Non-European Animals and the Construction of Royalty at the Renaissance Portuguese Court

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This paper aims at analysing the use of non-European animals by the Portuguese royalty in the Renaissance as a symbolic display of majesty, in the construction of images of personal and dynastic power. We will start by analysing the presence of African and Asian animals in Portuguese royal residences. Secondly, the importance of these animals in ceremonial and politically relevant moments, such as royal entries, will be addressed. Finally, it is important to examine the political role played by exotic animals in diplomatic gift-giving practices. The famous embassy sent by Manuel I to the Pope Leo X in 1514, which included the Indian elephant Hanno, is the most ostentatious and significant episode, but other examples can be found in coeval sources. We intend to integrate this theme in a broader analysis on the allure of the exotic in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, and on the presence of African and Asian animals in the Portuguese court simultaneously as a sign of tradition and innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimals at Court
EditorsMark Hengerer, Nadir Weber, Annette Cremer
Place of PublicationBerlin, Boston
PublisherDe Gruyter Oldenbourg
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9783110544794
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAnimals at court - Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
Duration: 8 Dec 201610 Dec 2016


ConferenceAnimals at court


  • Non-European animals
  • Courtly ceremonies
  • Diplomatic gift-giving
  • Portuguese court


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