SOUSA, D. Diogo de (1755-1829)
82nd governor and 49th viceroy of the State of India (1816-1821), governor and captain-general of Rio Grande of S. Pedro de Sul (1809-1814), of Maranhão and Piauí (1798-1804), and of Mozambique (1793-1798).
The second son of Dom João de Sousa, military commander of the Province of Minho, and of Dona Ana Joaquina de Medeiros e Araújo Cerveira, Dom Diogo de Sousa was born 17 May, 1755. He was a young nobleman of the Royal House, per letter dated 25 April, 1766. He enlisted in the army 1 April, 1778 and majored in philosophy and mathematics at the University of Coimbra, completing his education on April 9, 1789. He married Dona Ana Cândida de Sá Brandão, producing no descendants.
Already a major in the cavalry, he was nominated governor and captain-general of Mozambique on 26 May, 1792 and, on 28 September, promoted to lieutenant-colonel, in accordance with the privileges granted university graduates. On 19 March, 1793, he took over the government of Mozambique Island. He arrived there with his wife, an unusual situation at the time, and dealt with remodeling São Paulo Palace, the Governor´s residence and government headquarters, in order to convert the old Jesuit College into a family residence. His wife, who passed away on 17 October of the same year, never did enjoy the renovated palatial accommodations. Ill (he suffered from leprosy and scurvy) and a widower, the Governor requested to return to the Kingdom; however, he remained on the island for a while, where he proceeded to repair St. Sebastian fortress and to have a cylindrical column engraved in the new Pelourinho Square.
Due to orders he had received and motivated by his university education, Dom Diogo de Sousa had departed to Africa intending to implement various reforms, but he met with numerous impediments. Ordered in 1792, the Reform of the Regiment aimed at reducing military personnel by 50% and replacing it with Africans. It failed due to local resistance to the recuitment efforts. The Governor did succeed in establishing a mathematics class. In 1794 he reduced to 10% the taxes paid on the island for items to be re-exported to secondary ports, as had been ordered in 1792 by the Secretary of State, Martinho de Melo e Castro, who saw this measure as a means to increase consumption by undercutting their European competitors´ low prices. He proposed to reconquer Mombasa, as the Mujaus, looking for French and English commerce, had diverted the routes to this sultanate. Following instructions from the Secretary of State, he promoted the slave trade, especially with Brazil, in order to increase revenues from customs taxes and provide labor to this colony. He himself was accused of being an active participant in the slave traffic along with other merchants. He promoted whaling and the production of whale oil, protecting João Silva Guedes & Companhia, a company that had been established for this purpose.
From the reduction of customs taxes at a time of military instability, arose an unsustainable financial situation. The expansion of the European wars to the Indian Ocean resulted in French attacks to Portuguese ships and establishments. Around this time, the Portuguese were forced to abandon Lourenço Marques Fortress (1796). Additionally, in 1795 the Sheik of Quitangonha had attacked the Portuguese settlements in the coastal area across from Mozambique Island. In a climate of diminished comercial traffic and increased defense expenditures, public debt was established in 1797, via issuance of rather unusual notes in the form of signed playing cards, a measure that increased inflation enormously.
While still in Mozambique, Diogo de Sousa learned of his nomination as governor and captain-general of Maranhão and Piaui, in Northeast Brazil. He departed straightaway, being installed as governor on 3 October, 1798. Despite the conservatism he displayed on several occasions, he was part of an elite of government officials educated at the University of Coimbra, whom the new Secretary of State, Dom Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho had chosen to implement his plan for reform of the Portuguese Empire and especially of Brazil.
During his administration, the Directório dos Indios law was abolished, in conformity with the Royal Letter of 12 May, 1798. Dom Diogo de Sousa organized Portuguese, Latin, and grammar classes in São Luis do Maranhão and in Santo António de Alcântara. His attempts to recruit physicians and to build a hospital were unsuccessful. He established the Office of the Navy, Intendência da Marinha, in accordance with the Royal Order of 12 August, 1797. He promoted whaling as he had done in Mozambique and established three financial institutions, Caixas de Crédito, in the captaincy. Around this time an expedition was sent to reconnoiter Rio Tocantis, as orders of the Crown dated 1798 directed the establishment of commercial routes to Pará and Goiás. During the trip, settlements were founded which would become the towns of Carolina, Riachão, and Grajáu. He committed to Natural History research and achieved better results than had been the case in Africa. The expeditions of the graduate, Vicente Dias Cabral, and of the priest, Joaquim José Pereira, to locate saltpeter mines, collect plant species, and identify land for cultivation of cereals are particularly noteworthy. The governor started a botannical garden, an effort that was suspended after the 1804 Royal Order directed the resources to the fortifications. He ordered the reconstruction of St. Sebastian fortress in Alcântara. On 31 May, 1804 he was replaced, returning to the Kingdom.
On 19 September, 1807, he obtained a charter designating him governor and captain-general of Rio Grande of São Pedro do Sul, which is also located in Brazil. He traveled with the Royal Family to Rio de Janeiro, as the Court was relocated to Rio during the Napoleonic invasions. He took office on 19 October, 1809. The new captaincy-general comprised the independent territory of Rio de Janeiro, south of the captaincy of São Paulo, and included oversight of the government of St. Catarina Island. Established with the objective of securing the southern border of Brazil, the captaincy had its origins amidst the fight for independence of the Spanish colonies (Argentina and Uruguay) and the complex struggle for power by the Portuguese Monarchy. Dom Diogo de Sousa mobilized troops to form an Observer Army and later on a Pacifying Army for the Banda Oriental (Eastern Bank) of Rio da la Plata. In 1811 this army, which was commanded by Dom Diogo himself, made successive incursions to support the troops loyal to the Spanish Crown, which the Independentista forces led by Artigas had surrounded in Montevideu. Despite the military successes, the Portuguese Crown, pressured by British diplomacy, signed an agreement imposing the withdrawal of the army. The governor, nevertheless, continued the offensive, withdrawing the troops only after an armistice had been negotiated. Following the Regent Prince´s decree, dated 27 April, 1809, he created the municipalities of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande, Santo António, and Rio Pardo. Dom Diogo de Sousa left Rio Grande on 13 November, 1814.
His military achievements in the southern region of Brazil were rewarded with numerous mercês. He received commanderies and the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (1812) as well as the grade of knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword (1815). He obtained the nomination of Administrator of the Royal House (1812), was promoted to field-marshal (1811) and, shortly after that, received an honorary promotion to lieutenant-general (1813). Finally, on 25 July, 1815, he was granted the title of Count of Rio Pardo.
On 4 March, 1816, these honors were followed by a nomination to the post of Governor and Viceroy of the State of India and he took office on 29 November. Instructed to decrease military expenses, he ordered the dismissal of the most recently enlisted soldiers and unpatented officers, reduced the navy and cavalry, and ended the native Sipaio Volante legions. These measures had a negative impact on the income of the Goan elite, for whom the army was the principal source of employment, provoking great dissatisfaction. Despite this, he secured support to conduct military campaigns in 1817 against the Maratas of the Dessai (warlord) of Uspá as well as to attack the Bonsulos Dinasty in Rarim.
He modernized military training. With statutes approved by the Crown, he had the Military Academy erected in 1818. This institution taught army and navy courses, to which in 1820 was added a class in sketching. The medicine and surgery course whose plan of studies was formulated in 1820 operated for a few months but was suspended when the reputable head-physician, António José Lima Leitão went o Lisbon to take the place of the deputy of the State of India in the constituent assemblies, cortes constituintes, that emerged from the 1820 liberal revolution. The viceroy completed the transfer of the administrative bodies of the State of India from the city of Goa to Pangim. Goa was gradually being abandoned due to insalubrity. Thus, in 1818 he moved the services of the Treasury Board and the High Court to the new capital, where he could control them better. In 1820 the palace that housed the Inquisition and, in the old city, the residence of the viceroys were demolished, as he had ordered.
In the aftermath of the liberal revolution, a military movement led by officers, magistrates, and other officials demanded that the viceroy support the new government; he refused to do so without a royal order. On the night of 21 September, 1821, he was deposed and taken to Cabo convent under arrest. Shortly after that, the recently-constituted Governing Council, sent him to Bombay. Dom Diogo de Sousa returned to Goa in February 1822, in order to go to Brazil. After receiving the news that the King had accepted the constitution developed by the cortes, he pledged his allegiance to it before the Provisional Junta, which had been constituted on 2 December, 1821. Finally, he departed to mainland Portugal.
Diogo de Sousa´s lengthy career heading various territories of the Empire goes hand in hand with his participation in various bodies of the Crown´s central administration, during both the absolutist monarchy and the constitutional government. He was part of the Overseas Council (17 December, 1805), becoming its president on 25 June, 1825, when this administrative body was restored. He was Councillor of the Treasury (17 January, 1809), becoming a member of the Council of War (22 December, 1824). Finally he was a Peer of the Kingdom (30 April, 1826) in the High Council that was created by the Constitutional Letter of 1826. His support of the absolutist movement, which placed Prince Dom Miguel in power in 1828, earned him the nomination on March 3rd to the post of Minister of War Affairs and, on 28 January, 1829, to the Council of State. Known for his austere character and sharp appearance, he passed away in Lisbon on 12 July, 1829.
ABREU, Miguel Vicente de, O governo do vice-rei conde de Rio Pardo no Estado da Índia Portuguesa - desde 1816 a 1821. Memória Histórica, Nova Goa, Imprensa Nacional, 1869. AHU, Avulsos, Moçambique. LIMA, Oliveira, D. João VI no Brasil, s.l., ACD Editores, 2008. MEIRELES, Mário M., História do Maranhão, S. Paulo, Siciliano, 2001. ZUQUETE, Afonso (dir.), Tratado de todos os vice-reis e governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Ed. Enciclopédia, 196.
Translated by: Maria João Pimentel