Text editions in 19th-century Portugal increased sharply from the previous period (when Muratori-style source editions had come into vogue, a prominent editor being José , 1750–1823) and were invested with the new nation-building function of establishing the corpus of a national-collective literary canon. Many genres were covered, mainly (though not exclusively) with an emphasis on the Middle Ages and the period of the early modern “voyages of discovery”. Among the editors of literary texts, Teófilo and Carolina stand out.
Among medieval texts, the rediscovery of balladry has great significance. A first edition of a recently rediscovered cancioneiro (later known as the ) was privately printed in in 1823 (for the British ambassador there; a critical edition by Carolina Michaëlis de Vasconcelos appeared in 1904 in ); a selection from it (the verse of King Dinis) was edited in Paris, 1847. The Codex Vaticanus 4803 was brought to light with the help of Jernej (who was in at the time) and given a diplomatic edition by Ernesto (, 1875); a critical edition by Teófilo Braga followed soon after (, 1877). The Colocci-Brancuti songbook (nowadays known as the ) was edited in Halle in 1880. This balladry, appearing in cities across Europe, established the riches of the earliest Iberian lyrical heritage and gave it a specifically Portuguese dimension. A later songbook deserves mention: Garcia de Resende’s (originally printed in 1516, edited in 1846-52, and analysed in Hermão de Campos’s New York facsimile edition of 1904 and José Gonçalves Guimarães’s 5-volume Coimbra edition of 1910-17).
’s epic poem Os Lusíadas (“The Lusiads”) had long enjoyed hypercanonicity as the country’s foundational epic, and continued to be printed throughout the century. Critical editions with variant readings were put forward by Wilhelm and Carolina Michaëlis de Vasconcelos. Other noteworthy editions are the poetry of Sá de Miranda (1885) and Cristóvão Falcão’s Obras (“Works”, 1871; including the famous eclogue Crisfal). António Ferreira’s appeared in and Paris (1865) and included his tragedy on Ines de Castro, beloved of King Peter I.
These editions appeared either as private initiatives or under institutional sponsorship. Important publishing institutions were the University Press of , the Royal or (from 1833 onwards) “National” printing house, and the Academy, which from 1790 onwards brought out a Collecçaõ de livros ineditos da historia portugueza. Private companies included the Casa Literária do Arco do Cego (“Literary House of Arco do Cego”, established in 1799 and merged into the Royal printing house in 1802), the Typografia Rollandiana, the Sociedade Propagadora dos Conhecimentos Úteis (“Society for the Propagation of Useful Knowledge”) with its Collecção de Inéditos Publicados, and late in the century the Escriptorio publishing house with its . Some material was printed in periodicals.
Many annalistic sources and chronicles were brought to light and into circulation by historial and archival researchers, the prime example being Alexandre . Besides humanists (Fernão Lopes, Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Rui de Pina, and the abovementioned ), much of this work concerned the colonial expansion during the time of the “voyages of discovery”, e.g. Frei Fortunato de S. Boaventura’s (1829, which, as the title indicates, was in the older mode of Correia da Serra’s source editions). Portuguese national pride often hinged on the vindication of Portuguese primacy in the science of navigation (against the German claims of Alexander von ) and the country’s leading role in the European voyages of colonial exploration: Joaquim ’s (1912) is a key example of the drive to document Portuguese leadership by furnishing studies in historical cartography and diplomatic editions of Portuguese travel accounts. Bensaúde himself was given a government commission in 1914 to collect a monumental corpus of sources documenting the history of navigation and its role in Portugal’s overseas expansion (, 1914-22). This collection highlighted the mathematical work of Pedro Nunes, already celebrated in Francisco Maria ’s edition of the Tratado sobre certas duvidas da navegação (1911-13). This celebratory inventory had been initiated in 1817 by the reprint of the earliest reports on the discovery of Brazil (Carta de Pêro Vaz de Caminha, as reprinted in Manuel Aires de Casal’s ), but by 1900 had become an overtly political issue.
The canon that emerged from this editing of literary, annalistic, and scientific texts added up to a national self-image in which the modern Portuguese nation was prefigured in its initial outlines in the Middle Ages and found its consolidated expression and its place on the world scene in the Renaissance context of the colonial explorations.