CHAIR: Antonieta Reis Leite


  • Renata Malcher de Araújo | CHAM, FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa e Universidade do Algarve
  • Margarida Tavares da Conceição | IHA, FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Alice Santiago Faria | CHAM, FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

The network of classes established in various parts of the Portuguese Empire since the late 1600s, in the field of military engineering, is a well-known fact. The role of the crown, as institutional support for the process of creating the classes, has been highlighted, especially taking into account the successive royal charters of D. João IV (1654), D. Pedro II (1699 and 1701), D. João V (1732) and D. Maria I (1779 and 1790). However, there are still many questions about the real conditions of the classes, their methods, development and adaptation to local circumstances. 

This paper will revisit the development context of the Lisbon Fortification Class and of the first generation of engineers formally trained under the teaching of Luís Serrão Pimentel.  It aims to achieve a new regard on this theme, by discussing the role of the involved agents themselves, not only in the classroom creation process, but also in the effective construction of a social space for engineers.

This space emerges, precisely, in the articulation between individual, academic-based training and the agency capacity of each one of the interveners, as experts, whose socio-professional trajectory embodies the network, in itself. In this sense, the places of learning, individual and collective, that the class creates, are, per se, spaces for claiming a social place. In other words, it is literally by building expertise that the engineers socially asserts themselves as such.

Renata Malcher de Araújo holds a PhD in Art History from Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2001) and the University of São Paulo (2005). She is a professor at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the University of the Algarve and an integrated researcher at CHAM – Humanities Center, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Co-coordinates with Alice Santiago Faria, the research project “TechNetEMPIRE – Technical-scientific networks in the formation of the environment built in the Portuguese Empire (1647-1871)” financed by FCT (PTDC / ART-DAQ / 31959/2017). Integrates the teaching staff of the PhD Program in Heritage of Portuguese Influence of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research and Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra. He has developed research mainly in the areas of the history of urbanism, especially in the scope of Portuguese expansion, history of cartography and heritage studies and has several published works.

Margarida Tavares da Conceição has a degree in History of Art, Universidade de Lisboa (1989). MA in History of Art, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (1998), with the dissertation “Urban space evolution in Almeida (16th–18th centuries) – from the walled town to the praça de guerra“. PhD in Architecture (Theory and History of Architecture), Universidade de Coimbra (2009), with the dissertation “On city and fortification in Portuguese texts (1540-1640)”. Researcher at the Institute of Art History at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, since 2013. Invited assistant professor at the same university, teaching Military Architecture and Fortification (15th-18thc.) and History of Urbanism and Heritage Studies. Since 2015 is invited assistant professor at the Architecture Department of Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa. The main research interests are city and fortifications in the Early Modern period; treatises on architecture, town planning and related areas.

Alice Santiago Faria is currently a researcher (CEEC Individual 2017) and “Art, History and Heritage” research group coordinator (2016-) at the CHAM – Centre for the Humanities, FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Universidade dos Açores. Coordinates, with Renata Malcher de Araujo, the research project “TechNetEMPIRE – Technoscientific Networks in the construction of the built environment in the Portuguese Empire (1647-1871)” funded by FCT (PTDC/ART-DAQ/31959/2017). Graduated in Architecture at Universidade de Coimbra (1997), Ph.D. in Art History at Université de Paris I (2011). Her research focuses on colonial public works in the Portuguese Empire during the long 19th century. She’s interested in approaching this theme between history of architecture and history of technology, using digital methods of researching in the humanities.



  • Charles van den Heuvel | Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (KNAW), University of Amsterdam
  • Henk Hietbrink | Independent scholar

In 1654, Hendrik Ruse, in his treatise  Versterckte Vesting , (The Strengthening of Strong-Holds) ridiculed Dutch engineers as: “Onderdanen van Mathesis” [Servants of Mathesis], who think that wars and all affairs of this world, ought to be regulated unchangeably after their rules.” The critical remark of Ruse reflected the standardised way of teaching geometry and fortification that evolved since the foundation of the Duytsche Mathematique (Dutch Mathematics) in 1600 based on an educational program of Simon Stevin on instigation of Maurice of Nassau and that ended in 1681. The history of the Duytsche Mathematique is commonly described as a practical training course in which artisans of all sorts were taught elementary geometry and fortification in the Dutch language to foresee urgently in the need of engineers that could design fortresses and city walls during the Eighty Years’ War. In this paper we question purely practical explanations of the use of the Dutch language and elementary geometry and contextualise the Duytsche Mathematique as a learning place in two different ways. Firstly, the Duytsche Mathematique will be discussed in the context of contemporary views on the status of the Dutch language and of mathematics. Secondly, the Duytsche Mathematique will be contextualised by a comparative mathematical analysis of over 20 manuscripts and printed works of fortitications. We will focus on practices of copying manuscripts and drawings and on the impact of (non)-elementary mathematics on the social status of scientific and technological knowledge. We conclude with a demonstration how these teaching materials of the Duytsche Mathematique are reused and contextualised in a digital learning place for education of mathematics in secondary schools.

Charles van den Heuvel is Head Research of History of Knowledge at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (KNAW). Furthermore, he holds the chair: Digital Methods and Historical Disciplines (University of Amsterdam). He has a background in history of art and worked in several cultural heritage institutions. He published regularly on the history of architecture, town planning, fortification and military cartography. Relevant for this paper is his work on Simon Stevin. Recent research interests are digital art history, digital methods in historical disciplines and the history of information studies. 

Henk Hietbrink is a mathematics teacher with an interest in the history and didactics of mathematics, science and technology. Furthermore, he is doing research as an independent scholar and regularly publishes on the history of mathematics in the Low Countries and in the Islam. Hietbrink also hosts the website, dedicated to the works of Frans Van Schooten Sr and Jr. Furthermore, Hietbrink organizes and performs at international interactive workshops in Science Festivals on astrolabes, sundials and mathematical instruments and develops educational materials for teaching mathematics on the worldwide digital platform: GeoGebra.



  • Angelo Cattaneo | CNR – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche / National Research Council, Rome

The ‘Carte di Castello’ are a collection of eighty-two manuscript maps of coastal and island regions, vistas, city plans, particularly of port cities and colonial Portuguese and Dutch fortresses, spread across four continents: Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. They were purchased by Cosimo III de’ Medici on two consecutive journeys to Europe between 1667 and 1669.  Sixty-five of the eighty-two documents were purchased in Amsterdam in 1667 from Johannes Vingboons’ workshop, brokered by Pieter Blaeu. The remaining seventeen were instead commissioned and bought in Lisbon, brokered by Luís Serrão Pimentel, ‘Cosmógrafo Mor and Engenheiro Mor de Portugal’, in 1669.

My paper will focus on the Dutch documents. The Vingboons copied and re-elaborated images and cartographic materials that arrived in Amsterdam from all over the overlapping spaces of the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish colonial worlds, through the agency of the two Dutch companies trading in the East and West Indies, the VOC and the WIC.

These documents can be divided into four main types: bird-eye views of the coastal profiles of cities observed from ‘fictional’ points in the middle of the sea;  detailed administrative or military topographic plans of cities or entire archipelagos; painted vistas or plans of sea fortresses in Africa, America and Asia; and, finally, nautical maps of continental coastline, islands and archipelagos involved in the global Dutch and Iberian trading networks.

I will address the specific ways in which very accurate, large scale, land and sea surveys combined and were integrated with landscape paintings and miniaturist artistic techniques to the goal of creating a visual rendering of the sea ports, fortresses and, in general, to the use of the Dutch companies’ administration, sea captains, as well as a selected groups of wealthy collectors, on the basis of original materials supplied by the VOC and WIC.

Angelo Cattaneo is a Research Fellow at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Rome and an Affiliated Researcher at CHAM NOVA\FCSH and C.N.R.S – Équipe E.H.GO. His research focuses on 1) the cultural construction of space, by studying cosmography, cartography and travel literature, and 2) the history of cultural encounters, at the interface of both European and Asian empires, in early modernity, from a comparative perspective. He authored several publications and recently curated the exhibition and catalogue “”The Global Eye. Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese Maps in the Collections of the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 2019-2020) –   



  • Jorge Galindo-Diaz | Universidad Nacional de Colombia

The Royal Academy of Mathematics of Barcelona was founded by King Felipe V in January 1700, although it operated under full conditions between 1720 and 1793. For more than half a century it was consolidated as the most important educational center for military engineers in Spain. 

The educational program at this Academy was divided into eight courses that were explained over a three-year period, covering the following topics: 1. Arithmetic, 2. Elemental geometry, 3. Practical geometry, 4. Fortification, 5. Artillery, 6. Cosmography, 7. Mechanical statics, and 8. Civil architecture. The order of these courses and their contents were always the same and in them the teachers summarized the topics developed in the most important printed treatises, appealing to such renowned authors as De Ville, Belidor, Milliet Dechales, Marolois or Desargues, among many others. Each course was hand-copied by students onto a notebook, always keeping the same order and the same contents – thus comprising, in time, the reference text for those involved in the building craft. In a complementary way, some professors at the Academy carried out translations of various books and wrote their own texts based on their experience in the field of military engineering. Thus, the Royal Academy of Mathematics of Barcelona became a center for the transmission of knowledge developed in the European context to put it at the service of the construction of fortifications in America, a territory that can be considered as a “”zone of exchange”” of knowledge, where they converged also the ancestral practices of the native population and of the slave labor from the coasts of Africa. This communication is supported by a research work that makes use of primary sources for its development, contrasted with field work in the field of fortifications still erected on the coasts of the Caribbean Sea.

Jorge Galindo-Diaz is an Architect and Doctor of Architecture from the School of Architecture of Barcelona. He is currently a Tenured Professor at the National University of Colombia, where he teaches courses in the History of Construction and Structures for Architects. His lines of research are oriented to the history of construction techniques in Colombia since the 18th century.   


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