Early Guitars and Vihuela

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I was surprised to read in the liner notes of a recent CD of lute music by De Visee that he was born in the town of Viseu in Portugal and studied at the University of Coimbra before hot-footing it to Paris.  Also that he retired to Viseu at the end of his career.   I was under the impression that the date and place of both his birth and death were unknown.   Does anyone know of any documentary evidence to support this claim?   Thanks   Monica

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This must be newly discovered evidence, if it is true. The only mention of a Portuguese connection, I've been aware of, is that his name was thought to be of Portuguese origin. But that doesn't necessarily mean he was born and studied there.

I think the earliest mention of de Visee is Ca. 1680 when he was in his early 20s and the latest, his name is no longer on the court record books for fees paid after about 1732 (I'm not sure of the exact dates but those should be close). So what happened before and after those dates is, or perhaps has been, open to conjecture.

It will be interesting to find out where this goes.

You are spot on with the dates.  The earliest mention of him is 1680 when he is refered to in a letter as a theorboist and guitarist and the latest is1732 when he and his surviving son Francois received some sort of outstanding payment and possibly he was already dead.  I wonder why anyone would think his surname was of Portuguese origin though.  I suspect that it is all a big misunderstanding but I just wanted to know whether anyone had come across any definite evidence about his date of birth in particular.  Monica.   

These kind of claims can't be gratuitously spread.

Being portuguese myself, i've heard several times this same story about de Visee being portuguese and born in Viseu, gorgeous town by the way. However, i've never seen any proof.

Perhaps the first place where we could start looking are the Arquivos Paroquiais - Parish Archives, records (primary sources) of births, weddings, deaths, etc., since the XVI c. -, in this case, those from Viseu.

Next we could look on the University of Coimbra records. I don't know how far their records go because the university changed place several times, always between Lisbon and Coimbra, before finally settling in Coimbra in the XVI c., and they could have been lost in the process.

The main reason behind the nationality claim i believe is his surname which is very similar to Viseu. Who first made that (naive) connection and why i have no idea.

Thank you for your comments..  I agree with you - people shouldn't make these assertions when they haven't done any serious research.  I doubt whether anyone has ever tried looking in the original archives.  The fact that his name is similar to Viseu (I would love to visit the town sometime) means nothing.   Santiago de Murcia was born in Madrid and it seems that his family came from close by not from Murcia which is on the eastern coast of Spain.   I can think of other people whose names have nothing to do with where they are born (including mine and the surname of my mother!.  Let's just stick to the known facts!


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