Baltasar Teixeira


Date of birth: 1593, Village de Amarante, Bishopric of Porto.

Surgeon

Link to BRASILHIS Database: https://brasilhis.usal.es/es/personaje/baltasar-teixeira


Surgeon of Portuguese origin. Lived and worked in the city of Lisbon and in the village of Amarante. He was a Mayor Surgeon of the Navy, had fought and practiced his profession in Brazil on several occasions. He belonged to the Holy Office of Inquisition, in Lisbon.

The surgeon Baltasar Teixeira, an old Christian, was born around 1593, in the village of Amarante, in the parish of Nossa Senhora de Cepelos, in the Bishopric of Porto. He was the son of Baltasar Teixeira and Maria Peixota (or Peixoto), both from the village of Amarante. They began to live in Lisbon around 1608. He was the grandson of Paulo Gonçalves and Violante Gomes, on this father’s side, both from the parish of Covello, in the Bishopric of Porto; and grandson, on his mother’s side, of Antonio Fernandes and Maria Francisca Moraes, also from the village of Amarante[1].

In 1613 he requested authorization to marry Isabel de Amorim, a native of Lisbon[2]. Isabel de Amorim lived with her parents, Antonio Amorim and Isabel Borges in Lisbon, in the direita street of S. Roque, since the year 1622 and in Lisbon since at least the year 1577. The father of his wife, born around the year 1529, was of the “profession of healing crazy men”[3], working for the Holy Office of Inquisition[4].

There isn’t information about when Baltasar Teixeira and Isabel de Amorim married, but in 1624 he mentioned that he was married and had four children. In this year, at November 6th, he requested an increase of his salary, as Mayor Surgeon of the Navy, when he was about to embark to Brazil to help the city of Salvador, Bahia[5]. He declared that he was poor and that his family depended on his salary as a surgeon. The increase of his wage was granted, whose value became 6,400 réis per month. He embarked as Mayor Surgeon of Bahia[6].

The participation in these battles seems to have helped him change his professional condition, since 1627, when he returned to Lisbon in 1627, he began the process to join the Holy Office of the Inquisition and be accepted as a member. The process of his qualification lasted from the month of February until August 1627, when, after proving his blood cleanliness and that of his wife, as well as that of their respective families, he also guaranteed the he possessed all the qualities required to be accepted as member of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. He was considered as qualified to be a member, on February 24, 1627, and, later, that neither he nor his wife presented any impediment[7].

He must have exercised his profession, most of the time, in Lisbon, when there was no need to accompany the Navy. At least in the year of 1632, is possible to know that he spent part of the time in this city, according to the receipt of 50 réis received in which Francisco Carvalho, then servant of the General Paymaster of Navy, Jeronimo Victoria, paid him for his services as a healer[8].

In 1635, is possible to verify that he living in the village of Amarante, when he received a license allowing him to cure with “a certain remedy” that consisted in “making mercury and quintillion powders and oil of gold” and also all compounds used in plasters and potions used to cure the “crazy people”. These cures and the production of the referred medicines, were what Baltasar Teixeira wished to be approved to able to do[9].

According Sousa Viterbo, from this document, he mentions about Baltasar Teixeira was as “mezinheiro” and not as surgeon, since the document itself does not mention the exercise of surgery. However, in a later document, from 1644, his entire professional history is recorded, having practiced as a surgeon in several navy garrisons[10].

According to this document of 1644, of June 27, which granted him a pension of 12,000 réis (in one of the Commendations of the Order of Santiago) in retribution for his services, Baltasar Teixeira had been fighting in seven Navy’s expeditions. Among them, he was in two as a soldier and in the others as a surgeon. Besides having been in the expedition that went to rescue the city of Salvador, Bahia, in 1624, he also participated in others that were in Pernambuco[11]. He would receive two other grants in the years of 1655 and 1658[12].

It seems interesting to highlight the fact that Baltasar Teixeira also learned the knowledge associated with “curing crazy peoples”, as well as having applied to join to the Holy Office of the Inquisition as a member. His father-in-law had performed these same activities before him. In 1624, shortly before he started the process for his admission in the Holy Office (in 1627), he assumed to be poor in the document that request a salary increase. At this time, he was already working as a surgeon.

Or even, that he may have acquired, or perfected, these skills in curing “crazy people” while practicing as a surgeon, as well as the production of medicines. Not being trained to exercise the profession of apothecary, in 1635, when he requested a license to practice as such, he produced medicines that he used in the cures he mentioned.

These letters, authorizing individuals who did not have a university degree in medicine or apprenticeship in the arts practiced by surgeons and apothecaries, were very common. And, almost always, they mentioned the restrictions in the exercise of these activities limited to the abilities proved in the exam that was done before the major-physician and the major-surgeon (and in the cases of medicines also to apothecaries). In this case, the cures that Baltasar Teixeira was authorized to exercise were the ones he had requested in his petition, to make the powders of mercury and quintillium, the oil of gold and to cure the “crazy people”. However, the document also added that he could use these medicines “in the ailments that seem to him” with the addition of the cure of hydrops[13].

The exercise of these additional activities (cure the “crazy people” and the production of certain medicines) may possibly have helped him to improve his financial conditions, in addition to practicing as a royal surgeon, in navy or not, propitiating the receive the subsequent grants for his services. The important to say is that Baltasar Teixeira represent a kind of professional that existed in Brazil, during the period of Hispanic Monarchy, that had to adapt his professional’s skills to what was required, but also to improve his own life and his family.


[1] ANTT, Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Conselho Geral, Habilitações, Baltasar, mç. 1, doc. 4.

[2] ANTT, Câmara Eclesiástica de Lisboa, Justificação Sumária de casamento de Baltasar Teixeira e Isabel de Amorim.

[3] During the 16th and 17th centuries, “madness” appears manifested in the documents of numerous inquisitorial processes. Generally, associated in different types of cases; those who went mad during the process due to the punishments employed; and those who used madness as a form of defense, in order to escape the punishments and “correctives” that were applied during interrogations. In first cases, as soon as the inquisitors noticed that the interrogated lost their reasoning, a doctor (or surgeon) was called in to examine them and to recommend the indicated treatment and in which type of place they would be treated: it could be the existing and appropriate hospitals for these kinds of disorders or, in the case of the “non-dangerous insane”, they would leave them in prisons, waiting for them to recover in order to apply penalties to them, according to the offense committed. The diagnosis of madness, according to the medical conceptions of that period, could be associated with melancholic moods, in which cases the treatment of purges, baths and bloodletting was applied. The medical visits, besides serving to apply treatments, were also used by the inquisitors to investigate possible cases of pretenses. The dementia of the interrogated, from de point of view of the inquisitors, was considered an obstacle to the application of penalties. In this sense, the frequent medical verifications sought to remove these obstacles with the intention of continuing the processes, transforming madness used as a defensive weapon by the interrogated into an offensive weapon by the interrogators (Tropé, 2010).

[4] ANTT, Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Conselho Geral, Habilitações, Baltasar, mç. 1, doc. 4.

[5] This recruitment was circumscribed in a period of tense relations between the Spanish and Dutch empires, at the end of the Twelve Years Truce (1621), culminating in a series of Dutch invasions and attacks on territories belonging to the Spanish crown. Later, it would advance during the period of the so-called Portuguese Restoration, after 1640. The invasion (and subsequent occupation) of the city of Salvador, in Bahia de Todos os Santos, in May 1624, marks an important event within this period of hostilities, which would extend until the recovery of this city in the year 1625 (Boxer, 1957; Santos Pérez, 2013; Rivero Rodríguez, 2020; Espejo Cala, 2021). There is no reference to which month, exactly, Baltasar Teixeira arrived in Bahia, but it is stated in documentation, after this period, that he was acting as surgeon in these battles until the total recovery of this square, in 1625 (ANTT, Registo Geral de Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv. 12, f. 43-43v).

[6] AHU_CU_BAHIA-LF, cx. 3, d. 338.

[7] ANTT, Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Conselho Geral, Habilitações, Baltasar, mç. 1, doc. 4.

[8] ANTT, Corpo Cronológico, Parte II, mç. 361, nº 192.

[9] It was examined by the royal major-surgeon, Antonio Francisco Milheiro (who at the moment also served as the mayor-physicist), with the licensed Antonio Sera (“physician of those who stay in the city”) and the royal apothecaries, Antonio d’Almeida and Bartholomeu da Rocha, and was considered fit and sufficient for the production of such medicines and cures (ANTT, Chancelaria de D. Filipe III, liv. 29, fl. 330).

[10] Sousa Viterbo (1915), Notícia sobre alguns médicos portuguêses ou que exerceram a sua profissão em Portugal. Subsídios para a história da medicina portuguesa. Extraído dos Arquivos de História da Medicina Portuguesa. Quinta Série. Publicação póstuma. Porto: Tip. a vapor da “Enciclopédia Portuguesa”.

[11] The document does not specify which fleets the surgeon Baltasar Teixeira took part in, only that he was an “adventurous soldier, in the first two fleets” and in the others as ship surgeon. It highlights that in one Navy’s expedition, in 1620, he fought against four “enemy ships”. In 1624, with the acquired experience, he embarked as Surgeon-Major, in the recovery of the city of Salvador, helping “people of the sea and land”. He would fight against the Dutch on other occasions, for example, in the battle “in front of São Miguel Island” and those in which he was in the company of General Dom João da Costa and Colonel Dom Afonso de Meneses (ANTT, Registo Geral de Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv. 2, fl. 43-43v).

[12] On August 20th 1655, he received a Carta Padrão of 12$000 réis of pension promise, on Pedro Francês goods (ANTT, Registo Geral de Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv. 12, fl. 172v). On March 2, 1658, these 12$000 réis pension rights were transferred, on the goods of Diogo Soares (ANTT, Registo Geral de Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv. 12, fl. 219-219v).

[13] The hydrops was a very common “disease” since ancient times, consisting of the accumulation of fluids in tissues or cavities of the body, which today is not considered a disease, but symptoms related to problems in malfunctioning of the kidneys, heart, and digestive tract. The hydrops and fevers were numerous times indicated as possible causes of death during the 16th and 17th centuries. The existing information in the documentation of the cause of death of illustrious personages, such as Queen Isabel I of Spain and the writer Miguel de Cervantes, associate hydrops with fevers and with a king of unquenchable thirst that made the sick suffer from swellings all over the body (Cabrera Sánchez, 2011; Montes-Santiago, 2005).


SOURCES

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Justificação Sumária de casamento de Baltasar Teixeira e Isabel de Amorim.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Conselho Geral, Habilitações, Baltasar, mç. 1, doc. 4.

– AHU, Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, AHU_CU_BAHIA-LF, cx. 3, d. 338.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Corpo Cronológico, Parte II, mç. 361, nº 192.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Chancelaria de D. Filipe III, liv. 29, fl. 330.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Registo Geral de Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv. 12, fl. 43-43v.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Registo Geral de Mercês, Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv.12, f. 172v.

– ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Registo Geral de Mercês, Mercês de Ordens Militares, liv.12, f. 219-219v.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

– Cabrera Sánchez, M. (2011). La muerte de los miembros de la realeza hispánica medieval a través de los testimonios historiográficos. En la España Medieval, vol. 34, pp. 97-132. Recuperado em https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ELEM/article/view/36295/35141

– Espejo Cala, C. (2021). La Recuperación de Bahía en las noticias de España y los Países Bajos (1624-1625). En Tropé, H.; Espejo Surós, J. (eds). Metamorfosis y memoria del evento: el acontecimiento en las relaciones de sucesos europeas de los siglos XVI a XVIII. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca. Recuperado em https://gredos.usal.es/handle/10366/151176

– Montes-Santiago, J. (2005). Miguel de Cervantes: saberes médicos, enfermedades y muerte. AN. Med. INTERNA (Madrid), vol. 22, nº 6, pp. 293-297. Recuperado em https://scielo.isciii.es/pdf/ami/v22n6/humanidades.pdf

– Rivero Rodríguez, M. (2020). El enemigo holandés, el Conde Duque de Olivares y el servicio de los vasallos en la recuperación de Bahía de Brasil. En Guerra y alteridad. Imágenes del enemigo en la cultura visual de la Edad Media a la actualidad, editado por Borja Franco Llopis, Monográfico temático, Elkón Imago, vol. 15, pp. 227-254. Recuperado em https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/EIKO/article/download/73321/4564456555281

– Santos Pérez, J. M. (2013). Filipe III e a ameaça neerlandesa no Brasil: medos globais, estratégia real e respostas locais. Em Marianne Wiesebron (ed.), Brazilië in de Nederlandse archieven / O Brasil em arquivos neerlandeses (1624-1654), Serie Mauritiana, vol. 5. Leiden: Leiden University Press, pp. 142-171.

– Sousa Viterbo (1915), Notícia sobre alguns médicos portuguêses ou que exerceram a sua profissão em Portugal. Subsídios para a história da medicina portuguesa. Extraído dos Arquivos de História da Medicina Portuguesa. Quinta Série. Publicação póstuma. Porto: Tip. a vapor da “Enciclopédia Portuguesa”.

– Tropé, H. (2010). Locura e inquisición en la España del siglo XVII. Norte de salud mental, vol. VIII, nº 36, pp. 90-101. Recuperado em https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=4830427

Author:

Zeli Teresinha Company (Universidad de Salamanca)

How to quote this entry:

Zeli Teresinha Company. “Baltasar Teixeira“. In: BRASILHIS Dictionary: Biographic and Thematic Dictionary of Brazil in the Spanish Monarch (1580-1640). Available in: https://brasilhisdictionary.usal.es/en/baltasar-teixeira-3/. Date of access: 29/05/2024.

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