1794 a year of change for Portugal
I saw this holy water font in an old monastery that is for sale in Penela, Portugal.
Most of us have a rough idea or our own countries history but that of our adopted home is often a mystery.
The font was a later addition to the monastery which was built in 1763. The monastery also has a watermill which used to grind corn the corn of local farmers supplying the bakes of the area.
Back in 1794 the world was a different place the only forms of transport were foot, horseback or cart. To set the scene a little better. The King of Great Britain was George III (1760–1820) and the Prime Minister – William Pitt the Younger.
The days of powdered wigs and head lice. Although well before the industrial revolution there was in fact a lot going on.
Everyone may have been using horse power but the famous Portuguese sailors and navigators were ruling Brazil and parts of Africa. Searching for gold, spices and valuable medicinal plants. As you can imagine anything that was brought back would be hyped up and sold to the highest bidder as a wonder tonic for all those illnesses that there was no known cure for.
1794 saw the preparation of a “pharmacopoeia” which was a guide to the composition of medicinal formulas covering the specifications and quantities of drugs. Designed to instruct apothecaries, physicians and surgeons. It was against the law to prescribe any mixture that was not described in the pharmacopoeia.
The work was attributed to professor of “materia medica” of Coimbra University, Francisco Tavares.
There is another nice link with central Portugal and 1794. Maria I Francisca, Queen of Portugal (1777–1816) was made the first princess of Beiras (best known now as a wine producing area in central Portugal)
There is a formal picture of her here.
It was in this year that Portugal had its first ambassador to the United States.
However rich and cosmopolitan it was becoming Portugal still had a very dark side. In 1794 the last Auto-da-fe was held.
Do you remember tales of the Spanish inquisition? It happened here too.
Fore detailed information go to
The last Auto-da-Fe in Portugal took place on August 7, 1794. It was at an Auto-da-Fe where the sentences of hundreds of innocent people were read out to a mass gathering.
You could being sentenced to life in prison or death for insulting the Church. The Vatican has since condemned these acts , apologizing for having them executed.
They did keep the property and lands however.