SOUSA, João Rodrigues de Vasconcelos e
19th governor-general of Brazil.
The 2nd Count of Castelo Melhor was born in 1593 and died on 13 November, 1658.
João Rodrigues de Vasconcelos e Sousa was the son of Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa, 4th chief Alcaide and Knight Commander of Pombal, and of Dona Maria de Moura, lady-in-waiting to Queen Margaret of Austria.
The 2nd Count of Castelo Melhor was at the command of a fleet which sailed toward Carthagen of the Indies when, at his arrival there, he tried an unsuccessful attempt at rescuing some Portuguese galleons. He was taken under arrest and sent to Castile. As he heard this news, Dom João IV resorted to Dutch privateers in order to ransom him from the ship he was travelling in, and greatly favoured him. He was appointed military governor of Entre-Douro-e-Minho and, later, of Alentejo. He was also made a member of the Council of War. In 1649 he was appointed governor of Brazil, and lived there from 4 January 1650 to 1653. He left Lisbon at the command of the first fleet belonging to the General Company of Trade of Brazil.
His rule saw the decisive phase of the Pernambuco?s campaign come to an end with the above mentioned Company playing an important role in defeating the Dutch. An armada belonging to this Company set sail from Tagus River in November 1650, and at its arrival in Brazil was instigated by the insurgents to take part in the fight against the Dutch, who eventually capitulated to their opponents? force on 26 January, 1651.
He married Dona Mariana de Lencastre, the daughter of the 3rd Count of Calheta and the granddaughter of the 1st Count of Castelo Melhor, Rui Mendes de Vasconcelos, from whom he inherited the title. The couple had several children, among whom the well-known minister of Dom Afonso VI, Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa. The Countess was made a Marchioness upon her husband?s death. She also inherited all entails and property relating to the House of Calheta, which became unified with the House of Castelo Melhor.
In 1657, the Count was again appointed governor of Entre-Douro-e-Minho, and died in this capacity. He was buried in Ponte de Lima, in the convent of Santo António.
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. ZÚQUETE, Afonso Eduardo Martins, Nobreza de Portugal e do Brasil, Lisboa, ed. Enciclopédia, 1960-1989.
Author: Rita Domingues
Translated by: Leonor Sampaio da Silva