MORENO, Lourenço (1463-?)
Born in Moura, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, in around 1463, Lourenço Moreno, who became famous as the factor of Kochi, entered service in the ducal house of Viseu-Beja at about 20 years of age.
It is natural that this experience motivated him to embark for India in the fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500, in order to occupy an office in the trading station that was to be set up in Calicut, and it is possible that he already held the status of knight of the Royal House by that time.
Lourenço Moreno fell ill on the voyage and was immobilised when the fleet reached Calicut. This prevented him from participating in the fighting that broke out in the city and that stopped the trading station from being established. Ill health was also the reason he was unable to undertake the duties of factor, for which he had been appointed, when the trading station was installed in Kochi, and he ended up filling the post of clerk.
In 1503, when Kochi was under attack from the Samorim troops in Calicut, Lourenço Moreno was a key figure in the city?s military defence. His services were recognised and by a royal decree of 1505 he was promoted to the position of factor of Kochi, and took up office in January, 1506. However, his right to maintain the office was put into question by the viceroy Francisco de Almeida, due to a personal conflict, and Moreno was removed from the post in 1507.
Lourenço Moreno was reinstated as the factor of Kochi, after a stay in Portugal, and returend to Índia in 1510, commanding one of the ships in the Indian Armada. Soon after his arrival he became one of the most prominent opponents of the new governor-general, Afonso de Albuquerque, and his policy of imperial domination, centralised in Goa. Moreno thus became part of the so-called ?Kochi set?, composed of Portuguese officials on the Malabar coast, who wanted Portuguese exploits in India to be associated predominantly with trade.
As a result of this tense climate, there were repeated bouts of antagonism, as each side tried to influence the Portuguese in India and numerous complaints were sent to the Crown. However, even though this resulted in a royal enquiry into Lourenço Moreno?s conduct, in 1513, circumstances never allowed the governor-general to remove the factor of Kochi from office. In fact it was Albuquerque himself who fell victim to his opponents, in India and in the court, and his replacement, and subsequent death, benefited his rival Lourenço Moreno.
Having ended his duties as factor in 1516, Moreno took over the captaincy of the fortress of Kochi, following the death of the former captain, Diogo Mendes de Vasconcelos, and carried out his duties intermittently between 1517 and 1519.
In 1522, Lourenço Moreno returned to Portugal for good, after a long period in the Orient, which had been extremely lucrative for him personally, having been promoted to the status of nobleman of the Royal House and gaining a vast estate, granted by a deed of entailment, in January, 1528.
The last known reference to the former factor of Kochi appears in a royal charter dated 1557, which details the privileges granted to the elderly retired Lourenço Moreno, who, after returning to Portugal, served as treasurer of Coimbra University.
PELÚCIA, Alexandra, ?Lourenço Moreno, uma eminência parda em Cochim?, in Descobridores do Brasil ? Exploradores do Atlântico e Construtores da Índia, João Paulo Oliveira e Costa (coord.), Lisboa, SHIP, 2000, pp. 279-297. GUERREIRO, Inácio e Rodrigues, Vítor, O "grupo de Cochim" e a oposição a Afonso de Albuquerque, S.I.: s.n. 1992.
Author: José Ferreira
Translated by: Kathleen Calado