Hernâni Cidade was born on 7 February 1887 to a poor family from Redondo. He entered the Seminar in Évora to complete his preparatory studies, which was more affordable for the family and allowed him to enter the priesthood. However, he was stimulated by new interests during his academic training and so he declined the invitation to pursue higher studies at the Gregorian University of Rome.
To qualify for the position of secondary education teacher, he attended the Higher Course of Arts and moved to Lisbon where he paid for his studies by working as prefect at the Calipolense College and as a private tutor. Once he completed the course, he began teaching as supernumerary teacher at Passos Manuel High School, in Lisbon. He became a tenured teacher at the Leiria High School on 9 November 1914, teaching Portuguese Language and Literature.
With the outburst of the First World War and the subsequent involvement of Portugal, he was called up to join the Portuguese Expeditionary Corp and sent as Platoon Commander to the battle front in Flanders, where, on several occasions, he proved his bravery in rescuing soldiers of both forces in combat. In the Battle of La Lys, on 9 April 1918, he was made prisoner by the German forces and remained 9 months as their captive, in appalling conditions. The contact with other intellectuals and cultures during this period awakened in him the desire to pursue an academic career in a Faculty of Arts.
After returning to Portugal at the end of the war he was able to fulfil his desire thanks to the invitation to teach at the newly created Faculty of Arts of Porto, where he started as Contract Professor of the 2nd Group (Romance Philology), in 1919. After the mandatory two years in this position, he was appointed Ordinary Professor by the government, and later, under the Statutes of University Education, of 1926, he rose to the position of Full Professor. He was responsible for the chairs of French Language and Literature, Portuguese Language and Literature, Comparative Grammar of Romance Languages, History of Italian Literature, Romance Philology, Portuguese Philology and History of Portuguese Literature. Further to being awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters – Romance Philology, on 19 April 1926, he was also elected Secretary of the last Faculty Board (1930-1931).
After the extinction of the Faculty in Porto was official announced by Decree 15 365, of 12 April 1928, and during the period preceding its actual closing in 1931, he taught at the Rodrigues de Freitas High School, also in Porto. In the same year, he was admitted as a staff member of the Faculty of Arts of Lisbon, having passed the public exams with a dissertation entitled "Obra poética de José Anastácio da Cunha" [The poetic works of J.A. da C.].
He participated in some opposition movements against the regime until mid 1930s, but had to step down after being threatened with expulsion from the University of Lisbon.
Until his retirement as Full Professor of the Faculty of Arts of Lisbon, in 1957, he produced many cultural and scientific works in the field of Portuguese Culture and Literature, teaching courses and participating in conferences in several universities in Brazil, Spain, France and England. This prestigious cultural work came to an end with his death in Évora, on 2 January 1975.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)