Book of University Construction Works or Book of Provisions 1772-73. MNMC 2231

1. Book of University Construction Works or Book of Provisions 1772-73. MNMC 2231

“I hereby command that, on taking up your post at the above mentioned university, you reinstate the Arts and Sciences, restoring them from their present state of ruin.”
(…)

That you order the publication of the new statutes removing all impediments and incidents that might prejudice their prompt and faithful execution.”

2. Royal Charter of 28 de Agosto of 1772. MNMC 2231

“And I hereby concede to you, without any reservations, all those resources that you might consider, as situations occur, for the benefit of the aforementioned institution as well as regarding the Reform and the costs of this University in its entirety.”
“Acting here as my lieutenant with private, exclusive and unlimited jurisdiction for all the above-mentioned situations.”
“And I command that the rector, professors, deputies, councillors, officers and other university personnel (…) fulfil and uphold your decisions regarding these matters.”

2.1. idem, ibidem

3. Signature of the Marquês de Pombal; c.1773. MNMC 2945

Illustration of the passage of the comet Hevelius – 1652. MNMC 5178

8.1. Illustration of the passage of the comet Hevelius – 1652. MNMC 5178

8. Didactic ‘azulejos’ used in the teaching of astronomy and mathematics

From the illustration of this passage it was concluded that the size of a comet increases in proportion to its distance from the sun.

This image complies with that of F. IV of the Treaty of the Sphere by Pedro Nunes.

“A straight line falling on parallel straight lines makes the alternate side equal to two right angles; the exterior angle equal to the interior and opposite angle and the sum of the interior angles on the same side equal to two right angles.

Geometric elevation of the building planned for the Chapterhouse’ c. 1779 MNMC 11781

11. Geometric elevation of the building planned for the Chapterhouse’ c. 1779 MNMC 11781

The Source of the Reform

The old Cathedral of Coimbra modified to become the Misericórdia Church within the scope of the pombaline Reform. c.1773. MNMC 2231

14. The old Cathedral of Coimbra modified to become the Misericórdia Church within the scope of the pombaline Reform. c.1773. MNMC 2231

The Royal Charters of the King Dom José of the 28 th of August and the 11 th of October of 1772, contained in the Book of University Construction Works (better known as the Book of Provisions), determine the standards to which the reform of the University buildings should comply.

Apart from the two charters from the king, this book contains seven provisions from the Marquês de Pombal and twelve architectural drawings relative to the alteration or construction projects of the following buildings: the Castle, the Colégio das Artes , the Misericórdia Church (to be installed in the old Cathedral), the Cathedral and the Chapterhouse, the Public Hospital, the Natural History and Experimental Philosophy Offices (these to be installed in the Colégio de Jesus), the University Press, the Chemistry Laboratory and the new library to be built in the Pátio das Escolas .

With the expulsion of the Jesuíts in 1759 and following the Pope’s extinction of the Society of Jesus in 1773, conditions were created for the educational reform ordered by Dom José’s prime minister, the Marquês de Pombal. Imbued with the illuminist ideal acquired during his brief visits to Vienna and London and as an admirer of the new pedagogy set down/described in Luís António Verney’s publication of 1746 entitled ‘The True Method to Study’ he founded, in 1770, the Junta de Providência Literária. This Junta sought to examine the causes of the decadence in higher education and to indicate the reforms to be carried out.

The Junta , established by Dom Francisco de Lemos Pereira Coutinho, rector of the University of Coimbra, and Friar Manuel do Cenáculo, Bishop of Beja, presented the new statutes in a letter dated 28th August 1772 - the formal opening of the ‘new university’ was realized October of that same year.

On accepting and ratifying the new statutes by law, the king, in a letter to the Marquês dated the 28 of August (fig.2), invests him with complete authority to instigate the new faculties.

Thus, the protagonists of the reform of the University of Coimbra are the Marquês de Pombal, minister plenipotentiary to the King and mentor of the Reform, and the rector, Dom Francisco de Lemos Pereira Coutinho, who is responsible for the supervision of the construction works. The architectural projects for the new buildings and façades are the work of an English lieutenant colonel, William Elsden, who is the vehicle of a European language of a neoclassical nature for the new image of the university.

G. Braun e F. Hogenberg, “Illustris ciuitatis Conimbriae in Lusitania // ad flumen Mundam effigies”. c. 1598. MNMC12189

4. G. Braun e F. Hogenberg, “Illustris ciuitatis Conimbriae in Lusitania // ad flumen Mundam effigies”. c. 1598. MNMC12189

Coimbra before the pombaline Reform

Although the engraving by Braun and Hogenberg does not represent late 16 th century Coimbra with great accuracy we can recognise some of the main features of the time: the walled upper part of the city, and to the right, the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz, in the centre, with its elongated enclosure the university colleges of the Rua da Sofia, to the left at the back, the riverside city, the bridge Dom Manuel and the aqueduct of Dom Sebastião. The captions helps us to identify the old royal palace in the upper part of the city that was given to the university by the king, Dom João III, the Colégio das Artes and the Colégio da Jesus . This building, in particular, was the target of significant transformations within the scope of the pombaline Reform of the university.

The intended urban re-planning Pombal’s reform proposed the reconfiguration of the street known as the Couraça de Lisboa, the way of access to the University from the Largo da Portagem, the main entrance route into the city. The alterations to be made included the levelling of slopes, the building of protective devices, the renovation of façades and the reorganization of the ancient monumental Roman gate of Belcouce. These projects were never to be executed.

Map of part of the city of Coimbra. c. 1780. MNMC 2870a

5. Map of part of the city of Coimbra. c. 1780. MNMC 2870a

The plan (fig.5) shows, apart from the Couraça de Lisboa, the area in the upper part of Coimbra that was to undergo renovation, identifying some of the buildings to be transformed or built anew– the Natural History Museum, the Hospital, the Cathedral, the Chapterhouse, the Chemistry Laboratory, the Colégio das Artes, the old Cathedral and the Astronomy Observatory, whose first floor (the only one that was built) can be seen at the extreme of a long front elevation of the Couraça de Lisboa (fig.6).

Side elevation of the Couraça de Lisboa illustrating the planned alterations. c.1780. MNMC 2935

6. Side elevation of the Couraça de Lisboa illustrating the planned alterations. c.1780. MNMC 2935

The buildings of the Reform

The buildings for the new university were all completely new architectural projects and the restructuring of others was carefully planned.

The new buildings were to be the Astronomy Observatory of the Mathematics Faculty the Chemistry Laboratory and the Botanical Gardens for the Philosophy Faculty.

Astronomy Observatory, drawing by Elsden. c.1773. MNMC 2945

7. Astronomy Observatory, drawing by Elsden. c.1773. MNMC 2945

Adapted for the new policy were the old Society of Jesus where the Faculties of Medicine with an Anatomical Theatre, the Pharmaceutical Dispensary and the Teaching Hospital were installed and the Faculty of Philosophy with the offices of Natural History and of Experimental Physics. Also the new cathedral and the Chapterhouse were to be built in the old Jesuit complex. The old cathedral was to become known as the Misericórdia Church from then on, and one of the jewels of the educational Reform, the University Press, was to be built in its cloisters.

Astronomy Observatory, panel of ‘azulejos’. c.1779. MNMC 11782

7. 1. Astronomy Observatory, panel of ‘azulejos’. c.1779. MNMC 11782

The Society of Jesus was adapted to the new educational policy with the installation of the Faculties of Medicine with its Anatomical Theatre, Pharmaceutical Dispensary and Teaching Hospital. The Philosophy Faculty with the cabinets of Natural History and Experimental Physics was also installed there. The new Cathedral and Chapterhouse were constructed whilst the old Cathedral was to become known as the Misericórdia Church. One of the jewels of the educational Reform, the University Press, was built in these same Jesuit cloisters.

The execution of one of the projects for the Observatory, to be built over the ruins of the old Castle of Coimbra, did not progress further than the first floor and was demolished during the reform of the 1940s.

The panel of ‘azulejos’ (fig.7.1.), showing another version for the Observatory is part of a group of nine commissioned by the rector, later the bishop, to decorate the Episcopal Palace which is the present museum.

The Jesuits and the teaching of Mathematics – phenomena of Astronomy and Euclid ’s Elements.

The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro holds a group of twenty-two sundry ‘azulejos’ relative to various educational themes, especially those illustrating astronomical observations (figs. 8.1 and 8.2) and mathematical definitions and propositions taken from the Euclid’s Elements (fig.8.3).

Representation of the Ptolemaic system after Pedro Nunes. MNMC 5179; c.1475

8.2. Representation of the Ptolemaic system after Pedro Nunes. MNMC 5179; c.1475

It has been discovered that that the latter were taken from the version by Andrea Tacquet and translated into Portuguese in the early eighteenth century by the Jesuit, Manuel de Campos.

Illustrated proposition taken from Euclid’s Elements, A. Tacquet S.J., 1654. MNMC 5181

8.3. Illustrated proposition taken from Euclid’s Elements, A. Tacquet S.J., 1654. MNMC 5181 Book I, proposition 29. Theorem

It can therefore be concluded that these pieces would have served as didactic material in the old Colégio de Jesus.

The grounds that belonged to the Society of Jesus

Chemistry Laboratory, panel of ‘azulejos’ c. 1779 MNMC 11778

9. Chemistry Laboratory, panel of ‘azulejos’ c. 1779 MNMC 11778

The Chemistry Laboratory, intended to be built on the site of the old kitchens of the Jesuit complex since the first provision of 1772, was a crucial element of the reform studies and needed a completely new building. Elsden presented a project with purely neoclassical lines inspired on the German model requested by the Marquês de Pombal.

The Society of Jesus was the main target of the politico-cultural policy of the Marquês. One of the means of eradicating the Society was by spreading the belief that the Jesuits – who he had expulsed in 1759 – had caused the stagnation of education in Portugal, This would mean that, in the case of Coimbra, the huge College once vacated could be utilized to house the new Faculties of Medicine and Philosophy.

The Colégio de Jesus in the 18th century. Engraving. MNMC 3310

10. The Colégio de Jesus in the 18th century. Engraving. MNMC 3310

The engraving, showing the buildings in perspective (fig. 10), allows the evaluation of the dimension of this construction which also housed the Colégio das Artes and whose kitchens - seen in the mid-field to the right - stood on the site where the Chemistry Laboratory was later to be built.

Plan of the lower floor of the Sé, Chapterhouse and the Cabinets of Physics and Natural History. c.1773. MNMC 2893

12. Plan of the lower floor of the Sé, Chapterhouse and the Cabinets of Physics and Natural History. c.1773. MNMC 2893

The block therefore became part of the University with the exception of the church and the southwest corner that belonged to the Diocese and the Chapterhouse. The plan (fig. 12) shows the adaptation of the building to its new role, distinguishing the various departments by different colours.

The old Cathedral and its new role

Created to satisfy the needs of the new studies, the Press was also the principal propaganda instrument of the pombaline ideology. The elevation (fig.13) shows the main façade of the building of the University’s Royal Press to be installed in the cloisters of the new Misericórdia Church – formerly, until 1772, the old Cathedral or Sé Velha of Coimbra (fig.14). Of neoclassical lines and divested of decorative elements this building was, in spite of its modernity, in harmony with its

Echoes of the Reform in Coimbra

Following the death of the king and Pombal’s fall from power in 1777, the rhythm of the implementation of the Reform slowed down, works dragging on for several decades with some projects remaining unfinished or still to be begun.

Project for the new buildings of the Jail and the Tribunals of Coimbra. 19th century. 1st quarter. MNMC 2877

15. . Project for the new buildings of the Jail and the Tribunals of Coimbra. 19th century. 1st quarter. MNMC 2877

An example of this last instance is the project for the Tribunals in the Rua da Sofia (fig.15) by José do Couto dos Santos Leal. Of an appreciable uniformity and stylistic coherence, this project was of considerable importance for the interpretation of the Reform.

Topographic plan of the Praça de Sansão and the roads leading to it’. 1796. MNMC2941

16. Topographic plan of the Praça de Sansão and the roads leading to it’. 1796. MNMC2941

The integration of the new architectures with those already in existence is manifest in the project for a private house (fig.16) that Francisco António de Macedo commissioned from José Carlos Magne. It is a precious document for the understanding of what constituted the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz and its environs up until the 19 th century. It contains illustrations of the Convento das Donas, to the left of Santa Cruz, followed by the Colégios de S. Miguel and Todos-os-Santos, with the fountains and a row of houses that was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century.

The route through pombaline Coimbra terminates in the Botanical Gardens built in 1774 for the “University Nursery Garden”. The project for the greenhouses was included in programme for the expansion of equipment (fig. 17), signed by Macomboa in 1791. It reflects the continuity of both architectonic solutions (a classical façade with wide spans and the layout in an inverted T) and educational solutions, by integrating the classroom in the centre of the building.

Projects for the Entrance Gate to the Botanical Gardens of the University of Coimbra. 1818. MNMC 2898;DA37

18. Projects for the Entrance Gate to the Botanical Gardens of the University of Coimbra. 1818. MNMC 2898;DA37

The project for the main entrance (fig.18), presenting two possibilities and recording that the one on the left was chosen, was dated 1818 during the second period of office of the Rector, Dom Francisco de Lemos Pereira Coutinho. Only realized in 1843, it shows coherence with the initial artistic programme, although half a century separates it from the height of the Educational Reform of the Marquês de Pombal in Coimbra.