MENESES, Vasco Fernandes César de (1673-1743)
4th Viceroy of Brazil.
He was born in 1673 and died in 1743.
Vasco Fernandes César de Meneses was the son of Luís César de Meneses, chief Ensign of the Kingdom, governor of Rio de Janeiro, governor-general of Angola and Brazil, Knight Commander of São João do Rio Frio and of São Pedro de Lomar in the Order of Christ, and of his wife, Dona Mariana de Lencastre.
The 1st Count of Sabugosa inherited his fathers? commanderies and was field marshal in the regiment of Peniche and in the infantry body of the Royal Navy, Admiral of the Fleet, infantry major, in 1704, and chief Ensign in the coronation ceremony of Dom João V.
In 1712 he was appointed Viceroy of India. The colony gained a new impetus under his rule. He acted against the Indian potentates that opposed Portuguese presence, as well as against the pirates and the Arabs who brought damage to Portuguese trade. Besides these actions he also had to face several problems regarding ecclesiastical matters. He returned to the Kingdom in 1717 and three years later was appointed Viceroy of Brazil, where he lived until 1735.
His rule in South America was a hard and difficult one on account of the several calamities that befell the colony. Over heat, floods and even a cyclone affected Bahia, bringing devastation with them. Many merchant ships were captured by Dutch privateers causing considerable damage to Portuguese trade; all over Brazilian territory, different tribes of natives continued to disturb the settlers.
In order to reduce the effects of these hostile happenings the governor tried to increase the colony?s revenues with measures supporting agriculture. In addition to this, he created new towns and punished the natives endeavouring in practices of social unrest. He visited Recôncavo and the former captaincy of Ilhéus, repaired and modernised the Customs House, completed the fortifications of Ajudá, and promptly aborted an insurrection in the garrison of Salvador.
He also committed himself to cultural projects, and sponsored the colony?s intellectual progress by founding the ?Academy of the Forgotten? in Bahia, to which some of the most remarkable Brazilian intellectuals of that time would be associated.
He also founded the convent of Conceição da Lapa for Franciscan nuns.
He married Dona Juliana Lencastre in 1696.
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