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Castro, Joao De

CASTRO, JOAO DE (1500-1548), called by Camoens Castro Forte, fourth viceroy of the Portuguese Indies, was the son of Alvaro de Castro, civil governor of Lisbon. A younger son, and destined therefore for the church, he became at an early age a brilliant humanist, and studied mathematics under Pedro Nunez, in company with the infante Dom Luis, son of Emanuel the First, with whom he contracted a life-long friendship. At eighteen he went to Tangier, where he was dubbed knight by Duarte de Menezes the governor, and there he remained several years. In 1535 he accompanied Dom Luis to the siege of Tunis, where he had the honour of refusing knighthood and reward at the hands of the great emperor Charles V. Returning to Lisbon, he received from the king the small commandership of São Pablo de Salvaterra in 1538. He was exceedingly poor, but his wife Lenor de Coutinho, a noble Portuguese lady, admired and appreciated her husband sufficiently to make light of their poverty. Soon after this he left for the Indies in company with his uncle Garcia de Noronha, and on his arrival at Goa enlisted among the aventureiros, "the bravest of the brave," told off for the relief of Diu. In 1540 he served on an expedition under Estevão da Gama, by whom his son, Alvaro de Castro, a child of thirteen, was knighted, out of compliment to him. Returning to Portugal, João de Castro was named commander of a fleet, in 1543, to clear the European seas of pirates; and in 1545 he was sent, with six sail, to the Indies, in the room of Martin de Sousa, who had been dismissed the viceroyalty. The next three years were the hardest and most brilliant, as they were the last, of his life - years of battle and struggle, of glory and sorrow, of suffering and triumph. Valiantly seconded by his sons (one of whom, Fernão, was killed before Diu) and by João Mascarenhas, João de Castro achieved such popularity by the overthrow of Mahmud, king of Gujarat, by the relief of Diu, and by the defeat of the great army of the Adil Khan, that he could contract a very large loan with the Goa merchants on the simple security of his moustache. These great deeds were followed by the capture of Broach, by the complete subjugation of Malacca, and by the passage of Antonio Moniz into Ceylon; and in 1547 the great captain was appointed viceroy by João III., who had at last accepted him without mistrust. He did not live long to fill this charge, expiring in the arms of his friend, St Francis Xavier, on the 6th of June 1548. He was buried at Goa, but his remains were afterwards exhumed and conveyed to Portugal, to be reinterred under a splendid monument in the convent of Bemfica.

See Jacinto Freire de Andrade, Vida de D. João de Castro (Lisbon, 1651), English translation by Sir Peter Wyche (1664); Diogo de Couto, Decadas da Asia, vi. The Roteiros or logbooks of Castro's voyages in the East (Lisbon, 1833, 1843 and 1872) are of great interest.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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