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Angra do Heroísmo ,  July 11, 2008


Manuelino* cannon in exhibition in the Angra Museum

The Angra do Heroísmo Museum exposes, at present, in its room of distinctions, a cannon from the time of D. Manuel I which was recovered from the bay of Angra, in the year of 1893 and sent to Lisbon in this date.
The piece, pertaining to Lisbon’s Military Museum, was recently deposited in the Angra Museum, being now presented as part of the Angra exhibition: “Escala do Mar Atlântico - Argumentos do Património Mundial” (Port of Call of the Atlantic Sea – Arguments of World Heritage).
Due to its historical relevance, the piece will be then integrated in that museum’s long term exhibition, entitled “Do Mar e da Terra... Uma história no Atlântico” (From the Sea and the Land... A story in the Atlantic), which is in phase of requalification.
This rare cannon presents the national arms, the armillary sphere and an acronym of the founder (who is thought to be Sebastião Cobris, worker in Lisbon’s arsenals around 1514). This small bronze cannon was widely used between the ends of the century XV and the beginnings of XVIII for the defence against approaches, installed in the main rails of the ships, though it had also been used in fortifications.
The most correct technical designation for this weapon is “cradle”, being, however, known in Spain by “berso” or “verso” and in France and in Flanders by “berche” or “barce”. Another designation, also of French origin, is “falconete”.
The obligation of its use on board of the vessels of the Portuguese crown between the centuries XV and XVIII leads us thinking that there would have been fused in Lisbon, Kochi and Goa thousands of pieces of this type. However, the fragility of its oblong shape and the recycling of the bronze after a reduced number of shots were the responsible factors for which few examples got to our days.
The presence of this piece in the Angra do Heroísmo Museum gets special meaning, just when it is being commemorated the 25th anniversary of the inclusion of the city of Angra in the List of the Humanity’s Heritage Assets of UNESCO, because of having been recovered in the bay of Angra and, consequently, that proves the important role fulfilled by the city in the connection between the old European world and the new oriental and western worlds.
The cannon can be seen in Angra Museum from Tuesday to Friday, from 09.30 to 17.00 o’clock and on weekends from 14 to 17 o’clock.


* Reference to the architectural style of Portugal developed under the reign of D. Manuel I.


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