CÂMARA, D. Francisco Manuel de Melo da (?-1678)
Ambassador to London and The Hague, was the son of Dom Gomes de Melo, provincial governor and commendator of São Pedro da Viega of Lila and of São Mamede of Mogadouro, and of Dona Marinha of Portugal, heiress to Nuno Cardoso Homen de Vasconcelos, lord of Taipa and of Folhadal and Paramos and provincial governor of Lamego. He was the cousin of Don Francisco Manuel de Melo, son of the countess of Penalva, lady in waiting to Queen Catarina.
He was chief alcaide of Lamego and chief carver for Prince Pedro. He was lord of the town of Silvam and, like his father, commendator of São Pedro da Viega of Lila, and also of São Martinho de Ranhados, São Miguel de Linhares and Santa Maria da Torre, all of the Order of Christ, for which he was knighted. In 1662, he accompanied Infanta Dona Catarina on her voyage to the British Kingdom to wed Charles II, and remained as her chief attendant.
From 1663-67, he was ambassador to London, taking the place of the Marquis de Sande, who went to France to negotiate the marriage of King Afonso VI to a French Infanta. In London, he proceeded with the business at hand, which included negotiations concerning the concession of Bombay and the search for an alliance with the United Provinces and the United Kingdom. He was also involved in the peace process with the Spanish Crown, by means of the mediation of the British, although the conciliation he purported was not attained.
In 1667, he left London and went to The Hague, where he assumed the position of ambassador for three years, at a time when the kingdom of Portugal was threatened by the rekindling of its conflict with the United Provinces. Francisco de Melo?s mission was to reach an understanding with Holland. The crux of the conflict revolved around the territories of Cochin and Cannanore, the lack of payment by Portugal according to the agreement of 1661, and the complaints of Holland because of this. The negotiations were very difficult, but culminated in the treaty of 30 July 1669, which put an end to the long dispute between the two countries. The Dutch were allowed to maintain the areas they had taken from the Portuguese in India, and were given privileges in the salt trade in Setubal.
In 1671, he was sent to London again, as an auxiliary ambassador, a post that he occupied until his death on 9 August 1678.
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. 200; PRESTAGE, Edgar, As Relações Diplomáticas de Portugal com a França, Inglaterra e Holanda de 1640 a 1668, Coimbra, Impr. da Universidade, 1928.
Author: Pedro Nobre
Translated by: Rosa Simas