The Last King’s “Naturais”: Nobility and naturalidade in Portugal from the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Century1
Antonio Terrasa Lozano2
1. Introduction. Nobility, the crime of lese majesty and treason: change and continuity.
In the year 1660, Dom Raimundo de Lencastre, the fourth Duke of Aveiro (c. 1620-1666) traveled secretly to Brest and from there to Madrid to meet his Castilian mother, Doña Ana Maria Manrique de Lara, as well as his French wife, Doña Luisa de Ligné, the daughter of the Prince of Ligné.3 That escapade sealed the process of severance between the House of Aveiro and the new royal dynasty of Portugal. Since 1640, when the Duke of Bragança was proclaimed King of Portugal, the Aveiros, his eternal rivals,4 had afforded the Restoration5regime a tepid reception. Tried in absentia, the Duke of Aveiro was found guilty of the crime of lese majesty in August 1663. He was therefore sentenced to capital punishment—executed in effigy—and both his personal possessions and the estate belonging to his lineage were confiscated and returned to the Crown.6 Although several of Dom Raimundo’s relatives who had remained in Portugal claimed to be his heirs,7 the Crown Procurator decided to deny their claims and recognize only Dom Raimundo’s sister, Dona Maria Guadalupe de Lencastre (1630-1715) and his uncle, Dom António8 as heirs to Dom Raimundo. Since Dom João IV’s (1640-1656) accession to the throne, the Crown had implemented an efficient system, fueled by the Portuguese nobility’sflights to Castile, to regain possession of huge and wealthy manorial estates. The anti-Bragança conspiracy of 1641 had allowed the Crown to confiscate the luxurious estates of the Marquis of Vila Real and the Duke of Caminha.9 In March 1642, the jurisdictions and estates of the Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo were added, and in the following years the Crown recovered the lands of the marquisate of Porto Seguro—belonging to a second-born branch of the House of Lencastre—and the estates of the earldoms of Tarouca, Assumar, Lumiar, Figueiró, Armamar, Basto and Arcos. Such vast territories were not added to the Crown in one single set; rather, they were divided among several Houses belonging to different members of the Royal Family. Thus, the House of Bragança was reserved for the Crown Prince; the House of the Queen (Casa da Rainha)was re-established in February 1642 in order to provide queen consorts with their own property, and in August 1654 the powerful House of the Infantadowas created for the second-born son of each king. The possession of a vast estate administered through the queen and the princes guaranteed the Crown indirect control of large tracts of Portuguese territory in a period of political turmoil and war with neighboring Castile.10
The Crown’s interest in recognizing Dona Maria Guadalupe’s rights at such a point in time and in the context of the policies implemented for the recovery of royal possessions (which actually intensified in the period 1654-1665)11 was perfectly understandable: having betrayed Dom Afonso VI (1656-1683) and departed to the Court of Castile in the middle of the war, she was also guilty of treason and would therefore have to consider her rights to the dukedom, as transmitted by her elders, to have been lost forever. Together with her, all her relatives would also be affected, whether they remained loyal to Dom Afonso VI or not. Such a situation was established by the laws of the kingdom, which stated that, just like the rights of succession to primogeniture, treason was also transmitted by blood lineage, and spread like an infectious disease from parents to children.12
After Dom Raimundo’s death sentence in 1663, Dom Pedro de Lencastre, the uncle of the fugitives and the future Inquisitor General in Portugal, sued both the Portuguese Crown and his nephews and nieces in order to be recognized as Duke of Aveiro. To prevent the Lencastre estate falling into the hands of the Crown, Dom Pedro’s lawyers disputed the doctrine by which the treason of one family member tarnished the whole lineage:
Aside from the complexities of that lawsuit, what I am interested in now are the accusations and defamatory remarks that Dom Pedro’s allegations voiced against his niece. In 1666, after Dom Raimundo’s death, his sister Dona Maria Guadalupe, proclaimed herself the fifth Duchess of Aveiro from her exile in Madrid. Her uncle was to state against her that she was, “incapacitada & inhabelitada para succeder por huir pera Castela Reyno inimigo, que estâ em guerra com esta Coroa, ou fosse mandada por sua vontade, por ella assi pedir, ou contra sua vontade, por assim o pedir a razam de Estado,14 he certo que esta desnaturada deste Reyno de Portugal.”15
Consequently, just like her brother (whose civil death had been established in effigy), as far as her heritage and succession rights were concerned, Dona Maria de Lencastre was like an aborted child or a child who had died before his or her parents, that is to say, a nobody. Because, from the moment she betrayed her king and her homeland, Dona Maria “perdeo a cidade & Reyno, & esta feita Peregrina pella deportaçam [...] & ficou incapaz de successam [...] & por esta razam, nem pode o deportado ser instituido por herdeiro, nem adquirir causa alguna do testamento de outrem.”16
From the moment this lady, already over twenty-five years of age and deaf to the requirements to return to Portugal, had fled to Castile, “perdeo o ser natural deste Reyno quo ad omnes effectus pois deixando a sua patria originaria, se passou para Castella fora des terras da jurisdiçam de Portugal sojeitandose a obediência de Castella.”17 Furthermore, those who “se passam de hum Reyno a outro, o qual nam esta sub dictione ejusdem Principis, mais de outro inimigo, & ibi domicilium constituunt, que se reputem como estrangeiros pera nam poderem ter dignidades no Reyno que deixaram.”18 It is indisputable therefore that any benefits proceeding from the loss, in this case Dona Maria de Lencastre’s rights to succession, were also forfeited. In conclusion, “como a senhora Dona Maria se foi pera Castella Reyno estranho, & inimigo, & ahi tenha seu domicilio deixando sua patria em guerras tam acezas com Castella, ex dictis perdeo a origem & ficou alienigena, com que o que nam pode ter em este Reyno dignidade, ou bens alguns, assim he de direito Divino [...] como de direito Comum.19
The succession to the dukedom of Aveiro was not resolved until judgment was passed on the lawsuit on 20 October 1679, that is to say, after Dom Pedro’s death, the end of the war and the recognition of the independence of Portugal by Carlos II (1665-1700). The victor was Dona Maria Guadalupe, but under certain conditions. Before taking possession of her estate she had to return to Portugal, establish residence there and swear allegiance to the King of Portugal, thereby regaining her nativeness. Her return to Portugal was nevertheless somewhat complicated, for, since 1665, she had been the wife of Don Manuel Ponce de León, the sixth Duke of Arcos. Although she had forfeited her Portuguese nationality because of her betrayal and exile before getting married, her marriage to a foreigner in whose kingdom she lived, where she had her residence and where her children had been born, all of which were necessary conditions for obtaining a new “nativeness,” complicated her legal situation even further. The definitive solution was not reached until some years later: the Dukes separated and, in 1681, the Duchess of Aveiro in pectore received Carlos II’s permission to return to Portugal and regain possession of her estate.20
The switching of allegiance from the King of Portugal to the King of Castile had been common practice among the Portuguese and Castilian nobility since at least the fourteenth century. During the Middle Ages, what had mattered for the nobility, even in their power conflicts with the kings, was their bond with the monarch, the loyalty they offered him in exchange for the guarantee of titles and lands in Castile or Portugal. This was a common relationship in the early modern period, based on service, grace and favor.21 Such ties between lord and king had been a feature of the discourse of the nobility throughout the early modern period, while the concept of being a native (“natural”) of the kingdom, with all of its legal implications, had gained in complexity and had become a crucial factor in determining membership of the political community and ensuring access to certain trading privileges. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Duke of Aveiro’s defection was considered not only a crime of lese-majesty but was also an act of treason against the kingdom of Portugal. What, in the fifteenth century, would have been considered an act of treason against the legitimate sovereign in accordance with Natural Law, had, by the time of Dom Afonso VI, turned into a loss of nativeness by becoming a foreigner. Nevertheless, leaving aside this rhetoric, once peace had been reached between the kings of Portugal and Castile, the Dukes of Aveiro recovered their lands and estates, as had been the case several centuries before. When, in 1479, Dom Afonso V of Portugal (1438-1481) made peace with the Catholic Monarchs and signed the treaty of Alcáçovas, they did not neglect to include a clause in which, “es acordado e asentado que los dichos señores rrey e rreyna de Castilla e Leon, e cétera, ayan de rremitir e perdoar a todos los caualleros e escuderos e otras personas, naturales e non naturales de los dichos sus rreynos e señoríos y a sus fijos, de qualquier estado e calidad que sean, que pública e notoriamente están con los dichos señores rreyes de Portogal e prínçipe, su fijo, así en el dicho rreyno de Portogal commo en los dichos rreynos de Castilla o en otra qualquier parte, de todos los casos e enojos e cosas pasadas.”22
In order to avoid getting lost in translation, I will briefly make some conceptual remarks. This article deals with the Portuguese concept of naturalidade and the Spanish one of naturaleza. Amongst the meanings of these polysemic notions are nativeness, municipal citizenship and, when used to refer to a king, his legitimate sovereignty in accordance with Natural Law. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to translate all the meanings of naturalidade and naturaleza into one single English word or concept for two reasons: first, because such a word simply does not exist in English; second, because the English legal vocabulary belongs to the Common Law tradition while the Portuguese and Spanish legal systems were built on the framework of Roman Law. Therefore, in this article when dealing with naturalidade and trying to translate it, I will specify which meaning I am referring to in each case.
From this point of view, and assuming that the concept of naturalidade evolved polysemically, perhaps we should consider that until the late modern period, both for the nobility and the monarchy, the status of being a native was neither solely nor essentially the reason for belonging to a kingdom. As the Partidas Castellanas de Primera Instancia stated, it was “debdo que han los homes unos con otros por alguna derecha razon en se amar et se querer bien.”23 There were ten reasons whereby one enjoyed this nativeness:
All the meanings that the term comprised therefore had some common features which ensured a deep connection—with a monarch or a kingdom—originating from different causes, all of which created rights and duties.
The studies about naturalidade, nativeness, immigration and naturalization in the early modern period have assumed that the first was essentially a synonym for the recognition of belonging to a kingdom, with all the privileges attached to it. If, as has so far been the case, we do not consider what naturalidade and being a natural might have meant for the nobility—in both practical and ideological terms—then the study of these concepts is incomplete. Or else, to use Skinner’s terminology,25 any attempt to reconstruct the genealogy of the natural concept will be incomplete as the historian rules out one of its branches, the one that ended up being extinguished, for purely teleological reasons. In this article, I will focus on the study of the connection of the concept of natural with the nobility,26 understood as being equivalent to the entitlement to membership of a kingdom in the Portuguese legal texts of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Bearing in mind what is stated above, I will maintain that the evolution of one meaning of the concept of naturalidade, i.e. nativeness, its legal development, and the need to see it recognized, was a minor question for the nobility until well into the early modern period, whereas, for other groups, particularly tradesmen, merchants and businessmen, it became a crucial matter. As Maria Inés Carzolio wrote in relation to the concept of vecindad (municipal citizenship), and a definition that I consider perfectly applicable to nativeness, the nobility insisted “on trying to continue being ruled by personal privileges and not by territorial jurisdiction.”27 And such a bifurcation in the history of naturalidade (nativeness) into two paths, the noble one and the non-privileged one, took place in Portugal sometime in the fifteenth century, at the same time as the process that would end up turning vassals into natives was taking place, in other words during the century when Portugal and Castile controlled the trade on their borders with iron fists and reinforced the commercial routes with which they were attempting to delimit their respective areas of expansion overseas.
With the configuration of the borders and the attempt to close the Iberian areas overseas, legal nativeness became more important from the practical point of view for merchants, tradesmen and bureaucrats, an importance that would increase even further during the union of the crowns of Portugal and the Catholic Monarchy from 1580 to 1640.28 During this centuries-old process, naturalidade gradually lost some of its meanings and came to be essentially understood as relating to membership of a particular community and the enjoyment of its exclusive rights.29 It was in this final part of the process to which we are now referring that modern nativeness started to become an inconvenience for the aristocracy, which until then had relied on royal graces and favors to prosper and grow. The union of Portugal with the Catholic Monarchy and the agreement with Tomar’s restrictive conditions, together with the laws which sought to prevent traditional marriages between Castilian and Portuguese lineages, began to pose a problem for the strategies of important families on either side of the border. According to a Law of 9 June 1595, later included in the Ordenaciones Filipinas (Philippine Ordinances), it was established that, “esta ley [referring to an earlier one, of June 5, passed in order to prevent primogeniture unions in Portugal] queremos e mandamos se entenda não somente casando as pessoas destes Reynos e Senhorios de Portugal com outras naturaes delles, mas que tambem haja lugar nas pessoas que casarem fóra dos ditos Reynos com pessoas estrangeiras e não naturaes: por maneira que em nenhum tempo se possam ajuntar, nem ajuntem as ditas casas e Morgados deste Reyno, com os outros de outro Reyno de fóra deste, senao na forma desta Ley.”30 Clear examples highlighting the harsh process of becoming aware of the importance of nativeness as a practical issue for the nobility were the lawsuits and disputes which, in the first decades of the seventeenth century, Don Diego de Silva y Mendoza (1564-1630), the Count of Salinas,31 the Marquis of Alenquer and Viceroy of Portugal,32 had to face. Firstly his rivals in the Council of Portugal and then the political enemies he had among the representatives of the Portuguese Crown (taking advantage of the importance that nativeness requirements had acquired after 1580) denied him his rights both to the positions he had and the titles Felipe III had given him during his reign, as well as to his right to succeed in Portugal to his family’s Portuguese estates because he was born and lived in Castile. He, on the other hand, did everything within his power to be acknowledged as a legal and natural citizen of Portugal, but in vain.33
It has again been pointed out recently that, in the early modern period, identities were multiple and capable of adapting to one another according to circumstances,34 in the same way that there were several imaginary communities35 to which the individuals of the Ancien Régime could feel that they belonged. In my opinion, this is undoubtedly most fertile ground for analyzing the relationship between nobility and naturalidade in the early modern period. Nevertheless, in this article, my purpose is to study the legal reflections of the very secondary position that the connection with naturalidade—now meaning mainly nativeness—occupied in the nobility’s economic, political and family practices. In spite of the criticism directed against historical research that focuses too heavily on legal texts, the importance of the latter cannot be denied because, as António Manuel Hespanha has pointed out, legal texts are a compact way of expressing the political, theological and philosophical concepts that are produced by and about different societies, as well as a way of reinforcing the social spread of those same concepts.36 Therefore, without seeking to investigate aristocratic imagery at this point, I will focus on the study of nativeness, not as an element of identity, but as a legal requirement, as a need to access or enjoy privileges. And, furthermore, this will be done bearing in mind Tamar Herzog’s warning that very seldom were efforts made to define nativeness in the legislation of both kingdoms, something that was, in fact, only referred to in relation to conflictive contexts in their respective codes.37 In fact, nativeness, natives and foreigners are concepts that were taken as given and were only mentioned in connection with privileges, prohibitions and recognitions, or the lack thereof.
Starting then from these premises, I will try to prove my hypothesis in the following way: first, I will discuss the dual process taking place in Portugal in the fifteenth century, which included closing the borders and imposing trading restrictions on outsiders, while the nobility were able, without much difficulty, to pursue their political and family strategies as if the border of Castile did not exist. Then, through an analysis of the relationship between the concepts of native, foreigner or other origins in the Ordenações Afonsinas, Manuelinas and Filipinas, I will attempt to determine the importance that this characteristic had had for merchant groups since at least the reign of Dom Duarte (1433-1438), whereas, for the nobility, it remained of little relevance practically until the accession of Felipe II in 1580.
2. Absolute Royal Power, borders and commercial affronts.
The fifteenth century, as the historiographical cliché states, was a turbulent time in most Western European kingdoms, which ended after various periods of violence and civil wars with the consolidation on the throne of strong monarchs able to pursue policies that would help them to reassert their royal power. This was the case with Henry VII (1485-1509) in England after the War of the Roses and Isabel la Católica (1474-1504) in Castile after the civil war that followed the death of her brother Enrique IV (1454-1474). In their disputes, conflicts and temporary alliances with the nobility, the Church and the urban oligarchy, these strong monarchs, just like their weaker predecessors, sought to use their alleged absolute royal power as the legitimizing element. Through this reasoning, the monarch could take decisions that ran counter to the legal codes of their kingdoms, which could help potential allies. The importance that the acceptance of this authority had for the consolidation of royal power is obvious. As has been noted in the case of France at the end of the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453),38 as well as in the Castile of the Trastamaras in the fifteenth century,39 a transcendental phenomenon had begun to take place, by means of which the royal power would play an important and conflictive role: the consummation of the direct bond between the monarch and his or her subjects, leaving aside the intermediate relationships of vassalage40. In the mid-fifteenth century, the bond of naturalidade—assimilating being natural with being a native of the kingdom—had been established everywhere, although as we will see below this did not mean that vassalage was to lose its importance. In the reign of Juan II of Castile (1406-1454), it had already been established that, in general, nativeness came from birth and that when this did not exist, it could be obtained through the Cortes if a person’s roots or residence in any city of the kingdom could be proved. However, if anyone that was powerful and lacked those requirements wished to obtain naturalidade, they could approach the monarch, appealing to his absolute royal power and his grace and favor. This procedure, the ability to grant nativeness in an exceptional and irregular way, normally as a reward, became part of the repertory of pardons that a monarch could bestow.
The dynastic crises of the fifteenth century in both Castile and Portugal merely reinforced the notion of nativeness in contrast to the more traditional personal ties.41 In Portugal, it was Dom João II (1481-1495) who crucially made the ability to bestow nativeness an important part of the armory that monarchs could call on when administering pardons. The use of absolute royal power in bestowing nativeness must have met with great resistance from the beginning, particularly when a weak monarch tried to do this, as is shown by the contrast between the excessive forcefulness with which Juan II of Castile produced his nativeness letters when compared with the simple rhetoric of the ones bestowed by Dom João II of Portugal. Thus, for example, at the end of his turbulent reign, Juan II of Castile was to bestow letters of nativeness, with the privileges that this implied,
For his part, Dom João II of Portugal, at the end of his reign, and from a position of uncontested power, when he granted nativeness to the Castilian apothecary Alfonso Alvarez, a resident of Setúbal, limited himself to letting it be known “que nos queremos fazer gracia e honor,”43 to the said apothecary, to make him a native of his kingdoms, with all the rights pertaining to his natives.44 During the reign of Dom João II, special naturalizations of foreigners were channeled through his Chancellery, as can be seen in its files. With the creation of the Desembargo do Paço45 at the end of his reign and its organic constitution in 1521, in the reign of Dom Manuel I (1495-1521), those files were to become its jurisdiction. This new office, made up of the high court judges presided over by the king, had as its main area of competence to decide on matters of grace and favor, among which the naturalization of foreigners may have played a predominant role. Among the requirements asked of those who applied for Portuguese nativeness was the applicant’s occupation,46 which undoubtedly supports my hypothesis that those interested in being or not being identified as natives or foreigners, or in becoming natives, were by no means mainly the members of the nobility.
So, nativeness and its acquisition, or its granting, were first of all a matter that depended on the strengthening of royal power. Nativeness brought with it economic and commercial privileges, obviously affected by the difficult relations between Portugal and Castile throughout the fifteenth century. When the Treaty of Alcañices (1297) almost definitively shaped the frontiers of Portugal, the border between the two kingdoms became a major feature of both Castilian and Portuguese laws and their Cortes received petitions to either facilitate or impede (depending on the circumstances), the trade of goods, animals and people. This issue has in fact merited the attention of a great many historians because of the considerable body of information it has left behind.47 Throughout the Middle Ages, a series of rules were produced in order to control the traffic of goods, and to regulate or sometimes forbid the export of products that were considered too valuable; they also established the location of customs houses and their duties.48
Furthermore, during most of the fifteenth century, the border between Castile and Portugal was a hot spot where open war broke out on several occasions. The treaties of Medina del Campo (1431), Almeirim (1432) and Alcáçovas (1479) were only precarious islands of peace in a highly conflictive sea. In those years, both for reasons of economic policy and retaliation against the wars being fought, there started to appear at the Cortes discriminatory petitions and regulations against the “foreign” merchants in much larger numbers than can be identified in the files preserved from the fourteenth century.49 From the beginning of the fifteenth century onwards, there were a lot of petitions presented against outsiders, which indicates a clearly hostile environment towards them. It is worth dwelling on some of these petitions to understand the increasing inconvenience that those wishing to do business faced if they were foreigners in Portugal. The Cortes of Santarém in 1418 requested that foreign merchants should be inspected before they left for their countries, in order to prevent them taking away their gold and silver, and so did the Cortes of Leiria-Santarém in 1433.50 At the Cortes of Évora in 1436, it was petitioned that foreign merchants loading merchandise onto Portuguese ships should be obliged to repay the kingdom the profits from their sale within a year;51 at the Cortes of Lisbon in 1439, it was requested that foreign merchants should be declared unable to hold positions in the courts or the treasury and that the cities where they could sell retail goods should be controlled;52 at the Cortes of Santarém in 1451, the demand was that they should declare the goods that they intended to sell in the kingdom.53 At the Cortes of Lisbon in 1455, the dispute which the Portuguese wanted to avoid by hampering foreign merchants’ activities was finally made clear: obviously it was related to the increasing importance that was being given to overseas trade. Thus, it was requested that “o rei não dê os seus trautos a mercadores estrangeiros sem primeiro contactar os nacionais”54 and at the Cortes held in the same city in 1459 that “o rei não dê a mercadores estrangeiros exclusivos de exportação de nenhumas mercadorias por nenhuma espécie de contratos mesmo ventajosos; que todas as mercadorias do reino sejam exportadas exclusivamente por mercadores nacionais; que sejam expulsos do reino os mercadores estrangeiros.”55 At the Cortes held in Coimbra/Évora in 1472-1473, the king was asked to take measures against the foreign merchants in the kingdom who, thanks to wholesale transactions, received large amounts of gold and silver, which they then exported.56 In the same Cortes and on the eve of the war with Castile, in an atmosphere of open hostility, the king’s authority was requested so that “os naturas do reino possam, a titulo de justa compensação, resarcir-se nos castelhanos dos roubos e furtos que eles lhes fazem por mar e por terra.”57 In a war or pre-war atmosphere, retaliatory petitions of this nature were common and, in every case, the power to grant them was always a royal matter.58 The situation was the same in Castile, and, when the monarch bestowed such a right, he did so based on the premise that, as an act of war, the retaliatory action could be exercised against anyone having the same nature as the offenders. Thus, for example, in August 1478. the Catholic Monarchs granted Juan García Menayo, a resident of Badajoz, the petition of retaliation which he had requested against some Portuguese who had stolen his cattle and goods during the truce with Portugal. The Catholic Monarchs Isabel and Fernando thus ordered,
The antagonism displayed towards foreign merchants during peacetime reached its peak at the Cortes of Évora/Viana of 1481-1482, when it was requested “que o rei determine um prazo dentro do qual todos os mercadores estrangeiros estantes no reino se vao embora; que todos os estrangeiros vindos ao reino para mercadejar regressem nas naus e navios em que vieram, sob uma pena taxativa.”60
Unless made during wartime, these petitions seldom gained royal approval. From the fourteenth century onwards, international trade, and maritime trade in particular, had reached such a level of complexity that a mechanism had been established to minimize the impact which possible periods of war might have on it.61 Nevertheless, during the fifteenth century and particularly between Castile and Portugal in the context of their overseas and dynastic rivalry, this rudimentary form of commercial protection almost always failed to achieve its purposes. In any case, and under certain particular circumstances, nativeness had acquired exceptional importance by the end of the century, above all since the fact of not being a native might lead to limitations being imposed on the business intended to be carried out in Portugal. The signing of the treaties of Alcáçovas (1479) and Tordesillas (1494), later ratified by the renowned papal bulls, formally meant a long period of peace between Castile and Portugal. But they also meant the creation of a new privilege for the natives of each of those kingdoms—or for the foreigners who managed to obtain a favor from either the Castilian or the Portuguese monarch—namely the permission to trade in their new overseas world, delimited by the renowned line drawn at 370 leagues from Cape Verde,62 and to partake directly in its riches and opportunities.
At the end of the fifteenth century and during the first half of the sixteenth century, the border between Portugal and Castile was no longer an area of conflict and began to flourish as the trading area which it had always been63. But by then the difference between being a native or not, and the privileges and contingent inconveniences which each of those conditions entailed, had become firmly consolidated. It is easy to understand that nativeness of the kingdom had started to be of great importance for merchants and businessmen alike. But the question that must now be answered is when and how did that condition become equally useful or necessary for the nobility?
3. Wandering nobility, a few vassal princes and double naturalidade.
After the Treaty of Alcañices (1297), and during and after the wars of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the frontier between Portugal and Spain did not mean anything to the Castilian and the Portuguese nobility, although the possibility of changing their natural king did, as well as the idea of supporting either Iberian king depending on the situation. Referring to early modern nobility, António Manuel Hespanha has pointed out that if native-born nobles belonged to the titled nobility, to the fidalgos of the noble houses and to those inscribed in the registers of the Royal Household,64 as long as there was a king to guarantee those sources of nobility, little did it matter which crown he was wearing or which kingdom his subjects were native to.
From the fourteenth century onwards, Castilian and Portuguese noblemen had been crossing the border for the most varied reasons—fleeing from a betrayed king, seeking prosperity by offering vassalage to another king—which allowed them to establish a family network on both sides of the frontier.65 The same trend was continued at the beginning of the fifteenth century with the accession to the Portuguese throne of the House of Avis.66 By the end of the fifteenth century, there were few Portuguese noble families who did not have Castilian blood in their veins and vice-versa. In 1486, Fernando del Pulgar published his celebrated Claros varones de Castilla, dedicated to Queen Isabel la Católica. The chronicler, driven by his “amor de mi tierra” (love for my land) set to “escrevir de algunos claros varones, perlados e cavalleros, naturales de los vuestros reinos.”67In that list of illustrious males from Castile, there were three of Portuguese origin who enjoyed considerable power in the kingdom of the Catholic Queen. One was the Marquis of Villena, Don Juan Pacheco “de nación portoguesa, de los más nobles de aquel reino, nieto de Juan Fernández Pacheco, uno de los cavalleros que vinieron de Portogal a Castilla al servicio del rey don Juan, el que fue vencido en la batalla de Aljubarrota;”68 the second was Don Juan de Silva, the Count of Cifuentes, “fijodalgo de limpia sangre,”69 whose grandparents “fueron naturales del reino de Portogal;”70 and the third one was none other than the famous Archbishop of Toledo, Don Alonso Carrillo, who was “de los fidalgos e de limpia sangre del reino de Portugal. Su avuelo fue un cavallero portogués que vino a Castilla al servicio del rey don Juan, el que fue vencido en la batalla de Aljubarrota.”71
Contrary to what was happening with merchants and tradesmen, the nobility did not find their realm's naturalidade, meaning that concept the love which bound them to their king, to be an obstacle.The turbulent fifteenth century was particularly propitious for emigrations from one side of the border to the other and, in all cases, the most important thing was the strength of their loyalty to the king—or its weakness—and knowing how to choose the right one, rather than having the status of a “native” of one of the two realms. There are numerous examples that could be provided, but we are going to focus here on two from 1475, one of which illustrates certain practices for the establishment of ties, while the other shows that, in the long run, there was a latent close connection between naturalidade and political necessity, even in the sphere of the privileged minority.
As is known, when Enrique IV of Castile died in December 1474, his sister Isabel hurried to proclaim herself Queen of Castile in advance of her niece Juana, known as La Beltraneja, who was willing to marry Dom Afonso V of Portugal. This dynastic conflict would be the cause of two wars, a civil one in Castile and another one against Portugal. From the very first moment, the king of Portugal sought to procure for himself and his future wife the support of the high nobility who had sided against Queen Isabel. On March 29, 1475, Dom Afonso V signed an agreement with the son of the Marquis of Villena through which, in exchange, he would receive his support and the recognition of himself and Juana la Beltraneja as the monarchs of Castile,
This deal was not exceptional in the least and it did nothing more than continue the tradition of negotiating an agreement whereby the Castilian nobility would support a possible accession of Dom Afonso V to the Castilian throne,73 an idea that came from the turbulent years of Enrique IV’s reign, with many of them being rendered single by civil war, in which Portugal had sometimes intervened. The relationships—loyalties and betrayals—between the king and the noblemen were frequently not a question of nativeness (and now we are referring to the fifteenth century), but more a matter of the recognition of legitimate sovereignty and mutual convenience. The chronicler Garcia de Resende, talking about the habits of Dom João II, says that, “não soamente fazia merces a seus criados, e naturaes, mas nos Reynos estrangeiros de Castella, Aragão, França, Roma, e outras muytas partes, muytas e grandes pessoas recebiam delle em cada hum anno muytas e grandes merces secretamente.”74 The economics of grace and favor, therefore, did not establish bonds only between the natural king and his natural vassals. Going back to Dom Afonso V, it is clear that he was willing to pay a substantial price in order to be considered a natural king by the Marquis of Villena’s son if that might have meant his being recognized as king of Castile. Hence, on occasions, the nobility had quite a lot of leeway for deciding which king or queen they would consider their natural monarch, and what they would receive in exchange for that, regardless of whether or not this monarch had already been recognized by his or her own kingdom.
Through the Anales de Aragón by Zurita—presumably unaltered—we have access to a manifesto by Juana la Beltraneja to the Castilians, signed in Plasencia on May 30, 1475, just two months after her royal consort had promised the earth to the Marquis of Villena’s son and his relatives. It is important to note the defense that Doña Juana makes of the legitimacy of her husband at the end of this important and illustrative document. The strongest point that la Beltraneja makes is that the king of Portugal, the third monarch of the House of Avis, “mi señor es natural destos mis reynos: e que de la casa real de Castilla: e desciende del Rey don Enrique el segundo de gloriosa memoria; e del Rey don Juan su fijo visaguelo del dicho Rey mi señor, e padre que Dios aya.”75 The fact that Dom Afonso V of Portugal was declared a native of the kingdoms of Castile and Leon was a clear indicator of the importance which that legal category was beginning to gain in the increasingly strong Iberian monarchies and a sign of the importance which that status would have for the nobility when the moment came to inherit estates in kingdoms of which they were not natives.
For a certain time, nevertheless, nativeness of a kingdom, the bond with the natural king, and also vassalage, would continue to be a concept that depended on a confederacy of diffuse borders and was placed at the service of the nobility’s strategies for preserving their estates. And we are not only talking about the strategies of the nobility. It is important to mention, albeit only briefly, that the declaration made by a non-European prince of naturalidade and vassalage to the king of Portugal could mean—and in fact implied—the effective control of a strategic territory. In 1490, the caíd of Azamor in North Africa let it be known to the king Dom João II through his “cavaleiros naturaaes e vassallos” (native knights and vassals), Joham Froez and Martym Reynell, that it was the will of the whole of his Republic (sic) to take him as their lord; he therefore asked him to treat him and his subjects “como vossos naturaaes e vassallos.”76 All this was, of course, done in exchange for a series of military, commercial and territorial concessions. This was common legal practice in both Iberian overseas worlds, which I just mention here in order not to omit one of the most important meanings that naturalidade was beginning to gain in connection with early modern social elites, including those of non-European territories assimilated by the conquistadores.
So far, we have seen the ease with which the Portuguese and Castilian nobility were able to switch allegiance from one monarch to the other thanks to the permeability of the Portuguese-Castilian border. In this process, the granting of nativeness, or the lack thereof, did not seem to have any importance in the host kingdom. Nevertheless, treason was not the only cause of emigration for those Iberian nobles. There was another and very significant one, between the mid-fifteenth and the mid-sixteenth century, which implied considering nativeness as a measure of grace, and was nothing other than the many marriages agreed between the Castilian and Portuguese royal houses.
After almost seven decades since the last Castilian marriage—that of Dona Beatriz, the daughter of Fernando I of Portugal (1367-1383) to Juan of Castile (1379-1390) in 1383—there began once more, in 1455, to be marriages between the Portuguese and Castilian royal houses.77 That year, Enrique IV of Castile married Princess Joana, the sister of Dom Afonso V of Portugal. This was just the start of a practice that ended up becoming almost customary. Leaving aside the fleeting marriage between Dom Afonso V and Juana la Beltraneja in 1475, in 1490, Princess Isabel, the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, married Prince Afonso of Portugal. On his death, she married Dom Manuel I, who, in turn, on her death, married firstly the Castilian princess Maria (1501) and then Leonor (1509). In 1525, Isabel of Portugal, the daughter of Dom Manuel I, married Carlos V (1516-1556), and João III of Portugal (1521-1557) married Catarina de Austria, the sister of the Emperor. In 1543, there was a marriage between their daughter, Princess Maria Manuela of Portugal and the future king Felipe II (1556-1598). The last Portuguese-Castilian marriage took place in 1552 between Prince João, the son of Dom João III of Portugal and Juana de Austria, the daughter of Carlos V. These ten marriages in the space of a century led to the non-stop transfer of nobility from one kingdom to the other, a situation that inevitably sheds light upon the relationship between the aristocracy, nativeness and the acquisition thereof.
In the matrimonial capitulations of 1453 of the first of the mentioned marriages, which joined together the future king Enrique IV of Castile and Princess Juana of Portugal, the bride was granted a series of rents and rights in Ciudad Rodrigo and Ciudad Real. In order to exercise her authority and collect her dues, she was allowed to “poner en los castillos e fortalezas dellas alcaydes mayores castellanos o portugueses o otros de qualquer naçion que sean quantos ella quisere e por bien touiere q a nos sean gratos e q a ella fagan dellos omenaje simplemente sin cautela ni condiçion, siempre salua e yrda da lealtad e verdat al señor Rey mi padre e a nos.”78So, in the mid-fifteenth century the queen was afforded the difficult privilege of appointing alcaides who were not natives of the kingdom, as long as they were loyal to the king. Within a few decades, the privileges of nativeness would improve considerably both in Portugal and Castile and become a channel of promotion and prosperity for the nobility.
In September 1479, shortly after the end of the war between Castile and Portugal, the first matrimonial capitulations were signed to marry the eldest daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, Princess Isabel, to a son of Dom Afonso V. In them, there was included for the first time—to our knowledge—a clause which would become canonical in the future capitulations between members of the Houses of Avis and Trastamara—and Austria when the time came. Once married, Princess Isabel would by virtue of that clause,
The same clause was repeated in the capitulations between Princess Maria and Dom Manuel I in 1500;80 in the ones agreed between the latter and Leonor de Austria in 1518;81 in those of 1524 between Dom João III and Catarina of Austria82 and, in 1543, between Prince João and Juana of Austria.83 Such a decision was reciprocal and both Isabel of Portugal, in 1525,84 and Princess Maria Manuela of Portugal, in 1543,85 as well as her servants, became Castilian natives under the same conditions as the Castilian brides and servants had been granted Portuguese nativeness.
Being a member of the royal entourage was, without doubt, a great opportunity for prospering in the neighboring kingdom. Queens did their best to arrange good marriages for the servants who had recently become natives. Nativeness provided a career within the palace structure, helped to connect those who enjoyed this status with good native families, and could even mean the beginning of a promising ecclesiastical career in the host kingdom. Proof of this is to be found in the analysis made by Maria Paula Lourenço, in the House of Queen Catarina of Austria, of the careers of several Castilians who had become natives when arriving in Portugal in her entourage. Thus, the Bocanegra, Velasques and Aguilar families managed to build significant alliances which helped them consolidate their position within the House of the Queen during her long reign; and Don Julián de Alva, the new Queen’s confessor and almoner, ended up being promoted to the Episcopal See of Portalegre, in 1550, being awarded a seat on the Royal Council.86 In conclusion, the possibility of having both the privileges of the host kingdom and of the kingdom of origin—and therefore none of their inconveniences—certainly made the nobility aware of the advantages of achieving legal nativeness. In fact, when Portugal was annexed to the Catholic Monarchy, and that road to prosperity and double nativeness became blocked, the nobility tried to retain some of the advantages that the Portuguese-Castilian marriages had brought them. Among the conditions presented to Felipe II in Tomar, was the one that, “la Reyna se servirà ordinariamente de Señoras y Damas Portuguesas, y que las casarà en la Patria, y en Castilla.”87
4. Natives and Foreigners in Early Modern Legal Codes (15th-17th century).
In this section, I will analyze the scant references made to natives and foreigners in the three main Portuguese early modern legal codes, the Ordenações Alfonsinas, Manuelinas and Filipinas. The study of the different codes in which they appear and the people to whom they are applied will allow me to confirm the trend noted in the sections above, where we saw the immediate connection between trade and the need to be a native of the respective kingdom, as well as to analyze the progressive convergence of the nobility towards that same process. The conclusions I come to will constitute a theoretical framework for the future analysis of nativeness and the deprivation of nativeness, practices that I intend to develop in my present research project.
The Afonsine Ordinances were already in force by the mid-fifteenth century and therefore listed laws that dated back even to before the reign of Dom Duarte (1433-1438), as well as more recent ones promulgated by Dom Afonso V (1438-1481) in 1454. In the laws collected in that code, in the headings and pleas, there coexist expressions such as our vassals, pessoas de nossos Reynos (people of our Kingdoms) and our natives, a proof that the nativeness meaning of naturalidade, without having reached any hegemony, had achieved maturity in the sense which interests me in this article. Of course, the word was also used in the more restricted sense of belonging or living in a village, town or city, or being from a “terra” or a royal or manorial estate. Thus, for example, a Law issued by Dom Duarte establishes that “vizinho se entenda de cada hua Cidade, Villa, ou lugar aquelle que delle for natural ou em elle tiver alguua dignidade, ou officio nosso, ou da Raynha muito amada, e prezada Mulher, ou d’outro alguu Senhor da terra.”88 In my analysis, I will omit those generic references, as they are, generally speaking rhetorical in nature and do not contribute in any way to answering the questions we are facing here.
In the first of these ordinances, butnot as overwhelmingly as was to be the case in the following two, which were to govern life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, nativeness started to gain in importance as an element to be used for distinguishing between the merchants belonging to the kingdom and foreign merchants, stating the privileges corresponding to the latter. The Afonsine Ordinances included a law introduced by Dom Fernando I (1367-1383) with the significant title of Dos Mercadores Estrangeros, como ham de comprar e vender suas mercadarias.89 The sole purpose of that law was to protect “os Mercadores nossos naturaaes,” “dos nossos Regnos, e naturaes,” and “todolos nossos naturaaes”90 from the always shady, quick-witted and opportunistic “Mercadores Estrangeiros” (foreign merchants); or as stated in a law by João I (1385-1433) about cloth, from the “Mercadores, e outras qualquer pessoas de fora de nossos Regnos.”91
At that moment, the laws and the king himself as a lawmaker reflected an identity somewhere between the condition of being a native of the king and a native of the kingdom and, in that context, the classification can be applied to both the noble and the plebeian. Naturalidade still implies a community in which the kingdom’s political structure and the political body of the monarch intermingle. In this regard, the beautiful heading of Title III of Book III of the Afonsine Ordinances is highly illustrative. It refers to those who cannot be called to Court, where we read, “a Corte d’ElRey he chamada em Direito terra comu a todos os naturaes desse Reyno, assi como a corte de Roma a todos os Christaos do Mundo.”92 The court was the place where the king was found; it was therefore his presence that determined the state of the nation, the common territory of all his natives, the natives of the kingdom. Within this concept, in which the bond with the monarch was predominant, the nobility could feel comfortable when being qualified as natives. In fact, contrary to what was to happen in the subsequent codes, the link between native and noble in any of its categories was quite frequent in the Afonsine Ordinances.
In fact, a law passed by Dom Fernando I,93 and designed in theory to instill harmony between his direct vassals and his vassals’ vassals, but in practice to tie them all to him through a bond of vassalage, uses a kind of rhetoric which proves that being a native of the king is not the same as being a native of the kingdom. In the already mentioned law, Dom Fernando I refers to his “naturaees e Vassallos,” natives and vassals, when issuing laws about the duties of vassalage that were to be paid either to him or to his princes, and describing the cases that were exempt from that formality. In item eight of that law, those subject to the law are more clearly specified, the “Fidalgos nossos naturaees, e outros que vivem no nosso Senhorio […] [que] servirem em defensom da terra, d’hu som naturaaes, ou em que vivem, e devem a todo o tempo estar presentes;” in conclusion, “quaeesquer Fidalgos, que em nossa terra e Senhorio vivem, ou daqui em diante viverem, que sejam nossos Vassallos, ou do Ifante, ou dos nossos Vassallos maiores, que de nós teem lugar, e estado per a esto.”94 At that moment, or at least at the end of the fourteenth century—and still respected in the mid-fifteenth century—what determined the power of the nobility to become natives of the king and to enjoy the political and territorial power which this entailed was not the identity of the realm to which they belonged, but their bond with the monarch, contrary to what was already happening with merchants.
In fact, and leaving aside the names of native vassals, we have found only one peculiar kind of nativeness among the nobility. At the Cortes of Elvas (in 1361), the clergy lodged a complaint with Dom Pedro I (1357-1367) about the abuse of the nobility who occupied churches and monasteries, organized feasts and invited whoever they wanted, taking wines and cattle and even using the rooms of abbots and priors.95 The fidalgos claimed they had a right to perpetrate what the clergy called abuses, since they were “naturaaes desses Moesteiros e Igrejas” (natives of these monasteries and churches). On the subject of what it might mean to be a native of a church or monastery, we have found a clue in a law recorded in the books of the Chancellery of Juan I (1385- 1433), which also appears in the Afonsine Ordinances96 where it is stated that,
It can be inferred from Juan I’s law that the monastic nativeness of the nobility –to give it a name—was related to the kind of connection that their lineages had with those religious institutions where their ancestors lay buried and which would undoubtedly display their families’ coats of arms; the fact that the present religious communities were not willing to recognize that authority any longer was beside the point. In any case, as the example shows, at the end of the fourteenth century and until at least the mid-fifteenth century, for the nobility, naturalidade referred to a personal and family tie which connected with their lineage and the monarch, and had little to do with the legal requirements of belonging to the kingdom (nativeness), a consideration that was starting to become important for tradesmen and merchants.
Table I - References Made to Natives and Foreigners in Manueline Ordinances (1521 edition).
This trend was to become more noticeable in the laws drawn up in the reign of Dom Manuel I, known as the Manueline Ordinances, the final and official version of which, after the withdrawal of the 1512, 1513. and 1514 editions, was published, as is known, in 1521.98 In this document, as shown in Table I, most of the references to natives and foreigners are found in questions relating to legal procedures with tradesmen and merchants, and the Crown’s control over the trade in cattle and overseas products. Of the thirty-seven times that natives and foreigners are mentioned, in only two cases is there a clear reference to native or foreign nobles: in the law forbidding duels and in the regulations governing the award of knighthoods overseas, which contains a questionnaire that the fortunate person has to answer and which includes a question about his nativeness, although it is not clear in this case if the question refers to the kingdom, the town or the city of the knight in pectore.
A remarkable novelty that we find in the Manueline Ordinances, which was to become important in the course of the century and even more so from 1580 onwards, is the requirement of nativeness in order to be elected for certain positions and public situations, which would affect the small nobility. Thus, to be elected as a Councilor of Justice for the Casa de Suplicação, one of the main legal positions in the kingdom, in addition to proving nobility, virtue, goodness and fear of God, a man “deue seer Nosso natural.”99 In the same way, as far as the mayors of towns and cities in Portugal were concerned, it was established that they “nom sejam estrangeiros, mas naturaes de nossos Reynos, e Senhorios,”100 whereas with council officials there was greater flexibility, since it was requested that they should be “naturaes, ou moradores.101 Likewise, the Governor of the Casa do Civel also had to be “Nosso natural.”102
I believe that the inclusion of the nativeness requirement for access to certain positions and public offices in Portugal was closely linked to a remarkable situation that lasted from 1498 to 1500, the length in fact of the life of Prince Miguel, the son of Dom Manuel I, O Venturoso, and his first wife, Queen Isabel, and the grandson of the Catholic Monarchs. Known as a child of feeble health, he was the heir to Portugal, Castile and Aragón between 1499 and 1500. Given the possibility of an Iberian Union under the reign of Prince Miguel and because of the pressure that he was under from his subjects, Dom Manuel issued a royal charter stating how Portugal should be governed in such an eventuality.103 In that document, it was written for the first time that all the important positions in the kingdom, absolutely all of them, would always be reserved for the Portuguese: viceroys and governors, all the positions of justice, los veedores da fazenda (treasury officials) and high-ranking accountants, military positions (constables, admirals, standard-bearers, marshals, captains) and overseas captains. The premature death of Prince Miguel rendered all of these instructions ineffective, but the awareness that the day might come when the Portuguese would share a king with natives of other kingdoms undoubtedly gave a significant push to the recognition of nativeness as a criterion for reducing the number of competitors in the bureaucratic, judicial and military careers.
It is nevertheless worth pointing out—though it is also absolutely logical—that side by side with this tendency to impose the requirement of nativeness for positions and situations that we might call bureaucratic and related to the administration of justice, there should coexist the extraordinary importance of loyalty to the king in military appointments, a requirement that was also in force. It was required of the Alcaldes Mayores (the governors of castles), that, in addition to being of good lineage, having military competence and the ability to mobilize men and resources for the defense of royal fortresses, not they should have the status of natives of the kingdom, but that they should demonstrate loyalty.104 Of the governors that they should appoint to defend the king’s castles in the case of their necessary and inexcusable absence, it was requested, in addition to fidalguia, that “nom aja feita traiçam, nem aleiue, nem venha de homes que a ouuessem feita.”105 In fact, when they occupied their position, they had to pledge allegiance to the very powerful Dom Manuel, “meu verdadeiro, e natural Rey, e Senhor.”106
Thus, according to what the Ordinances showed, in the transition from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, there began to be a bifurcation of the evolving etymology of naturalidade in the sense that interests me in this article. The first one, connected with legally belonging to the kingdom (nativeness), was to grow in importance for non-privileged classes whose economic activities could be affected by their condition of being either natives or foreigners; and the other one, which more clearly retained the original sense of having a bond with the monarch that stretched beyond borders and legal territories. The evolution of this dual process would become a source of conflict in the following years.
Table II - References Made to Natives and Foreigners in the Philippine Ordinances.
The uncodified decrees essentially promulgated by Dom Manuel I and Dom João III are not relevant to this research; all the regulations relating to foreigners merely refer to special courts for national groups, such as Germans,107 or repeat the same old ban on Castilian exports of cattle.108 The Philippine Ordinances (1603) did, however, contain a series of laws of great relevance relating to nativeness and its relationship with the nobility. As shown in Table II, the laws that most frequently referred to natives and non-natives were those which, for different reasons, imposed restrictions on exports and overseas trade. Nevertheless, the most significant was a series of laws which, although not large in number, were of great relevance for the subject under study here. Firstly, it is worth mentioning Title LV of Lib. II, Das pessoas que devem ser havidas por naturaes destes Reinos.109 This was the first time that Portuguese laws had revealed the need to establish who could legally claim Portuguese nativeness and the requirements that had to be met in order to do so. Those laws, promulgated by the new Habsburg dynasty after the Iberian Union, were a response to the growing demands for nativeness in the kingdom. As Felipe II had agreed at the Cortes of Tomar, viceroys and governors and all those holding legal and financial positions now had to be Portuguese, as well as those working for the royal household, those holding military positions on land and at sea, and the beneficiaries of secular and religious prebends and of jurisdictional and royal allowances.110 Further proof of the importance of nativeness is shown by the fact that, for the first time, it was established that renouncing one’s nativeness would be a punishable offence when the intention was either to gain some benefit from the kingdom or to protest to the Holy See against royal privileges.111
Even though the nobility might feel that being a natural represented a loving bond with their monarch, it was obvious that after 1580 they could not close their eyes either to the meaning of nativeness, which had become hegemonic, or to its consequences. The unification of the two dynasties had ended the freedom of movement and the alliances which the nobility had enjoyed, as if the border between Spain and Portugal did not exist. Part 14 of Heading C of Book IV of the Philippine Ordinances, the famed law of 1595, restricted, for the first time, marriages and the joining together of estates between members of the nobility who were natives of different kingdoms. Many different strategies would be devised in order to get around those obstacles, among them taking part in debates about what was involved in being a vassal of the Catholic king in any of his kingdoms.112 But the truth is that no longer was being a native of the kingdom a matter that only concerned merchants.
On August 25 1770, Dom José I (1750-1777) issued an alvará declaring that Dom Estêvão Soares de Mello, the lord of the Casa dos Donatários de Mello, and his sister, Dona Teresa de Mello, had been deprived of the naturalidade of their family, whom, as the king justified, they had insulted so much with their behavior.113 Unfortunately, the royal decree provides no more details about the indignities of the siblings of the House of Mello; nevertheless, some have become public thanks to other sources. For example, we know that Dona Teresa once pretended to be pregnant by her fiancé in order to be released from the Encarnación convent, where she lived in seclusion. Also, she accused her brother Dom Estêvão of being a deserter from war.114 These actions made them unworthy of representing the memory of their glorious ancestors so, once they had been divested of their family’s naturalidade, and being reputados por estranhos,115the Mello siblings and their descendants were divested of all the Crown property and Military Orders116 that they held. According to the genealogist Felgueiras, this stripping of the family’s naturalidade was tantamount to their being deprived of their status of being natives of the kingdom.117
In spite of the historian’s temptation to tell lineal stories and draw clear genealogies with lines which reach our days, the example of the Mello siblings and the concepts involved in the deprivation of their naturalidade- meaning nativeness and family belonging- prove that, at least in connection with nobility and despite what has been stated above, polysemy remained in Portugal until the end of the Old Regime. In the history of naturalidade, in its slow elaboration, it is clear that the legal aspects were relevant; but as it is demonstrated by the dissolute Mello siblings that in order to reach an accurate understanding of the full meaning of being natural and what it entailed to be deprived of it in that period, it is important to go on researching along the path of identities, imaginaries and conflictive practices in the kingdoms of early modern Europe.
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1 Translated by Mary Solari.
2012, ISSN 1645-6432
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