CHICHORRO, Aleixo de Sousa (c. 1488-1560)
Member of the numerous offspring of Garcia de Sousa Chichorro (alcaide of Bragança, member of the Counsel and superintendent of All Saints Hospital), Aleixo was the son of his father's second marriage to Dona Brites da Silveira. He was raised by his maternal aunt, Dona Leonor de Miranda, whose husband, the Castilian nobleman João Ramirez de Arelhano, ended up adopting him in 1526.
Aleixo de Sousa Chicharro dedicated himself to serving the State of India. While the date of his first transoceanic voyage remains unknown, chronicles assure that he contributed to squelching a revolt led by the king of Bahrein against the king of Ormuz and to defending the fortress of Chaul against the naval attacks from Diu. He was left crippled in one arm in these last struggles, but this did not impede him from remaining in active service.
In 1528 he was granted laud by the captaincy of Goa and was integrated into the armada that Governor Nuno da Cunha led to the Orient. As the voyage was hazardous and favorable conditions for sailing to India lapsed, Nuno da Cunha left a group of men to recuperate on the island of Zanzibar, with Aleixo as captain. He would later accompany the governor in taking Mombaça and travel to the Persian Gulf, where he assumed the captaincy of one of the ships sent to calm a new uprising of the king of Bahrein againt the king of Ormuz.
His relationship with Nuno da Cunha was characterized by misunderstandings, both personal and political, even before his cousin Martim Afonso de Sousa became the main commodore of India in 1534 and claimed himself to be the main rival of the governor. These differences seem to have led him to resign his post in the captaincy of Goa. As recompense, the Crown nominated him to the captaincy of Sofala in December of 1536, while he was in Portugal.
At the end of 1537, Aleixo would leave Lisbon as captain of an extra armada created to reinforce the Portuguese military presence against an Ottoman offensive, a post he would assume as soon as he reached the eastern coast of Africa. During this mandate, which lasted until 1541, he exhibited favoritism toward his half-brother Belchior de Sousa Chichorro, whom he named chief alcaide, and became involved in illicit business affairs, namely by trafficking gold and ivory, products that the Crown monopolized.
Aleixo de Sousa Chichorro was also in Mozambique while the armada commanded by his cousin Martim Afonso de Sousa remained there in transit to India between September of 1541 and February of 1542. Martim Afonso had the mission of taking over the government of the State of India. Aleixo accompanied him on this mission and became the fiscal authority, clearly demonstrating their camaraderie even though Aleixo had neither administrative experience nor legal training.
During this mandate, Aleixo de Sousa Chichorro would benefit from his cousin's tolerance in order to explore private business and supported his cousin's decision to devalue the bazaruco, the copper coin in circulation in Goa at the time. This measure would prompt food vendors from the interior to abandon the local marketplace, which would lead to exorbitant prices that penalized the general population.
This is the scenario that Dom João de Castro would encounter and would decide to turn around when he became governor in September of 1545. Aleixo would not be questioned and manifested his indignation. Dom João de Castro initiated an inquiry aimed at verifying his conduct and the origin of the wealth he had accumulated since he had become responsible for the captaincy of Sofala.
Aleixo de Sousa Chicharro began his return voyage to Portugal in December of 1545 to escape any punishment in India. There are indications that he also needed the aid of another influential cousin, the overseer of Finances and count of Castanheira, Dom António de Ataíde, to escape justice in Portugal.
The death of King John III made the full recuperation of the nobleman viable. Entrusted with regal powers, Queen Catherine appointed him to return to India in 1558, as overseer of Finances to the vice-king Dom Constantino de Bragança and as captain of the respective armada. Rumors even circulated that his name was in the first ranks to succeed the governor, but it was Aleixo de Sousa Chichorro who would pass away on March 12, 1560. He died aboard the galleon that was en route to the capital of the State of India, after having been in Cochim to oversee the loading of the ships destined for the kingdom. By order of the vice-king, his body was buried in the Cathedral of Goa.
He was a knight in the Order of Christ and a member of the Counsel of King Sebastian.
ALBUQUERQUE, Luís de, «Aleixo de Sousa, Capitão de Sofala e Vedor da Fazenda da Índia», in Estudos de História, vol. V, Coimbra, Acta Universitatis Conimbrigensis, 1977, pp. 189-201.
CARVALHO, Andreia Martins de, Nuno da Cunha e os Capitães da Índia (1529-1538), Lisboa, FCSH-UNL, 2006, dissertação de mestrado policopiada.
MIRANDA, Susana Münch, A Administração da Fazenda Real no Estado da Índia (1517-1640), Lisboa, UNL-FCSH, 2007, dissertação de doutoramento policopiada.
PELÚCIA, Alexandra, Martim Afonso de Sousa e a sua Linhagem ? A Elite Dirigente do Império Português nos Reinados de D. João III e D. Sebastião, Lisboa, UNL-FCSH, 2007, dissertação de doutoramento policopiada.
Author: Alexandra Pelúcia
Translation: Rosa Simas