books at the Cardboard publishing in the courtyard event, part of the Summer at the Museums series.

The morning and afternoon workshops in the North Courtyard were led by Dr Lucy Bell and Dr Partrick O’Hare, researchers from the Cartonera Publishing project  (cartón meaning cardboard in Spanish), of which Cambridge University Library, the British Library and Senate House Library are partners. Continue reading

Splitting the world in two: the 525th anniversary of the Treaty of Tordesillas

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P. 1 of the Spanish version (click to see enlarged)

The 7th June marks the 525th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas. The treaty was named for the Castilian town near Valladolid where it was signed by the Catholic Kings (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) and John II, King of Portugal. The signing of this treaty divided those parts of the world newly “discovered” by Spain and Portugal between the empires of the two kingdoms along an imaginary meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands. The lands to the east of this line corresponded to Portugal and those to the west to Spain.

The Treaty of Tordesillas had a precedent, the Treaty of Alcáçovas (1479), that followed the War of Castillan Succession, and already marked the division of the Atlantic into two spheres of influence, one for Spain and the other for Portugal, with the exception of the Canary islands (Spanish, but in the Portuguese sphere). This was confirmed by the papal bull Aeterni regis (Sixtus IV, 1481) which recognised as Portuguese some disputed territories in the Atlantic (Guinea, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde). More importantly, the treaty recognised Portugal exclusive right of navigation south of the Canary islands. Continue reading

Mário Cesariny: Between us and words

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Poesia / Mário Cesariny. Assírio & Alvim, 2017.

The UL recently acquired Poesia by Mário Cesariny (1923 – 2006), the first comprehensive collection of poetry by the Portuguese Surrealist. The library began collecting Cesariny’s work in the late 1980s, when much of his poetry was re-published and gained a new audience – but by which time he himself had more or less abandoned writing to focus on painting.

Cesariny was born and lived his whole life in Lisbon, though during his early 20s he briefly studied art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While he was there, in 1947 he met one of his major influences,  André Breton. Spurred on by this encounter, Cesariny and his circle, who regularly met at Lisbon’s cafe A Mexicana, formed the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa later that same year. Before formalising the birth of Portuguese Surrealism, these young writers and artists, amongst them the poet Alexandre O’Neill, had already begun to reject the strict Neo-Realism that had formed the dominant artistic opposition to Salazar’s regime. Continue reading

The Robert Howes donation on the Portuguese revolution and colonial wars

Cambridge University Library is grateful to Dr. Robert Howes for his donation of material on the Portuguese revolution of 1974 and the Portuguese colonial wars.

This donation significantly extends and complements our holdings on the history of the period, providing a good insight into the atmosphere and activism of the times.
Continue reading

The Lisbon earthquake of 1755

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Title page of Carta em que se mostra a falsa profecia (7000.d.1953(11)) Click on image to enlarge.

The University Library has acquired a first edition of Carta em que se mostra a falsa profecia do terremoto do primeiro de Novembro de 1755 (1756). This is a rare pamphlet by the Portuguese historian and writer Pedro Norberto de Aucourt e Padilha (1704-1759) published the year after the great Lisbon earthquake. Writing under the pseudonym of ‘Epicureo Alexandrino,’ the author dismisses the prophecies that, in the aftermath of the event,  claimed that the natural disaster was God’s work.

The Lisbon earthquake struck in the morning of All Saints Day 1755. With a magnitude estimated at eight points in the Richter scale, it opened cracks on the ground of up to five metres wide and destroyed eighty five percent of the city. It was followed by three tidal waves that engulfed the port and the city centre. There were also multiple fires, many of them started by the candles lit in churches to pray for the dead. The fires lasted for five days. Continue reading