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Portuguese writer who wrote in Spanish motivates international colloquium

The life and work of the Portuguese writer Francisco Botelho de Morais, written mainly in Spanish in the eighteenth century, will be discussed by experts from several countries at a colloquium in Coimbra on the 27th and 28th.

“Francisco Botelho ends up in a kind of no man’s land, without occupying the captive place, in the Portuguese and Spanish literary histories, which the quality of his work justifies but is still much more recognized in Spain than in Portugal” , said the scientific coordinator of the meeting, António Apolinário Lourenço.

Born in Torre de Moncorvo in 1670, “in the bosom of an aristocratic family, but not being the firstborn”, he was welcomed in Madrid by a relative, Luis Botelho de Magalhães.

Created and educated in Madrid, “it was in the Castilian language that he wrote most of his work,” said Apolinário Lourenço.

“In that country he lived and lived with notable intellectuals of his time, he was known for his fame in life, he was elevated to the rank of honorary academic of the Spanish Royal Academy, having bequeathed to posterity a prolific and innovative literary and historiographical work, highlighting two epics “he said.

It is “El Alfonso”, dedicated to D. Afonso Henriques, for which he was awarded the “habit of Christ” by D. João IV, protagonist of the restoration of independence in 1640, and “El Nuevo Mundo”, consecrated to the discovery of the American continent.

Francisco Botelho also bequeathed a fiction narrative entitled ‘Historia de las Cuevas de Salamanca’, an illustrated version of an old Salmantine legend according to which ‘the devil every year attracted students and taught classes in an alternative school’, in a cave that still exists in that one University City.

“In addition to the Castilian, the author used the Portuguese and Latin languages, having gathered his satires in Latin in a volume published in Salamanca in 1740,” according to Apolinário Lourenço.

Botelho “did not handle the mother tongue with the same dexterity” with which he used Castilian, but “never felt any doubt about his nationality”, having taken refuge in Portugal on two occasions.

In a book published posthumously, “he came to compare himself with his grandfather Paulo Botelho.”

This familiar one, “when he commanded a regiment on the way to Catalonia at the service of King Philip IV (III of Portugal), received the news of the restoration of Portugal’s independence and immediately reversed the way” to place his troops alongside D. João IV, founder of the Bragança dynasty.

Disturbed by the rusticity and ignorance of the noblemen of Torre de Moncorvo, he decided to create the United States Academy dedicated to the literary and chivalric education of the nobility tower-moncorvina, stressed the professor of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Coimbra (FLUC).

The Transmontano “never could adapt completely to his land and, feeling also mistreated by the Portuguese judicial system, explains in that same booklet that, after the rumors of war, returned to Salamanca because the airs of Portugal harmed his health,” having died in the neighboring country in 1747.

In Salamanca, there is a square with the name of Francisco Botelho, who exercised in Rome the position of secretary of the Portuguese ambassador to the Roman Curia.

On the other hand, “although he was the most illustrious writer of his land, he is completely absent from the toponymy” of Torre de Moncorvo, said Apolinário Lourenço, who shares the coordination of this first scientific meeting on the writer with Ignacio Arellano, University of Navarra , being assisted by Carlos d’Abreu and Mariela Insúa.

At the colloquium, which will be held at FLUC and is open to the public, researchers from Portugal, Spain, France, the United States and Senegal participate.

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