NORONHA, D. Miguel de (1585-1647)
4th Earl of Linhares: Viceroy of India (1629-1635).
Born around 1585, he was the second child of Dom Afonso de Noronha and of Dona Arcângela Maria de Portugal. His father had been appointed Viceroy of India in 1619 to be the successor of Dom João Coutinho, 5th Earl of Redondo but he died during the journey, in 1619. His paternal great-grandfather, also named named Afonso, like his father, had been a Viceroy of India too, between 1550 e 1554. His mother?s family were the lords of Vila Verde de Francos, Dom Pedro de Noronha (c. 1520-1578) being the 6th lord of that House daquela Casa, dead in Alcácer-Quibir. His only sister, Dona Joana de Noronha, got married to the 1st Marquis of Caracena, Luís Carrilo (1564-1626). Born into a family with a long tradition of service to the Crown, Dom Miguel de Noronha ascended in rank when his cousin in third degree, Dom Fernando de Noronha, 3rd Earl of Linhares (c. 1540-1608), also appointed to serve in India in 1597 as the successor of Matias de Albuquerque (a post he never took due to health problems) died without leaving an heir. Having been nominated by letter his cousin?s heir, Dom Miguel became the 4th Earl of Linhares, after the Crown ratified the will. He married Dona Inácia de Meneses e Vasconcelos, daughter of the Chief Alcaide of Viseu, Dom Pedro de Meneses, and of Dona Maria de Vasconcelos, had had a vast offspring of nine. His heir, Dom Fernando de Noronha, would receive the title of Duke of Linhares, upon his father?s death. His third son, Dom Jerónimo de Noronha, was the 1st Earl of Castelo Mendo, and his daughters Dona Maria Arcângela de Portugal and Dona Maria António de Vasconcelos e Meneses, would become the wives of two aristocrats: the 2nd Earl of São João da Pesqueira, António Luís de Távora, and Dom Rodrigo Lobo da Silveira, 1st Earl of Sarzedas, Viceroy of India between 1655 e 1656. Some of his other daughters would become nuns and join monasteries in Lisbon and Madrid. A member of the Royal Council, and Lord of Fornos de Algodres, Gestaçô and Pena Verde, Knight Commander of Noudar and Barrancos, in the Order of Avis, besides chief Alcaide of Viseu, Dom Miguel de Noronha began his career in the North of Africa: in the captaincy of Ceuta (1602-1603) and twice in that of Tangier, the first time between 1610 and 1614, and the second time between 1624 and 1628, he held the post of governor general. Designated Viceroy of India by royal decree of 17 February 1629, due to his aristocratic and military prestige as well as to counterbalance the fact that his father hadn?t enjoyed his appointment, he left the Tagus on 3 April and put into port in Goa on 21 October. Gonçalo Pinto da Fonseca and Dom Lourenço da Cunha, provisional rulers since July, (with Nuno Álvares Botelho) handed over power to him, upon his arrival. Dom Miguel had travelled to India not only in the company of his son, Dom Fernando de Noronha, but also of his secretary, Pêro Barreto de Resende, of the choronicler António Bocarro, and also of the Castilian Dom Domingo de Toral y Valdez.
The Viceroy?s first known decision was to send help to Nuno Álvares Botelho who, still acting as governor, had run to the aid of Malacca, besieged by the forces of Achin, since June 1629. Dom Miguel not only sent all the help the captain had asked for as he also treated him as if he were a governor till the day he died. But the problems affecting India would soon become a major concern for the Viceroy, who pushed aside the affairs related to the Malay archipedago. In Ceylon, the process that would lead to the expulsion of the Portuguese in 1658 was about to begin. In 1630, the general who had featured the conquest, Constantino de Sá e Noronha, was killed in battle against the King of Kandy, with whom hostilities had been resumed after that king had broken the peace agreement. The Portuguese captain set the city of Kandy aflame in 1629, but after his death that sovereign made an alliance with the Kings of Matale and Uva, and laid siege to the fortress of Colombo, which Constantino had left without garrison. Lançarote Seixas, the captain who replaced Constatino de Sá in office, had a hard time in opposing the attack until the arrival of António de Sousa, who had been sent by the Viceroy with reinforcements. Only Dom Filipe Mascarenhas, captain of Cochin, had provided timely help to Colombo.About the same time, Diogo da Fonseca received orders from Dom Miguel de Noronha to go to Cambolin and to erect there a fortress by suggestion of the inhabitants of the region. In Mozambique, the death of the captain Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira inspired the enemies of the Christian emperor of the Monomotapa to launch and to succeed in an attack against the Portuguses. In this context, only by the end of the year could Dom Miguel de Noronha designate the nephew of the first Viceroy of India, Dom Jorge de Almeida, general of an army tasked with conquering Ceylon.
The years of 1631 and 1632 were undoubtedly the most troublesome and problematic ones in this vicereign. Even so, Dom Miguel considered the possibilty of recapturing Ormuz early in 1631. For that purpose, he sent the fleet of the Castilian Dom Domingos de Toral y Valdez to collect information about the city and to pass it on to Rui Freire de Andrade. As the time wasn?t ripe to carry on the project, new lines of action were taken: the fortification of Muscat and the building of a fort at Julfar, in support of pearl-fishery activities. In April, more fights with the Dutch in Nagapattinam, as well as the unrest in Ceylon, and the latest events of Mombasa called the Viceroy?s attention. In August 1631, the captain of Mombasa, Pedro Leitão de Gâmboa, was murdered by the king of that town, in revenge for the death of the sovreign?s father at the hands of Simão de Melo Pereira, during the vicereign of Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo. After the captain?s death, the king, who had been baptised, not only renounced the Christian faith, as he also persecuted and killed several Portuguese and destroyed some churches. To make things worse, some other local kings joined him in the persecution of the Portuguese. Though this situation was to be expected, Dom Miguel de Noronha only tradily knew of these events and became aware of the pressing need of Mombasa for reinforcements. He sent there Dom Francisco de Moura (as captain), his own son, Dom Fernando de Noronha, Dom Domingos de Toral y Valdez, and the appointed captain of Mombasa, Pedro Rodrigues Botelho. This force met with reinforcements from Muscat, Chaul and Bassein, and the fights started in January 1632, but Dom Francisco de Moura was forced to return to Goa in order to get a larger military contingent, and left with most of the available men and resources for the region. When he arrived there, Mombasa was on the verge of perishing with hunger, but managed to escape this fate. The king of Mombasa departed for Arabia. The town would eventually be taken by Pedro Rodrigues Botelho, but the whole affair raised criticism at Goa, with Dom Miguel being held responsible for a failed expedition. The opposition he had to face would not be overcome until Dom Domingos de Toral y Valdez took full responsibility for the events. For this reason he was arrested and died in prison. Yet 1632 had just begun and would prove to be a very eventful year: the fleet that sailed towards China was seized by the Dutch, while in Japan persecution to Catholics went on, and, in Ethiopia, the emperor?s decrees and conversion to the Christian faith aroused strong opposition and turmoil. The disorders provided the grounds for the expulsion of the Portuguese from that kingdom in 1634 by the following Emperor. Before running to the assistance of Ceylon, as he intended to, the Viceroy had to take measures in order to hold back famine in all India, caused by the war between the Mughal Empire and the Sultan of Bijapur. It is, by the way, in this light that one should understand the Mughal capture of Hooghly, in 1632. In Ceylon, the siege went on and was further aggravated by the mishaps that delayed Dom Jorge de Almeida, who was unable to arrive before October 1631.The King of Kandy raised the siege and retired as soon as he heard the news of Dom Jorge?s imminent arrival. The Portuguese pursued the enemy and, after heavy casualties on both sides, pillage and invasion of towns, the enemy requested a peace settlement. Dom Jorge de Almeida sent an embassy to Goa and peace was confirmed by the Viceroy. However, the death of Dom Jorge encouraged the King of Kandy to reconsider his peace offer and he forced the new Portuguese general, Diogo de Melo Coutinho, to attack his territories. Another attempt at peace was fruitful, and a period of truce in Ceylon ensued. In spite of this, an alliance between the Dutch and Kandy was first outlined and then established a few years after.
In 1634 and 1635 not much worthy of record happened, with the exception of the Treaty of Peace with the English East India Company, in 1635, and consequently the financial and military relief for the royal treasury. However, and in spite of the successful efforts of the Viceroy in cutting down expenses, it was not always easy to attain victory in battle, as proven by the rescue missions sent to Mombasa and Ceylon. Notwithstanding this weakness, by the time Dom Miguel de Noronha left India, a slight improvement of the public finances could be noticed, certainly derived from the effort made by the Viceroy to look for new sources of revenue. On more than one occasion, his actions attracted enemies, namely among the Jesuits and several noblemen. For this reason, he too was the object of written accusations posted in public places, as Dom Francisco da Gama had also been before him, and public demonstrations of support to the government that was to replace his were made upon information of the new rulers? near arrival. Before handing power over to Pedro da Silva, on 8 December 1635, Miguel de Noronha engaged in building a church for the Fransciscans, a new hospital and in improving the council of the Inquisition as well as the Palace of the Viceroys.
The alleged bad reputation of his vicereign by the end of its term derives partly from the richess that he is said to have accumulated while in India, as proven by the gifts that he offered to the monarch upon his return to Portugal. Whether his rule was disastrous (Sanjay Subrahmanian) or the most flourishing one in the first half of the 17th century (Anthony Disney), the fact is that his career did not come to an end after his return to Portugal. Once back in the country, Philip III of Portugal appointed him member of the Council of Portugal, in which capacity he always opposed Diogo Soares, a supporter of the policy of the Union of Arms, endorsed by the Earl-Duque of Olivares. He was chosen in a courtly manoeuvre to negotiate with the rebels in Évora, in 1637, and had to run for his life. After that, he refused a post in the government of Pernambuco. After the Restoration, he remained faithful to the House of Austria, and was appointed general of the galleys of Sicily and Spain, and offered the title of Marquis of Gijón and Duke of Viseu, as reward for his loyalty. He died in 1647.
DISNEY, Anthony, ?The ViceRoy Count of Linhares at Goa? in II Seminário Internacional de História Indo-Portuguesa ? Actas, Lisboa, Instituto de Investigação Científica e Tropical, 1985, pp. 303-315. SOUSA, Manuel de Faria e, Ásia Portuguesa, volume VI, tradução de Maria Vitória Garcia Santos Ferreira, vol. VI, 4º Parte, cap. VII-XV, Porto, Livraria Civilização, 1947. SUBRAHMANIAN, Sanjay, ?Uma década desastrosa: a Ásia Portuguesa na década de 1630? in O Império Asiático Português 1500-1700 - Uma História Política e Económica, Lisboa, Difel, 1993, pp. 232-245. 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.