MACEDO, António de Sousa de (1606-1682)
Minister resident in London and Secretary of State to King Afonso VI.
Brought up in the town of Amarante, António de Sousa de Macedo was born in the city of Porto in 1606, and died in 1682, aged 76. He was buried in the Franciscan convent of Nossa Senhora de Jesus.
He descended from noble families (his father, Gonçalo de Sousa de Macedo was a nobleman of the royal household, a crown court judge and head treasurer of the realm), he received a Jesuit education, in the College of Santo Antão. He then graduated in Civil Law and was a lawyer in Coimbra for a short period, before following the career of magistrate, and in Lisbon followed the same career as his father, as high court judge of the grievances of the Casa de Suplicação (the Supreme Court), from 1646 onwards. He was also counsellor of the treasury, judge of the justifications of the realm and a member of the Inquisition. He married Maria le Mercier, daughter of João le Mercier ? from the district of Hainaut (Belgium), and of Ana de Bois.
In 1641, he was the secretary accompanying the first Portuguese embassy mission to London after the Restoration. At the end of this mission, in 1642, he remained in the English capital for four years, as resident minister, a representative of lower rank, basically the permanent substitute for the regular ambassador. During the 17th century diplomatic activity between states increased significantly, both due to the climate of religious antagonism and the political and commercial rivalry that was spreading throughout Europe at the time. After the Restoration, the activity of the Portuguese diplomats became increasingly important, as they were responsible for making the new dynasty better known and legitimised by the other powers, assuming a key role in the future of the crown.
With the mission to London, the Portuguese hoped to obtain English recognition and English neutrality in the Iberian conflict, as well as the confirmation of the truces in India, celebrated in 1635 between the Portuguese Viceroy and the governor of the East India Company. It was the best they could hope for, given that they did not receive any military aid due to friendly Anglo-Spanish relations.
The negotiations lasted some months, as at the same time, news arrived from London that, through the Luso-Dutch treaty of 1641, huge concessions had been granted to the Dutch in overseas territories; they gave more privileges to the Dutch than those obtained by the English in the 1635 treaty. So the English began to demand that they be given the same privileges, thus prolonging negotiations. Once these claims had been accepted, the treaty was signed on 29th January, 1642, whereby the English recognised that there had been a change in the political situation, although this did not mean that they recognised the Restoration.
After the signing of the 1642 treaty, the Portuguese diplomatic representatives followed different paths, and Dr. António de Sousa Macedo stayed on in London for four more years as resident minister.
His residence coincided with a great domestic unrest in England, marked by the civil war which opposed the supporters of Parliament and Charles I and his followers, the latter being supported by the Portuguese crown. Maintaining regular contact with the English king, António de Sousa de Macedo (together with the temporary Portuguese ambassador in Holland, Andrade de Leitão) tried to purchase arms in the Netherlands and secretly supply them to Charles I. Furthermore, he acted as go-between between Charles and Queen Henrietta Stuart (who was seeking support from the Netherlands and France), which placed the Portuguese minister in constant danger.
In fact, when, in mid 1645, the parliamentarians invaded the king?s study and analysed his correspondence, Sousa de Macedo?s position towards parliament weakened.
António de Sousa de Macedo operated at various levels. At the end of 1644, he tried to promote the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, with one of the Portuguese princesses, which failed to materialise (despite the apparent receptivity of the English) due to the heightening of the internal conflict in the country. At another level, he sought for Charles I?s mediation with Spain in order to free the Infant Prince Dom Duarte (the brother of King João IV, imprisoned by the Castilians in Milan), offering a reward of 50 thousand pounds. The deal was accepted by the English monarch but did not meet with the success hoped for. He also strove for the appointment of an English ambassador in Lisbon, which was achieved in the last quarter of 1645, with the appointment of Henry Compton, and was an important conquest in the legitimisation process of the new dynasty.
Furthermore, Sousa de Macedo had to intervene in parliament on several occasions to prevent English expeditions from leaving for the north of Brazil. He returned to Lisbon in the middle of 1646, after a four year stay (the normal period of residence was three years), mainly due to pressure and antagonism from the English party in power, and also due to the lack of more pressing affairs calling for his presence.
He failed in his attempts to establish an alliance with France and England against Castile, and to make King João IV, together with Louis XIV, mediator between Charles I and parliament; neither did he succeed in freeing D. Duarte. Nevertheless, he helped to strengthen relations between the two crowns and to send an English ambassador to Lisbon. His commitment to aiding the English king was later recognised by Charles II, who, on 28th June 1661, graced Sousa de Macedo?s son (and heirs), Luís Gonçalo de Sousa de Macedo, with the title of baron of Mullingar, in Ireland.
After four years, he continued his diplomatic career, as ambassador to Holland, in 1650-1651.
He was not officially received in the Hague for the first five months, neither was he given immunity, which was common practice for foreign diplomats, because at the time the Portuguese crown was blamed for supporting the revolt against Dutch control of Pernambuco, which would finally cease in 1654. At the same time, the Dutch were preparing a fleet to operate in Europe and America to aid the Dutch West Indies Company, thus trying to exert pressure on the Portuguese ambassador to accept the Dutch proposal for the Company to be restored in Brazilian territory. António de Sousa de Macedo was received by the Dutch authorities at the beginning of March, 1651, and throughout that month he was involved in long negotiations for a peace pact. Through this pact, the Dutch proposed the restitution of S.Tomé and the territories in Brazil, as well as the Control of the Dutch East Indies Company over the African coastal zone, between Cape Lopez and the Cuanza River, south of the equator; furthermore, they asked for the delivery of cattle and ten thousand boxes of sugar per year during a ten year period as compensation for the losses suffered by their Company.
The counter-proposal of the Portuguese ambassador was the refusal to give back the territories in Brazil, compensated by the payment of 8 million to the Company, 8000,000 pounds ti«o the orphans of Zeeland, free trade rights in Brazil and a salt contract with Setubal, one of the former goals of the Dutch. As they were unable to reach an understanding, and as the Dutch knew that the crown had given António de Sousa de Macedo the power to give back the Brazilian territories, on 25th March, departing for Hamburg on 12th May, then returning to Portugal, thus terminating his embassy.
When Afonso VI ascended to the throne in June, 1662, Sousa de Macedo was appointed secretary of state, substituting Pedro Vieira da Silva. Castelo-Melhor honoured him with the orders of S. Tiago de Souzelas, in the Order of Christ, and of Santa Eufémia of Penela, the Order of Aviz, and later he was made military commander (alcaide-mor) of Freixo de Numão. Together with the office of governor of Castelo-Melhor, he undertook the position of director and editor of the newspaper Mercúrio Portuguez, which was issued from 1663-1666 and dealt with the Portuguese restoration.
His period of administration came to an end following a disagreement with the queen, Maria Francisca. He was forced to spend a brief period in exile, but was later readmitted to the administration of the Crown. However, continued pressure from the queen and the infant prince Pedro resulted in his definitive removal, on 5th October, 1667.
As well as a statesman and diplomat, he had a broad cultural background and wrote works ranging from poetry and philosophy to politics, the most important of which are: Flores de España, Excelencias de Portugal (1631); Genealogia Regum Lusitaniæ (1643); Lusitana Liberata (1645) ? in which he defends the right of D. João VI to the Portuguese throne, also describing the events of the Restauration; Armonia Politica (1651); Mercurios Portuguezes (Janeiro 1663-Dezembro 1666); Eva e Ave, or Maria triumphante (1676).
Dicionário de História de Portugal, dir. Joel Serrão, Porto, Figueirinhas, vol. IV, 1984-2000, pp. 112-113. MACEDO, António de Sousa de, D. Afonso VI, intr. de Euardo Brazão, Porto, Civilização, 1940. PRESTAGE, Edgar, O Dr. António de Sousa de Macedo: Residente de Portugal em Londres, 1642-46, Lisboa, 1916. IDEM, 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: Kathleen Calado