Date of birth: December 22, 1591, Lisboa
Date of death: September 24, 1658, Madrid)
Fourth capitão donatário of the captaincy of Pernambuco, count of Pernambuco, marquis of Basto, gentleman of the chamber of Philip IV, author of the “Memórias Diárias de la Guerra de Brasil” (1654).
Link to BRASILHIS Database: https://brasilhis.usal.es/es/personaje/duarte-de-albuquerque-coelho
An important figure in the history of the captaincy of Pernambuco, fourth capitão donatário Pernambuco Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho lived at the court of Philip IV in Madrid and participated in major events in Brazil, such as the recovery of Bahia (1624) and the fight against the Dutch in his captaincy (1630-1639). He was the son of the third capitão donatário of Pernambuco, Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho and Anna da Silva, who also had Brites de Albuquerque and Matias de Albuquerque Coelho.
After the death of their father, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho and his brother were left under the guardianship of Matias de Albuquerque and his wife, Felipa Vilhena. On October 9, 1603, King Philip III appointed Alexandre de Moura as capitão mor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, during the minority of the young future donee who inherited the captaincy on July 2, 1603.
From 1606, with the death of Matias de Albuquerque and the entry of his wife, Felipa Vilhena, into religious life, there was a family dispute over the guardianship of the young Duarte and Matias de Albuquerque. The heirs of Jorge de Albuquerque had a fortune that was to be administered by a guardian until the firstborn, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho, came of age. This dispute reached the Consejo de Portugal (Dutra, 1973: 284).
The responsibility for the education of the youngsters was given to Lourenço de Sousa, retired Major and brother-in-law of Matias de Albuquerque, and the assets to another nobleman specially indicated for this purpose and with strict orders to present each year a balance sheet of the fortune and to deposit the credits and debits deducted in the orphans’ safe (Dutra, 1973 A: 285). This decision was contested by the youngsters’ uncle, Luís Coutinho (their mother’s brother) and closest relative of the youngsters at the time (Vieira, 2020: 154), as he believed that he should be given custody and for this he had the support of the viceroy of Portugal, Cristóvão de Moura, Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo (Dutra, 1973 A: 285). Even with the support of the viceroy and the Desembargo do Paço, the Consejo de Portugal decided to leave the custody of the young men to Lourenço de Sousa and that of the goods in charge of the noble knight Francisco de Gouveia (Dutra, 1973 A: 286)
Before his definitive move to the court of Madrid, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho and the literary world came closer through the payment of special dedications. In 1612, the name of the donee appears on the “Segunda Parte de las Comedias de Lope de Vega Carpio”. He was a well-known author at the time and wrote the following dedication on the title page: “Dirigidas a Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho, Capitão e Governador de Pernambuco, na nova Lusitania.” This comedy was edited in Lisbon by Pedro Crasbeeck.
Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho married Joana de Castro, daughter of Diogo de Castro, Count of Basto and president of the Royal Governing Board of Portugal. From this marriage were born Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho e Castro and Maria Margarida de Castro e Albuquerque. Their son died in a battle in Catalunya in the service of Philip IV in the battle of Lárida in 1646 (Cunha, 2015: 150). His sister married Miguel de Portugal, seventh count of Vimioso and belonging to a collateral branch of the Braganzas. Maria Margarida de Castro e Albuquerque was the fifth and last donataria of the captaincy of Pernambuco. Her daughters were also: Dona Ana, Dona Catalina, Dona Felipa, professed nuns in the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament in Lisbon.
Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho’s performance as capitão donatário was marked by conflicts of jurisdiction in the different spheres of administration of the captaincy. The position of a capitão donatário residing in the court of Madrid was certainly different from that of those living in the distant lands of the State of Brazil. In between, the documentation shows the granting of rights that other beneficiaries did not have. One example was the granting of the right to elect and appoint an ouvidor for the captaincy of Pernambuco in 1611. At a time when the Crown had already recovered this prerogative for itself in the case of other donatary captaincy (Almoêdo, 2001: 91).
En 1615, el rey Felipe III eligió y nombró un capitão mor for Pernambuco, Vasco de Sousa Pacheco. Since the donee was already of age at that time, the question that deserves further analysis is the fact that the king assumed a right that was exclusive to Pernambuco donees since 1534. Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho disagreed with the king’s decision, but Pacheco assumed the captaincy as capitão mor, and later Martim de Sousa Sampaio (1616) assumed the same position (Dutra, 1973 C: 23-24). Only on August 7, 1627, the king issued a letter authorizing the donee, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho, to present the triple list for the election of the office of capitão mor de Pernambuco, presenting the listing in 1629 (Dutra, 1973: 273).
The donatário participated in the Voyage of the Vassals that rescued Salvador from the Dutch in 1625 (Schwartz, 1991: 743). According to the accounts of the time, he was one of those responsible for the material support to the war and helped with “a ship and many men at his expense”. He then returned to Lisbon and the captaincy of Pernambuco continued under the command of his younger brother, Matias de Albuquerque Coelho (Cunha, 2015: 143), who had ruled since at least 1620. The captaincy was also ruled by capitão loco tenente mad between 1603 and 1631 (Costa, 1896).
When Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho was governor of Pernambuco, he was accused of collaborating in the smuggling of
brazilwood extracted in the captaincy, as revealed by an investigation conducted by Judge Sebastião de Carvalho. Faced with this, the donee was forced to prove the original donation of the twenty or so brazilwood made by the crown years earlier..
Still in the government of his captaincy, the donee elevated to the category of village the village of Sirinhaém in 1626 and, in 1636, the villages of Porto Calvo with the title of Bom Sucesso, and those of Laguna do Sul and Rio de São Francisco. The first with the title of Vila de Madalena, and the second with the same title it had as a settlement, granting these villages the term and competent jurisdiction, according to its privileges as donee. It was during the long rule of Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho (1603-1658) when the Dutch invaded the captaincy of Pernambuco in 1630, and the donee practically lost his authority, as the Dutch were only expelled in 1654. Despite his long period as capitão mor, Albuquerque Coelho was not present in Pernambuco until 1631.
To maintain the war, the donee spent a large sum, not only from his private fortune, but also from that of his father-in-law, the Count of Basto, D. Diogo de Castro, and the support of a retinue of 200 men. From October 1636, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho supplied all the infantry under his command. He accompanied the entire war movement from 1631 to 1635. On September 21, 1631, the donee arrived in the same fleet as the Count of Bagnuolo, while part of the fleet commanded by Antonio de Oquendo headed for Bahia (Oliveira, 2016: 81).
When the possession of the captaincy of Pernambuco was no longer guaranteed, the donee moved to the region of Alagoas and then to Madrid. In 1644, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho published his “Memórias Diárias de la Guerra do Brasil“. The work is practically the result of the work of capitão donatário as a war chronicler with daily accounts of the main events between 1631 and 1638. It is a monumental work of more than 500 pages, written in Spanish and dedicated to King Philip IV.
Evidently, the purpose of the capitão donatário was to inform the king about his efforts in the defense of the captaincy as a loyal subject and to build a memoir about those war years. However, the author faced strong resistance to the publication of his memoirs, which, despite being ready in 1644, were not published until 1654. One of the events that marked the negative diffusion of the memoirs was the distribution in Madrid of an anonymous pamphlet titled “Razones que no se deve imprimir la historia que tratta de las guerras de Pernambuco compuesta por Duarte de Albuquerque en su nombre, o ajeno por los inconvenientes que rezultan de esto contra el servicio de Su Magestade de que se haze mencion en compendio em este papel, mientras no se offrece otro mas dilatado.” (Vieira, 2020:
The capitão donatário had its finances affected due to the loss of Pernambuco to the Dutch, ceasing to receive income from the captaincy (Costa, 1896: 22). The fact of residing permanently in Madrid, and the alliances with the high aristocracy of the kingdom through marriage, allowed Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho to claim his rights as a donee from a differentiated position (Mello, 2001: 48). In 1640, he was appointed with the noble titles of Marquis of Basto, succeeding his late father-in-law; and 1st Count of Pernambuco, both titles granted by King Philip IV (Oliveira, 2016: 82). Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho was also minister of the Consejo de Portugal between 1641 and 1644 (Luxán Meléndez, 1987: 85).
After the acclamation of the Duke of Bragança as king, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho remained in the Castilian court and this position had consequences for the donee (Almoêdo, 2001: 217). In his letter of December 4, 1654, addressed to Francisco Barreto, governor of the Crown in Pernambuco, D. João IV deprived the donee of any power over the captaincy of Pernambuco, under the accusation, among others, that he had not fulfilled his obligation to defend his captaincy in the war against the Dutch..
Before leaving for Brazil in 1631 to defend his captaincy, Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho left a will prepared in Lisbon. In 1655, he modified his will and in the final version recorded in Madrid declared his only heir to his daughter, Dona Maria Margarida de Castro e Albuquerque, since his other daughters were locked up in a convent. In addition, he asked that due credit be given to his “Memórias diarias de la guerra de Brasil“, after living ten years seeking royal authorization to publish his book (Vieira, 2020: 212-222). Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho died in Madrid on September 24, 1658.
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Elenize Trindade (Universidad de Salamanca)