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Fernão Lopes

Illumination from Crónica de D. João I by Fernão Lopes (detail). National Archives/Torre do Tombo

The chronicler of D. João I and the keeper of the archives at the Torre do Tombo, Fernão Lopes was the most important figure in mediaeval Portuguese literature.

His importance lies in the great care that he took to base his historiographical writing on documentary evidence, the talent that he exhibited as a writer, and the minute detail and great vivacity with which he described mass movements (especially during the uprisings in Lisbon in support of the Master of Aviz) and some scenes from the events that he records, including dialogues. He achieves this not only by retrieving reliable testimonies but also through his capacity to manipulate the language, placing imagination at the service of truth, from which he does not exclude himself.

His main work was the Crónica de D. João I (Chronicle of D. João I).

 Signature-autograph of Fernão Lopes. 
National Archives/Torre do Tombo

Because when a man writes about something that is not certain, either he will tell the tale shorter than it was or he will speak at greater length than he ought; but in this volume lying is far removed from our minds. Oh! How carefully and diligently we have seen great volumes of books, from confused languages and lands; and even public writings from many public notaries and other places, in which after long vigils and great work, we yet cannot have any more certainty about the contents of this work.

Crónica de D. João I, Prologue


© Instituto Camões, 2001