MENESES, Dom João Rodrigues de Sá e (1619-1658)
Was the 3rd count of Penaguião and ambassador to London. Born on 4 November 1619, he was the son of Dom Francisco de Sá e Meneses, 2nd count of Penaguião and lord of the bedchamber to King Filipe III, and of Dona Joana de Castro, daughter of João Gonçalves de Ataíde, 4th count of Atouguia. He married his cousin Dona Luísa Maria de Faro, daughter of Dom Luís de Ataíde, 5th count of Atouguia, and Dona Filipa de Vilhena, lady in waiting to Queen Luísa de Gusmão. Among his descendents were Dom Francisco de Sá e Meneses (1st marquis de Fontes, 4th count of Penaguião and lord of the bedchamber to King Afonso VI) and Dom Miguel de Almeida (lord of Sardoal and chief alcaide of Abrantes).
Lord of Sever, Matosinhos, Paiva and Baltar, he was chief alcaide in Porto and in Santiago de Proença. He was awarded the insignias of São Pedro de Faro and of Santiago do Cacém of the Order of Santiago, as well as the insignia of Santiago de Proença of the Order of Christ. He was lord of the bedchamber to King João IV and to Afonso VI, and member of the Counsel of State and War.
In September of 1652 he was appointed special ambassador to London, where he remained for three years. His mission was focused on reaching an accord with the king of Britain in order to surpass the impasse brought on by the previous ambassador Dr. João de Guimarães, who had set up six preliminary articles. On 29 December 1652, Sá e Meneses was successful in adjusting these articles, which led to negotiations for a peace treaty. Originally, Portugal intended to follow the accord of 1642, but Britain made various demands in terms of trade and the rights of British merchants in Portugal, which the Portuguese ended up accepting. However, King João IV was reluctant to accept the negotiations and postponed for one year. Finally, the Treaty of Westminster was signed in 1654. Britain pledged friendship and peace toward Portugal, conditions which were essential to the Portuguese struggle for independence from Spain, while Portugal gave Britain ample commercial and economic privileges. This was the beginning of British supremacy over Portugal and of the position of Britain as the principal alternative to France within the framework of Portuguese Restoration diplomacy. Taken prisoner at the Battle of Badajoz, Sá de Meneses died on 21 October 1658 in Elvas, where he was buried.
FARIA, Ana Maria Homem Leal, O Tempo dos Diplomatas ? estudo sobre o processo de formação da diplomacia moderna portuguesa e o seu contributo na tomada de decisão política (1640/1 ? 1736/50), tese de doutoramento em História Moderna apresentada à Faculdade de Letras da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, 2004; MACHADO, Digo Barbosa, Biblioteca Lusitana, II, Lisboa, pp. 743-744; PRESTAGE, Edgar, As Relações Diplomáticas de Portugal com a França, Inglaterra e Holanda de 1640 a 1668, Coimbra, Impr. da Universidade, 1928; Ministros Portugueses nas cortes estrangeiras no reinado de D. João IV e a sua correspondência, Porto, Tip. da Empresa Literária e Tipográfica, 1915.
Author: Pedro Nobre
Translated by: Rosa Simas