Commemorative Inscription from the Foundation of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
Date: 1387, 6 May
Dimensions (cm): H 57 x W 154,5 x D 12
Inscription: ERA DE MIL E CCCC E XXV ANOS SEIS DIAS DO MES DE MAYO FOI
COMECADA ESTA OBRA POR MANDADO DELREY DOM IOHÃO DADO PELA GRAÇA DE DEOS A ESTE REINO DE PORTVGAL FILHO DO MUY NOBRE REY DON PEDRO DE PORTUGAL ESTE BÕ REY DON IOHAN OVE BATALHA REYAL EN CANPO CÕ ELREY DON IOHÃO DE CASTELLA NOS
CAMPOS DE AGILBAROTA E FO / Y DELA VENCEDOR E A HONRA DA VITORIA QVE LHE DEV A VIRGE S MARIA MANDOV FAZER ESTA OBA DA QVAL FOY MEESTRE POR SEV MANDADO IOHAN GARC MESTRE EN PEDRARIA E FO Y ACABADA DIAS DO MÊS DE ERA DE MIL E CCCCZI ANOS
Provenance: Guimarães, Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
Inventory No.: MAS L 4
Inscription presenting an epigraphic field with seven extensive lines, framed by a moulding where we can see, above and below, a sequence of eight vine leaves inside circular medallions of foliage. In the lateral bands three royal shields were sculpted inside the quatrefoil fields.
This inscription has the particularity of the last line being incomplete: the sculptor left three blank spaces for the relative chronological data to be recorded for the conclusion of the work (day, month and year), which have never been filled in, probably, because the works lasted for many years and in 1413 the works were still in progress.
When King Dom João I came to Guimarães to thank Saint Mary of the Olive Tree for the victory attained at the Battle of Aljubarrota, he thought the church was small, old and poor and, thus, unworthy of the patron saint, and, therefore, he ordered that it was rebuilt. The works were the responsibility of master mason João Garcia de Toledo, who remodelled the church in the Gothic style.
On the 6 May 1387, the works started, as mentioned in the inscription that is nowadays next to the door of the church and that was put there in 1608, by request of the chapter of the Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, to replace the original one, which was being damaged by time. The original medieval inscription was, thus, removed and is nowadays in the Aljubarrota Room.
Updated and free translation of the inscription: Era of one thousand four hundred and twenty five years six days of the month of May these works started by order of King Dom João, given by God’s grace to this kingdom of Portugal, son of the very noble King Dom Pedro of Portugal, this good King Dom João fought a royal battle against King Dom João of Castile in the fields of Aljubarrota and he was the winner and, for the honour of the victory that Virgin Mary gave to him, he commissioned these rebuilding works he entrusted master mason João Garcia with and they were finished on the days of the month of the era of one thousand four hundred and years