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Tomar and its People: On the relationship between local people and their heritage


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Sustainable Destinations Development

Upps al a U niversity log oty pe


Degree project 30 credits June 2021

Tomar and its People

On the relationship between local people and their heritage

Ana Alice Bento Ribeiro Hidalgo de Lacerda

Sust ain abl e D esti nation s D evelopm ent


Faculty of Science and Technology Uppsala University, Place of publication Visby

Subject reader: Camilla Asplund Ingemark Examiner: Anette Oxenswärdh

Upps al a U niversity log oty pe

Tomar and its People

Ana Alice Bento Ribeiro Hidalgo de Lacerda


Heritage has been defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “features

belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages, or buildings, that were created in the past and still have historical importance”. In plain words, it is what defines a cultural expression and allows this cultural expression to survive, reproduce and thrive like a living organism.

The aim of this thesis is to study and analyse how the locals in Tomar perceive their heritage, and how they present it to outsiders.

After conducting an ethnographic survey based on informal interviews with locals, both

professionally involved with heritage and uninvolved professionally with heritage, it was possible to conclude that Tomar is a case of living heritage, as it is a place where the intangible heritage is kept mostly by the locals despite the lack of assistance of the governing authorities, and the locals have no say on the governing authorities’ management decisions affecting tangible heritage.

Fac ulty of Sci enc e and Technol ogy, U ppsal a U niv ersity. Place of publication Visby . Supervisor: Er ro! A or igem d a r ef erên ci a n ão foi enco ntrad a. , Subjec t



Table of Contents

Table of Figures ... 1

Introduction ... 3

Methods/Theory ... 18

Results ... 21

Discussion ... 48

References: ... 52

Appendices ... 57

Table of Figures Figure 1- View of the Castelo dos Templários from the Old City ... 4

Figure 2 - Nabão River, Tomar ... 5

Figure 3- Templar Rotunda in the Convent of Christ ... 7

Figure 4 - 12th century blueprint of the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem, present day Israel ... 8

Figure 5 - Blueprint of the Convento de Cristo with chronological changes labeled by colors. ... 8

Figure 6 - Interior of the Charola dos Templários ... 9

Figure 7 - Cortejo dos Rapazes ... 16

Figure 8 - Church and Belfry of Santa Maria dos Olivais ... 22

Figure 9 - Scallop Shell on the Belfry access door ... 23

Figure 10 - Interior of St. Maria dos Olivais church. ... 23

Figure 11 - Taboleiro on display at St John Baptist Church ... 25

Figure 13 - The last Templar stone in the floor of Santa Maria dos Olivais. ... 26

Figure 15 - Portugal's first 3d Painting representing the scene at Golgotha ... 27

Figure 16 - Church of São João Baptista ... 29

Figure 17 - Main altar, dedicated to St John the Baptist ... 30

Figure 18 - Chapel of the Sacred Heart ... 31

Figure 19 - Chapel of the Eucharist ... 32

Figure 20- Facade of Tomar's Synagogue and Museum Abraão Zacuto around 2016 ... 34

Figure 21 - Interior of Tomar's Synagogue and Museum Abraão Zacuto around 2016 ... 35

Figure 22 - Tomar's Synagogue and Museum Abraão Zacuto around 2021 ... 36

Figure 23 - Old Rua da Judiaria (Jewish Quarter Street), then renamed Rua Nova (New Street) and currently Rua Joaquim Jacinto, where the Synagogue is located ... 37

Figure 24 - St Iria Convent seen from Ponte Velha ... 39

Figure 25 - Location traditionally held as Iria's murder site ... 40

Figure 27 - Outside of the chapel of St Iria... 41

Figure 26 - Interior of the chapel of St Iria ... 41



Figure 28 - Aerial View of the convent, with its area marked in red ... 42

Figure 29 - Valle Funerary Chapel featuring the Calvary carved in Pedra de Ançã by João de Ruão ... 42

Figure 30 - Details of the main altar at the chapel of St Iria ... 43

Figure 31 - Quinta de S. Ana a Guerreira, also known as Quinta do Valle ... 44

Figure 32 - Typical street in Tomar's old city ... 45

Figure 33 - Tomar's Old Town seen from across the Ponte Velha ... 46

Figure 34 - Current Façade of Café Paraiso, pre-pandemic. . ... 47




Myths smuggle in what, in the realm of reason alone, would be confiscated at the border. ~ Robert Mullen

Heritage has been defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages, or buildings, that were created in the past and still have historical importance”. In plain words, it is what defines a cultural expression and allows this cultural expression to survive, reproduce and thrive like a living organism.

The aim of this thesis is to study and analyse how the locals in Tomar perceive their heritage, and how they present it to outsiders.

Tomar is a heritage-rich city, with a heritagescape that is indissociable from the city itself as most of its

heritage places are in highly central locations which are part of the locals’ daily lives as daily places of religious worship and meeting points. At the same time, the most widely known part of Tomar’s heritagescape is also the most marginalized, both physically as in the matter of the local’s own mindscape.

Why have I chosen this subject?

We live in a time in which local cultures are being eroded. With the increase of both speed and usage of global communications, ideas and cultural traits from all across the world are permeating other cultures and replacing key cultural elements as media replaces the role of the parents in child-rearing and knowledge transmission. This is due to the increase of living expenses and the necessity of both parents to have full-time jobs which leave limited daily time for them to have an active role in the children’s education, effectively cutting down chains of knowledge transmission and allows for the hybridization and erosion of cultures, often replacing these cultural elements with others of foreign origin (American). Whilst “a degree of hybridization in all cultures can be assumed” (Kraidy, 2002), due to cultural exchanges since ancient times, the process has been quickened with the dawn of television, and then severely accelerated with the dawn of the internet. This leads to stark cultural divergences between one

Figure 1- View of the Castelo dos Templários from the Old City



generation and the next, which impacts the way the newer generations perceive both the tangible and intangible heritage of their hometowns. Whilst for the Portuguese citizen born during the Autocratic rule of Salazar, the Portuguese cultural heritage represents national pride and

accomplishment of the national culture, and cultural heritage was appreciated, valued, and used as part of the state propaganda of “national pride”, for the urbanized younger generations, intangible heritage is an abstract term belonging in the news when something is presented to UNESCO, and tangible heritage are merely monuments, usually converted into museums and thus removed from the local culture by “artificial” means of conservation. This generational/cultural divide provides the backdrop to my research question.

Why have I chosen Tomar?

Tomar is a medieval city in the central region of Portugal, known internationally mostly due to the

“Festa dos Tabuleiros” (Festival of the Trays), and for being the place of the Convent of Christ, one of Portugal’s longest listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but rich in tangible and intangible heritage that is little known to the general audience since the most marketed location is the Convent itself, which draws aficionados of Templar History from all around the world due to its unique history as the extant building which was the longest under control of the Templar Order.

Tomar is situated on the shores of River Nabão, in the most fertile area of continental Portugal, the Ribatejo, also known nowadays for its wheat and cornfields stretching all over the plains, and the polemics surrounding the traditional bullfights which are a staple of the cultural landscape of the region.

Due to its non-central location, it doesn’t suffer the same social strains that other better-known locations in Portugal, such as Lisbon and Porto do, thanks to heavy influx of tourism and migration fluxes of people. Being more

sheltered from this type of social strains, but yet having a moderate exposure to tourism and migration fluxes, Tomar is still a place where the locals outnumber the non-locals during tourism’s low seasons, despite being a heritage-rich location, turning it into the perfect location to conduct

this research. Another pressing point Figure 2 - Nabão River, Tomar



is that the outsider’s mindscape (Johansson, 2009) of Tomar and the local’s mindscape of the city are mismatched: For an outsider, Tomar is reduced to the Convent of Christ, and the rest of the city is just a backdrop to the Convent, whilst for the locals, this may not be the case, which is what I hope to be able to prove with this study.

Another reason why I’ve chosen Tomar is the lack of linguistic and cultural barrier as I’ve inhabited the city for a few months previously and thus am familiar with the local culture and language, and my background in Anthropology enables me to conduct the ethnographic research needed to conduct this study with a relative ease despite the pandemic.

History of the City of Tomar

In order to give a background on the heritagescape (Gardner, 2004), we need to become acquainted with the locality’s historical background. Heritagescapes and history are inherently interlaced, to the point that mentioning the word sphere of the first always conjures up images of the past for the Western mind by playing an “important and significant role in the development of individual and group identity” (Gardner, 2004).

The location nowadays known as Tomar is estimated to have been occupied first during the 1st-2nd centuries BCE times, by the so-called “Civilization of the Oppidum”, a branch of the Celtic peoples who according to some theories, were originally from the area in question (Koch, 2013), and that was distinguishable from other Celtic peoples by being the first European civilization which built fortified cities. By that time, Tomar was known as Sellium, a fortified city situated in a mountainous area near the Nabão river, which supplied water for the farming activities near the walls. Its

description as an Oppidum by Roman sources shows how the settlement was important at that time as an administrative center. Its importance continued throughout Roman and later Visigoth times (Garcia. 2004) although by that time, Sellium had being renamed Selio and its importance had shifted from administration to trading, due to its strategic control of the Nabão as the local most important waterway. This position caused Selio to be targeted by the Moors on their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula with the weakening of the Visigoth Kingdoms which had succeeded the Roman Empire. With the Moorish takeover, Selio was again renamed, this time to the word Thamara, the translation of which means either “from the sweet waters” – a reference to the waters of the river Nabão – or “sweet date”, a fruit which was cultivated in the area, brought with them by the area’s new occupants. Under the new rulership, Thamara ceased to be a relevant trade center, becoming a mostly agricultural town in which a number of innovations in that field were first implemented, such as water wheels and the first citrus crops north of the Tagus (Tejo) river. During the



Reconquista, a period in which the surviving Christian Visigoths that had been pushed by the Moors into the mountainous region of the Asturias/Pyrenees, organized an army under Pelagius of Asturia and started reclaiming the lost territories. The Reconquista is considered to have started with the Covadonga Battle in 722 CE and finishing entirely in 1492 with the conquest of the

Kingdom of Granada. Thamara would return to Christian hands in 1159 through the efforts of King D. Afonso Henriques and D. Gualdim Pais, and would then be given as a fiefdom to the Knights Templar under the condition that the Order would use that strategic point to defend the then blooming Kingdom from incoming raids by the Moorish armies.

D. Gualdim Pais (1118 – 13 October 1195), was the then local Grandmaster of the Templar Order.

The offer of the fiefdom allowed for the Knights Templar, a military-monastic order founded during the Crusades in Jerusalem, present-day Israel, to accomplish their military purpose without having to displace their army all the way from Braga where the Order had their headquarters in the

Cardinal See, to the newly established borders of the Kingdom (Loução, 2000). Thamara was then renamed Thomar and the first stone was cast to make what became the Convento de Cristo (Christ’s

Convent) and the Church of Santa Maria do Olival (Saint Mary of the Olive Grove), which were

essentially the Templar’s citadel in Tomar and the new headquarters of the Order (Paraschi, 1990). The attribution of a feudal charter (Foral) to the settlement occurred in 1162, raising it to township and allowing the realization of the weekly market there, attesting to the rise in population in little less than ten years.

The then Castilo de Thomar played a vital part defending the borders of the blooming kingdom against Moorish assaults, culminating with the defense against the armies of Moroccan caliph Abu Yusuf al-Mansur in 1190 who had

successfully taken several strongholds south of the Nabão. D. Gualdim Pais (as a 72-year-old

Figure 3- Templar Rotunda in the Convent of Christ



knight) lead his crusader-monks against the armies which were vastly outnumbering them and managed to hold the town in Christian hands in an ensuing bloody battle that lead to the nearest castle gate being christened “Portão do Sangue”, or “Bloody Gate” in English.

The most ancient parts of the Convento de Cristo date from this period, namely the “Rotunda dos Templários”, a round chapel built mimicking the Byzantine Aedicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (Loução, 2000). This

structure is mainly comprised of a round room with a row of columns making a circular structure in the center, where an altar now stands, and served as the monks’ private oratory before the reconstruction ordered by D. Henrique the Navigator, after the lantern in the dome was struck by lightning and

destroyed; after that, it became the main church of the complex (Pereira, 2009). The peculiar architecture of this Chapel has drawn great speculation from Templar Myth hunters/theorists as the

resting place of the Holy Grail after its theoretical retrieval post-Crusades (Futthark, 2004). They claim the Holy Grail or another important relic to be housed under the center of the Charola due to the former placement of an altar in the center of the construction, an altar which, according to Canon Law, was necessary to have relics either underneath or within the stone slab comprising the top of the altar to be allowed to be utilized in

religious services. This original altar is assumed to have been lost in the

abovementioned incident, and replaced by another which was lost during the Liberal Revolutions in the late 19th century with the expulsion of the religious orders and with the convent being turned into a military barracks. This was the fate befalling most religious convents in Portugal after that time until its recognition as heritage (Loução, 2009).

Figure 4 - 12th century blueprint of the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem, present day Israel

Figure 5 - Blueprint of the Convento de Cristo with chronological changes labeled by colors.



With the extinction of the Poor Knights of Christ, also known as the Knights Templar in 1314 at the command of Pope Clement V, King Dinis negotiated the transfer of Tomar and its adjacent

territories to the recently created Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ with Pope Clement V’s successor, Pope John XXII, alongside with the new order’s canonical recognition. The Order was recognized and its headquarters set in Castro Marim (1319) a small village near Faro in the south of Portugal, but it returned to the Convent in Tomar in 1356 and took possession of the former Templar estates.

It was during this period that the cult of the Empire of the Holy Spirit made its way to Tomar via Alenquer, and with it, the Festa dos Tabuleiros (a celebration that is now attempting recognition as

UNESCO Intangible Heritage), which I will discuss later on.

Popular legend credits the Queen Saint Isabel, spouse of King Dinis in having brought the Cult into Portugal, together with the

Franciscan Order, of which she was part as a Tertiary. The Order was given lands by the Crown to establish a monastery in Alenquer, about 100km away from Tomar, and this town was the stage for the first bodo – the name derived from bouphonia, a Greek pagan religious feast on which an ox would be slain and its meat served to the poor, which later become one of the central events of the Culto.

(Montez, 2007) The cult would become a staple of the region’s culture, being protected by the Order of Christ and even spread to the overseas colonies and being carried with Portuguese emigrants to places as distant as Hawaii and California. To this day one can still observe a more historically “preserved” version of the original cultus in Azores and some towns neighboring Tomar.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the so-called Age of Discoveries – Descobrimentos in Portuguese – in which Portugal and Spain had the hegemonic growth in exploration and

Figure 6 - Interior of the Charola dos Templários



colonization, overseas catholic missions of Portuguese origin would be under the Prior of Santa Maria do Olival, the official headquarters of the Templar Order in Portugal and then of the Order of Christ, which was directly under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Pope and the Holy See,

contrary to the regular dioceses, which were under control of the local Cardinals-Patriarchs and thus being raised to the status of Cathedral and being known as a Mother Church. This was attested by a papal bull by Pope Nicholas V in 1454 and later by Pope Calistus III in 1456, and in practice meant that during the Descobrimentos, the Order’s cross would be painted on the exploring ship’s sails and the Catholic missions overseas would be under Tomar’s administration. This lasted until 1514.

It also meant a shift in traditional monastic organization: Instead of the Master and Grandmaster being elected by the monks (like it was in other knightly-monastic orders), the Grandmaster was nominated by the Pope, and the Master (Lay Master or Governor) would be chosen by the King. It was this mechanism that lead to Prince Henry the Navigator (1344-1460) being chosen as Lay Master of the Order of Christ and use the order’s wealth to fund his dream of maritime exploration.

This same Mother Church served as the Funerary Church of the Templar Order at first, then to the Order of Christ, and even to this day, it is possible to visit the tombs of both D. Gualdim Pais and Lourenço Martins, a lay Master of the Order in Portugal, two of the only three that were not defiled by the Inquisition in the 16th century.

The Expulsion of the Jews from Castille in 1492 and the previous protection given to the Jews by the Templar Order and then the Order of Christ made Tomar a haven for Jewish refugees, who saw the established community and the recently built, sizable synagogue as a welcoming sight. This brought an increase in population, with craftsmen and merchants that revitalized the city’s

commercial landscape and played a vital role in the commercial routes to Africa at that time. Local folklore still retains the tale on how Abraham Zacuto (1452 – c. 1515), on his way to King John II’s court, would have stayed at Tomar where he would’ve been received by the Prince, who is said to have been fascinated by his astronomical tables which purportedly lead to them being applied as the standard navigational aids during the Descobertas. This legend remains in the city in plain sight as the ancient synagogue, now a museum, bears as its official name Abraão Zacuto Museum.

Soon after, King Manuel I started suffering increasing pressures and threats of open war in case he would not expel the Jews as well, as the expulsion of the Jews and the instauration of the Inquisition in Portugal were part of the wedding agreement between the Portuguese and the Spanish Crowns.

Manuel wedded Isabel de Aragão, daughter of the so-called “Catholic Kings” of Spain, Fernando II and Isabel I de Aragão, known for their religious pietism. Pressured by both Aragonese and



Castilian, he wrote to Pope Leo X requesting the Holy Office of the Inquisition to be installed in Portugal in 1515.

This led to an Edict to be enacted forbidding the Jews from leaving the country and accepting them as nominally Catholics after twenty years, which was hoped to prevent the hit that the Kingdom’s economy would take with the expulsion of experienced artisans and merchants, something that had happened in the neighboring kingdoms in modern-day Spain. Unfortunately, with the de facto institution of the Inquisition with D. João III, an Inquisition Court was established in the city and the whole Jewish quarter was either forced to flee or prosecuted in Autos-de-Fé. At the same time, the Order of Christ was demilitarized and turned into a strictly conventual order, losing its

influence. Most of its centuries-old archives ended up in the hands of the Reverend Inquisitor Father Frei António de Lisboa, who ordered the burning of the conventual archives and the desecration of all remains buried in Santa Maria do Olival. The Inquisition also persecuted those who took part in the cult of the Empire of the Holy Spirit due to that cult’s association with doctrines that had been labeled as heretical in the 11th century.

After the institution of the Inquisition, the Order’s impact on the City was severely hampered. No longer could they maintain the status quo to keep a social balance in Tomar, and deprived of their own heritage, records, and military authority, they had become little more than one more cloistered monastic community that practically eclipsed itself from the City’s History until its dissolution in 1834. As for the city itself, it would be the stage on which the Courts would accept D. Filipe II of Spain as King after the war of succession, effectively unifying the Iberian Peninsula under one rule, but after that, its political and historical relevance dwindled, resurfacing briefly under the rule of D.

Maria I, with the establishment of the textile factory belonging to Jácome Ratton, a French-

Portuguese industrialist who later was made an honorific Knight of the Order of Christ, despite the Order’s opposition to his textile factory in the city. He established what would be the city’s main industry until very recent times, and his role during the Napoleonic Invasions caused him to be exiled to Ilha Terçeira in the Azores, but he managed to have his sentence served in Paris (Mahul, 1821). His diary, entitled Recordaçoens de Jacome Ratton sobre ocurrencias do seu tempo em Portugal de Maio de 1747 Setembro de 1810, were published in London three years after his passing. These provide one of the few reports of the destruction of Lisbon in 1755 due to an earthquake, which is nowadays estimated to have been about 8.5-9 Mw; it was the first earthquake studied scientifically, leading to the birth of both modern seismology and earthquake engineering.



During the same period of time, Tomar became relevant as well when it staged a rebellion against the invading French armies and was liberated by a Luso-British army lead by Commander


In 1834, the Order was dissolved alongside all other religious orders in Portugal with the instauration of the Liberalism, a politico-philosophical current which defends State and Church separation. It was applied in a rather violent way in Portugal in the aftermath of a period of political instability brought upon a succession crisis and the abolition of the Absolutist Rule in Portugal, and the Convent was turned into a military barracks ending almost a thousand years of influence in the region. Afterward, Tomar resurfaces on the waters of history only twice: Once as being the first village raised to the rank of City in the Santarém District in 1844, and later on as the birthplace of Portugal’s first Worker’s Union in 1914 (Oliveira, 1973).

Having reviewed the history of the city of Tomar, it is fundamental to take a glance at the history of the Order which brought the town’s most remembered history, namely, of the Templar Order and later, of the Order of Christ.

History of the Templar Order and the Order of Christ

The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem by Hughes de Payens, Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payens de Montdider, Archambaud de Saint Amand, André de Montbard (who would succeed de Payens as Grandmaster), Hugues de Champagne, Fulk V, the count of Anjou and the Cistercian Priests, Rossal and Gondemar, the latter has been held in folklore to be of Portuguese origin. Some 16th, 17th, and 18th-century historians also list Pedro Arnaldo da Rocha as one of the founders, based upon the few leftover medieval documents from Tomar and Braga.

Having been given an old construction in the location known as Temple Mount, there’s still debate to this day if the Knight’s headquarters in Jerusalem were located in the Al Aqsa Mosque or in Solomon’s Stables (known as the Marwani Mosque since 1996) as no archaeological surveys are allowed in the area by the Islamic Waqf. This location gave to the new-founded order the nickname of “Knights Templar”, or the “Knights of the Temple of Solomon”.

The order’s main goal was to protect the pilgrim road from Jaffa to Caesarea and to do so, they would mix two of the classic archetypes of medieval society: the Knight and the Monk. St Bernard of Clairvaux enabled this mix of both secularism and religiosity by drafting out a specialized rule which was later used as a base for all military-monastic orders that were founded during this period, namely the Teutonic, Hospitaller, Lazarite, and of the Holy Sepulcher. This rule contemplated an additional vow of defense of the pilgrims, apart from the three evangelical councils (poverty,



chastity, and obedience), to the point that their sigil depicts two knights riding the same horse, illustrating poverty to the point that not all knights would have a horse and thus would have to share one to ride to war.

Due to their collective lifestyle devoted to discipline, alongside collective training, they were the closest to an elite force in their heyday, acting as shock troops in battle and being known for being

“lions of war and lambs at the hearth; rough knights on the battlefield, pious monks in the chapel;

formidable to the enemies of Christ, gentleness itself towards His friends." They were also being praised by Cardinal Jacques de Vitry (1160/70–1240), a contemporary of the order, for their

religious fervor to the point of rejecting apostasy in return for freedom when captured. (Charpentier, 1967)

Soon after their official recognition in 1128, the order became a favorite for donations, starting with papal benefits and the donation of the full inheritance of King Alfonso I of Aragon The Warrior (1104-1134), who split his inheritance in half: one part was donated to the Knights Hospitaller and the other half to the Knights Templar (donations that were subsequently disputed by the local nobility and effectively split the kingdom in half). Of key notice in the context of my thesis is the donations made by D. Teresa de Leão, mother of D. Afonso Henriques (1143-1185), Portugal’s first king, in 1126 of the village of Fonte Arcada and in 1127 of the Castle of Soure under the condition that they would defend the Mondego River Line from Islamic assault. This donation was part of an attempt at repopulating the town of Soure, a 10th-century village that had been abandoned in 1116 after a Muslim assault, during which the population fled to the major city of Coimbra leaving the town in flames to delay their pursuers. This castle – now largely in ruins – would be the second Templar headquarters in Portugal after Fonte Arcada (Penafiel), who would later lose it in 1144 under another Muslim offensive in which most of the town’s population was made prisoner and taken to Santarém. This city was later conquered with strong Templar assistance in March 1147 in an event that would make the birth of Portugal’s first “native” military order, the Military Order of St Michael of the Wing. It was named as such due to an alleged miracle that took place in the night of the conquest, with the archangel’s sword-bearing arm making a milagrous appearance over the battle and instigating the outnumbered crusaders to continue the battle. In 1159–60, the Order would receive Tomar as a fiefdom and would establish itself there until its official extinction in 1312. By then, the Order had already grown in financial power and influence, having effectively been divided in two major blocs: the Militia – the combatant knight-monks, and Malitia – the lay people associated to the order that would not engage in combat, but would assist with managing the Order’s by now vast properties and what was the prototype of a banking system that enabled



pilgrims to the Holy Land to give monetary sums to the order, receiving bills of exchange that they could trade for the same amount originally given in any Templar House, and a network of lines of credit and financial assets.

Whilst originally the primary aim of the Order was to protect and safe keep pilgrims and pilgrim roads in the Holy Land, prolonged stay in the Outremer lead to the rise of respect by Islamic culture and erudition both in the Christian States in the Holy Land and in Europe thanks to their

understanding of common grounds between both cultures. ( Azevedo, 2006) These two factors would later lead to the Order’s bloody dissolution in 1311–12.

1187 marked the loss of Jerusalem, and with it, the beginning of the decline of the Knights Templar, who relocated their Stronghold to Acre, which in turn was lost in 1291. By 1302, the Templars had been chased out of Cyprus alongside all remaining crusaders, and their holdings were now limited to Europe. Fears arose that the Order would attempt to conquer their own State in Europe, like the Knights Hospitaller were doing in Rhodes and the Knights Teutonic had done in Prussia, allied to the large debts incurred by the King of France due to loans taken from the order to finance the war against England. In early 1305, Pope Clement V invited both the Grand Master Fulk de Villaret of the Knights Hospitaller and Grand Master Jacques de Molay from the Templar Order to persuade them to merge both orders, something both refused staunchly as both orders had not only different Rules but also different aims: whilst the Templars were aimed at defending the pilgrims, the Hospitallers were aimed at caring for their bodily needs such as shelter and medical assistance. On Friday, 13th October of the same year, all French Templars would be arrested, forced to confess crimes ranging from heresy to corruption, homosexual practices, fraud, and financial misconduct under torture, followed by a papal bull in 1307 ordering the rest of Christendom to do the same and to give all of the Order’s assets to the Knights Hospitaller. Only in Portugal and Spain would the Order be spared thanks to a treaty signed between D. Dinis and D. Fernando IV de Castille that allowed the monarchs to secure an exception and claim the wealth for the respective Crowns. This allowed for the creation of the Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was vital to the city of Tomar and whose story we have already reviewed, and the Order of Montesa in Aragon (Cerdà i Ballester, 2014); these two orders absorbed the Peninsular members of the Knights

Templar and part of their wealth, effectively allowing the Order to survive a few centuries more by dividing it and renaming it.



The Cult of the Empire of the Holy Spirit and The Festa dos Tabuleiros

Surprisingly, considering the longstanding influence of the Order in the region, the fragment of intangible heritage which puts Tomar on the radar of tourists these days is not of Templar origin, but rather Franciscan.

The Festa dos Tabuleiros, a celebration that takes place every four years is known for its out-of-the- ordinary displays of items around town and the streets being covered in paper flowers. It is also one of the last manifestations of the Culto do Império do Divino Espírito Santo – cult of the Empire of the Holy Spirit in English – still existing in the world after the celebrations and the beliefs behind them were considered heretical and persecuted everywhere else, having only been kept in the Portuguese Diaspora thanks to the protection, and to a certain degree, spread given by the Order of Christ.

The Cult of the Empire of the Holy Spirit derives from the Joachimite eschatology, a set of prophecies made by the theologian and apocalyptic thinker Joachim of Fiore (1135–1202), who separated history in Three Eras: the Era of the Father – idealized to be between the times of the Old Testament until the Advent of Christ; the Era of the Son – which would be between the Advent and 1260, corresponding to the New Testament; and the Era of the Holy Spirit – an era of utopia in which the Church would be replaced by an “Order of the Just”, replacing secular governance by monastic governance and eliminating the church hierarchy. The world would be covered in universal love, and all non-Christians would convert to Christianity and mankind would live in perfect egalitarianism. Predominant in the Fraticelli faction of the Franciscan Order, these beliefs were imported alongside the order by Queen Isabel into Portugal as mentioned above. In 1256, Pope Alexander IV condemned the Fraticelli and the Joachimite prophecies and set the Inquisition to hunt for their adepts, who in Portugal were protected by the Order of Christ. In its heyday, the cult would spread from Alenquer to Sintra, Lisboa, Coimbra, and Tomar, and from Lisboa, it would be exported to the Azores, where it would flourish and maintain itself down to the 21st century, and Madeira, Brazil, California, and Hawaii on which it either vanished as the populations were unable to keep the traditions and social cohesion or they were assimilated into the locals.

Regardless, the Cult of the Holy Spirit shaped much of the national identity for over seven hundred years as the original Joachimite doctrines merged with the Sebastianist belief, a form of messianism adapted to the Portuguese situation in the late 16th century, which declared that the Portuguese King D. Sebastião, who disappeared in battle in 1578 would return in a misty morning in order to

renovate the Portuguese Empire and lead the world into the Messianic Age. This belief itself was



derived from the Trovas by the shoemaker and prophet Gonçalo Bandarra (1500–1556), whose interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of the rise of the “Encoberto” (Shrouded in English), a messianic figure that through the later interpretation of D. João de Castro and Father António Vieira (1608–1697) was related to the king who would restore the lost independence of Portugal, and afterward, evolved into the figure that would save the country from poverty and assimilation.

Sebastianism and the Joachimite Doctrines merged, creating the Portuguese blend of the Cult of the Holy Spirit which due to the protection and instigation by the Order of Christ, survived the

Inquisition’s attempt to blot it out of existence.

Nowadays, the cult is still celebrated in Tomar and outskirts, Coimbra, the Azores, and some pockets of the Lusitanian Diaspora in America. Of key note are the celebrations of Carregueiros, near Tomar and the Azorean celebrations, which still retain the brunt of the original traditions.

The traditional celebration would start on Easter Sunday, finishing on Pentecost Sunday, and would consist of several parts, namely:

The Procession of the Crowns – In which the Crowns representing the Holy Spirit would be brought to the church. In Tomar, this became the Procession of the Trays itself, as the Crowns are set over the trays. Popular local belief assigns them to be representations of the gifts of each family for the reconstruction of the Temple of


The Coronation of the Emperor – A young man is crowned, representing the Divine Emperor, being invested with the scepter of the position, topped by the Dove of the Holy Spirit.

The Bodo – A ceremony in which traditional

foodstuffs are blessed and shared by the participants. Takes place on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

The Esmola or Pêza – A portion of beef, bread, and a special wine called Vinho de Cheiro are given to the participants and the neediest families.

The Briança or “Chegada dos Bois do Espírito Santo” – A procession with cattle that would later be slaughtered to supply meat for the Bodo, Esmola, and the Função.

Figure 7 - Cortejo dos Rapazes



The Função – a traditional feast which has been adopted by the tourist industry in the Azores and remained as a family-only ceremony in Tomar.

Most of the continental celebrations of the Cult have changed, parts of the ritual being forgotten over time or altered due to modern sensitivities. For instance, in Tomar, the Coronation was

removed from the whole ceremony after the Implementation of the Republic as it was dangerous for participants due to the repression against the monarchists. The date of the parades has also shifted along the centuries in Tomar. Most of the ceremonies described above have also disappeared, being replaced by more processions as knowledge on how to do the original rituals were lost and people made up others to replace what had been lost. That is the origin of the Procession of the Boys, in which children carry children-sized Tabuleiros (see image above) and the Procession of the Mordomo, which came to replace the procession of the Coronation and the numerous processions that were supposed to be done between Easter and the Seventh Sunday after Easter. In Tomar, the Esmola or Pêza was also shifted to the day after the main procession instead of taking place at the end of it and the Bodo disappeared.

Impacts of Tourism in the Heritagescape of Tomar

To quote Skeates and McDavid, who in turn were quoting Gardner, heritagescape can be defined as a methodology or a concept “in order to gauge to what extent historic sites and landscapes are connected to (or marginalized from) their surroundings, and to understand how individuals, and especially indigenous or local people, value and identify with those places and spaces, even if they do not ‘own’ them as property” (Skeates and McDavid, 2012). This methodology does not comprise the case of intangible heritage such as folk tales and folk knowledge, but for the purposes of this research, I also classify that as heritagescape. After all, the scope of this program is sustainability, and part of sustainability is holistically treating every case.

For Tomar people, the Templar History and the celebrations of the Empire of the Divine Holy Spirit are part of what defines them as Nabantinos, and it was taken for granted that these traditions existed. They were to be passed from parents to children, hoping that the Divine King would come and reward them for their steadfastness in keeping his memory and that one day, the Knights in White Mantles would return from Outremer lead by King D. Sebastião and retake their convent and their wealth and lead the townsfolk into the Third Age or the 5th Empire, in which the New Era would spread from Tomar to the rest of the world and mankind would live in peace.

There is a corpus of legends associated with both pieces of heritage I presented as context, but sadly, the current state of the pandemic that we live in prevents data to be collected on this, and that



corpus serves as a binding agent connecting the people and the heritage. UNESCO may have designated the Templar buildings as heritage, but the intangible associations to it are kept only by the townsfolk, who in recent years have been making a push for UNESCO to recognize the second half of the puzzle as Intangible Heritage as well in hopes that the future generations will still have access to it.

Immigration, lack of jobs, rising real estate prices, and low salaries have been driving the townsfolk away and diminishing the population, and since the Festa dos Tabuleiros has become a tourist attraction, marketed by travel agencies and excursion organizers, it is becoming more and more an

“exclusive for tourists”, pushing the population out and cutting them off from their heritage. They in turn either let go of it or seek to attend the celebrations of the neighboring villages that still celebrate them.

As in most of Portugal, tourism in Tomar is done in a “wild” manner, having little or no regulations surrounding it. As of 2017, the only regulation enforced about tourism in the local community was that auto-rickshaw drivers needed a city hall permit in addition to a driver’s license to work in the municipality. Two main attractions draw crowds, namely, the Knights Templar Festival (which draws crowds to visit the Convent) and The Festa dos Tabuleiros, which brings thousands of people to the city, effectively isolating the community from their celebration and turning it from a ritual to a mere performance as its meaning has been watered down by constant modifications. The

“touristification” of the ceremony led to the abandonment of certain aesthetic motifs that were considered essential. Genuine flowers used in the decorations were switched to paper and in certain cases, plastic flowers, partial replacement of the Doves of the Holy Spirit that were supposed to be on top of the trays by crosses, following the pattern of the Order of Christ in order to create an

“artificial” aesthetic that didn’t exist before, as there were no standard decorations on what each tray could carry. The literature provided to tourists in most cases decontextualizes the ceremonies from their origin and meaning and is often the only source of information for the new arrivals to the town who wish to integrate with the locals, corrupting the knowledge and connections by

perpetuating misinformation. Whilst the Celebration Committee (usually comprised by townsfolk) attempts to cling on to the past, the recent introduction of representatives from the tourist industry into the committee has led to decisions being taken that are not benefiting the population and are contributing to “cultural erosion” and gentrification of the festivities to the point that the locals themselves are abandoning their own celebration to join in celebrations in neighboring towns and villages, in search for the authenticity that their own celebration is now seen to lack.




To start this section of my thesis, I would like to approach the ethical issues surrounding this research.

Whilst the ethical way of conducting research and approaching the subjects of our inquiries in a research setting is often to present ourselves as a researcher, to be clear on what will we use the data we gather for, issues of confidentiality and such, during my previous field research in Portugal, I found that culturally, the presence of a person perceived as “authority” during a questionnaire of any form, leads to the subject consciously or unconsciously handing out misinformation to the research. If an investigator presents him or herself as such, the replies will not be impartial and will compromise the entire investigation. This leads to one of the basic dilemmas of social sciences:

Should we deceive our would-be informants to receive information that conforms to the demands of informed consent or do we want to receive accurate information? Should we, under these

circumstances, conceal our identity as researchers whilst gathering data? Are we performing an act of intellectual dishonesty if we, to acquire data in a culture in which people are naturally distrustful of figures of authority, do not disclose our identity as a researcher?

To address this issue, and to protect the identity of our “informants” as we denominate subjects who provide information for research in the fields of Anthropology and Sociology, I choose to divide my group of informants into two groups: One comprised of people connected to institutional and

governmental organizations which took part in a few meetings to answer my questions, and one comprised of a random sample of people approached on the street for casual conversation. As all the conversations were taken under casual circumstances, only first names were recorded, and in the case of institutional personnel and when required, the names were changed to protect the

individuals from any possible repercussions due to their personal opinions.

A group of questions was attributed to each of the informant groups: For the Institutional Personnel group, a set of structured questions was presented and the answers recorded, whilst for the non- institutional Personnel, question pointers were drafted to be included in the casual conversation and the most relevant data was noted down for later processing. Or so was planned, as later, during the interviews, the questions for institutional workers became mostly included in the conversations organically, avoiding the creation of an environment where the informants felt like they had to answer a certain way.

To quote Skeates and McDavid, who in turn were quoting Gardner, heritagescape can be defined as a methodology or a concept “to gauge to what extent historic sites and landscapes are connected to



(or marginalized from) their surroundings, and to understand how individuals, and especially indigenous or local people, value and identify with those places and spaces, even if they do not

‘own’ them as property” (Skeates and McDavid, 2012). The original methodology by Gardner does not comprise the case of intangible heritage such as folk tales and folk knowledge, but for purposes of this research, I also classify that as heritagescape, in the sense that a local culture’s collective mindscape, shaped partially by the local intangible heritage, is also part of heritagescape. After all, the scope of this program is sustainability, and part of sustainability is holistically treating every case, requiring sometimes the expansion of previously existing concepts and methodologies. A deeper search for a version of Gardner’s methodology that includes intangible heritage yielded no results, hence my statement above considering an expansion of the definition of heritagescape to make it compatible with the notion of living heritage (Rajapakse, 2018) which applies to heritage locations still used and inhabited by local or acculturated residents.

To prepare for the interviews and decide which landmarks I would be visiting and interviewing the groundskeepers, I procured a map of Tomar and marked a few landmarks in the center of the old city, namely landmarks that would be fairly well known to locals, and in some cases still active as places of worship that I was aware of, but not overly known to tourists, with one sole exception:

The Synagogue of Tomar. Places of worship are well known to serve as communal focal points and in countries that are culturally religious by nature, such as is the case of Spain and Portugal, it is common to see places of worship to be living heritage and part of the collective heritagescrape.

Locals most likely grew up having their life events marked on such buildings, from their naming ceremonies, weddings to their funerals, the heritage place being a constant figure in the backdrop of their lives.

Basing my choices on previous knowledge I have of the location, as I did reside in Tomar for a few months in the past, I limited my places to visit due to time constraints as the pandemic guidelines at the time of the ethnographic research had a mandatory curfew in place.

I did not choose St Iria at first as I believed it to be closed to the public, but once I was in the field, it became part of the list since, as I mentioned before, it fit the criteria of location choice. I

contacted a former colleague of mine from my bachelor’s degree studies since I was aware of his residence in the area and arranged for a meeting at a place which, due to its long history and being regarded as an institution by the locals, has served as a collective meeting point since 1911. Thus it is also part of the collective heritagescape but the remainder of the non-institutional related

interviews were not planned as per previous experience of fieldwork in Portugal, the element of the



unpredictable aids in gathering genuine data by not giving the time for informants to prepare to reply to questions that may arise and avoiding pre-prepared responses which allow a greater degree of information distortion. I carefully set up a group of questions drafted to perceive the connections between the population and the local heritage in general, and the more specific case of their roles as guardians of living heritage in a time in which the conservationist paradigm in the country is

confining heritage to museums. Of the locations I have chosen overall, Santa Maria dos Olivais, S.

João Baptista, Sinagoga de Tomar, Café Paraíso, and Igreja de St. Iria, only the first and the last were marginalized by the local community: Santa Maria dos Olivais, despite being a 10th-century construction, is situated in what is seen as the “New Town”, away from most of the remainder of the heritage locations in Tomar, and since the municipal graveyard – a heritage location in itself, having been used since the church’s construction which I did not visit due to time constraints – tends to be visited only by mourners during non-service hours, and Igreja de St. Iria, being private property and having been closed to the public for over fifty years, was merely the object of curiosity and mostly remembered due to being the church dedicated to the city’s patron saint next to the alleged place of her martyrdom.




As stated before, Tomar is a small city. Its historical center is focused on the left bank of the Rio Nabão, which

inspired the Visigoth name of the city, Nabância, and the name attributed to its residents, Nabantinos.

It was early in the morning when the car parked next to the unusually separate bell tower of Santa Maria dos

Olivais, a templar church built in its somewhat present form around the 10th century, on a hilltop overviewing the glistening waters of the Nabão. A nineteenth-century bridge baptized “Ponte do Flechedo” crossed the calm waters, built over the ruins of a medieval bridge set there by the Knights Templar which got the name from the arrow factory set by its side in the town’s military past.

I had never been there before, in that area of the city and since the focus of my thesis research was to be more directed to work with people unaffiliated with the UNESCO World Heritage Site, to which many pages have already been devoted, Santa Maria dos Olivais, built before the Convento and frequently ignored by visitors due to its location on the more recently settled side of the Nabão, seemed like an appropriate place to start.

According to what I would find out later in the conversation, this church started its days as a temple to the Dark Virgin Mother, consort of the deity Endovelicus, a pagan fertility deity from the Celts and Iberians who inhabited Tomar in the days previous to the Roman conquest. With the Romans, it was dedicated to Ceres, a farming and harvest deity and then with the Visigoths, a small

Benedictine hermitage was built over Ceres’ temple. When Gualdim Pais arrived in Tomar, the

Figure 8 - Church and Belfry of Santa Maria dos Olivais



hermitage was a ruin, which the Templars were happy to turn into their mother church in the form of a modest, single-nave church, which would be amplified under D. Manuel's rule to a three-nave church, in the wake of the Inquisition's desecration of the Templar burial grounds, building the side chapels devoted to several saints, and a hostel for the pilgrims that went to Santiago de Compostela by the Caminho Português.

On the surrounding complex that was gradually appearing around it, functioned the religious bureaucracy responsible for sending priests to the overseas colonies and newly discovered lands during the Age of Discovery, and an unknown number of small, medieval chapels that survived until the mid-20th century, on which the old complex was entirely demolished apart from the three-nave church and separate belltower, and dug to lower the ground in order to create a garden around the church.

The belfry itself attests to the eras that passed by it. Originally, it served as a Roman watch tower, being given a higher level in the Middle Ages by the Knights' Templar around the time in which the Benedictine hermitage ruins were turned into the church we can visit today, and then given its top floor and bells in the fifteenth century, around the time in which it served as both bell tower and the admission center for pilgrims to the hostel as attested by the scallop shells carved in its doorway and which easily go unnoticed unless a local points it out.

Going down a flight of stairs and turning my back to the tower, I enter the church and am instantly surprised that, despite the depth of the stairs, there is still a larger flight of stairs deeper into the hill. The light inside pours in from the main altar's Gothic condensed Rayonnant windows, reminiscent of Paris' Saint Chapelle, and the small rose window above,

Figure 9 - Scallop Shell on the Belfry access door

Figure 10 - Interior of St. Maria dos Olivais church. The raised structure on the left side of the church next to the painting is actually the staircase to a side door which is at the level of the church’s current lateral entrance at ground level



decorated with a five-pointed star. On the right side of stairs, on a small desk behind a nearly empty information board, was a small desk with a gentleman seated behind, fidgeting with his smartphone in the deserted church. After visiting the church and taking a few pictures, I neared the table and called the gentleman’s attention. As an institutional officer, I identified myself as a master’s student from Uppsala University investigating for my master’s thesis and asked if he could reply to a few questions.

“Madam, I’d like to answer your questions, but I am merely the groundskeeper, not a historian,” he replied politely. “Please do not worry, my questions are about your personal views, not the

institutional view, that information I can get from the Tourist’s office,” I replied with a friendly smile. As I later found out, using this approach allowed me to be able to both conduct an

investigation with informed consent and receive trustworthy data, the fact I was there as an informal representative from a foreign university with little to no impact on the city, and going for personal approaches with what can be seen as the bottom of the hierarchy in heritage management in Tomar, rather than letting things flow “naturally”, asking them questions as just about any tourist would turned out to be an excellent way of breaking the tension and allowing for workable data to flow.

“Good, good. I wouldn’t be able to answer otherwise, I’m not a spokesman. I’m António, by the way.” He presented himself.

“Are you a natural from the city of Tomar?” I asked, after having asked for his consent that I took notes.

“No, no…I’m from Africa. Moved here in 1975 with the decolonization war because my mother is from here and never left again. I practically grew here and the Nabão courses through my veins.”

He laughed, answering my next question before I asked it.

“How long have you been working here? As in on the monuments?”



“For about four years. My training is not in this field, but I’ve always been passionate about History so this felt nice and right.”

“What do you think of the history and the traditions of the city?”

“I think Tomar still has a lot that hasn’t dissolved, like other parts of the country. I went to Lisboa a few years ago for the Santos Populares like I used to go when we came from Africa.

It was a disgrace; the Television took over everything and now the population lost control of their celebrations, which now are only for the Televisions and the Tourists, and you pay a ticket for the privilege to see the Marchas1. We at least can still make our Festa dos Tabuleiros, and the Festa de Santa Iria, our town’s Patron Saint. It’s on the twentieth of October, make sure to return for it, it’s worth the trip from Lisbon, I promise! It used to be a Feira, spawning three weeks and where you could find anything for sale, from farming

implement to horses and mules, but nowadays it’s just those carnival rides and a very, very small fair that lasts about a week. We still have a large procession like in the olden days, and fireworks by the Sluice gate. These things are important, you know? They help us sticking together even though most of us work in Torres Novas, or even in Lisboa, or moved elsewhere. I only started

participating a few years ago in the Festa dos Tabuleiros though….I carry one of the Tabuleiros, although traditionally only the women would carry them, it has to be as tall as I am. But I am as part of this town as any other Nabantino or Nabantina!”

“Could you please tell me which are city hall’s politics towards heritage in general? And what would you change if you had the option to?”

1 Traditional dances associated with the popular saints – St Anthony, St John and St Peter, in Lisbon, Porto and surrounding towns.

Figure 11 - Taboleiro on display at St John Baptist Church



“Well, they do try to do something…..but between the politicians, the favors, giving jobs to the boys, the whole patronage system that plagues us and the ever- shrinking money for Culture means that the few well-intentioned people won’t be able to do squat whilst all we can do is pray that they manage to keep the little we have in presentable shape. There’s little funds, even less information presented to the general audience….only people keeping this knowledge are amateurs like me and the folks at the Gabinete de

Curiosidades Facebook group. They listed this church at the European Templar Route, but the information they have from us is a stub with little more than our Wikipedia article, which is

minuscule. The City Hall can do more, the

information is out there, people are willing to share it for free. All they have to do is to get a few people on the terrain, collect it, and post it where everyone can read it!”

“Do you feel that your work has an impact on the local heritage?”

“Honestly, I don’t, not that much. All I do is to keep the place vandal-free, but we live in a small town and one which is thankfully a quiet one. But it’s always fun when a guy from Brazil barges in as if he

owns the place, followed by a bunch of tourists in white capes and starts demanding for me to show him the tunnel that leads this church to the Templar Castle across the river as if the tunnel isn’t just a legend. They see that odd big stone there and think that when I tell them there is no tunnel, that I’m lying. This whole town lives off Templar Tourism, and because of the occultists and pseudo- revivalist orders, it gets hard and harder to get decent information to put on the posters. You’re

Figure 12 - Stone slab placed at an odd positioning, which is alleged to be the entrance to the tunnel system leading to the Templar Castle. The Orange arrow serves to mark the visitor’s route during the Pandemic to avoid groups of people crossing each other.

Figure 13 - The last Templar stone in the floor of Santa Maria dos Olivais. Notice the faded Templar cross in the stonework


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