A VISION OF CHRIST

Iuramento com que el rey dom Afonso Henriquez confirmou a visao de Christo nosso saluador.

Lisbon, Ant. Alvarez, [1641].

Small 4to, pp. [14], [2 blank]; large woodcut to title-page depicting Afonso kneeling before Christ on the cross, woodcut initials; small neat repairs to inner margin of title-page; very good in quarter brown calf over brown cloth boards, gilt lettering to upper cover; book label of Sir Thomas Kendrick.

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Iuramento com que el rey dom Afonso Henriquez confirmou a visao de Christo nosso saluador.

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Rare first edition of this account of Afonso I's vision of Christ on the cross on the eve of the Battle of Ourique, with a magnificent narrative woodcut to the title. On 25 July 1139 Afonso defeated Muslim forces under the Almoravid commander Muhammad Az-Zubayr Ibn Umar at Ourique, and was immediately proclaimed as the first king of Portugal.

The text here describes how in 1596 the monk and historian Bernardo de Brito had discovered an old document in the archives of the monastery of Alcobaca. Dated 1152 the document carried Afonso's seal and contained his sworn declaration of his miraculous vision of Christ at Ourique. The text of the document is given here in Latin and then in Portuguese translation. Afonso swears that, tired and fearful on the eve of battle, he was visited by an old man who advised him to leave camp alone when he heard the local chapel bell. Doing so Afonso saw Christ on the cross surrounded by angels '10 cubits from the ground', cast aside his arms, sank to his knees, and professed his faith. Christ promised him victory against the 'enemies of the cross' and instructed him and his descendants to spread the faith. Afonso swore to love the Portuguese people like an only son, and to bear five shields in a cross as his arms, to reflect the five wounds of Christ. The text ends by supporting the authenticity of Afonso's account, with reference to the chronicle of Duarte Galvao.

The publication of the Iuramento in 1641 was no coincidence. In 1640 the brief rule of the House of Habsburg in Portugal had come to an end with the accession of John IV, great-great-grandson of king Manuel I. Just as Afonso had liberated Portugal from the Moors, so John, nicknamed 'the restorer', led the Portuguese restoration of independence from Spanish rule.

OCLC finds only one copy in the UK, at the British Library, and 2 copies in the US, at Harvard and the Newberry Library.

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