This is the first book mentioned on my blog that's not listed in my first post. This is so because I don't think that it is a great work of art. It's an amazing and fascinating curio though, and, I suppose, an anomaly in the extended comics field's history (if, by any chance, any of you know of something that resembles Duarte d'Armas' Livro das Fortalezas - the fortresses' book -, I'd love to hear about it, of course).
In my last post I wrote, describing a link: "A Robert Weaver slideshow (a visual reportage, way before Joe Sacco: February, 1962)." Now, can you imagine a visual reportage done in 1509, 1510?
Around that date king Manuel I of Portugal (r. 1495 - 1521), was worried and wanted to know in which condition were his defences near the border. To get this info he sent draughtsman Duarte d'Armas (Duarte de Armas in today's orthography), with a valet on foot, who drew all the towns that he visited while surrounding the rectangle: from the South to the North and, then, from the East to the West. His book (done in parchment) is a travelogue.
Unfortunately Duarte de Armas was more interested in buildings than he was interested in people. Even so he shows us some brief glimpses of life as it was at the beginning of the 16th century. Particularly shocking to our contemporary eyes are the gallows with which every town "greeted" newcomers. Maybe this was a warning to ill-intentioned individuals.
Images (all details);
I'm following Duarte de Armas and his valet:
1. Duarte de Armas uses a plumb line in Olivença (today Olivenza, Spain; an "atalaia" is a watch tower);
2. Duarte de Armas and his valet arrive at Ouguela (notice how the horse is still drawn in Gothic style; because of privileged economical relations with the Flemish region, Italian renaissance would arrive very late to Portugal);
3. women near a well in Montalvão;
4. ominous gallows in Penha Garcia (the stereotyped rocks are also typically Gothic);
5. Duarte de Armas and his valet climb to Monsanto (they are depicted at the mountain base and a bit higher in the same image - this way of showing the passing of time was common in the Gothic style);
6. Duarte de Armas and his valet are leaving Bragança heading West; someone is hanged;
7. boats in front of Tuy (today, Tui) in Galicia, Spain;
8. lacking a bridge Duarte de Armas, his valet and horse are transported by barge in the Minho river near Vila Nova de Cerveira; huge galleons are sailing the Atlantic Ocean (another one is being constructed on the river's bank).