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The Manueline reform
The legislation of king Manuel I

Regimento das Cidades...capa

The laws that had been published in the Regulations of the Officials of the Cities, Villages and Places of these Realms were included in a compilation of all legislation that came to be known as the Manueline Ordinances, whose first edition occurred in 1512-13.

As far as we know, there were three versions (three systems, according to João Alves Dias*), of the Manueline Ordinances. The definitive one was published in 1521, the year the monarch died. Once these were published, use of the prior versions was prohibited, and they had to be destroyed.

Ordenações Manuelinas - Livro I

All in all, there seems to be an improvement and adjustment taking into account the practice of these two decades, in the sense of having made the system stricter, but also more practical. There is a major improvement. For the first time a national standard for weight is established: “And we order that all measures, and weights, and “varas”, and “covados” be just like those of our City of Lisbon, and not bigger or smaller”.

Further information​

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