Anthroponyms seta BARRETO, António Moniz (1520-1600)

Governor of Portuguese India (1573-1576).

Born in the 1520s (in an uncertain year), he was the son of Henrique Moniz Barreto, Chief Alcaide of Silves, and of Dona Maria de Mendonça, daughter of João de Mendonça, The Dogfish, Chief Alcaide of Chaves. António Moniz Barreto was the third child of an offspring of eight. In 1529, still a boy, he left for India in the company of his father and of his oldest brother, Aires Moniz, but he soon became an orphan. In spite of this, he succeeded in building an ample military career in India, especially during the 1550s. He first stood out in the second siege of Diu as well as in the expeditions to Ceylon, during the viceroyalty of João de Castro. After that he returned to Portugal, but in 1552 he was back in the region, as he held the post of Captain of Bassein, which gave him high repute. In 1553, he embarked in the Malabar campaigns, organised by the Viceroy Afonso de Noronha, and during Francisco Barreto?s rule, in 1556, he took possession of Assarim, in the vicinity of Bassein, and conquered Monora. During the viceroyalty of Constantino de Bragança, in 1559, he took part in the capture of Daman, and defeated one of the enemy generals. He returned to the Realm once again, and probably married then Dona Ana da Costa, daughter of Duarte da Costa, 2nd Governor of Brazil. From this marriage a vast offspring of seven ensued, among whom the first-born son, Afonso Teles Barreto, Knight Commander of Masca, and the third son, Duarte Moniz, captain of Ormuz, earned a public standing. On 12 March 1571, King Sebastian appointed him Governor of Malacca, in the context of the division of Estado da India into three separate political areas. He arrived in India on 6 December, in the company of Viceroy António de Noronha. The Portuguese India was at the time under severe attacks (the political-military crisis of 1565-1575), and after having received merely 400 of the 2000 men who were expected to reinforce his army, he had a disagreement with the Viceroy, and refused to leave Goa without the reinforcements that he considered himself entitled to get. The Viceroy did not counteract the offence, and António Moniz Barreto wrote a series of letters to the Realm with accusations against the Viceroy, which led to the latter?s dismissal and his replacement by the accuser. This episode has cast a shadow upon the later years of his rule.

António Moniz Barreto made his debut as ruler on 13 December 1573. His first governmental act was the attempt to appoint Leoniz Pereira for the captaincy of Mallacca, followed by the appointment of António de Menezes Cantanhede as captain of a voyage to Canara, meant to supply rice to Goa. Leoniz Pereira refused the appointment on the grounds that insufficient military reinforcements had been granted to him. The appointment was a pressing engagement because Malacca had been under attack by the Queen of Japarra?s forces for three months, since the early days of 1574. The siege only came to an end due to Tristão Vaz da Veiga?s willingness to use his resources to rescue the city. But the Javanese were not vanquished without significant losses on the Portuguese side. In order to assist in the defence of Malacca, the Governor summoned the municipality of Goa and asked for a loan of 20,000 pardaus, but the demand was not accepted until the ruler gave his third son, Duarte Moniz, aged eight, in pledge. Even so, the Governor?s assistance came tardily, as it would only arrive at the end of 1575. After the Governor had summoned and presided over some Council meetings, several merchant and war fleets were dispatched. One in particular is worth mentioning, as it carried, by order of the King, Duarte de Menezes (in the capacity of captain of Ormuz), and a royal emissary to the Persian court. The most controversial fact of the year was, however, the execution of Dom Jorge de Castro, the captain who had delivered the fortress of Chale to the forces of the Zamorin of Calicut. The order was issued by the Realm and sent on via the 1574 fleet. Later on, the alleged injustice of the decision was compared to the connivance of Gonçalo Pereira Marramaque in the murder of the King of Ternate, an act which met with a much milder punishment. This would become one of the arguments behind the harsh assessment of António Moniz Barreto?s rule.

The disturbance in Malacca would persist into 1575. The Sultan of Achin laid siege to the city in the first months of the year, in a joint action with the Queen of Japarra meant to oust the Portuguese from that stronghold. After a naval battle in which Fernão de Palhares and Bernardim da Silva (who had both been tasked with bringing supplies to the fortress) died, the siege was raised by the victorious enemy army. The Governor?s assistance would arrive tardily, after the siege had been raised, and after the captain of the fortress, Tristão Vaz da Veiga, had excessively wasted his resources. In India, the governor received a diplomatic mission from the Great Mughal. There was a clear purpose of renewing the peace established during the rule of Viceroy Dom António de Noronha as well as a strong commitment in settling the Henrique de Menezes affair, who remained a prisoner in the court of the Sultan of Bijapur, with other Portuguese captives, since the war. In the meantime, Dom João da Costa, admiral of the Malabar seas, was inflicting great damage upon the interests of the Zamorin of Calicut, by attacking the king of Tolar and by causing the death in combat of the Zamorin?s heir. Dom João da Costa was guided by a desire to avenge the capture of Chale by that sovereign. However, the most remarkable event of the year was the definite loss of the Portuguese fortress in Ternate, which fell into the hands of the King of that island, son of the monarch who had been killed by the Portuguese some years before. Even the assistance that came from Sancho de Vasconcelos and his influence near the king of Ujantana, who then formed an alliance with the King of Ternate, proved insufficient to prevent the Portuguese from losing the fortress. Shortly after, the island of Amboina was attacked by the forces of the King of Ternate, but Sancho de Vasconcelos succeeded in maintaining the Portuguese sovereignty in the region, in spite of the attempts at murder that he suffered.

Not much is known of the last year of António Moniz Barreto?s rule, except in what concerns the arrival of the 1576 royal fleet, consisting of four carracks. However, one should bear in mind that his rule was in part coincidental with the activity of Vasco Fernandes Homem in Mozambique. In September 1576, António Moniz Barreto rendered the government to Dom Diogo de Menezes, appointed according to the vias de sucessão [1], and not to the Viceroy appointed by the King, Rui Lourenço de Távora, who had died in Mozambique, in the course of the voyage to India. There are grounds to believe that the government, which lasted two years and almost nine months, came to an end in part due to the opposition of Dom Leoniz Pereira, who wrote a series of letters to King Sebastian, inciting the monarch to remove the Governor from office. Back in Portugal, he died in 1600. He was a member of the Royal Council and a Knight in the Order of Christ.

The rule of António Moniz Barreto was for some time portrayed in despotic and tyrannical colours, given the way he raised to the government of Estado da Índia. In spite of his military accomplishments, he failed to rank high in political matters, according to the judgement of his contemporaries. Yet, it was during his rule that the threats that endangered Estado da Índia completely vanished.

[1] Royal document with the name of the person who was to succeed to the Governor in case of death, impediment or return to Portugal of the one holding the post.

COUTO, Diogo do, Da Ásia, IX, sem livro, 18 e 24-32, Lisboa, Lisboa, Livraria San Carlos, 1974. MARQUES, João Pedro, ?António Moniz Barreto? in Dicionário de História dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, dir. Luís de Albuquerque, vol. I, s.l., Caminho, 1994, pp. 122-123. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, tradução de Manuel Burquets, vol. IV, Parte 1, cap. XIV, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1945. LEMOS, Jorge de, ?História dos Cercos de Malaca? in Textos sobre o Estado da Índia, comentários de Luís de Albuquerque, Lisboa, Publicações Alfa (Biblioteca da Expansão Portuguesa), 1989, pp. 79-127. THOMAZ, Luís Filipe, A Crise de 1565-1575 na História do Estado da Índia, separata da revista Mare Liberum, nº9, s.l., 1995, CNCDO, pp. 481-519. ZÚQUETE, Afonso, Tratado de Todos os Vice-Reis e Governadores da Índia, Lisboa, Editorial Enciclopédia, 1962.

Author:Nuno Vila-Santa
Translated by: Leonor Sampaio da Silva.

  Enviar a um amigo Send To Friend Imprimir Print