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and consequently the viceregal court was quite un-
prepared for resistance. The signal was given by a
pistol shot from Ribeiro, and each conspirator went
to his appointed place to accomplish his appointed
task. Dom Miguel de Almeida overpowered the
German guards of the palace without any difficult)-,
and Dom Jorge de Mello and Dom Estevao da Cunha
were equally successful with the Spanish guards.
The third party, under the leadership of Ribeiro,
forced their way into the palace, and moved towards
the apartments of the hated Secretary of State, Miguel
de Vasconcellos. On their way they met Francisco
de Soares de Albergaria, the " Corregidor Civil," or
civil judge, who, in answer to their cries of " Long live
the Duke of Braganza!" shouted "Long live the King
of Spain and Portugal!" and was then immediately
shot. They next came across Antonio Correa, the
secretary's chief clerk, whose insolence had almost
rivalled his master's, and Antonio de Menczcs struck
him down with his poniard and severely wounded
him. At last they reached the apartments of the
secretary, whom they discovered hidden in a cupboard
under a mass of papers. The trembling wretch was
dragged from his concealment, and shot by Dom
Rodrigo de S^. All parties now rushed to the part
of the palace inhabited by the Duchess of Mantua,
whom they found with the Archbishop of Braga.
The princess was no coward, and boldly faced the
conspirators, but she was informed by Dom Carlos de
Noronha that she was a prisoner, and the life of the
Archbishop of Braga, who attempted to cut his way

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i i c^ S


through his opponents, was with difficulty saved by
Dom Miguel de Almeida.

These successes in the palace were followed by
equal successes in the city of Lisbon. The populace
of all classes detested the Spanish domination ; they
rose in a body, armed themselves as best they could,
and arrested every Spaniard they could find from the
Marquis de la Puebla to the naval officers on shore
from the Spanish vessels lying in the Tagus. Dom
Antonio de Saldanha, as previously arranged, entered
the Relacdo, or High Court of Justice, and informed
the judges of the revolution, and the president, Gon-
galo de Sousa, immediately began to pronounce his
decrees in the name of King John IV., instead of
King Philip III. Dom Gaston de Coutinho set free
all the political prisoners, and some young men rowed
off to the three Spanish galleons in the port, and
easily obtained possession of them, since most of their
officers had already been arrested on shore. There
remained only the citadel, or castle, of St. George,
garrisoned by a strong Spanish force under Don
Luiz de Campo. This important post was obtained
by a stratagem of Dom Antonio de Almada, who forced
the Duchess of Mantua to sign an order for its sur-
render by a threat to assassinate all the Spanish
prisoners already taken, and the order was willingly
obeyed by the timorous governor. The conspirators
then as.sembled in the palace, and amidst the shouts
of the populace, the Archbishop of Lisbon was pro-
claimed Licutcnant-General of the kingdom, with
Dom Miguel de Almeida, Dom Pedro de Mendonqa
Furtado, and Dom Antonio de Almada as councillors


of state. The new government sent off expresses in
all directions to announce the news of the successful
revolution, and obtained peaceable possession of all
the chief fortresses and strong places round Lisbon,
of Belem, Bugio, S. Antonio, Almada, and Cascaes,
with the exception only of S. Julian, at the mouth of
the Tagus.

The Duke and Duchess of Braganza were all this
time waiting with feverish impatience at Villa Vi^osa
for news of the great undertaking, and on the follow-
ing day, Sunday, December 2nd, Dom Jorge de Mello
arrived, after travelling all night, and hailed the Duke
and Duchess as King and Queen of Portugal. The
neighbouring country was devoted to the duke and
his family and joyfully received the news of his acces-
sion, and Affonso de Mello took possession of Elvas,
the strongest city in Portugal, in the name of John
IV., without any bloodshed. On December 3rd the
new sovereign entered Lisbon amidst general rejoic-
ings, and on December 15th he was solemnly crowned
in the Cathedral of Lisbon. Never was a sudden
revolution more successful. From Oporto to Faro
the people everywhere rose in rebellion ; the Spanish
arms were torn down ; the Spanish garrisons were
expelled, and John IV. was hailed with acclamation.
A Cortes was summoned to meet at Lisbon for the
first time since 1619, and on January 19, 1641,
John IV. was declared King of Portugal, as the right-
ful heir of Emmanuel " the Fortunate," and the whole
Cortes swore to obey him, and recognized his eldest
son, Dom Theodosio, as heir to the throne. The new
sovereign determined to meet his loyal people half


way, so he declared that his patrimonial estates were
sufficient to meet the expenses of his royal house-
hold, and that the revenues of the Crown lands should
for the future be spent on national needs. He be-
stowed important posts and orders on the leading
conspirators, and bribed Don Fernando do la Cueva
to surrender the fortress of S. Julian, the only place
which resisted his authority. The last person to be
informed of this sudden and successful revolution was
the former king, Philip IV. of Spain and III. of
Portugal. His courtiers all feared to tell him the
news, and when it became necessary to break it to
him, the Count-Duke Olivares accomplished the feat
with his usual adroitness. " Sire," he said to the king
with a pleased countenance, " I have to congratulate
you on a most fortunate event. Your Majesty has
just obtained a powerful duchy, and some magnificent
estates." " By what means," answered the astonished
monarch. "The Duke of Braganza," said Olivares,
" has madly allowed himself to be seduced by the
populace, who have proclaimed him King of Portugal.
His vast estates are therefore forfeited, and become
the property of your Majesty, who, by the annihila-
tion of this family, will in future reign securely and
peaceably over that kingdom."

Olivares had every reason to speak with confidence,
for there could be no doubt that Portugal, weakened
by her long subjection, could do little or nothing to
resist the power of Spain, if it could be fully employed.
But, fortunately for the independence of Portugal,
Spain was distracted by the Catalan rebellion and
foreign war, and was unable to exert her strength for the


time being. Both the new king and his advisers felt,
however, that it would not be wise to count too much
or too long upon this fortunate circumstance, and
he sent ambassadors all over Europe to inform the
foreign sovereigns of the revolution, and to beg for their
help and alliance. The old Chancellor Oxenstiern,
who governed Sweden after the death of her warrior
monarch, Gustavus Adolphus, during the minority
of Queen Christina, promptly recognized the acces-
sion of the new dynasty, and welcomed it as another
breach in the power of Spain. Charles I. of England,
after some delay, also recognized John IV., but he
was too much occupied by his quarrels with the
Parliament to pay much attention to foreign politics.
The Dutch received the news of the revolution with
joy, and compared it to their own successful rebellion
against Spain, and they at once concluded a treaty
with Portugal, and promised to send assistance. But
it was to France that John IV. looked with most con-
fidence for help ; he remembered the secret emissaries
of Richelieu and their lavish promises ; and on
January 22, 1641, three days after his coronation, he
sent two of his most accomplished courtiers, Francisco
de Mello and Antonio Coelho de Carvalho, on a
special mission to Paris. They were received with
much cordiality by the great cardinal, who understood
how thoroughly Spain must be crippled by the
Catalan and Portuguese rebellions, and, to their sur-
prise, also by the Queen of France, Anne of Austria,
the sister of Philip IV. De Mello ventured to hint
his surprise at this hearty reception, when the queen
made a famous reply : " True it is, that I am the


sister of his Catholic Majesty, but am I not also the
mother of the Dauphin ? " Their negotiations ended
in the conclusion of an offensive and defensive treaty
between France and Portugal, signed on June i, 1641,
by which the King of France promised to make no
peace with Spain until the independence of Portugal
was fully recognized. These embassies and treaties
ended in the arrival of a strong French fleet, under
the command of the Chevalier de Breze, in the Tagus,
on August 7, 164.1, followed by a Dutch fleet, under
Admiral Gylfels, on September loth.

At this very time, before the first king of the House
of Braganza had been a year upon the throne, a
serious conspiracy was in progress, which had for its
aim the re-establishment of the power of Spain. This
conspiracy was almost entirely the work of one man,
Dom Sebastiao de Mattos de Xoronha, Archbishop ot
Braga, and Primate of Portugal. This prelate had
not been in any way interfered with by the new
government, but he felt that he had lost the power
which he had enjoyed during the viceroyalty of the
Duchess of Mantua, and he had never forgiven the
danger in which his life had been placed on the day
of the outbreak of the revolution in Lisbon. He first
engaged the Marquis of Villa Real, and his son, the
Duke of Caminha, to join him. Their family boasted
of royal blood, and ranked next to that of the Duke
of Aveiro in the kingdom of Portugal, and they felt
indignant that no important posts had been conferred
upon them for their acquiescence in the revolution.
The marquis was won over by a promise that he
should be the Viceroy of Portugal, if the conspiracy


succeeded, and his son threw himself so heartily into
the project that the whole plot is generally known as
the " Caminha conspiracy." The other chief laymen
engaged were the Count of Armamar, the nephew of
the primate, the Count of Ballerais, Lourengo Peres
de Carvalho, keeper of the treasury, who feared to
lose the lucrative post which he had held so long
under the Spanish domination, and Antonio Correa,
the confidential clerk of the murdered Vasconcellos,
who had been severely wounded in the outbreak of
December ist. A far more important ally than any of
these noblemen and officials, was the Grand Inquisi-
tor of Portugal, Dom Sebastiao de Tello, Bishop of
Leiria, who was persuaded to promise the "novaes
Christiaos," or half-converted Jews, a cessation of
all persecution if they would join in overthrowing
John IV. They, on their part, were ready to assist
because the new monarch had absolutely refused to
make any concessions to them for fear of offending
the Pope. The arrangements were soon made ; it
was settled that the " novaes Christiaos " were to
set fire to the palace on August 5th ; that the king
was to be stabbed in the confusion which would
ensue ; and that the Duchess of Mantua should
be released from her convent, and again placed
in power. The Count-Duke Olivares gladly ac-
quiesced in all the schemes of the treacherous
archbishop, and despatches giving all the details of
the plot were entrusted to a converted Jew named
Baese, to send to Madrid. These despatches fell
into the hands of Marquis of Ayamonte, a Spanish
nobleman, and a relation of the new Queen of Portu-


gal, who was acting as intermediary between John
IV. and his brother-in-law, the Duke of Medina
Sidonia, and the marquis promptly sent them to
Lisbon. Forewarned was forearmed, and on August
5th, the day fixed for the rising, all the leaders of the
conspiracy were arrested. Baese confessed, when put
to the torture, and on August 29th all the noblemen
concerned, including the Marquis of Villa Real and
the Duke of Caminha, were publicly executed at
Lisbon, while the Primate and the Grand Inquisitor
were condemned to imprisonment for life.

This severe punishment did not check the ardour
of the friends of Spain, who were chiefly officials and
discontented nobles, and numbered few adherents
among the people, and in 1643 a new plot was dis-
covered, headed by Francisco de Lucena, Secretary
of State, who was promptly executed. In spite of
these difficulties, the government managed to get
together an army ; it was neither well-disciplined nor
well-equipped, but popular enthusiasm took the place
of experience, and on May 26, 1642, the Portuguese
under the command of Mathias de Alboquerque,
defeated a Spanish army under the Baron de
Molingen at Montiio . This victory, which was loudly
compared to that of Aljubarrota, was, in truth, of no
great importance from a military point of view, but it
invigorated the spirit of the Portuguese people, and
encouraged them to persist in fighting for their
independence. From every quarter of the globe
news arrived that the old Portuguese possessions had
declared for John IV. Mozambique, Goa and the
possessions in India, Malacca, and Macao, all threw

3t8 the revolution of 1640.

off the domination of Spain, and prepared to send
money and men to Lisbon ; while Brazil, the most
valuable possession of the Portuguese crown, since the
Dutch had taken possession of the Asiatic trade,
began a gallant struggle for the House of Braganza,
a struggle which brought about a war with the Dutch
in Europe, and lost the Portuguese the assistance
which had been promised them in 1641 by the arrival
of the fleet under Gylfels,

The story of the great dominion acquired for the
Dutch in South America by Count Maurice of
Nassau has been told ; and the wealth received by
the Dutch West India Company from his efforts was
only inferior to that of the Dutch East India
Company. The Count had managed matters on
a large scale ; he had built or strengthened forty-
five fortresses ; he commanded a regular army of
three thousand men and a fleet of ninety ships ; and
he sent over to Holland no less than twenty-five
thousand chests of sugar a year. But in spite of his
success he recognized that this dominion depended
on the sword ; the Dutch were not good colonists,
for they never thought of making their homes in
Brazil, but always of returning some day to Holland ;
and all the European settlers and planters in the five
captainships held by the Dutch were of Portuguese
descent. Further, the native Brazilians were on more
friendly terms with the Portuguese than the Dutch
owing to the labours of the Jesuits among them.
Count Maurice of Nassau saw therefore that it was
impossible to oust the Portuguese and replace them
by Dutch settlers, so he established a dominion,


resembling that of the English in India, which rested
for its keystone upon the military possession of the
country and the maintenance of strong garrisons in
the various fortresses. It need hardly be said that
the Portuguese of all the various captainships freely
communicated with each other, and so wise and
prudent was the administration of Count Maurice
that the Portuguese settlers in his captainships were
envied by those who remained under the power of

But this attitude of mind changed, when the news
arrived of the successful revolution of December,
1640. Dom Antonio Telles da Silva, the Portuguese
Governor-General at once proclaimed King John IV.
at San Salvador, and the Portuguese in the Dutch
captainships felt an immediate desire to join their
brethren. Matters of European policy however
prevented them from striking a blow at once ; John
IV. could not afford to make enemies of the Dutch,
and one of the terms of his alliance with them was
that matters should remain exactly as they were
in Brazil for ten years. However the Portuguese
colonists had not to wait ten years owing to the
ungrateful behaviour of the Dutch themselves. The
Dutch West India Company could not appreciate the
political ideas of Maurice of Nassau ; these traders
wanted large profits and not a great empire ; they
were disgusted at the amounts spent on the fortresses
and the army, and in 1644 they recalled the great
man whose ideas were too grand for them to fathom.
Immediately on his departure, matters went from
bad to worse in the Dutch captainships. His


successors, a committee of merchants, neglected the
fortresses, and aroused the hatred of the Portuguese
sugar planters by their exactions, and though they
sent home an unparalleled amount of sugar and
money for one year, it was the only year they
remained in office ; for in 1645 the whole of the
Portuguese colonists in the Dutch captainships burst
into insurrection. It was in vain for the Dutch
authorities to complain to Dom Antonio Telles da
Silva ; he answered that it was not his fault if the
Portuguese revolted ; they did not do so under his
orders or directions ; and the Portuguese ambassador
at the Hague made the same assertion in the name
of the king. Seldom has an insurrection been so
rapidly successful ; Antonio Moniz Barreto and
Antonio Teixeira de Mello speedily reduced the
province of Maranham, and Joao Fernandes Vieira,
a self-made man and originally a butcher's boy,
occupied the whole of the province of Pernambuco,
and drove the Dutch into their capital. The neg-
lected fortresses were easily taken, and soon the
Dutch held no place, but the Recife. It was in
vain for Holland to declare war against Portugal,
and to send great armaments to Brazil ; the national
movement was too strong to be resisted ; the
Dutch won some naval victories but could gain no
fresh foothold in the country, and in 1655 the island
of the Recife was abandoned after a ten years' siege,
and a King of Portugal once more reigned over the
whole of Brazil.

Great as was the triumph of the revolt in Brazil, it
at first filled the heart of the King of Portugal with


alarm, for it deprived him of an ally in Europe on
whose valuable assistance he had firmly relied.
Everywhere he looked in vain for help. Sweden
could do nothing ; England was torn by civil war ;
and in France his ally, Cardinal Richelieu, had been
succeeded as supreme minister by Cardinal Mazarin.
John IV. instinctively felt that he could not depend
upon Mazarin, who would certainly throw him over,
if a peace should be made between France and
Spain, and in his despair he made an offer to resign
his throne to a French prince, who should bring ample
assistance from France. The nature of this offer is
best told in a letter from Mazarin to the Duke of
Longueville, dated October 4, 1647. "The King of
Portugal," wrote the Cardinal, " after having maturely
considered the state of affairs, is disposed to resign his
crown and retire to the Azores, and to offer his
kingdom to any one whom the Queen of France
shall select, believing himself strong enough to have
such a person recognized as king and obeyed by all
the people of Portugal. He only desires that the
person selected should be a prince who may expect
powerful help from France, and that he shall have the
means to make such an alliance with his eldest
son, as may eventually secure the succession of the
kingdom to the latter. He proposes M. the Duke
of Orleans and Mademoiselle, or M. the Prince, or
you and your daughter." ^ This strange offer of
abdication came to nothing, and it may well be
doubted if Jf)hn IV. would have had the power to
introduce a foreign prince in this way ; and if he had

' Mazarin's " Letters," edited liy M. Cheruel, vol. ii. p. 501.



(From a Print of the Perioa.)


succeeded, Mazarin would have abandoned Portugal
with equal certainty even if a French prince had
been on its throne. Though this scheme failed, John
IV. still hankered after help from France ; he offered
his daughter, Donna Catherine de Braganza with a
large dowry both to the Duke of Beaufort and to the
young Louis XIV., and he also promised large sums
of money to the avaricious cardinal for his own use.
Years passed on, occupied with these various
schemes and entreaties for assistance, and it was
not until John IV. threatened to make peace at any
price with Philip IV. that Mazarin's trusted agent,
the Chevalier de Jant, signed an offensive and defen-
sive alliance with Portugal on September 7, 1655. ^

This behaviour of France did not seriously concern
Portugal so long as the war between France and
Spain continued to occupy the chief strength of the
Spanish armies ; but on all sides, John IV. saw that he
was regarded abroad as a temporary monarch, ruling
only until Spain had an opportunity to crush him.
From England he could get no help ; CromweH
showed his contempt for him and for the received
principles of international law, by ordering the trial
and execution of Dom Pantaleone de Sa, a lad of nine-
teen, and the brother of the Portuguese ambassa-
dor Rodrigo de Sa, for murder and riot in London ; 2
and his refusal to surrender Prince Rupert and Prince
Maurice in 1650 to Admiral Blake, caused that

' See the interesting little book by Jules Tessin, published at Paris in
1877 under the title of " Le Chevalier de Jant. Relations de la F"rance
avec le Portugal au temps de Mazarin."

' See Carlyle's " Speeches and Letters of Cromwell," vol. iv. p. 21 ;
Whitelocke's " Memorials," ed. 1732, pp. 592, 595.


gallant admiral to capture his ships and pillage his
colonies. On the other hand, the people of Portugal
stood staunchly by their legitimate monarch. Brazil
recognized his authority and sent him what help she
could ; the Indian and Chinese possessions contributed
what they could in money, and his great admiral
Dom Salvador Correa de Sa e Benevides defeated
several Spanish fleets, and conquered Angola and the
former Portuguese possessions on the African coast.

In the midst of these perplexities, expecting daily
to hear of the conclusion of a peace between France
and Spain, which should leave the latter power free
to crush him, King John IV., the first king of the
House of Braganza, died on November 6, 1656. His
eldest son Dom Theodosio, whom he had created
Prince of Brazil, had predeceased him in 1653, and
his heir was a boy of thirteen, weakly both in body
and in intellect. John IV. was not a great man ; he is
no more to be compared with John " the Great " than
the victory of Montijo is to that of Aljubarrota ; but
his name and accession mark a great event. Hesitat-
ing and undecided by nature, all his strength came
from his queen ; but for her, he would never have
been king of Portugal. But the revolution which
placed this mediocre man upon the throne is both
interesting and important ; it shows how impossible it
is for a nation which has once been great to acquiesce
in the loss of its independence. The heroic age of
Portugal was indeed past, but the victory of Montijo
and the insurrection in Brazil show that the people
had recovered from the inertness and sloth which had
permitted Philip II. to establish the power of Spain


over them. The struggle with Spain was not con-
cluded ; the hardest part of the contest was to come,
yet the people, if not their chosen monarch, never
dreamed of failure. New and national institutions
arose under the direction of Joao Pinto Ribeiro to take
the place of the effete institutions of the Sixty Years'
Captivity ; councils of war and the colonies were
organized at Lisbon ; ships were built and armies
raised ; new tribunals such as the " Junta do
Commercio " were erected. Nor were men of letters
backward in encouraging the revival of independence ;
Francisco de Sa de Menezes the poet, Antonio
Vieira the preacher, and Jacinto Freire de Andrade,
the biographer of Dom Joao de Castro, all showed
the spirit of patriotism, and it is not unworthy of
notice that the first Portuguese newspaper, the Gazeta
de Lisboa was established in 1641. The whole course
of the Revolution of 1640 shows that the people of
Portugal in the seventeenth century were not unworthy
of their ancestors, and that they had learnt much,
because they had suffered much, during the " Sixty
Years' Captivity."



The death of John IV., and the accession of the
boy Affonso VI., proved to be anything but a disaster
to the House of Braganza. The queen became
sole regent, and this energetic and able woman,

Online LibraryH. Morse (Henry Morse) StephensPortugal → online text (page 20 of 29)