Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877) foi um escritor português muito conceituado, sendo


Texto - Pedro Miguel dos Santos 9.º D  Ilustração



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Texto - Pedro Miguel dos Santos 9.º D 

Ilustração - Inês Aleixo, 12.ºC2

Tradução - Tiago Medeiros Teixeira, 8.º A

La Voûte

Alexandre Herculano


 

Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877) was a 

highly regarded Portuguese writer and is today 

considered the creator of the Portuguese historic 

novel. Besides being a writer, he was also a historian 

and essayist. In literature, Alexandre Herculano 

devoted himself to poetry and romance. In most 

of his works, the history of Portugal is a central 

theme, which the author worked in a different 

way, using various techniques that transform a 

simple succession of events into a story, making 

it more appealing, as I verified in the book The 

Vault.

 

This piece tells us about the work of two great 



architects involved in the project and construction 

of the vault of the Monastery of Batalha: Master 

Afonso Domingues, Portuguese, and Master 

Ouget, Irish. To have a better understanding of 

the book we must first go back in time so that we 

can fit in with the scarcity of technical resources 

at the time, and therefore with the difficulty of 

doing such work. At that time, it took decades

sometimes centuries, to construct buildings of this 

dimension.  They  would  require  extraordinary 

resources of men and material, and so they were 

always an enormous achievement. The person 

who successfully projected them had his personal 

pride reinforced and gained recognition

admiration, and glory. Many of the problems 

that were once posed are now overcome, due to 

successive technological advances meanwhile 

verified, which make these complex projects less 

difficult to accomplish these days. However, in 

every moment of history, Man faces difficulties 

as a consequence of the new challenges he 

constantly embraces, in the craving to go further 

and to permanently overcome himself.

 

According to the narrative, Master Afonso 



Domingues draw a complex vault to the 

Monastery of Batalha, but he becomes blind in 

a battle at the service of King John I of Portugal 

in 1401, before the building is built. After this 

serious event, the King doubts that Master 

Domingues  can  finish  the  project  and  hires 

Master Ouget. Ouget, who does not believe in 

the initial project, alters Master Afonso’s plans 

and builds it according to his own plan. At the 

presentation and while Master Ouget went to 

call the King, the vault collapsed. King John I 

regrets having doubted Master Domingues and, 

after a long talk to convince him to raise the 

vault again, he accepts. And the Master was 

right! More than five centuries later, the vault 

remains there. If only he could see…

 

More than the central episode of the vault



reading the book brings us to the meaning of 

three words that are implicit in the text: desire, 

ambition, and eternity. A desire and an ambition 

that makes human beings always want more, 

strong feelings that made us what we are today, 

and  defined  and  still  defines  our  civilizational 

path. The same desire and ambition that make 

us think of getting to Mars today made us one 

aspire to build great monuments such as the 

Monastery of Batalha. Eternity as history keeps 

alive the memory of the authors whose works 

have become glorious. If we think carefully about 

it, we find that even today the name of Master 

Afonso Domingues is evoked. Remembering 

him means turning him present in our memories, 

and in a sense this is a form of eternity. Not just 

as a person who lived, but as the person who 

projected the famous Monastery of Batalha, 

something that not even a catastrophe can shake.

 

The action of the King in hiring another 



architect after realizing Master Domingues was 

affected by blindness also allows us to draw some 

parallel with our own actions. For example, when 

we question what older people like our teachers 

or our parents say even though we know they 

have more experience and wisdom. And what 

we find out is that they are almost always right 

just like Master Domingues was.



Texto - Pedro Miguel dos Santos 9.º D 

Ilustração - Inês Aleixo, 12.ºC2

Tradução - James Mathew Gonçalves, 10ºC

The Vault

Alexandre Herculano



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