MENEZES, Dom Diogo (?-1580)
Governor of Portuguese India (1576-1578).
The fifth child of Dom Diogo de Menezes, Chief Alcaide of Castelo Branco, and of Dona Cecília de Menezes, Dom Diogo de Menezes was the paternal great great-grandchild of Dom Pedro de Menezes (1350-1437), who had been the famous Ceuta captain and the 1st Earl of Vila Real. From an old and prestigious family, his date of birth is unknown and there is little information available on him, as Diogo do Couto does not even refer to his performance as the governor of Portuguese India. Although he never married, he fathered two children but there is no available information on them. As an overseas soldier, as early as 1564, when Dom Antao de Noronha was nominated, he was indicated in the succession line, in a judicial order issued by the cardinal-infantryman (ANTT, Chronological Corps, I-110-136). In 1569, during the vice-reign of Dom Luis de Ataide, he was appointed Admiral of the Fleet of Malabar, and later on he was sent by the viceroy Dom Antonio de Noronha to rescue the fortress of Chale, which was being defended by Dom Jorge de Castro. Upon his arrival, and unable to defend the fortress because the stronghold had been surrendered, he successfully displaced some of the Portuguese people from the fortress and attacked a local fort, that of the Sultan of Bijapur. As a Member of the Royal Council, in 1576 he was appointed the Governor of Portuguese India, via the succession document that the viceroy Rui Lourenco de Tavora, who had passed away in Mozambique, had brought from the Kingdom. Prior to his nomination he had been the Captain of Ormuz.
He started his governance in September 1576 with the usual dispatches of the fleets to various locations in Asia. All that is known relating to the year of 1577 is that the captains sailing the North route, Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, Dom Diogo and Dom Antonio da Silveira (siblings) and Francisco Pessoa, were the victims of a trap laid out by the Tax Collector Officer of Dabul, who was in charge of collecting the taxes paid by Indian farmers, and who was able to kill the last three. When Dom Jeronimo managed to return to Goa with this news, the year was coming to an end and a great armada was arriving from the Kingdom, in which was Matias de Albuquerque, who had been appointed with the captaincy of Malaca. Although Faria e Sousa says that India really needed this armada, he does not mention anything else regarding its later employment, except that, in 1578, the governor sent Dom Pedro de Menezes to assault the carrack ships coming from Mecca and that were sailing through the maritime domains of the sultan of Bijapur. After an easy battle, he succeeded in destroying the carrack ships of the enemy, and nothing else is known on this Indian government. On 31st August 1578, Dom Diogo de Meneses handed over the government to the prestigious Dom Luis de Ataide, 3rd Earl of Atouguia, who had been named viceroy for the second time.
Once he returned to the Kingdom, after he had governed for two years, he was appointed by the governors of the Kingdom, in 1579, as the Provincial Governor of Alentejo, and he became the Army General in Chief of Dom Antonio, Prior of Crato?s forces, who was attempting to prevent the entrance of the Spanish king Philip II into Portuguese territory. He tried to defend Cascais, with 4.000 men and 400 horsemen, from the attack of the Duke of Alba, but to no avail, as he ended up with his throat cut on 2nd August 1580.
LAGARTO, Mariana, ?D. Diogo de Menezes? in Dicionário de História dos Descobrimentos Portuguesas, direcção de Luís de Albuquerque, Círculo de Leitores, s.l., 2004, p. 725. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Manuel Burquets, vol. IV, Parte 1, cap. XV, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de Todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.
Author: Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Joaquina Rooke