MENDONÇA, João de
Governor of India (1564).
Born date unknown, Joao de Mendonça was the son of Antonio de Mendonça and Dona Isabel de Castro, daughter of Dom Fernando de Almada, 2nd Count of Avranches, and of Dona Constança de Noronha, 5th Lady of Lagares de El-Rey. He was married to Dona Joana de Aragao, daughter of Nuno Rodrigues Barreto, frontier-commander of the Algarve, treasurer, governor of the city of Faro and of the town of Loule. From this marriage, a son was born, Nuno de Mendonça (1560-1632), who was donatary captain of Tangiers, went with Albert of Austria on his journey to Flanders in 1593, and became the 1st Count of Vale dos Reis in 1628. On 5 December 1547, he was appointed for the captaincy of Chaul and arrived in India during 1548, having stayed there for many years. Shortly before he became Governor, he was also donatary captain of Malacca (unknown date). In 1564, after the death of the ruling Viceroy, Dom Francisco Coutinho, he assumed the role of provisional governor as the second in line for succession, as the first candidate was Dom Antao de Noronha who, by then, was not in India. He started his administration on 29 February 1564 and ended it on 3 September, when Dom Antao arrived.
During his six months of government, the most striking event to happen was the resuming of the disputes in Malabar. Being in Goa to welcome the traditional delegations of Asian rulers, which came every time a new governor or Viceroy initiated his administration, he also entertained the delegation of the Zamurin of Calicut. The latter protested over the abuse perpetrated by Domingos de Mesquita, who had killed around 2000 Muslims during an attack to Malabar foists. Joao de Mendonça replied by stating that Mesquita was considered a rebel by the State of India, and gave carte blanche to the Zamurin to capture Mesquita and do whatever he wanted with him. When the latter returned to Goa, he was arrested in a theatrical move by the governor, being released soon after. The governor also appointed Alvaro de Mendonça for the captaincy of Moluccas and Pero de Ataide for the captaincy of Ceylon, where the war between the king of Kotte and the Madune, king of Sitawaka, still continued. Meanwhile, in Cannanore, a minor local dispute motivated a new invasion of the city where Dom Paio de Noronha was. Knowing that, Joao de Mendonça sent a fleet of six small vessels to help, under the command of André de Sousa. His last governmental decision was to nominate his nephew, Rodrigo Furtado, captain of a fleet of seven/eight carrack ships which would pick up provisions from the rivers of Kanara to bring to Goa.
Once his provisional government ended, he returned to the kingdom (1565-1566), passing by Ormuz and by Saint Helen?s Island. Still, he must have returned poor to the kingdom and without many possessions, as he did not get rich while being donatary captain of Malacca. According to Diogo do Couto and Manuel de Faria e Sousa, the image he left was one of a kind and cautious governor. Also in a letter dated from 29 March 1564, Belchior Serrao writes to the king and portrays Joao de Mendonça as a good governor, highlighting the overall satisfaction with his government (ANTT, Corpo Cronológico, Parte 1, Maço 106, document 106). Further on, we only know that he participated in the Battle of Alcacer Quibir, where he excelled fighting in the squadron of the Duke of Aveiro.
COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, década VII, livro x, caps. 18-19, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, Parte 2, cap. XIX, 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: Marília Pavão