CONSTANTINO, D. (1528-1575)
Viceroy of India (1558-1561). Born in 1528, he was the son of Dom Jaime, 4th Duque of Bragança (1479-1532), from his second marriage, to Dona Joana de Mendonça, daughter of Diogo de Mendonça, chief Alcaide of Mourão. His oldest brother, Dom Teodósio (1510-1563), son from the Duke?s first marriage, would be responsible for continuing the House?s lineage. Dom Constantino was Dom Sebastião?s Lord of the Bedchamber, a member of the Royal Council and a Knight Commander in the Order of Santiago. He was sent to the French court as Portugal?s representative in the baptismal ceremony of the son of Henry II, in 1548. He married in 1522 to Dona Maria de Melo (1540-1605), the daughter of Dom Rodrigo de Melo, 1st Count of Tentúgal and 1st Marquis of Ferreira since 1533. On March, 3, 1558, he became, at the age of 30, the first Viceroy of Dom Sebastião?s reign, succeeding to the governor Francisco Barreto, by the regent?s appointment, Dona Catarina. The appointment was partly a result of Dom Constantino?s own interest in holding the post and of his brother?s influence. The Crown could hardly refuse a proposal coming from the highest aristocratic rank of the kingdom (Dom Teodósio was a Duke from 1532 to 1563), especially at a time when there were few highly placed noblemen interested in occupying the position. His departure from the Tagus harbour, on April, 7, 1558, and subsequent arrival in Goa, on September, 3, entailed great political and military expectations. After all, he was the half-brother of the kingdom?s first nobleman, a kinship relation that probably explains the hyperbolical assessment of his acts and good image.
Among the large committee that left with him to India emphasis must be given to Dom Paio de Noronha, donatory captain of Cannanore and one of the most important names of this viceroyalty. Another member of his committee worth mentioning is Aleixo de Sousa Chichorro, aged seventy, and chosen by Dona Catarina upon the belief that the Viceroy?s lack of experience on financial matters might profit from an experienced treasurer. The Viceroy was also accompanied by 2000 armed men. He received a warm welcome at his arrival, and some viewed him as a ?natural prince? (SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, translated by Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, chapter XIV, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945). His first political and military act consisted of conquering Daman, without which the safety of the territories surrounding Bassein could hardly be secured. This was a project devised by his predecessor, and Dom Constantino put it through entering the city with great pomp in February 1559. According to the sources of that time, the city?s inhabitants fled as soon as they noticed the Portuguese approaching with at least 100 ships. António Moniz Barreto and the donatory captain of Diu, Dom Diogo de Noronha, stand out among those who advanced into Daman. Once completed the conquest of the city, and before returning to Goa, in March, Dom Constantino made sure that the villages near Daman paid tribute to the city. In addition to this, he appointed Dom Álvaro da Silveira, son of the Count of Sortelha, commodore of an armada intended to sail due the strait of Mecca in order to abort arrangements made by the new Turkish admiral Cáfar. He also appointed Jorge de Meneses, The Baroche, to the captaincy of Ceylon.
Meanwhile, not all went well outside Daman. In the beginning of 1559, the Muslims put Cannanore under siege, almost at the same time that the Portuguese attacked Daman. Dom Paio de Noronha won this first assail with difficulty. The year before, Luís Melo da Silva had led an armada to the destruction of Mangalore. The fleet was still around the region of Malabar causing great damage to the Islamic trade of Calicut and Cannanore, which was at the time aligned with the interests of the Zamorin. In all the naval fights involving the Zamorin of Calicut, aided by the Turks, and the sovereign of Cannanore, the armada commanded by Luís Melo caused great damage to the enemy forces. It was Summer time when the king of Vijayanagar threatened the Portuguese town of Saint Thomas of Mylapore and forced its donatory captain, Pedro de Ataíde, to retreat, as he couldn?t count on the local population for support. Luís Melo was arrested on his return to Goa by Dom Constantino de Bragança as a punishment for not having sent overland help to Dom Paio de Noronha, in Cannannore, instead of fighting at sea, as he did, for his own profit and glory. The imprisonment wouldn?t last long, however. It was essentially a means of breaking what was considered as a tendency towards excess of leadership, and Luís Melo was set free and ordered to go to the rescue of Dom Paio de Noronha, who was being threatened once again by a great coalition of Muslims and Malabar princes. Another decisive battle gave the victory to the Portuguese. By that time Dom Constantino was engaged in building a big basilica in Goa, probably intended for the commemoration of victories or for paying homage to Francisco Xavier. While Manuel de Vasconcelos advanced into Ethiopian territory due Ternate, the Prester fought arduous battles against the Muslims with the help of the Portuguese and the Bishop Dom André de Oviedo, who thought of leaving that territory and of taking upon himself the responsibility for the unsuccessful attempt of ?reducing? that sovereign and kingdom to Roman obedience, but ended up staying there at the Portuguese Christians? request. That was also the year of the Turks? siege to the Bahrain Island which at the time belonged to the king of Ormuz, a vassal of the Portuguese. A hard battle ensued in which Dom João de Noronha, nephew of Dom Antão de Noronha, had to face severe predicaments, but the donatory captain of Ormuz managed to invert the situation with the help of Pedro Peixoto.
The following year was equally important: though also characterized by the military impetus, 1560 assumes an additional relevance in terms of decisive religious events, namely the foundation of Goa?s Inquisition and the arrival of the first archbishop, Dom Gaspar de Leão Pereira, into town. In both cases it is clearly expressed the Empire?s commitment to Counter-Reformation and missionary evangelization. While Luís Melo continued his destruction campaigns in Malabar, Dom Constantino decided to send Brother Fulgêncio Freire to Ethiopia with the purpose of strengthening the Jesuitic mission within the Prester?s domains. He would eventually be captured by the Turks and released later. This took place at a time when a new Ethiopian sovereign issued a prison order for Dom André de Oviedo. However, besides some occasional conflicts between Cangranor and Kochi, both under Portuguese subjection, and of subsequent defeats inflicted by Dom Diogo de Noronha on the surroundings of Daman, the major military event of the year happened to be the expedition organized by Dom Constantino against the King of Jafanapatao and lord of the Mannar Island. He had dethroned his brother, who, in his turn, had sought refuge in Goa, had converted to Christianity, and had taken the name of Dom Afonso. This and some attacks to Portuguese subjects in the region served as an excuse for the Viceroy to assemble a powerful fleet and an army. Although he didn?t place Dom Afonso back in the throne, he compelled his adversary to pay tribute and to grant Mannar Island, where a fortress was built. Once he made captive the King of Jafanapatao, Dom Constantino came into the ownership of a legendary treasure (the tooth of Buddha), for which possession the Asian sovereigns offered large amounts of money. The King of Pegu offered as much as 300 000 cruzados for the relic, but the Viceroy declined the offer and ordered the tooth?s destruction. The order of reducing the tooth to dust was regarded by the Portuguese as showing a profound Christian devotion, but must be seen in the light of the Counter-Reformation spirit of the time. The situation was, however, far from settled in Ceylon, and Dom Jorge de Meneses, The Baroche, had to face several attacks from Madune, the King of Sitawaka. Shortly after, Dom Diogo de Noronha succeeded in preventing another siege from being laid to Daman, using local rivalries for the advantage of the Portuguese forces, and even annexing Balsar. Notwithstanding these achievements, he would die by the end of the year.
At the beginning of 1561, Dom Constantino, being in Kochi, renewed the peace agreement with the Raja of Chembe and awarded the island of Primbalam, which had been taken from the Zamorin of Calicut, to the King of Kochi. The death of Dom Diogo de Noronha and the wars in the surroundings of Surat led the Viceroy to charge Dom António de Noronha with the rescue of that fortress, but the latter abandoned it and returned to Goa where Dom Constantino put him in prison. The King of Basra turned once again to the Portuguese for help against the Turks. He promised to concede a fortress, but no help came. Dom Constantino?s viceroyalty ended on September, 7, 1561, with the shift of power to Dom Francisco Coutinho, 3rd Count of Redondo. He returned to the Kingdom, after three years absence, without much of his own, and asking for his former post of Lord of the Bedchamber. The request was denied, but the captaincy of Cape Verde was granted to him instead. Sources of that time mention that Dom Sebastião I wished to keep him as Viceroy for life, and that he had rejected the offer. He died in 1575, without any children by his wife.
Traditionally viewed as an outstanding Viceroy in virtue of his military victories in Daman and in Ceylon, he was not only considered a model to be followed as his example provides a clear evidence of the growing importance of the post of Viceroy, since it increasingly became the privilege of a social elite from the time of Dom Afonso de Noronha until at least the first viceroyalty of Dom Luís de Ataíde. His rule was so memorable (for several reasons, his personality and his almost royal blood included) that when Dom Luís de Ataíde was appointed for the post, Couto and Faria admit having told him to ?rule in Dom Constantino?s style? (COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, VII, ix, Livraria San Carlos, 1974; SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, translated by Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, Part 2, chapter XVII, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945). Although he was an exceptional Viceroy in Portuguese India, the House of Bragança failed to take the most of his viceroyalty, as Mafalda Soares da Cunha has shown. In fact, Eastern revenues weren?t much valued or sought after then, except for what concerned the negotiation of commercial privileges, and such a strategy would remain unaltered until 1640. Against this background, Dom Constantino?s viceroyalty is of secondary importance when compared to the more powerful issues that moved the House of Bragança.
COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, VII, vi-ix, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. CUNHA, Mafalda Soares da, ?A Casa de Bragança e a Expansão, Séculos XV-XVII? in A Alta Nobreza e a Fundação do Estado da Índia, actas do colóquio internacional, edição organizada por João Paulo Oliveira e Costa e Vítor Luís Gaspar Rodrigues, Lisboa, CHAM, 2004, pp. 303-319. EÇA, Duarte de, Relação dos Governadores da Índia (1571), edição de R. O. W. Goertz (Codex Goa 38), Calgary, University Printing Series, 1979, pp. 13-15. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, edição de Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, Parte 2, caps.XIV-XVII, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.
Author: Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Leonor Sampaio da Silva.