Anthroponyms seta MASCARENHAS, Dom Francisco de (1530-1608)

Viceroy of India and 1st Earl of Vila da Horta and Santa Cruz (1581-1584).

Born in 1530, he was the fourth child of João Mascarenhas, the 2nd Lord of Lavre and Estepa, chief Alcaide of Montemor-o-Novo and Knight Commander of Mértola, in the Order of Christ, and of Dona Margarida Coutinho, the third child of Dom Vasco Coutinho, 1st Earl of Redondo. His grandfather, Dom Francisco Coutinho, 3rd Earl of that House, was Viceroy of India. Dom Francisco Mascarenhas, born into a family of high aristocratic rank and with a long tradition of service to the Crown, was also the nephew of another Viceroy of India, Dom Pedro Mascarenhas. Among his brothers and sisters, the following gained historical importance: Dom Nuno Mascarenhas, dead in Asilah, his youngest sister, Dona Catarina da Silva, wife to Cristóvão de Moura, the 1st Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo and very close to Philip I of Portugal, Dona Leonor Mascarenhas, wife to the 4th Baron of Alvito, Dom João Lobo da Silveira, and his youngest brother, Dom Diogo Mascarenhas, deceased in India. He was first married to Dona Leonor de Ataíde, daughter of the 10th Lord of Oliveira, Martim Afonso de Oliveira, but that was a childless union. His second marriage, to Dona Joana de Vilhena, provided a successor to the title. Descending from a very distinguished lineage and one with a tradition of close association to the cause of the Philips, via the privileged relations of the Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo to that House, Dom Francisco Mascarenhas held very important positions during the reigns of The Pious [1] and The Desired [2], such as those of Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard and Captain of the Band of Gentlemen-at-Arms of the Royal Household. Also a member of the Royal Council, he served in India for a long time. His first voyage to India occurred in 1554, when he joined the fleet where his uncle, Dom Pedro Mascarenhas, travelled in the capacity of Viceroy. In 1562 he was appointed Admiral of the sea and governor of Chaul; in 1564 he took office as governor of Sofala, after participating in the aid to Cannanore that year. In 1567, he was a member of the expedition to Mangalore. During the first vicereign of Dom Luís de Andrade, he resisted with 1600 men to the siege laid by the Sultan Ahmanagar, in the context of the 1565-75 crisis. After returning to the Kingdom, he accompanied King Sebastian in the campaign of Alcácer Quibir, in 1578, and attended the ominous meeting that was held the day before the battle, by the side of the Duke of Aveiro and the Earl of Vimioso. Taken prisoner by the Moors, he managed to regain his freedom, and returned to Portugal, where he strongly endorsed the right of Philip I to the Portuguese Crown, during the brief reign of the Cardinal-King [3]. Officially appointed Viceroy on 22 February 1581, he was commissioned by The Prudent [4] to have all Estado da India swear allegiance to the Spanish King, and for this reason Mascarenhas received the title of Earl of Vila da Horta (to be used only after his arrival in India), in addition to several benefits and pensions for himself and his family. He was also the bearer of a royal decree granting to the 3rd Earl of Atouguia the title of Marquis of Santarém, as well as judicial orders signed in blank to allure into the king?s cause all those captains and noblemen who resisted to accept the dynastic union. The latter would eventually be peacefully accepted, but if it hadn?t been so, Dom Francisco Mascarenhas had orders to pass the winter in Mozambique and to wait there for direct instructions from Philip I. The appointment of the Viceroy of India was accompanied of nominations for the most important captaincies as well. Mascarenhas left Lisbon on 11 April 1581, and put into port in Mozambique on 18 August. Once there, he ordered the pledge to Philip I as King of Portugal and started immediately to bear the title of Earl. On 24 September he entered Goa, and became aware that governor Fernão Teles de Meneses had already ordered the oath of allegiance to the King, which disappointed him, as the fulfilment of this mission had been one of the primary reasons for his appointment as Viceroy of India (besides his former career in India). After calling the Council, his first act of government was the customary dispatch of the fleets. He first dispatched Matias de Albuquerque with two galleys, twenty foists and 700 men for the Malabar seas. He chose and sent an embassy for the Mughal court, and appointed Diogo Lopes Coutinho for the fleet of the South. André Furtado de Mendonça, Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo, Gil Eanes Mascarenhas, a renowned nobleman, and Francisco Fernandes joined Matias de Albuquerque?s fleet. This fleet was responsible for ruining several ports of the Malabar pirates, spreading destruction in the Malabar seas, seizing enemy ships and causing serious damage to the local kingdoms.

Early in 1582, the fleet of Diogo Lopes Coutinho was also causing great harm around Surat, and Martim Afonso de Melo, captain of Daman, called for his help, while summoning as well the support of other emissaries from several parts of India, to break the Mughal siege laid by the enemy general Calichan, as he is called in the Portuguese documents of the time. Although the Portuguese won the conflict, a defeat was impending due to disagreements between the captain and the soldiers. The King of Salsette, an island in the neighbourhood of Daman, who was a traditional ally of the Portuguese, decided to use to his own advantage the siege of Daman, and rebelled. If it hadn?t been for the aid that came from the expedition of Martim Afonso de Melo, Fernão de Miranda and Dom Duarte de Eça, it would have been impossible to successfully oppose that threat. Meanwhile news concerning a Turkish attack against Muscat were being spread, but were never confirmed. It was later known that the Turkish fleet headed towards Mozambique, which was why Dom Francisco Mascarenhas dispatched a succour fleet to the region, under the command of Fernão Boto Machado. Before taking this measure, he had already appointed his nephew, Dom Jerónimo Mascarenhas, captain of the Persian Gulf Fleet, and instructed him to join Dom Gonçalo de Meneses, captain of Ormuz, in the punishing acts that were in course against the local populations that sided with the Turks. Shortly after that, the ruler of Lara, in the vicinity of Ormuz, attempted to besiege the fortress of Xamel, which was a possession of the King of Ormuz, but was defeated in the summer. The siege of Daman had won the Viceroy?s undivided attention, and when it came to an end the Viceroy sent immediate succour to Ceylon, where the King of Sitawaka, the Raju of the Portuguese sources, was again trying to conquer Colombo, being in the end defeated by the Portuguese army. This very eventful year of 1582 would not come to a close without a new siege being laid to Malacca, by the forces of Achin. The captain of the fortress, Dom João da Gama, managed to oppose the enemy, and Nuno Monteiro was able to prevent at sea the burning down of the Portuguese fleet. After the defeat at Malacca, the Sultan of Achin turned to Johor and received a Turkish assistance of twelve vessels as he attempted to lay siege to the town. By the end of the year, an embassy from Akbar left with destination to Goa, while Fernão de Miranda kept busy in the seas of Surat, attacking the enemy with a fleet of twenty ships, in the company of Dom Francisco da Gama. The profit resulting from that action was not, however, evenly shared. The division of the plunder was the object of severe protests, and the crew of that fleet caused several riots in Daman. At the same time, Matias de Albuquerque proceeded with his activity in the Malabar, causing great damage to the Zamorin, who asked for truce and was in the end punished for not respecting the terms of the peace. When the year was nearly over, the fleet of the Kingdom arrived, after coming across the English and fighting them at sea, with the nomination of Matias de Albuquerque for the captaincy of Ormuz, and the appointment of Gil Eanes Mascarenhas as his substitute in the post of Admiral of the Malabar seas.

1583 began with a Portuguese victory over the Malabar pirates, followed by the sack of the town of Tavar. In another part of Asia, the captain of Malacca failed to send help to the captain of Tidore, Diogo de Azambuja, due to the war effort of the year before. Azambuja decided, thus, to turn to the governor of the Philippines for help, after swearing allegiance to The Prudent, and sent Dom João Ronquilho to Manila. In the Malabar, the fight against the pirates continued ? Cunhale was defeated and the King of Chaul offered tribute to the Portuguese, as a consequence of Gil Eanes?s doings. However, at Barcelor, the inhabitants displeased with the Portuguese control of the customhouse, started a rebellion, and Dom Gil Eanes was forced to defend the stronghold. The King of Tolar, who had been a supporter of the rebellion, was punished by order of the Viceroy, by André Furtado de Mendonça. But the most remarkable event of the year was the revolt of the infidels at Salsette, which caused the destruction of several churches and the death of four Jesuits. The Viceroy ordered the captain of Rachol, Gomes Eanes de Figueiredo, to severely punish all those involved in the mutiny, and many escaped into the territory of the Sultan of Bijapur. By the end of the year, the fleet of the Kingdom brought to India the new Archbishop of Goa, Vicente de Fonseca, the successor of Henrique de Távora.

In the last year of his rule, Dom Francisco Mascarenhas engaged in using all available information on the enemy to expand territory and reinforce Portuguese rule. In Gujarat, for example, a rebellion of the sovereign overthrown by Akbar was an excuse for an unsuccessful attempt at the conquest of Surat. Likewise, in Bijapur, the succession war might turn into Portuguese advantage, but the pretender to the throne backed by the Portuguese was killed, and therefore the Viceroy lost his influence on that sultanate. Yet the Zamorin of Calicut requested a permanent peace agreement in order to put an end to the war in the Malabar. Besides this, the King of Cochin abandoned the purpose of controlling the customhouse, which he transferred into Portuguese rule.

On 25 November 1584, Dom Francisco Mascarenhas handed over his authority to his successor, Dom Duarte Meneses, and left immediately for Portugal. His prestigious career would not end at that point, though. Once back in the Kingdom, he was appointed by Philip I one of the five governors of the Kingdom, after the Archduke Albert of Austria ceased his rule in Portugal, in 1593, and received several grants and benefits the following years. On 17 September 1596, he took office as donatory captain of the islands Flores, Corvo (Azores) and Santo Antão (Cape Verde), as reward for an outstanding rule in India, and as a compensation for the loss of the captaincies of Faial and Pico, now under the command of the Corte-Real family. In that same year, his title of Earl of Vila da Horta was changed into Earl of Santa Cruz, on 3 October, in reference to the homonymous village of Flores. He died in 1608.

His rule, which lasted three years and two months, became closely associated to the sieges of Daman and Malacca as well as to the fights against the Malabar pirates. As a Viceroy, he turned out to fulfil more tasks than had been anticipated. He never played the expected role of being the agent of the recognition in Asia of Philip I as King of Portugal. Yet neither his rule nor his relations with the monarch suffered from this fact.

[1] King John III of Portugal. [Translator?s note.]
[2] King Sebastian. [Translator?s note.]
[3] Henry of Portugal. [Translator?s note.]
[4] Philip I of Portugal. [Translator?s note.]


COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, X, i, 8-9 e livros ii-v, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Maria Vitória Garcia Santos Ferreira, vol. V, Parte 1, caps. I-II, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1947. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de Todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.

Author: Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Leonor Sampaio

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