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2.3. The Galician-Portuguese language

In the eleventh century, with the gradual reconquest of the land formerly controlled by the Christians of the region, the Arabs were expulsed to the south of the peninsula, where the Mozarabic dialects that mixed Latin with Arabic were spoken.


Map of reconquest

Map of the Christian Reconquest of Portuguese lands

With the Reconquest, groups of people from the north settled themselves in the south of the country, thereby establishing the nation of Portugal. This occurred in much the same way that the people from the houses of Leon and Castile to the east settled the regions further south, and come to occupy the territory that would later constitute the lands of the Spanish state.

The Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula brought about the consolidation of the spoken and written forms of Galician-Portuguese throughout Lusitania. The first non-Latin literary texts and official documents from the region were written in Galician-Portuguese, including the following collections of medieval poems known as the Cancioneiros, or songbooks:

  • Cancioneiro da Ajuda - Copied (printing presses did not exist at the time) in Portugal as the thirteenth century made way for the fourteenth, it contains 310 cantigas, or lyric poems, concerned almost exclusively with love, and is found in the Library of Ajuda in Lisbon.
  • Cancioneiro da Vaticana - Copied in Italy at some stage around the turn of the fifteenth century, it contains 1,205 lyric poems of all types and can be found as codex 4803 in the Vatican library.
  • Cancioneiro Colocci-Brancutti - Contains 1,664 lyric poems of all types that were copied in Italy around the turn of the fifteenth century. In 1878, the songbook was discovered in the library of Count Paulo Brancutti do Cagli in Ancona and was acquired by the National Library of Lisbon in 1924.
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