MENESES, D. António Luís de Sousa Telo de (1644-1721)
26th governor-general of Brazil.
D. António Luís de Sousa was born on 6 April, 1644, and died on 25 December, 1721.
The 2nd Marquis of Minas and 4th Count of Prado was the son of Dom Francisco de Sousa, Marquis of Minas, and of Dona Eufrásia Filipa de Noronha e Lima, daughter of the Counts of Torre.
Lord of Beringel and Prado, and of the Brazilian towns of Guvari and Nossa Senhora da Escada, chief Alcaide of Beja, he received five commanderies in the Order of Christ and two in the Order of Santiago.
He started his military career at the age of thirteen, and served in the defence of Elvas, in 1658 and 1659. In 1661, he was captain of the guards in the army led by his father, and two years after field marshal in an infantry regiment. In this capacity, he joined the forces with which his father singled out at the frontier of Minho. In 1665, he was appointed battlefield general and the following year he participated in military operations near Valença for the Spanish defeat. After the peace settlement that ended the Restoration War, he was appointed military governor of Entre-Douro-e-Minho and in 1674 he rose to field marshal general.
Dom António Luís de Sousa was governor-general of Brazil between 1684 and 1687.
The first task he was assigned in this capacity was to repress the authoritarian behaviour of the governor of Pernambuco, João da Cunha de Sotomaior.
His rule saw the growth of a huge epidemic outbreak, called bicha, which decimated a large part of the population in the areas of Pernambuco and Bahia. Among the victims was the archbishop of Bahia, Dom Friar João da Madre de Deus. The governor became known for the visits he paid to the sick, and for sheltering and providing medical care to the underprivileged.
Another event worth mentioning was the rebellion of Maranhão. Conflicts between the authorities and the slave merchants had been common in that region of Brazil, especially after the expulsion, in the sixties, of the Jesuit priests, who were the main opponents of the slave trade. On the 1st of April of 1680 a decree prohibiting slavery was published, stirring a lot of ill feeling and dissatisfaction among those who benefited from slave trade. A conspiracy ensued from a group of plotters including Manuel Beckman and Manuel Serrão de Castro. On 23 February, 1684, these conspirators and their allies attacked the house of the district governor, Baltasar Fernandes, and took possession of the main places in town. The governor of Maranhão, Francisco de Sá e Meneses, who was at Belém, avoided taking rash decisions, and Dom António Luís de Sousa waited for instructions from the Metropolis before acting. The rising unpopularity of the rebels and the expedition sent by the Crown, under the command of lieutenant general Gomes Freire de Andrade, combined to put an end to the conflict in a short period of time.
Once back in Portugal, Dom António Luís Meneses was president of the Board of Tobacco, military governor of Beira, Counsellor of War and Counsellor of State.
In 1706, during the Spanish Succession War, the Marquis of Minas conquered several Castilian cities. His entrance upon Madrid hardly met with local opposition, and, even though Philip V ended up ascending to the throne, he succeeded in making the archduke Charles the acclaimed king.
After this campaign, he was appointed Master of the Horse to Queen Maria Anna of Austria. He married his cousin, Dona Maria Madalena de Noronha, daughter of the 6th Lord of Atalaia, Dom Álvaro Manuel, and of his wife, Dona Inês de Lima e Távora.
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