GAMA, D. Francisco da (1565-1632)
Viceroy of India (1597-1600; 1622-1628) and 4th Count of Vidigueira.
Born in 1565, Dom Francisco da Gama was the second son of Dom Vasco da Gama, 3rd Count of Vidigueira, and Dona Maria de Ataide, sixth daughter of Dom Antonio de Ataide, 1st Count of Castanheira. On his father?s side, he was the grandson of the famous Admiral Dom Vasco da Gama who arrived in India in 1498 and was the 1st Count of that House. From his many brothers and sisters stand out Dom Luis da Gama, who accompanied him to India on his first viceroyalty, Dom Joao da Gama, bishop of Miranda, and several sisters who became nuns at the Convent of Castanheira, due to their connection to the House. At the age of thirteen, Dom Francisco da Gama went along with his father to Alcazarquivir, where the latter died and he became a prisoner. Managing to return to the kingdom, he was confirmed as the 4th Count of Vidigueira in 1583. Shortly after that, even before being appointed for his first Indian viceroyalty, Dom Francisco da Gama got married to Dona Maria de Vilhena, daughter of Viceroy Dom Duarte de Menezes, and fathered two children: Dom Vasco da Gama and Dona Maria de Vilhena who married the 4th Count of Castanheira, Dom Joao de Ataide, thus strengthening the bonds between the two Houses. Appointed Viceroy of India by Dom Filipe I, in a letter dated from 2 December 1595, he only left Lisbon on 10 April 1596. He spent the winter with his ship in port in Mozambique and then he sailed to Goa where he arrived on 22 May 1597. His nomination was made after the king realized that Dom Fernando de Noronha, 3rd Count of Linhares, was not fit to leave for India, due to health problems.
From the beginning, Manuel de Faria e Sousa refers to the intentions of power and conceit with which the Count would have left for India, referring that he started his ruling by granting rewards to the wrong people, which he had to revoke shortly after. Anyhow, his first viceroyalty was definitely marked by the Ceylon disputes. Shortly after his arrival, the king of Candia, allied to the king of Uva, took advantage of the truce endorsed by the arms of Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo, and decided to lay a siege on the fort of Corvite which was defended by Salvador Pereira da Silva, its captain. The battles in Ceylon lasted the whole summer; meanwhile, there was the rebellion of a certain Simao Rodrigues, who had proclaimed himself king of Sitawaka. However, the most decisive event of that year, which coincided with the arrival of the new Viceroy, was the death of the king of Kotte, Dom Joao Parea Pandar, who in his will had left his kingdom to Dom Filipe I. In September, with the arrival of the first Dutch ships to the seas of Asia, the Viceroy summoned a council which decided to send a fleet after the Dutch carrack ships. At the end of the year, a fleet from the kingdom arrived with 3 carrack ships, but one of them burned up, what was seen as a bad omen for the Count?s government. In the beginning of the following year, the Viceroy sent a fleet for the north and another for Malabar, with the goal of fighting the pirate Cunhale who had first been a subject of the Zamurin of Calicut, but who since the former viceroyalty, had been causing severe damage to the ships of that sovereign and to the Portuguese, what led to an alliance between both rulers. Dom Francisco da Gama gave the command of the fleet to his brother, Dom Luis da Gama, what brought him new opponents. During the summer, the war continued, after the Zamurin was convinced to take part in the expedition. After some fights in which Luis da Silva, commander of the northern fleet, died, and after the pillage of an island in Ceylon that supplied provisions to Cunhale, the sovereign of Candia proceeded with the war, leading Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo to intervene decisively in the dispute. Meanwhile, the fleet sent by the Viceroy to fight the Dutch, confronted them and caused them to run for Kedah, after some ships were sunk. During 1599, the siege on the fortress of Cunhale continued, but now with the support of the Zamurin?s forces. Even so, every time the latter wanted to negotiate with the Portuguese, he was forced to deliver some hostages. In spite of the reinforcements sent from Kochi, and of an action from the king of that city to conjure the Portuguese alliance with the Zamurin on that siege, Dom Luis da Gama failed the attack in May, despite killing several of Cunhale?s relatives. Retreating to Goa, Dom Francisco da Gama ordered him to return to the siege and wait for the fleet?s summer reinforcements. Dom Luis obeyed, but the Viceroy?s authority did not come out unblemished. In the following year, the spirits got even more disturbed when Dom Luis da Gama was appointed to the captaincy of Ormuz, after a clear victory of Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo over the king of Candia, the gathering of a Province Council in Diampur, and the win over Cunhale due to the decisive intervention of Andre Furtado de Mendonça (sent by the king). Such a decision by Dom Francisco, who was only obeying royal orders, was badly accepted by his adversaries who considered that a prize was being given to an officer who was unworthy of such an important captaincy. The victory over Cunhale, in 1600, was only possible with the reinforcements of the fleet from the kingdom, which had arrived in 1599. Once Cunhale and the fortress were captured, a big argument started over what should be done with him. Some noblemen argued that Andre Furtado de Mendonça should take him directly to Goa, but what ended up happening was the dispatch of a crime judge by Dom Francisco da Gama. The judge brought Cunhale to Goa with the argument that the Viceroy did not want him killed. This action brought new opposition to the Viceroy, due to the prestige of Andre Furtado de Mendonça, and it was followed by the sentencing to death of Cunhale and his family. By the end of the year, the fleet of the kingdom came into port, and on board came Aires do Saldanha, who had been appointed Viceroy, allegedly as a way to overthrow the Count of Vidigueira from the government of India, due to his bad performance. For the bad image with which Dom Francisco da Gama left his first viceroyalty also contributed the fact that it was under his rule that the Viceroy?s Arch was built in Goa, existing also an attempt to build a statue of Dom Vasco da Gama. Manuel de Faria e Sousa depicts Dom Francisco da Gama as ?the one person with that position that left it with the least decorum?; however, this portrayal is mitigated by other sources, namely by Diogo do Couto who interprets his authoritative tendencies as his wish to put an end to the ?disorder? that spread through India. Leaving India on 25 December 1600, after the destruction of Dom Vasco da Gama?s statue by his opponents, Dom Francisco da Gama was appointed president of the Council of India where he ruled until his next nomination as Viceroy. Distraught by the way he was seen in India, Dom Francisco always tried to return for a second chance to clean his name and reputation. He would be granted a second nomination, but for that he had to wait until the reign of Dom Filipe III of Portugal, as Dom Filipe II of Portugal never appointed him. It was during his return to Portugal that he married for the second time to Dona Leonor Coutinho, daughter of Rui Lourenço de Tavora, in 1606. From this marriage, a vast offspring was born, from which stand out the birth of several daughters and of the heir to the House, Dom Vasco Luis da Gama, who in 1646, due to services to king Dom Joao IV, was promoted to Marquis of Nisa. On the feminine side, the highlights go the several noble marriages, except for Dona Teresa. On 22 January 1622, Dom Francisco da Gama was appointed Viceroy, the first one during the reign of Dom Filipe III of Portugal. Manuel de Faria e Sousa mentions that this happened due to a strong pressure on the part of the nominee. He left from the Tagus River on 18 March and arrived in India on 19 December 1622, where he substituted Governor Fernao de Albuquerque. Arriving in Goa, shortly after the news of the fall of Ormuz at the hands of the Anglo ? Persian alliance in that year, he immediately committed himself to punishing the responsible for that loss, as demanded by the people of Goa. Gonçalo de Sequeira had been sent to aid Ormuz, but as he arrived too late, he went on to the fortress of Muscat (1623). In that same year, the Viceroy dispatched Constantino de Sa to help him on that mission, as well as Rui Freire de Andrade to seize enemy ships in the Persian Gulf. On board the fleet that arrived from the kingdom, under the command of Dom Antonio Telo, came Dom Filipe Mascarenhas. That happened around the time when the sovereigns of Malindi and Mombasa converted to Christianity. Only the reinforcements of the kingdom?s fleet (1624) allowed the Viceroy to send its captain, Nuno Alvares Botelho, in the pursuit of the English and Dutch ships that had been causing so much damage to the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf. On that same place, the fights continued, under the command of Rui Freire de Andrade. The battles with the English and Dutch fleets lasted for many years, in different stages, in other backgrounds, with many deaths on both sides, but they finally ended with a Portuguese victory. Of the years between 1625 and 1628 little is known, except that the fight of those two Portuguese captains against the Dutch and the English successfully continued. There were also other events: the discovery of Tibet; and the decision to build a fortress by Macau?s harbour. Dom Francisco Mascarenhas, governor of Macau, predicting the Dutch blockades to the city?s harbour, decided to build a fortress, something which was not welcome by the Chinese. The blockade to Macau seems to have happened in 1627, simultaneously to a siege on Malacca by the forces of Aceh, which was broken by Dom Francisco Coutinho. As for the fleets that arrived from the kingdom during those years, Manuel de Faria e Sousa persistently refers that the Viceroy could not rely on them, due to the many shipwrecks and to the loss of many crafts in battles against the enemies of the State of India. In March 1628, the Viceroy ordered succession lines to be open, and delivered the government to the bishop of Kochi. Then, he left India, maybe being more hated than the first time, as all his possessions were confiscated. The confiscation was made by the Inquisition of Goa which also seized all his correspondence. Dom Francisco da Gama was a member of the Council of State since 1621, a Gentleman of the Chamber of King Filipe III of Portugal, and president of the Council of India. He died in June 1632, in Oropeza, when heading to Madrid to see the king and justify his actions. He was buried in 1640 at the main altar of Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Reliquias, in Vidigueira. Both his viceroyalties were highly controversial, as confirmed by the sources.
ALVES, José, ?Francisco da Gama? in Dicionário de História dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, dir. Luís de Albuquerque, vol. I, s.l., Caminho, 1994, p. 448. COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, XII, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Maria Vitória Garcia Santos Ferreira, vol. V, Parte 2, caps. I-V, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1947. IDEM, vol. VI, Parte 4, caps. I-II. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de Todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.
Author: Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Marília Pavão