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In Portuguese records, there are two main types of numbers used to express figures and dates. The most relevant one is the set of Arabic numbers, which are the ones most widely used today. These are usually easy to read, but some of them are sometimes confusing because their shape could be similar to other numbers, such as: 1 and 7, and 5 and 9, for example.

The second 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 signifes 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.)

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