MENESES, D. Duarte de (1537-1588)
Viceroy of India (1584-1588).
Born in Tangiers, in 1537, Dom Duarte de Meneses was the oldest son of Dom João Meneses ? lord of Tarouca, knight commander of Albufeira and donatory captain of Tangiers ? and of Dona Luísa de Castro, daughter of Dom Pedro de Castro, third count of Monsanto. On his father?s side, his grandfather was Dom Duarte de Meneses, governor of India, and his great-grandfather was Dom João de Meneses, first viscount of Tarouca and Prior of Crato. He had only one sister, younger than him, called Dona Inês de Castro, whose sons served in India, except for the first count of São Lourenço, Dom Pedro da Silva, governor of Brazil from 1635 to 1639. Dom Duarte married Dona Leonor da Silva, granddaughter of the sixth lord of Vagos and of the second baron of Alvito, Dom Diogo Lobo da Silveira.
Amongst the vast offspring of this marriage are Dom João de Meneses, who died in Alkazarquivir; Dom Luís de Meneses, second count of Tarouca; Dom António de Meneses; Dona Maria de Vilhena, married to Dom Francisco da Gama, fourth count of Vidigueira and twice viceroy of India; and two other daughters who became nuns.
He was a member of the Royal Council, knight commander of Albufeira and Sardoal, and accompanied King Sebastião on his first expedition to Africa in 1574; at the time, he replaced Dom António, Prior of Crato, in the government of Tangiers. When the deposed leader of Morocco proposed the occupation of Asilah, Meneses himself took charge of the negotiations; but the negotiations with the mentioned intermediary failed and Meneses welcomed King Sebastião when he returned to Africa in 1578; the king then appointed him General Field Marshal. Without success, he tried to convince the King to occupy Larache and, equally without success, to take over the enemy camp on the night before the battle of Alcazarquivir. When the Portuguese were defeated, Meneses was not only taken captive with another 80 Portuguese soldiers, who chose him to represent them, but was also responsible for the identification of the Dom Sebastião?s corpse ? a King later known as the Desired. Having settled the ransom, he returned to Portugal and the five governors of the Realm appointed him Governor-general of the Algarve by letter of the 24th of March, 1580. Due to his enormous nobiliary, political and military prestige, he was appointed viceroy of India by letter of the 18th of February, 1584. King Filipe I of Portugal, the Prudent, awarded him the title of count of Tarouca, a title he was supposed to take to India, but which he rejected because it did not comprise ?juro e herdade? (a ?juro e herdade? title obliged the King to renew it in its rightful heir).
He left Lisbon on the 10th of April, 1584, and arrived to Kochi on the 25th of October. Once arrived there he immediately had to deal with the discontent felt by those living in the fortress, a discontent caused by decrees that had altered the town?s customs taxes. In the beginning of 1585 he left for Bardez and signed an alliance with the sultan of Bijapur, in order to defeat the Sanguicer nayak and thus avenge the death of Dom Gil Eanes Mascarenhas during the previous viceroyalty. Meanwhile, at the Moluccas, Diogo de Azambuja, donatory captain of Tidore, was in need of ammunition and asked for the help of the Castilian governor of the Philippines, refusing at the same time to pass over the command of the Moluccas fort to his successor, Duarte Pereira, recently arrived. To the skirmishes that hence opposed the two contenders, and that were ended by the intervention of the king of Tidore, followed the ineffective siege of Ternate, commanded by the first. Shortly after the arrival of the 1585 Realm fleet, the viceroy decided, not without controversy, to appoint Rui Gonçalves da Câmara, his uncle, as the founder of the Panane fortress, based on the agreements signed by Dom Gil Eanes de Mascarenhas and the Calicut zamorin during the previous viceroyalty; he also decided to place him at the command of a fleet sent to the Straight with the purpose of annihilating an alleged Turkish fleet that was being prepared to attack the Portuguese. Once arrived to Panane, Rui Gonçalves da Câmara handed over the construction of the fortress to the donatory captain, Rui Gomes da Grã, and soon left for the town of Mocha in search of the referred fleet. Still during this year, the viceroy, by royal command, submitted Solor, a fortress built and supplied by friars, to the Crown?s jurisdiction, and elevated Macau to city, by approving the formation of the city?s senate.
In the beginning of 1586 there was a small fight that opposed the army of Rui Gonçalo da Câmara to the Turkish, followed by a retreat to Ormuz. However, before going to that fortress, Rui Gonçalves appointed Pedro Homem Pereira as commander of a punitive expedition against the Niquilus, who had obstructed the flow of supplies to Ormuz. In this fleet were Dom Jorge da Câmara and the brothers Diogo Vaz da Veiga and Tristão Vaz da Veiga, important noblemen who would die in combat. In spite of being a total loss, the expedition had the support of Matias de Albuquerque, recently appointed for the captaincy of Ormuz. Shortly after, from the town of Mocha left a ship belonging to the Turk Mir Alibet who, trying to intimidate the sovereigns of the eastern African coast with a large Turkish fleet, succeeded in conquering the different cities that paid tribute to Istanbul, Mombasa included; the Portuguese from that region resisted but without success. In Ceylon, the king of Sitawaka laid siege to Colombo and the captain of the fortress, João Correia, defended it and defeated the enemy in May of that year. There was restlessness in Maritime Southeast Asia. Artur de Brito, arrived from Malacca, was the bearer of letters from the viceroy and from King Filipe I, letters that commanded the donatory captain of Tidore to reconquer the Ternate fortress by alluring the local king with a marriage settlement with the daughter of the Tidore sovereign. Only at this stage did Duarte Pereira, after an ?exile? in Manila, receive the command of the fortress from Diogo de Azambuja. But efforts would fail through and, shortly after, Duarte Pereira, together with the king of Tidore, would try to assassinate the king of Ternate. In Malacca, in a phase in which the sultan of Johor tried to obstruct the flow of supplies to the town and prepared a regional agreement which allowed laying another siege to the Portuguese town, Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo was appointed sea commodore. In India, the year would not come to an end without the Cunhale Malabar pirates taking more Portuguese captives as slaves. Nonetheless, there were still minor fights during that year. The Realm fleet of that year brought not only news from King Filipe I, who commanded the establishment of a chancellorship with ten judges in Goa, but also that on the way to India the fleet had been attacked by the English. Finally, on the carrack ships that sailed from India to the Realm went the archbishop of Goa, friar Vicente, who had resigned from his office due to divergences with the viceroy and with Crown officials, thus causing jurisdictional power conflicts.
During the tumultuous year of 1587 Dom Duarte de Meneses received a letter from the king of Malindi telling of the action of Mir Alibet and alerting him to the Turkish interest in the gold the region produced; this caused a meeting between the viceroy and the elders of India, and they decided to send eighteen carracks commanded by Martim Afonso de Melo, who was in charge of restoring the Portuguese power in the cities of the eastern African coast. After some combats and resistance from some local sovereigns, the mentioned captain was supposed to go to Muscat and there establish a Portuguese fortress. Shortly after Melo had written to the viceroy of Ormuz telling him of both victories, Dom Jorge de Meneses, donatory captain of the island of Mozambique, confronted the problem of Islamic trade in that region, a problem which he tried to fight as much as he could. Nevertheless, the year would definitely be remembered not by these events but by the sieges laid to Malacca and to Colombo, having the latter lasted until the following year. In Japan, the first anti-Christian edict was published by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
In Malacca, the year had started with famine, a consequence of the supplies? blockade set up by the sovereign of Johor. Aided by Diogo de Azambuja, who had arrived there coming from the Moluccas, a fleet was prepared to fight the Johor squadron. Around the town, Rajale, the area was protected by the swords of the fortress captain, João da Silva. When India found out about the siege, several financial and military means of rescue were sent from Kochi, Bassein, Chaul and Goa, the last one following the viceroy?s orders. As a condition for helping them, Goa demanded that the viceroy sent Dom Paulo de Lima Pereira as captain and his action would be crucial to the ending of the siege. Unexpectedly, Dom Paulo and the fleet ended up on the coast of Aceh, where the Portuguese managed to take the Johor ambassador from the sultan, who had asked for his help in laying siege to Malacca. The Aceh fleet was armed and ready to sail, but it never did, for its captain murdered the royal family of that sultanate. When the siege ended, not without raising differences between the captains, a punitive expedition to Johor was decided, which would cause the town to be burnt and looted, and many lives to be taken. In the beginning of summer, the king of Sitawaka laid siege to Colombo, this time with a large and powerful army, never seen before, as referred by Faria e Sousa. In spite of the failure of the first three attacks, reinforcements from all over India were needed to hold the fortress. Dom Duarte de Meneses, who paid close attention to that siege situation, sent a decisive request for help, which arrived to the region in September. Punitive expeditions to the gentile cities of Ceylon took place at this time, having the siege ended by the nomination of Manuel de Sousa Coutinho. This officer ? already famous for having successfully ended other sieges laid by the king of Sitawaka, when captain of Colombo (Sousa Coutinho would become governor after the death of Dom Duarte de Meneses) ? was responsible for forcing the enemy to retreat. When the siege ended and the recent victories in Goa were celebrated with the presence of the viceroy, of Manuel de Sousa Coutinho and of Dom Paulo de Lima Pereira, on the 4th of May, 1588, Dom Duarte de Meneses died. The viceroy, dead at the age of 51, was buried at the ?Igreja dos Reis Magos? (the Magi Church) and his relics were later taken to the ?Igreja do Convento da Trindade? (Church of the Convent of Trindade) in Santarém. Diogo do Couto says ? although he didn?t find any documents to support it ? that King Filipe I had ordered the viceroy to leave on an expedition against Aceh, an expedition the King would send money and orders for. The expedition, if it were to take place, would put Matias de Albuquerque in charge of the India viceroyalty meanwhile.
During his office Dom Duarte de Meneses also committed himself to making safe conducts respected and appointed several fleets to that effect. In this light can one also understand why he sent the 1586 fleet to the eastern African coast so that, among other purposes, the Portuguese commercial monopoly could be duly respected, as well as the events that took place in Kochi during the beginning of the viceroyalty or even his cautious attitude when confronted with the orders sent by the King on the 1587 fleet ? the orders were that the commerce of certain products belonging to the Crown had to be respected. The memory of this viceroy would be constrained by the controversial nomination of Rui Gonçalves da Câmara, a disreputable character, which caused Dom Duarte de Meneses to be remembered as a poet and a just man, but a man who would easily yield to family interests.
COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, X, vi-x, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974; DOMINGUES, Ângela, ?D. Duarte de Meneses? in Dicionário de História dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, dir. Luís de Albuquerque, vol. II, s.l., Caminho, 1994, pp. 730-731. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Maria Vitória Garcia Santos Ferreira, vol. V, Parte 1, caps. III-VI, 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: Maria das Mercês Pacheco