S. Miguel Palace
The S. Miguel Palace sits in one of the most noble and strategic points of the city of Évora and for this reason, has been the object of several occupations throughout its history.
The first use of this space had essentially a defensive purpose, determined by its own location at the highest point of the city which hampered not only the access of the enemy forces in case of attack, as it allowed to dominate a vast area of the surrounding plain and to maintain eye contact with other fortifications. The space occupied by the S. Miguel Palace, was a crucial point in the defensive structure of the city, reason why it became Moorish Alcazar and part of Old Castle of Évora.
Condes de Basto Palace
Although the origins of the S. Miguel Palace date back to the Middle Ages, few vestiges remain of the construction from this period, a result of the destruction following the clashes that occurred during the crisis of succession to the Portuguese throne of 1383-85, between the party of Leonor Teles and that of João, Mestre de Avis, future king of Portugal.
The existence of this building as we know it today, in terms of heritage and architecture, is associated with the history of two families whose presence in S. Miguel Palace is separated by about five centuries: the Counts de Basto (or Castro das Treze Arruelas) and the Eugénio de Almeida family.
Eugénio de Almeida Archive and Library
Being one of Portugal's largest fortunes in the second half of the 19th century, the family of the founder of the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation established a part of its success in implementing a rigorous information system thanks to which it was possible to ensure throughout five generations, not only the management of the diversity and business volume in which its members participated, but also the management of a vast real estate estate, much of it land dispersed throughout the country.
The documentation of the archives, today fully preserved, allows us to reconstitute the ascension process of a bourgeois family in Portugal during the 19th century, showing not only their options in terms of economic activities but also the public intervention carried out by their members as Deputies, Pairs of the kingdom, State Councilors or Providers of Casa Pia de Lisboa, as well as opening a window to the everyday universe of family experiences and lifestyle of the elite of this period.
Although reflecting the activities and history of the Eugénio de Almeida family from the end of the 18th century to the present day, the chronological scope of the archive dates back to the 14th century, as a result of the incorporation of documentation, particularly land titles, belonging to the offices of estates, to whom throughout the second half of the 19th century, root goods were acquired contributing to the construction of the "empire" Eugénio de Almeida.
The documentation of the archive also allows us to witness the philanthropic and patronage work developed by Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida (1913-1975) Foundation´s Founder, especially between 1940 and 1975. The actions undertaken to safeguard the architectural heritage, the Carthusian Convent of Santa Maria Scala Coeli, the former Palace of the Inquisition or the complex of buildings of S. Miguel Palace, buildings that he rescued from ruin and to which he conferred a new meaning in the context of cultural and social development of the city of Évora.
The archive also contains a record of the intervention of Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida in the social, educational and spiritual domains, in which stands the great donation for the building of Patrocínio Hospital (1957), the land assignment for the construction of Évora´s aerodrome and social housing, the partition of Herdade do Álamo da Horta by salaried workers from the village of São Manços (1958) or the reactivation of the Cartuxa Convent (1960) besides of course the creation of the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation in 1963.
As for the information in the House of the Eugénio de Almeida familiy, the library also occupied a central place.
Expression of the pragmatic nature of a family of enterprisers such as the Eugénio de Almeida, the bibliographical fund gathered by successive generations has an instrumental character, in the sense in which it constitutes a repository of knowledge and information systematically consulted either to instruct in the decision-making, or to support the study of the themes associated with their economic activities or public interventions.
One proof of the importance of the library as a source of information and knowledge was the hiring in the 1860s of Francisco Casassa, an official of the National Library, to organize and catalog the thousands of works that constituted the collection gathered by José Maria Eugénio de Almeida. The result was the production of a Cathalogo Methodico that has become an essential research tool to ensure quick access to the works or the information that was necessary to consult.
Among the works mentioned in this survey instrument, the oldest was printed in 1498 and compiles all papal privilege letters, granted to the Cistercian Order. However, the vast majority of the bibliographic background of the Eugénio de Almeida family consists of ancient books and works published in the 19th and 20th centuries in the most diverse areas of knowledge – Ecclesiastical Sciences, Moral And Political Sciences, Law, Natural And Exact Sciences, Fine Arts, Arts And Crafts, Literature, History, Agriculture, Education, Etc.
In addition to this documentation, as well as the one that has since been produced and accumulated by the Foundation since its beginning in 1963, the Eugénio de Almeida Archive and Library also has in its custody the former library of the Superior Economic and Social Institute of Évora (ISESE) an educational establishment created by Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida in conjunction with the Society of Jesus, which represented the return of higher studies to the city, about 200 years after the University of Évora was extinguished.
Given the nature of the documentation gathered in the Eugénio de Almeida Archive and Library, the consultation of the collection is of particular interest, when carrying out investigations in fields as varied in the history of the country as in economic and business history, social history and of elites, the history of agriculture, or the history of art and education, among others.