COUTINHO, D. Francisco (1507-1564)
Born in 1507, Dom Francisco Coutinho was the son of Dom João Coutinho, 2nd Count of Redondo, and Isabel Henriques, daughter of the 1st Master of Lavre and Estepa, Dom Fernão Martins Mascarenhas. He was cousin to Dom Pedro Mascarenhas, former Viceroy of India, on his mother?s side. He married Maria de Blaesvet, whose father was Francisco de Gusmão, the first steward of the captaincy of Machico in Brazil and main guardian of Infanta Dona Maria; her mother was Dona Joana de Blaesvelt, first lady in waiting to the princess. Among their numerous offspring, most prominent was Dom Luís Coutinho (1540-1578), the first-born and 4th Count of Redondo (1564-1578) who died at Alcácer Quibir and Dom João Coutinho, 5th Count. Dom Francisco grew up in Arzila, with his father and uncle Dom Manuel Mascarenhas, and soon stood out in fighting the Moors. After witnessing the signing of a peace accord with the Kingdom of Fez in 1538, he was named in 1546 to succeed his uncle to govern Arzila, where he defeated the ruler. When the Portuguese king decided to abandon Arzila in 1550, however, he was forced to return to Portugal and came to be recompensed by King João III: 300,000 reais, the promise that he himself or his son would return to govern Arzila, should it be retaken; instatement as count for 102,864 reais on November 23, 1549; and confirmation as count of Redondo on December 13, 1552. This veteran of the wars in Africa was sworn in as regent of the House of Supplication on January 12, 1559, following the death of the previous regent, Dom João de Melo, bishop of Algarve. Dom Francisco Coutinho was also a knight of the Order of Christ, whose opinion was sought by the Counsel, especially in relation to issues related to Morocco. Finally, on January 27, 1561, Dona Catarina named him viceroy of India, to succeed Dom Constantino of Bragança. Along with being the second viceroy dispatched to India in 1524, after Dom Vasco da Gama, 1st count of Vidigueira, he was considered an able successor to Dom Constantino, seen at the time as a very virtuous and talented man.
He left Lisbon on March 9, 1561 and arrived in India on June 7. He began by naming captains for the fortresses of India, after which he named Dom Constantino, Dom Antão de Noronha and Dom António de Noronha captains of two ships of the armada that left for Portugal at the end of 1561. He also ordered that his cousin Dom Francisco Mascarenhas be provided with an armada to combat the Cáfar of Portuguese sources, the Turkish captain that was joined by Jorge de Moura with a new fleet. Both were to curtail the usual Turkish assault of the Ormuz ships during the summer.
The confrontation with the Turks, which occurred in 1562, ended in a draw. Another Turkish campaign to conquer the lands of Preste was defeated in Abissínia, with the aid of the Portuguese, and a new Ethiopian emperor was acclaimed. An armada with six vessels arrived in Goa in September, at a time when the viceroy intended to organize an expedition to sign a peace treaty with Calicute. This occurred as Guzerates circled Damão again and Garcia Rodrigues de Távora defeated the enemy. Dom Francisco Coutinho left Goa in December and headed toward Calicute, with great military aplomb to impress the Samorim and sign a peace agreement with this Indian leader, who was a long-standing enemy of Portugal. After he placed demands on Samorim, the viceroy?s men were clearly dissatisfied that there were no incidents as they passed Cananor and then Calicute. A clash among these men ensued, as soon as Coutinho left for Cochim at the beginning of the following year. These events, along with similar occurrences in other parts of Asia, would lead to an idea of decadence in India. This contrasted with the already mythic aura attributed to the governance of Dom Constantino of Bragança and would only be compensated by the noble title of Dom Francisco. The first auto-de-fé in Goa also took place in that year, as the viceroy reduced rights. In time this would rekindle the war with Calicute, a renewed Islamic movement in Malabar and wars in Molucas. The Portuguese would grant right of passage to Asian merchants who paid a determined amount to navigate and do business in Asian waters, although some Portuguese captains of Malabar abused this system.
At the beginning of 1563, Henrique de Sá, named captain of Molucas, saved Amboíno, an island that had been incorporated into the holdings of the Christian king of Ternate because of Portuguese aid. After an anti-Christian revolt was squelched by Henrique de Sá, the king of Portugal was granted possession of this island in 1564. Also during this year in Ceylon the Madune, king of Sitawaka, sent his son Raju, king of Sitawaka, to try to depose his brother, king of Kotte and traditional Portuguese ally. Raju circled Colombo with 30,000 men but was defeated by the fortress captain, Baltasar Guedes de Sousa. With the city of Kotte under seige by Raju, only Diogo de Melo Coutinho, captain of the island of Manar, was able to turn the tide. He sent Domingos de Mesquita as the captain of an armada to aid the eighty vessels from Malabar that were passing through the area. Mesquita not only aided some of these vessels, but also slaughtered about 2,000 Moors. Upon hearing the news, Dom Francisco Coutinho died on February 19, 1564, allegedly because of the inhumane actions of Domingos Mesquita. He was buried on the very day in the Church of the São Francisco convent, under a cloth of the Order of Christ; his body would later be transferred to the town of Redondo.
Having succeeded the charismatic governance of Dom Constantino of Bragança, Dom Francisco Coutinho, who governed during two years and five months, was portrayed as an average viceroy by Manuel de Faria e Sousa: ?He took a prudent stance that was at once liberal and controlled.? (SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, translation by Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, Part 2, chap. XVIII, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945). The shadow of the previous viceroy also weighs on him in the words of Diogo do Couto, who says that he: ?? was liberal, and at least not stingy ?? (COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, VII, x, 17, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974).
COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, VII, x, 1-17, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. EÇA, Duarte de, Relação dos Governadores da Índia (1571), edição de R. O. W. Goertz (Codex Goa 38), Calgary, University Printing Series, 1979, p. 15. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Manuel Burquets de Aguiar, vol. III, Parte 2, cap. XVIII, 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: Rosa Simas