LENCASTRE, D. João de (1646-1707)
29th governor-general of Brazil (1694-1702).
D. João de Lencastre was born in Lisbon in 1646. He was the son of Dom Rodrigo de Lencastre, Knight Commander of Coruche, and Dona Inês Maria Teresa de Noronha e Castro.
He got married in 1674 with Maria Teresa de Portugal Almeida, the daughter of Dom Pedro de Almeida, who was a governor in Pernambuco.
He distinguished himself in the military career, fighting in the Portuguese-Spanish war until 1688. He belonged to the fleet that went to Savoy to get the Queen. He served for about 17 years, until 1686, in the province of Alentejo, and at court, as soldier, infantry captain, harquebusier, Major-General and Field Marshal of the Royal Navy?s infantry body, in the campaigns of Juromenha and the Battle of Seixal. He also served in the stronghold of Valença and participated in the Battle of Montes Claros as captain of the Marquis of Marialva?s Guard. Besides these ranks, he also held the posts of captain-general of Angola, by a decree dated 23 March, 1688, and of Algarve, in addition to War Counsellor.
He was appointed governor-general on 22 February, 1694, and took office on 22 May that year. His long and stable rule lasted until 1702.
He completed the building of the Royal Mint, repaired and improved fortifications, especially those located in Bahia, intensified shipbuilding, founded several towns, published decrees for the benefit of the inhabitants of Pernambuco, fostered the peopling of less populated zones, like the jungles of Rodelas, by the river of São Francisco, succeeded in bringing to Brazil judges with the same attributions and judicial powers of those in the Metropolis, and, finally enabled the discovery of important gold and saltpetre mines. He had been ordered to continue the discovery of mines and had been granted powers to promise charters creating nobility titles or conferring ranks in military orders to those who committed themselves to this task. Discoverers would be proprietors of the mine upon payment of the Royal Fifth. The governor himself made his own attempts at finding high-grade ore deposits.
During his rule the destruction of the last quilombos took place, namely those that were formed in the aftermath of the war of Pernambuco, when former African slaves grasped the opportunity to flee and created hinterland settlements between the river of São Francisco and Pernambuco. Such communities were ruled by an elected leader, made their livelihood from hunting and occasional trading, and had made fast progresses to the point of defying European settlers. Ever since the Dutch invasion, battles had been fought with the purpose of annihilating the quilombos, but only during Dom João de Lencastre?s rule this goal was successfully accomplished.
Another important event of this period was the death of Father António Vieira. This Jesuit priest dedicated most of his life to Christianizing the natives and died in Brazil, on the 18 July 1697.
Sacramento colony was still a matter of interest to those ruling Brazil at that time. In 1701 a new treaty was celebrated between Dom Pedro II and Philip IV, in which both parties agreed upon the Portuguese rights over that colony.
Dom João de Lencastre died in Lisbon, in 1707.
CAMPO BELO, Conde de, Governadores Gerais e Vice-Reis do Brasil, Lisboa, Agência Geral das Colónias, 1935. Nova história da expansão portuguesa, dir. Joel Serrão e A. H. Oliveira Marques, vol. VII, O império Luso Brasileiro: 1620-1750, coord. de Fréderic Mauro, Lisboa, Estampa, 1991. VARNHAGEN, Francisco Adolfo de, História Geral do Brasil: antes da sua separação e independência de Portugal, São Paulo, Ed. Melhoramentos, 4ªed., 1948.
Author: Rita Domingues
Translated by: Leonor Sampaio da Silva