Felícia Lobo


Date of birth: Salvador, ca. 1570.

Date of death: unknown, s. XVII.

Heiress of the powerful Barros Lobo clan, from Bahia, the relevance of Felícia Lobo lay in the meticulous execution of her four marriages, marrying the first two times with prearranged men to increase and secure her family’s wealth, and the last two to flee from such a concerted strategy far from Bahia.

Link to BRASILHIS Database: https://brasilhis.usal.es/es/node/13362


Felícia Lobo, born around the 1570s, was the fourth of nine children of the marriage between Gaspar de Barros Magalhães (Portugal, ca. 1540-Salvador, ca. 1591), a Portuguese nobleman (fidalgo), and Catarina Lobo (Setúbal, 1541- Salvador, 17th century), one of the three orphans who, at the request of Manuel de Nóbrega, “Queen D. Catarina should send every three years to this State [of Brazil]”, and who arrived in 1557 in the flee of Mem de Sá “to marry the principal people of the city” (Calmon, 1985: 368; Abreu, 1925: 413) [1]. According to recent research, Felicia Lobo’s family was, at the time of her birth, at the top of Salvadr’s social ladder,  mostly composed of Portuguese settled in Bahia at the start of colonization and thus, recipients of the first lands and offices grants; as well as by their wives who, mostly from noble Portuguese families, had been sponsored by the Crown to go to Brazil “to marry with the greatest possible decency, assuring them the provision of a public office in dowry for their marriage” (Costa, 1946: 108); Catarina Lobo being the recipient of the office of accountat of Bahia that her husband would exercise from 1560 onwards (Vicente Martín, 2022: 255-263: 15-17; Calmon, 1985: 78).

Although Felícia Lobo was the fourth daughter of the couple, her older siblings were all male, which automatically made her the heir and transmitter of the assets of her father Gaspar de Barros de Magalhães (Calmon, 1985: 356-357). This same social and economic dynamic that her mother starred in would be applied to her, leaving her as the custodian of her father’s offices and properties after his death, and in charge of transmitting them to her daughters after the exercise and usage of her future husband. In fact, the two older brothers of Felícia, Baltasar Lobo de Sousa and Gaspar de Barros[2], followed a similar family dynamic with their respective wives, both daughters of Martim Afonso Moreira – relative of Martim Afonso de Sousa (Calmon, 1985: 368)-, the former receiving Martim Afonso’s offices in India for marrying the first-born[3]; and the latter, in the absence of his older brother, his father-in-law’s lands in Passé and the informal supports that had made his father-in-law ordinary judge (1591) and vereador (1604), supports that would allow him to enter the câmara as vereador, at least, in 1618 (Salvado and Miranda, 2001: 264). Therefore, it was up to Felicia to marry someone who, in exchange for receiving her father’s goods, would contribute to diversify or, at least, maintain the patrimonial wealth of the Barros Lobo family, which up to that moment was based on owning lands and holding positions in the municipality.

Felícia Lobo’s first husband was Pero Dias, ” born in Porto, an old Christian, 50 years old, merchant and rich farmer”, whom she married in 1582 at the request of her father, Gaspar de Barros Magalhães (Mendonça [1618], 1925: 268). The old nobleman had already applied the same strategy of approaching merchants through Felícia’s two younger sisters, Victoria and Paula de Barros, who had linked up to Manoel de Freitas, a Portuguese nobleman and merchant, and to Manoel de Paredes (Setúbal – Salvador, 1619), also a merchant, who would only leave the business to devote himself to tilling the fields of his brother-in-law, and old brother of Felícia, Gaspar de Barros (Mendonça [1618], 1925: 270-271, 288-290). The career of Pero Dias, however, turned out to be unfavorable both for Felícia Lobo and for the Barros: in 1591 he was excommunicated for “set up on fire the sugarcane fields of Manoel Ferreira “, partner of his father-in-law and therefore causing a fall in disgrace of the Barros Lobo in social terms (Abreu, 1935: 334, 387). In 1600 Felícia already declared herself a widow in the same act in which she swore to respect the marriage vows before her second husband, Paulo de Argolo (-…1619), whose family, although it did not carry out mercantile activities per se, had maintained the exercise of the lucrative Provedoria d’Alfândega since the founder of the clan, Rodrigo de Argolo, obtained it after marrying another orfã, Joana Barbosa, in 1550 (Vicente Martín, 2022: 206-209).

At the time of Felícia Lobo’s second marriage, her father Gaspar de Barros had already passed away and the new member, Paulo de Argolo, despite having sesmarias in Passé and combining positions in the municipality (1607) with that of Provedor d’Alfândega (from 1608 onwards), did not represent a significant increase in the Barros Lobo status. [4] The family of this second husband was of a status very similar to that of Felicia, having been Rodrigo de Argolo (…-1563), a member of the founding expedition of Salvador da Bahia with Tomé de Sousa, and his mother, Joana Barbosa Lobo, sister of Catarina Lobo and, like all the orfãs, sent to Salvador with the office of Provedor for whoever married her (Calmon, 1985: 320). Marriages between cousins, such as this one between Felícia Lobo and Paulo de Argolo, were quite common around 1600 in Salvador, and their cause was nothing more than the preservation of the common family fortune and influence. In this case, Felícia had had four children from her first husband – nothing comparable to the eleven she would have with Paulo de Argolo (Calmon, 1985: 319, 355) – but the public excommunication of Pedro Dias was probably the incentive for such an intrafamilial marriage, whose clear objective was to avoid the dismemberment of the original patrimony of the two founders, their respective fathers, Gaspar de Barros and Rodrigo de Argolo. Once this more-social-than-economic problem was solved, the death of Paulo de Argolo around 1610 must not have caused much grief in Felícia, who only a year later married for the third time to Vicente Coelho, a person  whose absence in the Bahian records is a clear indication that her marriage was not a local strategy anymore (Calmon, 1985: 356). Although the documentary vacuum prevents us from making any further assertions, what is clear is that, once Felícia fulfilled her obligations as daughter, wife and mother, there was little left for her to do for her family in Salvador. In the mid 1620s, she went to live in Rio de Janeiro, this time as the wife of her fourth and last husband, the Captain of Espirito Santo aptain Constantino Menelao (Calmon, 1985: 356), a personal friend of the governor general Diogo de Meneses and a military man active in the expulsion of the French from Cabo Frio[5], with whom she had no descendants, possibly because of her age or because her reproductive function had already been fulfilled in Bahia.


[1] Annaes da Biblioteca Nacional de Rio de Janeiro, vol. 27 , Rio de Janeiro, Officinas Gráphicas da Biblioteca Nacional, 1905, p. 264.

[2] El primogénito, Jerônimo de Barros, no participó de tal dinámica, por casarse con F. de Aguiar, “que dizem era índia da terra”. (Calmon, 1985: 356)

[3] Revista do Instituto Histórico y Geografico Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1901. v. 73, tomo I, p. 164.

[4] Revista do Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia. Vol. 34 (1908). Salvador: Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia, p. 63.

[5] Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, ANTT, Chancelaria de D. Filipe II, Doações, L. 11, fol. 27v. Carta de Capitão e governador do Rio de Janeiro a Constantino de Menelau de 23 de novembro de 1606.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Abreu. C. de (1935). Confissões da Bahia, 1591-1592. Rio de Janeiro. F. Briguiet.  Annaes da Biblioteca Nacional de Rio de Janeiro, vol. 27 , Rio de Janeiro, Officinas Gráphicas da Biblioteca Nacional, 1905, p. 264.
  • Annaes da Biblioteca Nacional de Rio de Janeiro, vol. 27 , Rio de Janeiro, Officinas Gráphicas da Biblioteca Nacional, 1905, p. 264.
  • Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, ANTT, Chancelaria de D. Filipe II, Doações, L. 11, fol. 27v. Carta de Capitão e governador do Rio de Janeiro a Constantino de Menelau de 23 de novembro de 1606.
  • Calmon, Pedro. (1985). Introdução e notas ao Catálogo Genealógico das Principais Famílias de Jaboatão, Salvador, Empresa Gráfica da Bahia, vol. 1, 1985.
  • Costa, Afonso. (1946). “As órfãs da rainha”, revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, vol. 190. Rio de Janeiro, Imprensa Nacional, 1946, pp. 105-111.
  • Mendonça, H. Furtado de. [1591] (1925). Primeira Visitação do Santo Oficio às Partes do Brasil, pelo licenciado Heitor Furtado de Mendonça – Denunciações da Bahia1591-1593. Ed. Por Capistrano de Abreu. São Paulo, Paulo Prado.
  • Revista do Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia. Vol. 34 (1908). Salvador: Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia, p. 63.
  • Revista do Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia. Vol. 34 (1908). Salvador: Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia.
  • Revista do Instituto Histórico y Geografico Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1901. v. 73, tomo I, p. 164.
  • Revista do Instituto Histórico y Geografico Brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1901. v. 73, tomo I.
  • Salvado, J. P., Miranda, S. M. (2001), Livro 1º do Governo do Brasil (1607-1633), Lisboa/Rio de Janeiro, Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses.
  • Vicente Martín, Irene María. (2022). Holding the Empire at Bay: The Elites of Salvador da Bahia and the Hispanic Monarchy in Brazil. Tesis doctoral. Florencia: European University Institute, 2022.

Author:

Irene Vicente Martín

How to quote this entry:

Irene Mª Vicente Martín (Madrid Institute for Advanced Study). “Felícia Lobo“. In: BRASILHIS Dictionary: Biographic and Thematic Dictionary of Brazil in the Spanish Monarch (1580-1640). Available in: https://brasilhisdictionary.usal.es/en/felicia-lobo-3/. Date of access: 25/02/2024.

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