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Middle ages
Early reforms towards standardization

Lei da Almotaçaria

Although the feudal and manor structure of the time promoted the existence of a great diversity of measurement units, the determination of weights and measures was a royal privilege and, from an early age, several kings tried to standardize weights and measures.

In 1179, the charters issued by King Afonso Henriques to Coimbra, Santarém, and Lisbon, mentioned a much larger alqueire. The previous one would be about 40 % smaller than the new one. Several later documents refer to the small measure and the large measure, or rasa grande.

Provisão de 1488 de D. João II

The major reform of volume measures in the first dynasty will occur with King Pedro I. This king will have made a slight increase in the volume of the alqueire, but otherwise kept intact the system in use at the time, maintaining a direct relation between the measures used for liquids and solids, so that the almude continued to be worth 2 alqueires and 12 canadas (1 alqueire was worth 6 canadas).

Further information​

António Neves: aneves@ipq.pt
Museum of Metrology: museu.metrologia@ipq.pt