The São Sebastião fortress at Mozambique Island: a testimony of the variety in sixteenth century military architecture

"The focus of this study will be on fortification outlines and the logic behind these forms. The structure of this thesis is as follows. The first chapter will provide an historical context of the São Sebastião fort. Here the role Mozambique Island played in the Portuguese sphere of influence is briefly discussed. Furthermore, defence architecture built on the island before the São Sebastião fortress was built will be mentioned.

The second chapter describes the improvements of military architecture during the renaissance. Mostly based on modern literature, the development and spread of the new bastioned defence system will be discussed here. In chapter three the São Sebastião fort in its current state will be described as a starting point for the further analyses. Subsequently, in chapter four, different construction phases within the fort will be distinguished based on historical sources.

In the last chapter the findings from the previous two chapters will be compared to the theoretical framework as described in chapter two. The different phases of the fort will thus be compared to the development within renaissance military theory and its general principles. Furthermore, the logic behind the structure is discussed and a comparison is made with a similar fortification. The chapter ends with a survey focussed on renaissance treatise texts which show a remarkable resemblance with what is found at the fortress of São Sebastião. After this, the final conclusions are formulated in the last section of this study.

In addition to this, two appendixes are added to which references are made in the different chapters of this thesis. These supplements successively discuss the available information on the alleged architect of the fortress and the secondary fortifications built on Mozambique Island. Finally, a glossary provides the definitions used in this study of specific foreign and technical concepts. The terms included in the glossary are printed cursive in the text when these are mentioned for the first time."

  • Thesis
  • Daan Lavies
  • Faculty of Humanities - University of Utrecht
  • 2012
  • Utrecht
  • English
  • Master thesis. History of Architecture & the Preservation of Monuments. University of Utrecht. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. K.A. Ottenhe. 123 p., il., color.
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Updated at 29/06/2020 by the tutor Roberto Tonera.

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