António Oscar de Fragoso Carmona (1869–1951), who was the son of a general, was born in Lisbon. Following the family tradition, he entered the Royal Military Academy, graduating in 1888. He became a cavalry ensign in 1892 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1899. He taught at several military schools and worked with the commission that reorganised the Portuguese Army. Becoming a major in 1913, he was for a time the secretary to the Minister for War. He commanded the Second Cavalry (Lisbon) Regiment in the latter part of World War I. In 1919 he was commissioned a colonel and in 1922 he became a general. He served briefly as Minister for War in 1923.
Following the abolition of the monarchy in 1910, Portugal went through a period of extreme political turbulence, with numerous military uprisings and 43 changes of government in 16 years. In June 1926 Carmona was one of the leaders of a coup d’état and became Minister for Foreign Affairs. A month later he deposed Marshal Gomes da Costa and became Prime Minister and in November 1926 he assumed the duties of President. In March 1928 he was elected unopposed as President. He held the post until his death, being re-elected in 1935, 1942 and 1949. However, real power rested with Antonio Salazar, who was appointed Prime Minister in 1932 and who was the virtual dictator for 36 years. Near the end of his life, Carmona described himself as ‘a prisoner in a golden cage’. He was promoted to the rank of marshal in 1943.
As President of Portugal, Carmona stood for political and economic stability, the alliance with Britain, neutrality during World War II and the preservation of the Portuguese Empire. In 1938 he undertook an extensive tour of the colonies in the Atlantic and West Africa and in the following year he toured East Africa. The portion of his library that is now in the National Library reflects his strong interest in the colonies, including the languages and cultures of the indigenous peoples.
The Carmona Collection was purchased by the Library from the Amsterdam booksellers Drijver and Koolemans in 1967–68.
The Carmona Collection comprises about 450 books and pamphlets relating almost entirely to the Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. Apart from a few British imprints, all the books were published in Portugal or the colonies. They date from about 1840 to 1950.
The larger part of the collection deals with the African colonies: Mozambique, Angola, Portuguese Guinea, Portuguese Congo, Cape Verde Islands and Säo Tomé. A much smaller group relates to Goa, Macao and East Timor. The subject range is broad, including history, memoirs, the conquest of Africa, the South African War and World War I, exploration, travel, Catholic missions, colonial administration, economic conditions, emigration, race relations, ethnography, indigenous languages, dialects and geology. There are also works on Portugal’s foreign relations and colonial policy. Many of the books are rare and are not held in major European libraries.
The earliest work in the collection, with no apparent connection with the rest of the collection, is Pedro de Ribadeneyra’s Historia ecclesiastica do scisma do Reyno de Inglaterra (Lisbon, 1732).
The books in the Carmona Collection have been integrated in the general and Rare Books collections. Details of the titles can be found in the acquisitions order slips (H45, H942, H1165).
Carmona, António Oscar de Fragoso, Current Biography 1950, H.W. Wilson Company, New York, 1951, pp. 80–2.
Obituary of António Carmona, The Times (London), 19 April 1951, p. 6.