COUTINHO, Manuel de Sousa
The first-born son of Cristóvão de Sousa, 7th master of Baião, and Dona Maria de Albuquerque, Manuel de Sousa Coutinho was born in the village of Arneiros in Lamego. The heir of the Baião estate would be the second son, Fernão Martins de Sousa, however. Arriving in India at an unknown date, he was the captain of Colombo in 1581 and, under the interim government of Fernão Teles de Meneses, he swore allegiance to King Philip I as king of Portugal. In 1587, under the viceroy Dom Duarte de Meneses, he played a decisive role in ending the siege of Colombo by Raju, king of Sitawaka, who disbanded upon being informed of his presence. During the commemorations of that victory, which took place in Goa in May of 1588, he was at the side of the viceroy Dom Duarte de Meneses and Dom Paulo Pereira de Lima, who was responsible for the pillage of Johor in 1587. After the death of Dom Duarte de Meneses on May 4, 1588, the line of succession fell first to Matias de Albuquerque, bookkeeper to the king. Only after was Manuel de Sousa Coutinho designated governor of Índia. Sworn governor by the captain of Goa, Manuel de Sousa Coutinho was directly opposed by Dom Paulo de Lima Pereira, who had hoped to be successor to Dom Duarte de Meneses. Seeing his hopes dashed, he sailed for Portugal in January of 1589, but died during the voyage off the coast of Cafraria.
Having dispatched ships loaded with spices to Portugal at the beginning of that year, Manuel de Sousa Coutinho decided to send an armada of 20 ships and 900 men to the eastern coast of Africa, under the control of his brother Tomé de Sousa Coutinho, for he knew that the Turk Mir Alibec had left Mecca during the previous summer, with the intent of establishing Turkish rule in the region. Mir Alibec had already combed that coast in 1586 and managed to impose Turkish control, except in Melinde, which had remained loyal to the Portuguese. As a result, a Portuguese squadron was sent to the region. Precisely because of the damage brought on by the expedition led by Martim Afonso de Melo to the region in 1586, local rulers tried to get even with the Portuguese by writing to Mir Alibec. Having reached Melinde in February of 1589, Tomé de Sousa Coutinho received precious information on the Turkish armada, from the captain of that coast, Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos. Armed with detailed information, Tomé de Sousa Coutinho left for Mombaça, where he defeated the Turkish armada led by Mir Alibec, allied to Muzimba, who was then struggling against the Muslims. Soon after this, and due to the deaths of kings who were collaborating with the Muslims, the governor?s brother was able to regain the tribute of these princes to the Portuguese Crown. For this, he would be much applauded at the end of that year in Goa. Having been taken prisoner, Mir Alibec was taken before the governor and sent to Portugal, where he was converted to Christianity and later died.
In 1590, the governor sent spices to Portugal aboard the armada. He also dispatched vessels to combat the queen of Olaha and appointed another armada to retrieve a Mogul ambassador in Chaul, but this mission would confront a squadron from Malabar. After three years, Manuel de Sousa Coutinho turned his title over to the viceroy, Matias de Albuquerque, on May 15, 159l. En route to Portugal in February of 1592, he died in a shipwreck in Cochim, along with his three children by Dona Maria Hespanholim, daughter of Diogo da Silva, captain of Damão. Only one daughter, married to the captain of Baçaim, survived. Influenced by his brother?s expedition to the east coast of Africa, the governance of Manuel de Sousa Coutinho was considered quite positive; information is scant, though, due to the loss of Diogo do Couto?s documentation. Notwithstanding, he was accused of squandering royal funds, but his death would halt the king?s intent to perform an inquest and take possession of his assets.
COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, XI, 1-12, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Maria Vitória Garcia Santos Ferreira, vol. V, Parte 1, cap. VII, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1947. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de Todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.
Autor: Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Rosa Simas