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Numbers, Dates, & Currency

Roman Numeral TableAs you go through old records, there will always be a date present. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how numbers and dates work in Portuguese.

Numbers

In Portuguese records, there are two main types of numbers used to express figures and dates. The first group of numbers used in Portuguese records is the set of roman numerals. Even though they may show some variations from the ones still used today, they are also usually easy to read. The researcher must be aware of the common use of some lower-case letters to represent the roman numerals, for example, iii instead of III.

We recommend that the researcher check other records written by the same scribe to ensure the correct reading of a particular number. Check the chart of roman numerals below.​

Some of the older documents you look at may use the following symbol:

  This "U" like character signifies the space between the thousands place and the hundreds place.

For example: or "​1 U DXCI" would be 1591.

Before the "U," the scribe may place a "1" instead of an "M" (such as with our 1591 example.)    

            The second and most relevant types of numbers are Arabic numerals, which are the most widely used today. These are usually easy to read, but some are sometimes confusing because their shape could be similar to other numbers, such as 1 and 7, or 5 and 9. Here are some examples:

When dating documents, most records will use Cardinal Numerals (one, two, three) or Ordinal Numerals (first, second, third). When using Cardinal numbers, it is necessary to know that Portuguese places an e (&) between every number after twenty, e.g., vinte e um twenty & one or cento e trinta e três one hundred & thirty & three. A notable exception is between the thousands and hundred if there are other numbers, e.g., mil e cem 1,100 as opposed to mil cento e vinte 1,120. It is also important to note that in many older documents will have he instead of e. Below is a basic guide to numbers you may encounter in Portuguese records.

Arabic

Roman

Cardinal

Ordinal

1

I

umm/umaf

primeiro

2

II

doism/duasf

segundo

3

III

três

terceiro

4

IV

quatro

quarto

5

V

cinco

quinto

6

VI

seis

sexto

7

VII

sete

sétimo

8

VIII

oito

oitavo

9

IX

nove

nono

10

X

dez

décimo

11

XI

onze

décimo primero/undécimo

12

XII

doze

décimo segundo/duodécimo

13

XIII

treze

décimo treceiro/tredécimo

14

XIV

quatroze/catorze

décimo quarto

15

XV

quinze

décimo quinto

16

XVI

dezesseis

décimo sexto

17

XVII

dezessete

décimo sétimo

18

XVIII

dezoito

décimo oitavo

19

XIX

deznove

décimo nono

20

XX

vinte

vigésimo

21

XXI

vinte e um/uma

vigésimo primero

22

XXII

vinte e dois/duas

vigésimo segundo

23

XXIII

vinte e três

vigésimo treceiro

30

XXX

trinta

trigésimo

31

XXX1

trinta e um/uma

trigésimo primero

32

XXXII

trinta e dois/duas

trigésimo segundo

33

XXXIII

trinta três

trigésimo treceiro

40

XXXX

quarenta

quadragésimo

50

L

cinquenta/cinqüenta

quindragésimo

60

LX

sessenta

sexagésimo

70

LXX

setenta

septuagésimo

80

LXXX

oitenta

octogésimo

90

XC

noventa

nonagésimo

100

C

cem (cento…)

centésimo

 

Days of the Week & Months

While records typically number the date, there are times when they will use the day of the week. Most romance languages follow the ancient Latin manner in naming the days of the week apart from saturni dies (day of Saturn) which was changed to Sabbat by Constantine I, and solis dies (day of Sun), which was changed in the First Council of Nicaea of 325AD to Dominicus Dies. However, Portuguese is the only romance language that does not follow this precedence. This is due to Saint Martin de Braga c.520-580AD, who was a recognized scholar, a prolific writer, and for his work in converting the inhabitance of Gallæcia (the modern-day Porto-Galicia region), eventually becoming the archbishop of Braga.

Due to the influence of St. Martin, the Portuguese language counts its days in feiras or ‘free days’ starting from Sunday. Below are the days of the week in Portuguese.

English

Português

Sunday

Domigo

Monday

Segunda-feira

Tuesday

Terça-feira

Wednesday

Quarta-feira

Thursday

Quinta-feira

Friday

Sexta-feira

Saturday

Sábado

Along with the day, records include the month. These are often abbreviated to conserve space. The months of September through December are often abbreviated with numbers such as 7bro for September. This may be confusing as September is the 9th month in the modern Gregorian calendar; the reason for this is that September comes from Latin septem or ‘seven’ as it was the seventh month in the ancient Roman calendar. Below are the months in Portuguese.

English

Português

Abbreviations

Examples

 

January

 

Janeiro

 

 

 

Jano

Janro

 

February

 

Fevereiro

 

 

Fevro

 

March

 

Março

 

 

April

 

Abril

 

 

May

 

Maio

 

 

June

 

Junho

 

 

July

 

Julho

 

 

 

August

 

Agosto

 

 

Agto

 

September

 

Setembro

 

 

7bro

 

October

 

Outubro

 

 

8bro

 

November

 

Novembro

 

 

9bro

 

December

 

Dezembro

 

 

10bro

Xbro

 

Portuguese Currency:

            As you are going through old documents, it can be useful to have a basic understanding of what types of currency were being used during different time periods.

            1139-1433 AD.

            The first currency of Portugal was the Portuguese Dinheiro issued by the first King of Portugal; Dom Afonso Henriques.  D. Afonso Henriques also issued denominations of half a Dinheiro called Mealha sometime after 1179. Like many other medieval kingdoms of the time, the currency mirrored the older Roman system, and thus twelve Dinheiros equaled one Italian Soldo, and twenty Soldos equaled one Libra.        

            Around 1200, the second king, Dom Sancho I, introduced the gold Morabitino, which was worth fifteen Soldos. About a decade later, the sixth king, Dom Dinis I, introduced the silver Tornês, which was worth 5,1/2 Soldos. In 1380 King Fernando I introduced several new coins: the gold Dobra (=6 Libras), the silver Real (=10 Soldos), and several billion denominations such as the Pilarte (=7 Dinheros).

            It is important to note that in this period, it was difficult to standardize a type of currency like today and, therefore, many other forms of currency circulated alongside the Dinheiro. These include the Byzantine Siliquae, the Moorish Dirhem & Dinar, the Spanish Dinero, among others.

            1433-1911 AD.

            In 1433 the Dinheiro was officially replaced by the Portugues Real (plural: réis or archaic reais), which was introduced by King Fernando I and was used until 1911 at a rate of 1 Real to 840 Dinheiros. During the reign of João II (1455-1495), the Cruzado was introduced at an initial value of 324 Réis, but its value changed over time. There was also the Vintém (=20 réis) and the Tostão (=100 réis). There were also different coins and banknotes issued in Réis for use in other parts of the Portuguese Empire, of which Brazil still uses the Real as its present currency.

            1911-1999 AD.

            Due to the 1910 Republican Revolution, the Portuguese Escudo replaced the Real in Portugal are a rate of 1000 Réis to 1 Escudo. This was further subdivided into 100 Centavos.

            The Escudo was used in the Portuguese mainland, the Azores, and Madeira without distinction. In the African colonies, the Escudo was used until their independence in 1975; however, various local coins were often circulating alongside. Of these, only Cabo Verde still uses the Escudo.

            In colonial Macau, the Macanese Pataca was and is still used.

            Timor-Leste used the Portuguese Timor before switching to the Timor Escudo.

            India used the Indian Rupia and then the Indian Escudo from 1958 to 1961 until Goa was annexed by India

            1999- Present

            Portugal switched to the Euro on 1 January 1999, and the Escudo was removed from circulation on 28 February 2002. Portugal still uses the European Euro currently.

            Brazil maintained the Real but briefly replaced it with the Brazilian Cruzeiro from 1942-1967. However, a new form of the Real was brought back into circulation and went through several iterations until the modern Brazilian Real.

            Most of Portugal’s other colonies maintained the Portuguese system until their independence in 1975 or a few years after; at this point, many of these new countries switch to other currencies, like Timor-Leste that switch to the American Dollar or created their own, like Mozambique with the Metical.