Accepted paper:

"Puestos entan frente a frente": what did soldiers see at the battle of Alcácer Quibir?

Author:

Luís Sousa (FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)

Paper short abstract:

We intend to describe the visual experience during one of the most influential single event of Early Modern Mediterranean. Confronting the graphic and textual first-hand accounts, we propose a (re) construction of the image of the Alcácer Quibir battlefield as perceived by eyewitnesses.

Paper long abstract:

There is plenty of historiography dealing with almost every aspect of the battle of Alcácer Quibir: political and military situation of North Africa and Iberian Peninsula, the personal character of the rulers involved such as Abd al-Malik and D. Sebastião. Many historians have also dealt with the most arid tactical data - the "rough details of war", as described by Renee Quatrefages - like the actual construction of battle formations.

The actual experience of soldiers has been left aside. Understandably, as it is hard to confront the veterans directly… nevertheless, we must reflect on the impact - visual impact - that the actual battle formations had upon the soldiers. This is a most important feature in war, especially as sixteenth century warfare was a true massive choreography made both to intimidate opponents, as well as to boost confidence on the friendly side.

We propose to understand the visual experience of soldiers that fought in the most influential single event of Early Modern Mediterranean. Confronting the graphic and textual testimonies of the veterans - like Miguel Leitão de Andrada, on the Christian side, and Joseph Valencia, on the opposite place, who stood almost face-to-face - we propose a (re) construction of the image of Alcácer Quibir battlefield for the most dramatic and crucial moments of this battle, as perceived by eyewitness.

This paper is part of FCT financed project, “Re Militari: From Military literature to the battle field imagery in the Portuguese Space 1521-1621" (PTDC/ ART-HIS/32459/2017).

panel P32
History: foundations and current readings