LOPES, FERNAO (1380?-1459?), the patriarch of Portuguese historians, was appointed keeper of the royal archives, then housed in the castle of St George in Lisbon, by King John I. in November 1418. He acted as private secretary to the Infants D. Duarte and D. Fernando, and when the former ascended the throne he charged Lopes, by letter of the 19th of March 1434, with the work of " putting into chronicles the stories of the kings of old time as well as the great and lofty actions of the most virtuous king my lord and father " (John I.). The form of the appointment marked its limits, and is a sufficient reply to those modern critics who have censured Lopes for partiality. Notwithstanding his official title of chief chronicler of the realm, he was the king's man (Vassallodel Rei), and received his salary from the royal treasury. King Alphonso V. confirmed him in his post by letter of the 3rd of June 1449, and in 1454, after thirty-six years' service in the archives and twenty as chronicler, he resigned in favour of Gomez Eannes de Azurara. The latter pays a tribute to his predecessor as " a notable person, a man of rare knowledge and great authority," and the modern historian Herculano says, " there is not only history in the chronicles of Fernao Lopes, there is poetry and drama as well; there is the middle age with its faith, its enthusiasm, its love of glory." Lopes has been called the Portuguese Froissart, and that rare gift, the power of making their subjects live, is common to the two writers; indeed, had the former written in a better-known language, there can be little doubt that the general opinion of critics would have confirmed that of Robert Southey, who called Lopes " beyond all comparison the best chronicler of any age or nation." Lopes was the first to put in order the stories of the earlier Portuguese monarchs, and he composed a general chronicle of the kingdom, which, though it never appeared under his name, almost certainly served as a foundation for the chronicles of Ruy de Pina (<?..). Lopes prepared himself for his work with care and diligence, as he tells us, not only by wide reading of books in different languages, but also by a study of the archives belonging to municipalities, monasteries and churches, both in Portugal and Spain. He is usually a trustworthy guide in facts, and charms the reader by the na'ive simplicity of his style.
His works that have come down are: (i) Chronica del Rei D. Joao I. de boa memoria, parts I and 2 (Lisbon, 1644). The third part relating the capture of Ceuta was added by Azurara. A corrected text of the chronicle has been issued by instalments in the Archive Historico Portuguez. (2) " Chronica do senhor rei D. Pedro I.," in vol. iv. of the Colleccao de Liiiros Ineditos da Historia Portugueza, published by the Academy of Sciences (Lisbon, 1816); a much better text than that published by Father Bayao in his edition of the same chronicle (Lisbon, 1760). (3) Chronica do senhor rei D. Fernando published in the same volume and collection. The British Museum has some important 16th-century MSS. of the chronicles.
See Damiao de Goes, Chronica del Rei Dom Manoel, part iv. ch. 38 ; Araago Morato, introduction to vol. iv. of the above collection; Herculano, Opuscules, vol. v. (E. PR.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)