[Paper:] Pedro Flor (Lisbon): Decorating spaces: Artistic strategies of King Manuel I and the great hall of Sintra royal palace

Drawing of Sintra Royal Palace in 1509 in Duarte d’Armas, Libro das Fortalezas (via wikimedia).

Sintra became popular with the royal family as Queen Philippa of Lancaster received from King João I the rents and the properties of the town. Besides, the King set about rebuilding the royal lodgings around 1415. Sintra was rewarded by a series of royal visits from medieval times to Renaissance. Kings and its court stayed there on a number of occasions and seem to have particularly favoured the royal palace as country residence in summertime as a quiet retreat away from busy Lisbon.

The reign of D. Manuel I was marked by a strong constructive outbreak, capable of changing the shape and the decorative profile of the most relevant buildings from the historical point of view. The majority underwent a major building campaign, which marked it indelibly in a new ornamental language full of symbolism and heraldic emblems as apotheosis of a dynasty.

The Royal Palace of Sintra was one such example. In this paper, we will explain how the ancient palace of medieval origins was modelled based on rhetoric of power of a new dynastic branch, personified by King D. Manuel I and his descendants. He did not limit himself to adding a sumptuous wing or to widening the interior spaces but he desired also to prove how the king used his royal supremacy over Portuguese aristocracy through pageantry and exuberant heraldic language. Through the analysis of the great hall (sala dos brasões) and its connection with the rest of the palace, we will discuss how King Manuel I wanted to stress his political role by using a specific strategy based on art to promote and celebrate an idea of monarchy.

biographical notice

Pedro Flor received his PhD in Art History from the Universidade Aberta in 2006, with a dissertation entitled “The Art of Portrait in Portugal – from late Middle Ages to Renaissance”. Since 1998 he has been a lecturer on various curricular modules in the areas of Art History and Museology, specialising in Heritage Studies, at Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral level at the Universidade Aberta. He is a vice-director and an associated member of the Instituto de História da Arte da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Pedro is coordinator “ROBBIANA – The Della Robbia sculptures in Portugal: History, Art and Laboratory” (PTDC/HIS-HEC/116742/2010) research projects, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. Pedro’s main research interests include art of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He has participated in various scientific meetings, both in Portugal and abroad.


This paper will be presented at the international conference:

State-Rooms of Royal and Princely Palaces in Europe (14th-16th c.): Spaces, Images, Rituals – Lisbon/Sintra, 15-17 March 2017 (link)

which aims to put the Sala dos brasões in Sintra in its European context as a royal/princely state-room. It is a follow up to the “Heraldry in Medieval and Early modern State-rooms” held in March 2016 in Münster, which, for its part, focused on the heraldic décor of medieval and early modern state-rooms as such.

Cite this blog post
Torsten Hiltmann (2017, February 27). [Paper:] Pedro Flor (Lisbon): Decorating spaces: Artistic strategies of King Manuel I and the great hall of Sintra royal palace. Heraldica Nova. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/pi02

Torsten Hiltmann

Torsten Hiltmann is Juniorprofessor for the High and Late Middle Ages and Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Münster. He is interested in medieval and early modern visual communication and heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities.

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