Serving the King, building the Kingdom: The architects and the engineers responsible for the royal Palaces renovation during the reign of D. Filipe of Portugal

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Acclaimed as legitimate sovereign of the Portuguese Kingdom in 1581, D. Filipe I of Portugal [1527|1580-1598] would be responsible for implementing a major renovation program concerning the main set of Crown royal palaces during the last two decades of the sixteenth century. Among the royal palaces and sites, the King would also support several other building constructions, namely the monasteries and convents erected by the first Portuguese Kings.
From Lisbon, the capital where several urban palaces were located – the Castle palace, the Estaus palace and the River palace –, to Sintra, Almeirim and Salvaterra [de Magos], where the most popular summer residences of the Portuguese monarchs were placed, a group of architects and military engineers was in charge of visiting the royal sites, drawing the plans for the palatine buildings and gardens, and scheduling their material interventions. The major purpose of the new King was to retrieve, reform and reoccupy the palaces of the old Kingdom.
Among the foremost officers summoned were the Italian military engineers Filippo Terzi [c.1520-1597] and Giovanni Battista Antonelli [1527-1588], in addition to the Portuguese architect Balthazar Alvarez [1560-1630]. While the Spanish architect Juan Herrera [1530-1597] was mainly responsible for supervising and correcting the architectural projects and plans, the higher bailiff D. Duarte de Castelo Branco [c.1540-?] – who later became the treasury overseer and one of the five Kingdom governors – was responsible for the financial management. Where the King was in Lisbon or in Madrid all constructions works were managed under his direct control.
After the brief historical contextualization of the Portuguese royal palaces which had gone through interventions during the reign of the Prudent-King, in Lisbon and others peripheral villages, we intend to identify the major architects and engineers involved in the renovation program, analyzing the procedures and dynamics of the palatine constructions sites administration under their command. Many of these artists would be involved also in the projects implemented at monasteries and convents, namely those who were under the protection of the Portuguese Crown since the foundation of the Kingdom.
Inside of the chronological framework defined by D. Filipe I of Portugal’s reign, from 1580 to 1598, it is also possible to present, in some cases, the social background and the evolution of the professional trajectories of those architects and engineers. Many of them, after having successfully executed their functions, started not only to gradually occupy higher positions at the Royal Works (Obras Reais) offices, but also at the first formal architectural school established precisely at the Royal Palace of Lisbon next to the Tagus River (Aula do Risco do Paço Real de Lisboa).
Period15 Sep 2021
Held atCentre de Recherche du Château de Versailles, France
Degree of RecognitionInternational