Thursday, March 30, 2023

Portugal-UK 650: Commemorations of the 650th anniversary of the Luso-British alliance

Maria João Rodrigues de Araújo, President of Portugal-UK 650 and Fellow of the Faculty of Music at Oxford University

2022 and 2023 feature celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the Luso-British Alliance, the oldest diplomatic alliance still in effect worldwide. The formal beginnings of the Alliance, based on the perpetual friendship between the two nations, took place with the signing of the Treaty of Tagilde on 10 July 1372 (in the municipality of Vizela, in the district of Braga) and fully implemented with the signing of the “Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance” in London on 16 June 1373. This Alliance was subsequently deepened by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 and by other treaties down through history.

Portugal-UK 650 is the entity responsible for the commemorations of the 650th anniversary of the Luso-British Alliance in both Portugal and the United Kingdom. Portugal-UK 650 incorporates over 100 partner institutions and draws on the institutional support from the civilian, military and religious authorities in both countries. The launch of Portugal-UK 650 was held in St. James’s Palace in London, with an event in the Queen’s Chapel, the private chapel of Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of British King Charles II.

This event, held under the Patronage of His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic, was ministered by the Sub-Dean of Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel and counted on the official presence of the authorities from both countries.

Portugal-UK 650 seeks to celebrate and raise the profile of this shared history, writing new chapters in the friendship, cooperation and commerce, developing scientific research on the Alliance and fostering the values of the founding Alliance Treaty in the current world – peace, friendship, truth, loyalty, constancy, solidarity, sincerity and amiability  – “… that there shall henceforth be a true, loyal, constant, mutual and perpetual peace and friendship, union and alliances and bond of sincere affection” (Article I, Treaty of Alliance, London 16 June 1373) – appealing to the responsibility and commitment of each party.

Beyond celebrating the dates of greatest importance – the 650th anniversary of the Treaty of Tagilde (10 July 2022) and the Treaty of London (16 June 2023) – there are other initiatives through to 2023 in partnership with over 100 Portuguese and British institutions from across the fields of research, education, culture, trade, cooperation and society.

The activity program is available at the website, and is vast, varied and inclusive, with activities for all ages and is fully decentralised with events distributed across 30 different locations in Portugal and the United Kingdom, with over 50 different events and activities having already taken place.

The peak of the commemorations this year comes with the 650th anniversary of the Treaty of Tagilde on 10 July 2022. This begins with the Interdisciplinary Congress “The Luso-British Alliance: an overview of the past and prospects for the future” which is being held at the University of Minho, in Braga, between July 6 and 9. This Congress is organised in partnership with Jusgov and the University of Minho School of Law, with Oxford University, the University of Coimbra (CHS), the University of Évora (CICP), the Catholic University of Portugal (IEP) and the University of Lisbon (Iuris) as institutional partners. The event is free to enter and counts on speakers from across the European and American continents, having already undergone a cycle of preparatory webinars focusing on the key themes of this conference.

On July 9, there is the performance stemming from the “Dancing in Perpetuity” project designed by English National Ballet. This is based on the values of the Luso-British Treaty, ongoing in both countries and involving the community, twelve dance schools and various artists. In the evening of the same day, there will be a Gala held in Theatro Circo with a performance by English National Ballet. On the following day, July 10, there is mass in Braga Cathedral sung by the Queen’s College Choir of Oxford University; a re-enactment of the signing of the Treaty of Tagilde, and a concert in Vizela, in the Praça da República square. In Vizela, there will be also be two medieval jousting tournaments with the participation of British “knights”. These events are open to the general public.

Beyond such activities, the research field highlights the project “The Luso-British Alliance: overview of the past and prospects for the future” that involves 19 researchers from seven Portuguese and British universities. In the cultural field, the collaborative projects extend to institutions such as the Barbican Centre and Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the short-film, poetry and design competitions being held. In education, 32 education resources may be downloaded from the website and that are already in use by thousands of Portuguese and British students. The British Council has produced 16 education activities for students ranging from pre-primary through to secondary schools and the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue of the University of Birmingham designed another 16 resources on the values of the Treaty, especially dealing with Friendship. Amongst the commemorative editions being released highlights include the “Alliance 650” plate designed by Vista Alegre and the Portuguese CTT postage stamps that include images of the manuscript and the seal of the Treaty of Tagilde.

I would invite all readers to participate in these celebrations and correspondingly recommend following them on the social networks to be updated about all the latest developments:

Facebook @PT.UK.650 and Instagram @portugal_uk650

My wish is that our celebrations of the 650 years “of perpetual peace, friendship and alliance” between the two countries are not only an example and reference for other nations but with each participant feeling inspired to become an ambassador for the values that underpin this Alliance, nurturing a culture of peace and friendship in their own communities and around the entire world that is currently in such great need of peace.

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