The Ajuda Library Logo


Ajuda National Palace Logo          Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage Logo          Portuguese Government Logo





// COLLECTIONS // Manuscripts


Manuscript Image



The Collection of Manuscripts was initially based on the Royal Household’s collection. This was subsequently added to by incorporating the libraries of the Company of Jesus (from the Professed House of São Roque and the Santo Antão College), the Congregation of the Oratorio, and the Necessidades Palace. The resulting whole was further enriched by purchases or donations of important private libraries like those of the Second Count of Redondo, Tomé de Sousa, Pedro Mello Breyner, Francisco Maria Angelelli, José Monteiro da Rocha, Dom Luís de Sousa, Queen Dona Carlota Joaquina de Bourbon, Princess Dona Maria Francisca Benedita, King Dom Pedro V, and King Dom Luís I, among others.


This Collection is composed of 2,512 codices with a variety of contents. The following are especially significant:

Jesuits in Asia — 61 volumes, which are considered an indispensable source for the history of the Portuguese presence in Macao and the Far East, particularly with regard to the Jesuit missions within the area covered by the Portuguese Royal Patronage. Although this documentation is classified using a merely topographical criterion, it is subdivided into series: Letters, Miscellanies, Tonkin Missions, Province of China, and Province of Japan.

Rerum Lusitanicarum / Symmicta Lusitanica — This set of 226 codices contains reproductions of all the documents concerning the history of the Kingdom of Portugal that were in the archives of the Roman Curia at the time of King Dom João V, who had them copied. The collection is divided into units, some of the most notable of which are the papal breves, the missions in China, and the decrees of the holy congregations. It includes documentation in Latin and Italian..

Genealogies and Nobiliary Lists — This collection originally came from the holdings of the private libraries of the Necessidades Palace and the Count of Redondo. It combines works on Genealogy, Portuguese and Spanish genealogical trees, and books recording aristocratic lines and nobiliary lists by various authors, such as the Livro de Linhagens de Portugal by Damião de Góis, and the 23 volume of a Portuguese nobiliary encyclopaedia entitled Familias do Reyno de Portugal, by Belchior Andrade Leitão.

Historical Miscellanies — Dating from the 16 th to the 18 th centuries, this collection contains a huge variety of types of document – royal charters, orders and appointments, writs, rules of procedure, descriptions, etc. – on a very wide range of subjects, such as political, military and ecclesiastical organisation, conflicts with other powers for the possession of certain territories, embassies to indigenous kingdoms, and so on.

Governments — This set of documents includes more than a hundred codices produced as a result of the exercise of a great range of government, political, ecclesiastic and military posts in Portugal, the Algarve, Angola, Brazil, Spain, India, etc. It contains different sets of papers, most of which are grouped and identified by the holder of the position in question, such as Dom João de Castro, Dom Pedro de Castilho, Dom António de Ataíde, Dom Francisco de Távora, Dom Luís de Mendonça Furtado, and the Viscount of Vila Nova da Cerveira, among others.

Embassies — This collection is linked to the work of the Portuguese diplomatic service. The majority of documents are identified by the name of the ambassador, as is the case with the ambassador to Rome, Manuel Pereira Sampaio.

Illuminated Codices — This collection contains about a hundred codices, which employ different techniques and decorations, such as quill drawings, illuminations, illuminated capitals, etc. Of particular interest are the Cancioneiro da Ajuda, A Phenix de Portugal, Retrato de várias Aves by João Nunes Tinoco, and Regime du Corps by Aldebrandino de Siena, among others.

Reference works:

  • Inventário dos Códices / Maria da Conceição de Carvalho Geada (Handwritten inventory, only available on site)
  • Índice abreviado das Genealogias manuscritas da Biblioteca da Ajuda / Carlos Alberto Ferreira
  • Inventário dos manuscritos da Biblioteca da Ajuda referentes à América do Sul / Carlos Alberto Ferreira
  • Inventário dos códices iluminados até 1500: inventário do Património Cultural Móvel / Coordinated by Isabel Cepeda, Teresa Duarte Ferreira.
  • Iluminuras, aguarelas, ornatos e desenhos à pena da Biblioteca da Ajuda / Carlos Alberto Ferreira
  • Jesuítas na Ásia: catálogo e guia / Coordinated by Francisco da Cunha Leão
  • O Índico Na Biblioteca Da Ajuda: Catálogo dos Manuscritos Relativos a Moçambique, Pérsia, Índia, Malaca, Molucas e Timor / Coordinated by Francisco da Cunha Leão
  • Macau e o Oriente na Biblioteca da Ajuda / Francisco da Cunha Leão
  • Manuscritos da Ajuda: guia / A. Silva Rego

Sundry Manuscripts - This is a collection of 200 boxes containing a total of 33,000 manuscripts dating from the 14th to the 20th centuries. They include correspondence sent to and by King Dom João I, Queen Dona Maria I, and the Count of Redondo, and sets of documents pertaining to the Royal Exchequer in the 18th century, the House of Aveiro, and the Ministry of the Kingdom, among others.

Reference works

  • Catálogo Manuscritos / Maria da Conceição Geada (37-volume handwritten catalogue, only available on site)
  • O Índico Na Biblioteca da Ajuda: Catálogo dos Manuscritos Relativos a Moçambique, Pérsia, Índia, Malaca, Molucas e Timor / Coord. Francisco da Cunha Leão
  • Macau e o Oriente na Biblioteca da Ajuda / Francisco da Cunha Leão