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An Aristocratic Economy in Portugal in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century: The House of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo

João Paulo Salvado1



This article examines the main characteristics of the economic governance of the estate of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo, one of the largest Portuguese noble houses of the first half of the seventeenth century. Themes such as the formation of the house’s patrimony and its management, the source of its income, and its spending and investment strategies, are all analyzed here, based on two accounting surveys that were produced by the house itself. It is hoped that in this way a contribution may be made towards a better understanding of the economic aspects of Portuguese aristocratic estates in this period.



Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo; noble household; patrimony; rents; Portugal; sixteenth and seventeenth centuries



O presente estudo examina as principais características do governo económico da casa dos marqueses de Castelo Rodrigo, uma das maiores casas nobiliárquicas portuguesas da primeira metade do século XVII. Temas como a constituição do património e sua gestão, a matriz dos seus rendimentos, as estratégias de dispêndio e investimento encontram aqui espaço de análise, construído a partir de dois instrumentos contabilísticos produzidos pela própria casa. Assim se espera contribuir para um conhecimento mais aprofundado da dimensão económica das casas senhoriais portuguesas neste período cronológico.



Marqueses de Castelo Rodrigo; casa senhorial; património; rendas; Portugal; séculos XVI–XVII



Despite the considerable increase in the number of studies on the nobility produced in Portugal over the last few decades, noble households have rarely been afforded due attention by historians. Except for the study by Nuno Gonçalo Monteiro (1998) of the last phase of the Ancien Régime, there are few monographs dedicated to the study of aristocratic houses and even fewer focusing on their material bases and economic management (Sena 1987; Lourenço 1995; Cunha 2000; Salvado 2009). There are various reasons for this lacuna, and perhaps the main one is related to the disappearance of family archives, a statement that is particularly valid for the period prior to the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Although this lack of primary sources makes it difficult to investigate their economic life, there is no doubting the relevance of such studies. In fact, throughout the Ancien Régime, the aristocratic houses controlled a substantial part of national resources, so that any investigation of the economic dynamics of the sixteenth to the eighteenth century must take into account their management options as well as their spending and investment strategies (O’Brien 2005).

This article examines the case of the House of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo, which is seen here as an opportunity to obtain an all-encompassing view of a seigniorial economy. Having been created in the context of the Union of Crowns of Castile and Portugal (1580-1640), this house was undoubtedly the largest and most prestigious of the new noble houses that appeared during that period. Its steady rise cannot be dissociated from the events that led to the Spanish rule of Portugal and the decisive involvement in this process of Dom Cristóvão de Moura (1538-1613), the first Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo, as well as the role that he later played in its governance. In what was to be a quite distinct set of circumstances, his son, Dom Manuel de Moura Corte Real (1592-1651), also achieved prominence in the service of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty, largely continuing along the path that had been laid by his father. Just as rapidly as it had risen to prominence, this house was brought suddenly to an end during the maelstrom of events that followed the enthronement of King John IV. The analysis here will therefore focus on the sixty years of the house’s existence in the kingdom of Portugal, with the examination being based on two accounting surveys written during the course of the administration of the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo: namely a survey of the house’s income and another of its expenditure.2 Produced in 1630 and 1631, these two documents enable us to form a unique view of various aspects of the house’s patrimonial management.

The first section of this article outlines the essential features of the political and social trajectory of the first and second marquises and the chronology of the additions that they made to their patrimony, underlining the important role that royal endowments played in this process. The second section provides a simultaneously static and dynamic view of the implantation of their estate, the exercise of their jurisdictions and the economic governance of their affairs, in order to identify the different aspects affecting the management of an aristocratic estate. In this section, aspects such as the scope of their powers, the administrative framework, and the different forms of economic management and of collecting rents and taxes are analyzed. The third section examines the house’s annual income, in order to place it within the context of the economic hierarchy of the Portuguese and Spanish aristocracy, breaking down this income into its different sources and, at the same time, considering the nature of the house’s assets and their geographical distribution. Based on the highly fragmentary data available, the fourth and last section deals with the main items of current and extraordinary expenditure and the productive investments that were made, in order to gauge the financial pressure that the house was subjected to and to address the topic of its indebtedness.

1. Origin and consolidation of the House of Castelo Rodrigo

The details of Dom Cristóvão de Moura’s political career have long been known, thanks to the pioneering study by Danvila y Burguero (1900), as well as those by Queirós Veloso (1946, 1953), and more recently the studies by Fernando Bouza (1987, 2000, 2008) and Santiago Martínez Hernández (2009, 2009a, 2010, 2011 and 2011a). The participation of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo in the government of Portugal has also been indirectly highlighted in several studies devoted to the reigns of Philip II to Philip IV, the Union of the Crowns or the Portuguese Restoration (Elliott 1986; Luxán Meléndez 1986; Valladares 1998, 2000; Schaub 2001; Olival 2008). Therefore, the following lines will only mention the most relevant aspects of the political career of the Mouras, which are essential for understanding the way in which their estate was formed and consolidated.

While still an adolescent, Dom Cristóvão de Moura moved to Spain in the retinue of Juana of Austria, the mother of the future king Sebastian and the sister of Philip II, remaining under her protection until her death (1573). In the meantime, he was transferred to the house of Don Carlos, Prince of Asturias, in 1564 and then, after its dissolution, to the house of Philip II. In the service of Juana of Austria, he undertook his first missions in Portugal, gathering information about the health and progress of the young prince Sebastian. In the course of his travels between the courts of Madrid and Lisbon Dom Cristóvão de Moura served as a go-between in delicate family matters, at the request of the queen Catherine and Philip II. He was later entrusted with new duties at the Portuguese court in the service of Philip II and was made executor of the will of Juana of Austria in Portugal. In his performance of these tasks, Dom Cristóvão de Moura displayed a remarkable capacity for overcoming obstacles and demonstrated unique skills in the field of political negotiation. He showed these same characteristics again throughout the process that led to the incorporation of the Portuguese crown into the Spanish monarchy (1578-1581).

Within the context of the new political situation, Dom Cristóvão rapidly became one of Philip II’s leading ministers, having been appointed a member of the Council of Portugal in Madrid as early as 1583.3 His growing influence and the trust that he inspired led him to the Council of State and the Council of War, both of which he joined in 1587, while he was also afforded access to the house of the new Prince of Asturias, whom he served as Sumiller de corps (1589) and, for a brief period, as Lord Chamberlain (1598). In the house of Philip II, Dom Cristóvão combined the positions of Gentleman of the bedchamber and Sumiller de corps from 1592 onwards (Martínez Hernández 2010: 27). The change of king and the rise of the Marquis of Denia did, however, lead to an enormous decline in the political influence that he enjoyed in the court. He was forced to resign as Lord Chamberlain and, shortly afterwards, he was transferred to the post of viceroy of Portugal, an appointment that was regarded by many of his contemporaries, including himself, as a form of exile. He was to perform the duties of viceroy in Lisbon from 1600 to 1603, but, when his three-year period of governance came to an end, he only received permission to return to Madrid four years later. He remained there for only a short while, however, since by February 1608 he was once again back in Lisbon to serve another three-year period as viceroy. This was to be his last major post. On finishing his appointment in 1612, he returned to Madrid, where he died on 28 December 1613.

This unusual career and the corresponding reward of the many services that he provided largely resulted in the estate of the House of Castelo Rodrigo. While his service to the monarchy represented his main means of acquiring property, the first substantive addition to his estate was, however, achieved through marriage. It was through his marriage to Dona Margarida Corte Real, in 1581, that Dom Cristóvão de Moura took his first step towards amassing his fortune, since, at that time, all that he had of his own was a commandery from the Order of Calatrava (Puertollano) and a lifelong stipend of 750,000 maravedís (800,000 réis).4 And, although he was the heir to his father’s estate, he expected to obtain little from this. In fact, in his childhood, he had been made fun of because of the poverty that his clothes revealed (Cunha and Monteiro 2009: 68). Due to her brother’s death in the Battle of Alcácer-Quibir (1578), Dona Margarida had become the heiress and successor to the House of the Lords of Terra Nova (Newfoundland), whose estate was composed of entailed property (bens de morgadio) and crown property as well. The entailed estate of the Corte Real family, founded in 1518, consisted of a significant number of houses and stores close to Ribeira das Naus in Lisbon, a handful of rural and urban properties located on the island of Terceira (in the Azores) and the Quinta de Queluz, a country estate halfway between Lisbon and Sintra (ANTT, Chanc. de Dom João III, liv. 10, fls. 175-181). As far as the crown property was concerned, the bride’s father’s house had owned the donatorial captaincy (capitania-donataria) of Angra in the island of Terceira, on a perpetual basis, since the fifteenth century. The family also owned the captaincy of the island of São Jorge, as well as the presumptive right to Terra Nova. These donations were confirmed by Philip II as belonging to Dona Margarida, in direct contravention of the principles enshrined in the Lei Mental.5

Further endowments made by Philip II definitively catapulted Dom Cristóvão de Moura into the restricted group of the richest noblemen in Portugal. Thus, by 1581, he had already been appointed overseer of the Treasury (vedor da fazenda), and, the following year, he was awarded the captaincy of Praia, thereby becoming the lord of the whole island of Terceira (ANTT, Chanc. de D. Sebastião, liv. 45, fl. 159 and Chanc. de Filipe I, liv. 4, fls. 72-74). This was followed in 1583 by the award of the commandery of Zalamea of the Order of Alcantara, valued at 890,000 maravedís (950,000 réis), which was replaced in 1588 by the chief commandery of the same order, providing a further income of ten thousand ducats (4,000,000 réis) (Danvila y Burguero 1900: 693). On the death of his father in 1588, he inherited the chief governorship (alcaidaria-mor) of Castelo Rodrigo and the following year was appointed Sumiller de corps of the Prince of Asturias. In 1591, he received an extraordinary award of ten million maravedís (10,666,670 réis) and three years later received the title of Count of Castelo Rodrigo, which was given to him together with the village of the same name (Danvila y Burguero 1900: 717; ANTT, Chanc. Filipe I, liv. 31, fl. 48). That same year, he was also given the lordships (senhorios) of Cabeceiras de Basto, Lumiares, Lamegal and Paços de Ferreira, together with all of their jurisdictions and a part of their rents; with the permission of the crown, he was to buy the remaining rents for 16 million réis (ANTT, Chanc. de Filipe I, liv. 25, fls. 178-184). This important cycle of donations made by Philip II culminated in 1596 in the award to Dona Margarida Corte Real of the soap factories of the islands of Terceira and São Jorge (ANTT, Chanc. Filipe I, liv. 30, fl. 105-105v.º).

In the following reign, Dom Cristóvão de Moura was once again granted new privileges, at two distinct moments: in 1598, as part of the compensations that were granted to him for renouncing the position of Filipe III’s Lord Chamberlain, he was given the Paul de Trava, a rich marshland, and the title of Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo; and, at the time of his second appointment as viceroy, in 1607, the king awarded him the title of Count of Lumiares, which was intended to be used by the heirs and successors of the house (ANTT, Chanc. de Filipe III, liv. 11, fls. 133v.º-134v.º and liv. 7, fls. 32v.º-33v.º).

It was this group of assets that the first Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo was to pass on in their entirety to his successor, who in turn would be able to transmit them to subsequent generations, thanks to an extraordinary set of grants, which included several extra lives (vidas mais) in the assets that were donated on a lifetime basis and several exemptions of the Lei Mental (ANTT, Chanc. de Filipe III, liv 5, fls. 257-258v.º and liv. 7, fls. 32v.º-33v.º). Under these terms, the continuity of the House of Castelo Rodrigo was guaranteed, whether or not there were any male heirs, because the transmission of the estate through the female or collateral line was safeguarded. If we consider the rigidity of the principles that shaped the succession of the crown’s property in Portugal, this was undoubtedly an advantage that guaranteed the house’s stability from the very outset.

The rapid social ascent that saw the page of Princess Juana of Austria rise to Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo must be considered surprising when compared with what had been the customary practice in the last few decades of the Avis dynasty. Not only was the hierarchy of the nobility highly restricted at the top—with 19 titled houses and approximately a hundred lords of jurisdictions (senhores de jurisdições)—but also, according to the rules laid down by the crown, there were serious limitations in the access to the upper echelons, and progression within this group was very slow indeed. The fact that, on the eve of the Iberian Union, there only existed two dukedoms (Braganza and Aveiro), both of which had family connections with the royal household, and one marquisate (Vila Real), is a clear indication of the restricted nature of the upper nobility. In the case of the House of Vila Real, it is worth remembering that it took sixty-five years before the countship was raised to a marquisate. In comparison, the rapid rise of Dom Cristóvão de Moura from Count to Marquis, which he achieved in only four years, must also be understood in the light of the changes introduced by the Spanish monarchs into the dynamics that had marked the relationship between the crown and the group of the high nobility since the fifteenth century. Because of the need to reward individuals who had backed the Iberian Union and the extension to Portugal of the more liberal remunerative practices that were followed in the Spanish monarchy, the Spanish kings were responsible for broadening the group’s upper echelons and speeding up the processes of aristocratic advancement. As has already been noted, the number of titled houses in Portugal had risen to 59 by around 1640, with Philip III and Philip IV in particular making a sizeable contribution to this greater number (Monteiro 2007: 262). Such an increase was felt by the houses that had been founded before 1580 as upsetting the balance within the Portuguese aristocracy, so that Dom Cristóvão de Moura’s successful social, political and economic advancement inevitably gave rise to much discontent.

The role that Dom Cristóvão de Moura played in the government of Portugal was largely continued by his son. In 1615, Dom Manuel de Moura Corte Real entered the house of the Prince of Asturias to occupy the position of Gentleman of the bedchamber, and it was there that he managed to draw closer to the Count of Olivares, becoming associated with the faction that was opposed to the Duke of Lerma. When Philip IV ascended the throne, Dom Manuel was awarded the status of a Grandee of Spain, but the strengthening of the power and influence of Don Gaspar de Guzmán was unfavorable to him. Far from supporting his fellow partisan, Olivares thought he should limit him to the sphere of the government of Portugal. After being elected to the Council of Portugal in Madrid in 1623, it was in this town that the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo was to concentrate his political activity until the middle of 1628.

Meanwhile, his relationship with Olivares had been further strained by an additional source of tension, following the incident involving the chief commandery of the Order of Alcantara, which occurred in 1623. At the request of his valido (favorite), Philip IV had forced Dom Manuel de Moura to renounce this commandery in favor of Don Gaspar de Guzmán, granting him in return the chief commandery of the Order of Christ, an episode that was regarded by the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo as an insult. Thereafter, Dom Manuel de Moura never ceased to oppose Olivares and to plot his downfall. It is probably within this same context that we should view his removal from Madrid. In 1628, he was sent to Lisbon with instructions to oversee the preparations of the fleet that was to sail to India, remaining there from June 1628 to the end of December 1630, when he was ordered to return to Madrid. But he was to live in the Spanish capital for only a very brief period, since, at the end of July 1631, he left the city once more, this time heading to Rome to take up the post of ambassador to the Holy See, where he lived until January 1641.6 Consequently, he was at the Vatican when he learned of the palace coup that had brought the Duke of Braganza to the throne of Portugal.

With the embassy to Rome, a new cycle was to begin in the life of Dom Manuel de Moura and, in a certain sense, in the history of the Moura family as a whole, since this was the first time they had occupied a position outside the Iberian Peninsula. For the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo, it was also the beginning of a long absence of almost sixteen years, in the course of which a great deal was to change in his personal life and in the history of Spain. Once his diplomatic mission to the Vatican was completed, he was to move to Regensburg and Vienna (1641-1644) as Philip IV’s ambassador to the Holy Empire, and finally to Brussels, to take up the post of assistant governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1644-1647). On his return to Madrid in January 1648, in order to perform the role of the king’s Lord High Steward (mayordomo mayor), he was to find the court already without Olivares, who had fallen into disgrace some years earlier. He was to remain in Madrid until his death in 1651.

From the economic standpoint, the life of the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo was indelibly marked by the ascent to the throne of King John IV, and by his own refusal to recognize the new Portuguese king, which ended up proving fatal for the survival of the house. In fact, many of the estates that the Mouras had accumulated, both their ‘fully owned’ and the crown’s property, were situated in Portugal, with the Portuguese share of its patrimony having greatly increased since 1625, with the enforced replacement of the chief commandery of Alcantara by the chief commandery of the Portuguese Order of Christ.7 When the Duke of Braganza was acclaimed king, this group of assets was subjected to a first seizure in 1641, and, in view of Dom Manuel de Moura’s insistence on not recognizing the new king, it was definitively confiscated in 1642. The crown’s property and the commanderies that had been in the hands of the House of Castelo Rodrigo would later be partly incorporated into the House of Infantado, created in 1654. As far as the Mouras’ own estates were concerned, after the signing of the peace agreement between the two Iberian kingdoms in 1668, the successors to the House took several steps towards regaining possession of their patrimony, in a process that continued into the 19th century (Bouza 1998 and Gomes 2003). Meanwhile, in 1646, with the award of the Italian duchies of Trani and Matera, the first steps were taken towards reconstituting the patrimony of the House of Castelo Rodrigo, which thereafter only continued to exist in Spain and in the Italian territories of the Spanish monarchy (Martínez Hernandez 2009: 27, 30).

2. Patrimony and governance of the house

Around 1630, the patrimony of the House of Castelo Rodrigo was to be found distributed among four of the six provinces into which mainland Portugal was divided, as well as in the Azores. In Estremadura, Dom Manuel de Moura had urban properties in the city of Lisbon, a handful of rural properties in Queluz, and the Paul de Trava in the district of Santarém. In the province of Beira, more precisely in the coastal region of Beira, the House had six commanderies: Dornes and Santo Estêvão de Pussos, close to the River Zêzere; Alencarces,8 Ega (the chief commandery of the Order of Christ) and São Martinho do Bispo in the surroundings of Coimbra; and, finally, the commandery of Arganil. Further inland was the commandery of Nossa Senhora do Castelejo, belonging to the diocese of Guarda. Continuing on towards the region of Beira Alta and the border with Castile, the Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo was the Lord of Lamegal and, in the province of Trás-os-Montes, of Castelo Rodrigo, of which the Mouras had been the chief governors since the mid-sixteenth century. In Beira Alta, continuing to head in a west-northwest orientation, he controlled the village of Lumiares, the commandery of São Martinho de Cambres and the royal domain (reguengo) of Sanfins. Returning to the province of Trás-os-Montes, he held the commandery of Santa Eugénia da Ala, belonging to the diocese of Miranda, which was also the House’s most northerly possession. Further westwards in the same province, Dom Manuel controlled yet another commandery, São Nicolau de Carrazedo, and two other royal domains, Vila Pouca de Aguiar and Ribeira de Pena. Finally, the other properties that he administered in the kingdom were in the province of Entre Douro e Minho, where he was the lord of Cabeceiras de Basto and Paços de Ferreira, also possessing another two commanderies, Santa Maria de Airães and São Salvador de Unhão. In the Azores, Dom Manuel de Moura Corte Real administered four of the five islands in the central group of the archipelago: Terceira, with its two captaincies (Angra and Praia), São Jorge, Pico and Faial, these latter two islands having been incorporated on a perpetual basis in 1614.

The House of Castelo Rodrigo enjoyed a wide range of rights and prerogatives over this highly diverse estate, which ranged from the political and jurisdictional governance of its lordships (senhorios) to the collection of taxes, but also included exercising rights of patronage. To fulfill these tasks, the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo created an administrative structure of their own, served by a permanent communications network, in order to connect the various nodes to the House’s headquarters in Lisbon and from there to Madrid or, from 1631 onwards, to Rome. At the same time, they established a set of rules to be observed, not only in terms of financial administration, but also in the provision of servants and offices or even in the exercise of their respective jurisdictions. The goal of this administrative organization was to guarantee the fulfillment of higher orders issued by the marquises and to mobilize the resources needed for the social reproduction or for royal service. The administrative framework set up by the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo tended to separate the management of their income from the exercise of their seigniorial jurisdictions, which doesn’t mean that the two didn’t overlap here and there. This is the question that the following sections will examine.

2.1. The exercise of the jurisdictions

In its ten lordships, the House of Castelo Rodrigo exercised a variable set of powers, according to the terms of the donations that were made by the crown. A common feature to them all was the exercise of justice as a court of second instance. Furthermore, in the Azores, the House still had some military duties to perform and enjoyed the power to appoint officers, but there is no record of it presenting and confirming the respective municipal councils. In the kingdom of Portugal, in turn, it was exempt from visits by the corregedor (royal magistrate) and had the right to appoint its own judges and officers. Both in the Azorean lordships and in those of the kingdom itself, the heads of the House sought to exercise these rights in full, not only because of the symbolic importance associated with them, but also because of their implications in the political and economic control of their senhorios and in the formation of their own networks of clients. Under these terms, ouvidores (seigniorial judges) and lugar-tenentes (lieutenants), the latter being appointed for the Azores, were key figures in the administration of the lordships.

As was to be expected, the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo showed themselves to be particularly attentive to the administration of justice in the second instance. For this purpose, five ouvidorias were established by Dom Cristóvão de Moura: one in Cabeceiras de Basto, whose jurisdiction extended to Paços de Ferreira and Lumiares; another in Castelo Rodrigo whose jurisdiction also extended to Lamegal; two in the island of Terceira (one in the captaincy of Angra and the other in the captaincy of Praia) and one in São Jorge. Dom Manuel de Moura added a sixth ouvidoria to these five when he incorporated the islands of Faial and Pico, with the seat being installed in the former.

At the head of each of these judicial circumscriptions, the first and second marquises of Castelo Rodrigo placed ouvidores with quite distinct characteristics. In the Azorean context, possibly following a practice adopted by previous grantees (donatários), they resorted to individuals without any academic qualifications, whereas in the kingdom of Portugal the choice fell exclusively upon bachelors or licentiates qualified for the exercise of royal magistratures, just as happened in the great Portuguese houses.9 For their ouvidorias of Cabeceiras de Basto and Castelo Rodrigo, they succeeded in attracting individuals who were already members of the crown’s magistratures, by virtue of that other privilege that they had, according to which the time that they had already spent in service in their ouvidorias was taken into account for their advancement in their judicial careers.

The marquises of Castelo Rodrigo also jealously guarded and fulfilled their right to present and confirm the municipal councils of Cabeceiras de Basto, Castelo Rodrigo, Lumiares, Lamegal and Paços de Ferreira, for the reasons that have already been mentioned. After 1625, this prerogative was further extended to two villages that had previously been annexed to the commanderies of the Order of Christ: Ega and Dornes (BNP, códice 3377). The way in which they exercised this prerogative did, however, vary from place to place, depending on the importance that those centers had for the house and their position within the administrative framework.

Thus, in Castelo Rodrigo and Cabeceiras de Basto, Dom Manuel de Moura intervened actively, working in close conjunction with his ouvidores, participating not only in the drawing up of the lists of individuals who were eligible for the main municipal offices, but also in confirming their respective elections. And he did the same thing in Ega and Dornes, notwithstanding the fact that he did not have an ouvidor there. In Lumiares, Lamegal and Paços de Ferreira, however, he delegated this responsibility to his ouvidores. In any case, in the group of villages under his lordship, the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo always sought to accept the result of the elections, provided that the legal requirements were met when holding them and that the main council offices were preferentially filled by individuals originating from the urban centers in detriment to the rural peripheries.

As far as the award of offices was concerned, the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo had a vast range of positions to offer on their lordships. On the one hand, there were the offices of local justice, such as scribes, while, on the other hand, there were the seigniorial offices that were necessary for the ouvidorias. Ouvidores and lugar-tenentes played a fundamental role in filtering the positions that were normally attributed to the sons of the previous owners. These offices therefore functioned as a privileged means of building up clienteles. The impact that these clienteles had on the lives of the populations is proved by the complaints that the representatives of the council of Angra presented to the Cortes of 1642, protesting against the power that Dom Manuel de Moura’s lugar-tenente had over the appointed officials (Maldonado 1990: II, 261).

The last remark in this section relates to the military obligations that the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo had in the Azorean context. In accordance with the original donation charters from the fifteenth century, the military defense of the islands was the responsibility of the grantees and these duties were never explicitly revoked. However, the absenteeism of the captains, the increase in the naval pressure on the islands, their strategic interest in the context of the transatlantic routes and the enormous expenses involved with the military garrisons soon caused the crown to become increasingly involved in the organization of their defense. In effect, the captains’ responsibilities gradually diminished, so that, by the mid-sixteenth century, they only appointed a handful of commanding officers, while also conserving the title of captains and chief governors. In the case under study here, this reduction in military responsibilities further coincided with the uprising on Terceira, in 1581, which led to the formation of a general military government and the suspension of the powers of the captains in this domain. Despite their being reintroduced in the 1590s, the Mouras’ military powers were limited to the areas that had been established in the middle of the century.

2.2 Economic governance

Given the characteristics of their patrimony and the vocation of aristocratic economies, it is not surprising that the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo organized the economic administration of their estates around one fundamental aspect: the collection of rents and seigniorial dues. In order to guarantee the performance of this task and overcome the challenges presented by the scattered nature of its patrimony, the House created a network of administrative units (almoxarifados), controlled from its headquarters in Lisbon. At the head of each of these administrative districts was a receiver (almoxarife) appointed by the House, who played an irreplaceable role in establishing local connections. Besides the collection of rents and dues, his duties also included the renting or leasing of the House’s property and assets, the sale of the agricultural produce and the payment of local expenses. In the Azores, despite the difference in their nomenclature, these same duties were performed by the lugar-tenente. Based upon the economic administration of the kingdom, this seems to have been the model adopted by some of the great noble houses in the Iberian Peninsula, albeit with different names. Amongst such houses, were the House of Medina Sidonia (Salas Almela 2008: 156-159), the Spanish House of Infantado (Carrasco Martínez 1991: 302-316; 2011) and the House of Braganza which, in 1563, had as many as ten almoxarifados (Cunha 2000: 268).

Around 1630, the peripheral administrative network of the House of Castelo Rodrigo consisted of seven almoxarifados. The one in Lisbon managed the urban property that Dom Manuel owned in the city, as well as the rural properties of Queluz, and collected the wages and rents that were assigned to the royal almoxarifados of the city (the stipend of the four slaves, the commandery of the Casa da Índia and his wages and fees as overseer of the treasury). In Estremadura, Paul de Trava formed its own separate district, whose existence was explained, on the one hand, by its distance from Lisbon, and, on the other hand, by its high income and the complexity of its management. In Beira Litoral, the House had two almoxarifados, one with its headquarters in the village of Ega and another in Dornes. Besides the chief commandery of the Order of Christ, the first of these also controlled the commanderies of Alencarces, São Martinho do Bispo and São Gens de Arganil, as well as the alcaidaria-mor of Soure; while the second included the commanderies of Dornes and Santo Estêvão de Pussos. In turn, the municipal council of Cabeceiras de Basto was the seat of the House’s most important almoxarifado, which controlled the assets of the province of Entre Douro e Minho, part of those of Trás-os-Montes (Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Ribeira de Pena, the commanderies of São Nicolau de Carrazedo and São Martinho de Cambres), as well as part of the rents of Beira Alta (Lumiares and Sanfins). In Trás-os-Montes, the almoxarifado of Castelo Rodrigo was responsible for collecting the rents in this village and in Lamegal, the rents of Vilar Maior and the stipends corresponding to the titles of count and marquis assigned in the royal almoxarifado of Pinhel. Lying outside this administrative network were just two commanderies—Santa Eugénia da Ala (Trás-os-Montes) and Nossa Senhora do Castelejo (Beira)—which were managed by the House on a casuistic basis.

In turn, the islands of the Azores under the House’s administration formed a large district, which was subdivided into two. The headquarters was located in Angra, which controlled the most significant part of the property that the Mouras owned, both in the island of Terceira and São Jorge. The islands of Faial and Pico composed the second sub-group of the management of the family’s assets, unified through the agency of the only steward (feitor)known to operate within the context of the House’s organization.

This network of administrative units was headed by the almoxarifado of Lisbon, which simultaneously performed duties of both a local and a central nature. It was charged with the task of coordinating and managing the operations of this organizational network, supervising tax and rent collection and ensuring the regular flow of its revenues to Lisbon. It is therefore not surprising that this almoxarifado was led and controlled by the House’s main officer, whose position and responsibilities can be considered equivalent to those of a chief steward/overseer. As the central hub of the whole network, it was through him that the marquis’s instructions were channeled, as well as all the information produced by the peripheral extensions. To this end, use was made of the ordinary couriers who linked Lisbon to Madrid and Lisbon to the different parts of the kingdom, or the extraordinary couriers that were specially organized for this purpose. Equally fundamental was this officer’s involvement in the circulation of the revenue produced by the almoxarifados: after the local expenses had been paid, the net balances had to be transferred to Lisbon, which could be effected in the form of goods, bills of exchange, or through the direct payment of rents in Lisbon; and then from Lisbon they were transferred in part to Madrid, making use of the networks of Portuguese merchants operating between the two kingdoms. A second area in which this officer intervened was that of the administrative supervision of the receivers, including the lugar-tenente of the Azores. This involved the auditing of their accounts, in order to prove the legitimacy of the transactions that they had made. Only after these audits had been carried out were the accounts sent to Dom Manuel de Moura, in order to discharge the receivers of their responsibility.

In performing these duties, the chief steward/overseer received the help of a scribe, who controlled the House’s registry, where all information relevant to its governance was stored, as well as the help of a treasurer who, besides centralizing the revenues, audited the accounts of the receivers. This structure was completed with one last officer, entrusted with the task of selling on the market the agricultural produce sent from the Azores, Queluz and Paul de Trava.

In this brief examination of the House’s economic governance, it is also important to mention the uses to which the land was put and the forms of tax collection that were adopted and which can be identified in the static view for 1630. Generally speaking, the rural properties were leased out by way of short-term rental agreements or long-term contracts (emphyteusis). However, the choice between one form of lease or another depended on the nature and the characteristics of the property whose use was being leased out. Thus in the case of the House’s ‘fully owned’ entailed property, most of this was leased through short-term rental agreements, which were applied to the estates that provided high income. Emphyteutic leases, on the other hand, were rarely agreed for such property, being used only for the urban and rural properties that provided a low income. In turn, the twelve commanderies of the Order of Christ that consisted of rural properties provide a rather diverse picture: rental agreements did not exist here, with a widespread use being made of long-term lease contracts, in keeping with an age-old tradition. While it was common practice for the House to lease the right to exploit the land, it is worth noting one exception to this situation: as a result of the heavy investment that had been made by Dom Manuel de Moura, the Quinta de Queluz was the only estate that was maintained under a system of direct exploitation, certainly due to its use as a leisure residence.

As far as tax and rent collection was concerned, two distinct trends can be identified. In the case of the properties donated by the crown, the collection of their seigniorial rights and rents varied between receiving them directly, through the network of almoxarifados, and leasing them out. The choice between these two forms of collection depended on the opportunities and interests pursued by the House at a given time. Included in this category of revenue are production monopolies, retail monopolies (estancos de venda), seigniorial rights and ecclesiastic tithes. This form of alternating between different ways of collecting revenue was not to be found in the commanderies of the Order of Christ. In these properties, the collection of revenue had always been leased out, as was the case with most grantees of commanderies since at least the last quarter of the sixteenth century. In return for the renting of such collection, the leaseholder undertook to directly deliver the price of the contract in cash in Lisbon. Such a practice, which, as far as the case under study is concerned, seems to have overlapped with the duties of the local receivers, must be understood in the light of the financial pressure to which the budgets of the noble houses were subject and their wish to forestall the problems associated with the collection, storage and sale of agricultural produce.

3. Revenue

From his assets, Dom Manuel de Moura received an annual income, in 1630, of around 17.1 million réis, an amount that was sufficient to place him among the richest noblemen in Portugal (Table 1).

Table 110
Income of the House of Castelo Rodrigo (1630) (in réis)

























1. Crown property. 2. Stipends. 3. Property of the Order of Christ. 4. Total of columns 1 to 3. 5. Entailed property. 6. Private interest. 7. Total of columns 5 and 6. 8. Total income of the House.

Source: BNP, códice 3377.

In the hierarchy of the aristocracy, that amount was only surpassed by the amounts received by the Dukes of Braganza and Aveiro, which were reckoned to be 48 and 20 million réis respectively in 1615 (Silva 1867: III, 497). Below this figure was the income of the Marquis of Vila Real, who received 13.6 million réis, followed a long way behind by all the counts of the kingdom, the first of whom did not receive more than 8 million réis (Silva 1867: III, 497 and 503). Outside the nobility, the annual income of the House of Castelo Rodrigo was only matched by the revenue of Portugal’s largest dioceses. Thus, according to an estimate made in 1619, the archbishopric of Évora produced an income of some 24 million réis, the diocese of Coimbra 17 million, the archbishopric of Lisbon 16 million and that of Braga 14.2 million réis (Serrão 1979: 290-291). Extending the comparison to the aristocracy of the Iberian Peninsula, the revenue of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo still places them in a leading position. Their 38,868 ducats, which would be the value of the 17,146,923 réis converted into the Castilian currency, were clearly above the average estimated income of the houses of Spanish counts and marquises in 1630, which amounted to 21,100 ducats and 23,400 ducats respectively (Atienza Hernández 1987: 63, 56). Nonetheless, their income was still far below the average income of the houses of the dukes of the Spanish kingdoms, which amounted to approximately 90,000 ducats (Atienza Hernández 1987: 51).

If we look at the sources of the House’s income, we can see that the overwhelming majority of its income (roughly 89%) came from properties that had been donated by the crown, as was, in fact, also the case with the Houses of Braganza, Aveiro and Vila Real. And, under this broad heading, it is worth noting the clear prevalence of the income originating from the crown’s property over that originating from the Order of Christ, due to the large amounts that Dom Manuel de Moura took from his ten lordships under the form of monopolies, seigniorial rights and patronage. In fact, it can be said that the amount listed under the first heading could be even higher, if we consider that included in it is the conversion of the 410 moios11 of wheat, collected on the island of Terceira,12 which were normally sold in the local market or used to supply the Portuguese fortresses in North Africa. In fact, this wheat could be worth much more if it were exported to Lisbon, as happened in 1630, in the exceptional period of 1628-1631, when its price oscillated between 19,000 and 48,000 réis per moio (Mauro 1983: 376 and 388). Under these circumstances, Dom Manuel may have obtained between 7.9 and 19.2 million réis for the sale of the wheat, as opposed to the 2.5 to 3 million réis (the amount accounted for in the table), which would have been the value of the transaction in Azores in a situation of stable prices. However, the export of wheat to Lisbon does not seem to have been a regular option, in view of the resistance of Azorean municipalities. In any case, it is reasonable to admit that the income of the House of Castelo Rodrigo could have been more than 17 million réis, whenever it was possible to export part of the wheat to Lisbon, where its selling price on the market was, on average, three to four times higher.

From the Order of Christ, the House of Castelo Rodrigo received roughly the same income as that of the House of Braganza from its 34 commanderies, and half of what the House of Aveiro received from the Order of Santiago (Falcão 1859: 243-246 and 250-259).

Under the category of entailed property, the rent from the houses and stores that the House owned in Lisbon was by far the main source of income of Dom Manuel de Moura. This sizeable urban income, which arose from the incorporation of the entailed estate of the Corte Real family, contrasts with what is known of the other aristocratic houses, where rents from rural properties predominated. The second largest contribution came from the annual interest that the Counts of Tentúgal paid from the dowry of Dona Leonor de Melo, the second Marchioness of Castelo Rodrigo. In any case, these assets did not represent more than 11.3% of the house’s overall income.

One final remark should be made about the significance of the assets that Dona Margarida Corte Real brought in her dowry and which, as has already been said, represented the first important addition to the estate of the Mouras. Notwithstanding the successive donations of the crown, in 1630, the assets belonging to the house of the Lords of Terra Nova were responsible for almost 24% of the income received by Dom Manuel de Moura.

It is worth taking a look at the geographical distribution of the income, as a factor that could potentially explain the strategies set out by the House in terms of its economic governance (Table 2). The almoxarifados of Cabeceiras de Basto and Angra appear as the main contributors, being followed, at some distance, by the almoxarifado of Lisbon. Overall, these three administrative units were responsible for 60.7% of the House’s income, which suggests that there was a concentrated structure as far as the formation of the House’s income was concerned. Inevitably, the marquises’ attention was directed towards the two most profitable almoxarifados.

Table 2
Origin of the Income of the House of Castelo Rodrigo by Almoxarifados (1630) (in réis)




























1. Lisbon. 2. Trava. 3. Ega. 4. Dornes. 5. Cabeceiras de Basto. 6. Castelo Rodrigo. 7. Angra. 8. Income not attributed to any almoxarifado. 9. Total income of the House.

Source: BNP, códice 3377.

But it is through the comparison of the centers of expenditure that we can best understand the limits that this division imposed and the solutions that were found to overcome them. As was the case with other aristocratic houses, the costs were concentrated in the main residences, in this case Madrid and Lisbon until 1631 and thereafter Lisbon and Rome. This means that there is no correspondence to be noted between the central headquarters—Lisbon—and the most profitable almoxarifados. In view of the impossibility of assigning its income to local expenditure, as the crown did, the net balances flowing from the periphery to Lisbon, and from there to Madrid, were vital for the House’s upkeep. In order to keep the central headquarters supplied with the funds that it needed, one of the solutions was to lease out the entire collection of rents and other sources of income. As already noted, this was the expedient that was normally used to collect the money and kind due by the long-term leaseholders (foreiros) of the commanderies. The advantages were obvious: in exchange for a sum of money previously agreed upon and delivered in Lisbon, Dom Manuel transferred the responsibility for the collection of the agricultural produce of the whole commandery to a leaseholder, thus freeing himself from the costs arising not only from its collection, but also from the storage and transport of the goods to the market. If we consider that this practice was also extended, alternating with direct collection, to the rents and seigniorial rights of the ten lordships, it seems reasonable to admit that this was an expedient intended to ensure regular cash flows, regardless of the rhythms and contingencies of agricultural production.

However, transferring the surpluses remained a constant problem, due to several interferences in the links between Lisbon and the almoxarifados. Perhaps the main difficulty was to be found in the behavior of the receivers and their ability for interfering in the House’s revenue, which took various forms. One of these was their resistance to administrative control. By delaying as much as possible the audit of their accounts, the receivers sought to keep hold of the net balances of the revenues collection and use them to their own advantage. This was, for example, the customary practice of the receiver of Cabeceiras de Basto, whom the House’s overseer accused of using the money of rents and seigniorial rights in commercial operations that were highly profitable for him, gambling with the fluctuation in prices. In order to counter this practice, Dom Manuel de Moura insisted on the need for auditing the accounts of his receivers annually. Nonetheless, there are recurring references in the documentation to delays in the administrative inspection, as well as the existence of debts on the part of the receivers. But fraudulent practices in the appropriation of agricultural produce also meant that part of the income owed to the House of Castelo Rodrigo never reached the central headquarters. An example of this is the decrease noted in the collection of Azorean wheat, which Dom Manuel suspected to have been caused by a manipulation of the ledgers by the lugar-tenente. It was, in fact, commonly believed that gaining access to the position of lugar-tenente was a surefire way of becoming rich (Chagas 1989: 423). A similar situation was also detected in the almoxarifado of Cabeceiras de Basto, where some officers had clearly amassed fortunes in the service of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo.

Thus, the physical distance between the almoxarifados and the central treasury was further compounded by the autonomy of the officers and the frequent practices of embezzlement, and such obstacles inevitably affected the appropriation of the income that was due to the House.

4. Expenditure, investment and indebtedness

The picture that can be formed of the pattern of expenditure of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo is at best a somewhat fragmentary one. There are various reasons for this. First of all, there is the scattered nature of the expenditure, arising from the configuration of the administrative system and its peripheral network, but also due to the existence of several centers of spending, linked to the upkeep of their residences, respectively Madrid and Lisbon until 1631, and thereafter Lisbon and Rome. This reality is further exacerbated by the fact that none of the ledgers of these centers of spending have survived until the present day, and much less the accounting balances produced for the House’s expenditure as a whole. This makes it impossible to make an overall estimate of its spending. Nonetheless, it is possible to make out some of the features of its current and extraordinary expenditure.

As is known, at that time, a very large part of the current expenditure of Western Europe’s aristocratic houses related to the kitchen, stables and servants.13 Also to be added to these expenses were clothing, personal expenses, the monthly allowances paid to consorts and children and the expenses incurred with the payment of debts. From the little information that has survived to the present day, it is possible to detect some signs of this pattern in the House of Castelo Rodrigo. At least this is what is suggested by the report of the payments made by the Lisbon treasurer, probably between January and 31 July 1631, at a time when Dom Manuel was already to be found in Madrid and the journey to Rome was being prepared in Lisbon (Table 3). Consequently, it must be borne in mind that, besides the fact that the report is only a partial one, some of the items of expenditure are also undervalued.

Table 3
Payments made by the Lisbon Treasury (Jan.-July 1631) (in réis)































1. House. 2. Stables. 3. Wages of the house’s officers and servants. 4. Taxes. 5. Costs incurred with the debt? 6. Graces and favors, pious legacies and alms. 7. Building work. 8. Journey to Rome. 9. Sundry expenses. 10. Total.

Source: ANTT, Manuscritos do Convento da Graça, Pecúlio, cx. 5, tomo II.

In the first category of Table 3, expenses of a very diverse nature have been lumped together, although they do have as their common denominator the acquisition of goods that were necessary for the expenditure of the residence and its staff (payments to merchants, purchase of clothes and shoes, household and bed linen, kitchen utensils). It should be noted that the kitchen is underrepresented here, not only due to the absence of the marquises, but also due to the prevalence of the house’s consumption of its own agricultural produce originating from the Quinta de Queluz, from Paul de Trava, and possibly even from the Azores. In Madrid, the expenses incurred with the kitchen and stables would have been proportionally much greater, as the house did not have any rural properties, nor any sources of taxation in Spain that could result in the provision of agricultural produce. As far as the payments to the servants are concerned, it should be said that these only include those servants who were linked to the Lisbon residence, as well as those who had stayed behind to prepare the journey to Rome. It is not possible to quantify them, but undoubtedly this was a minority group, so that we should avoid any extrapolation regarding the relative share that the servants had in the house’s budget. Despite these limitations, all together, the expenses incurred with the household, stables and servants represented almost half of the spending made by this treasurer.

The primary sources also allow us to capture some aspects of the expenditure related to the upkeep of its organizational structure. This is the case with the wages of part of the administrative and judicial officers for 1630 (Table 4).

Table 4
Partial cost of the administrative structure of the House of Castelo Rodrigo (1630) (in réis)



















1. Quinta de Queluz. 2. Paul de Trava. 3. Castelo Rodrigo. 4. Cabeceiras de Basto. 5. Azores. 6. Total.

Source: BNP, códice 3377.

Left out of this table are the wages paid to the officers linked to the almoxarifados of Lisbon, Dornes and Ega, which, if added together here, could raise the total of this item to a million réis. It therefore seems reasonable to admit that the relative share of this wages bill would be around 6% of the house’s annual income. In any case, it is difficult to estimate the total costs of the house’s administration. Expenses of a very varied nature, such as the repairs to productive infrastructures, collection costs or legal charges are not always broken down and identified in the primary sources, or in some cases they already appear as having been completely deducted from the revenue. The only exception is the almoxarifado of the Azores, where the administrative costs (including the wages bill) amounted to roughly 11% of the whole of the income collected in the islands (Table 5).

Table 5
Administrative costs of the House of Castelo Rodrigo—Azores (1630) (in réis)
















1. Wages. 2. Collection costs. 3. Repairs to productive infrastructures. 4. Other expenses. 5. Total.

Source: BNP, códice 3377.

As far as extraordinary costs are concerned, it is possible to identify a group of items that would have represented a highly significant share of the budget of the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo. These were: royal service, the dowries of their daughters, investment in property and their policy of religious patronage. In fact, these are more or less the same expenses that were to be found in other contemporary noble houses in Spain (Yun Casalilla 1990). Even though the pressure of these items on the house’s budget may have varied over the decades, it seems undeniable that they ended up absorbing quite sizeable sums of money.

While, for the Mouras, the monarchy represented a fundamental source of income and of grants and favors, it is also quite clear that, through royal service, it also came to represent a constant source of expenditure, as also happened with many Spanish houses (Yun Casalilla 1990: 530). It should, however, be borne in mind that, despite the fact that the Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo held positions of great importance within the government of the monarchy and the Spanish royal household, it was only after 1631 that they were appointed to posts that were traditionally considered to be ruinous, as was the case with the most important embassies of Spain (Rome and Vienna), due to the high cost of the expenses associated with ceremonial diplomacy. However, since the upkeep and growth of the noble houses depended on their satisfactory fulfillment of these duties, those who occupied these positions ended up regarding them as an essential expense to be paid in return for future grants. Dom Manuel de Moura himself accepted the diplomatic representation of Spain at the Holy See with his eyes firmly fixed on one of the Italian vice-royalties (Sousa 1975: 308). This was a legitimate expectation, given that, as a general rule, those who passed through the embassy to Rome were later rewarded with an appointment to one of these vice-royalties, where they would have the opportunity to recover part of the expenditure made in the previous position (Yun Casalilla 1990: 532). But Dom Manuel was aware that this embassy could signify his ruin (Sousa 1975: 308). And, in fact, he did accumulate a colossal debt with this embassy. On the secession of Portugal, and because of the suspicions that had been aroused regarding his involvement with the Lisbon rebellion, instead of the Italian vice-royalty, he ended up being appointed to the embassy of Vienna, another highly costly post.

Similarly, the strategy adopted by the first and second Marquises of Castelo Rodrigo of establishing matrimonial ties with some of the main Portuguese aristocratic houses, and occasionally with the Grandees of Spain, also had a significant impact on their finances. In order to achieve that aim, father and son did not hesitate in providing for all of their female descendants who reached adult age, which meant five marriages in three and a half decades. For all of their daughters, the marquises benefited from donations of the crown of a greater or lesser size, but even so this did not exempt them from having to provide the respective dowries.14 In this particular regard, Dom Cristóvão de Moura was the one who placed the heavier burden on the house’s budget. During his lifetime, he married one daughter and amassed the necessary resources to guarantee the dowry of the others, whose marriages he expressly commissioned his successor to carry out in his will (ADL/ANTT, 7.º CNL, liv. 61, fls. 12-28). Dona Beatriz, the first-born, married the heir presumptive to the House of the Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules (1598), Dona Margarida de Moura married the sixth Count of Portalegre (1614), while the third daughter Dona Maria married the fourth Count of Vimioso in 1616. It is only in the case of this last marriage that we know the amount and composition of the dowry, which amounted to 43.2 million réis distributed in the following manner: 34.7% in private interest; 26.9% in jewels, dresses, furniture, tapestries, etc.; 22.4% in money; 14.2% in debts owed to the first Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo; and 1.8% in real estate.15 It should be noted that this amount was roughly three and a half times greater than the sum that Dom Manuel was himself to receive from the dowry negotiated with the House of Tentúgal, when he married Dona Leonor de Melo in 1613.16

A few years later, it was the turn of the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo to amass the capital needed for yet another dowry, this time for the marriage of his daughter Dona Margarida de Melo to Dom Miguel de Noronha, the nephew of the first Duke of Caminha. When Dona Margarida died in 1631, Dom Manuel hurriedly arranged a new marriage for his son-in-law, who at that time appeared increasingly likely to be the successor to the House of Vila Real, proposing his second-born daughter, Dona Mariana de Castro, as his bride (Sousa 1975: 220). It is likely that the first dowry was extended to this second marriage, held in 1634 and ending abruptly with the death of Dona Mariana in 1635 (Sousa 1975: 227). Plans were also made for a third marriage with Dom Manuel’s last daughter, but this did not take place due to the bride’s death.

Even though we lack information about most of these dowries, it seems reasonable to admit that overall, because of the social standing of the grooms, the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo spent around one hundred million réis, between 1598 and 1634.

In this brief look at the main items of the house’s extraordinary expenditure, we must finally refer to the great financial investment made by the first and second marquises of Castelo Rodrigo in the building or refurbishment of their Portuguese residences, and, to a lesser degree, the spending involved in the patronage that Dom Manuel de Moura afforded to the construction of several religious buildings.17 For their residences, the drain on their capital began as early as 1585 with the beginning of the construction of what was to become one of the most emblematic buildings in Lisbon: the Corte Real palace. By the end of the 1610s, it was this residence that absorbed most of the family’s investment in building, together with the building campaigns that were directed at the refurbishment of the palace of Castelo Rodrigo. After this, there came the project for the transformation of the Quinta de Queluz into an Italian-inspired leisure residence, which replaced the Lisbon palace as the major drain of resources (Gomes 2003).

As far as the contribution made by the second Marquis of Castelo Rodrigo to the construction of religious buildings is concerned, a special mention should be made of his intervention at São Bento o Novo. At this Lisbon church, Dom Manuel de Moura sought to erect the pantheon of the Moura family, and for this purpose acquired the rights to the crypt and chancel for 12 million réis in 1619 (ANTT, Chanc. de Filipe III, liv. 38, fl. 53v.º). In fact, he commissioned for them a project by Borromini, for which the first materials were sent from Rome in around 1635, but the work was never completed (Connors 1991; Gomes 2003: 54-59). Besides São Bento o Novo in Lisbon, the second marquis also sponsored the church of Santo Antonio de los Portugueses in Madrid and, during his stay in Italy, the convents of San Carlino alle Quatro Fontane and San Isidoro on the Pincian Hill in Rome (Connors 1991; Gomes 2003: 54-62; García Cueto 2007: 11-14).

It seems clear that the pattern of the house’s spending not only reflects the customary patterns of consumption of the aristocratic houses at that time, but also the pursuit of investment strategies that were indissociable from a plan for the family’s rise in social terms. While these statements are, generally speaking, true for the house’s two administrations, there are, however, some differences to be noted. In the case of Dom Cristóvão de Moura, one can detect a concern with ensuring the house’s social reproduction, building its symbolic image and guaranteeing the expansion of its material base. To this end, he made large profit-earning investments: he bought the rents and the royal rights to Cabeceiras de Basto and Aguiar de Pena in 1594 for 16 million réis and spent 15 million réis on padrões de juro (public debt) purchased from the houses of Braganza and Vila Nova de Portimão, which ended up forming part of the dowry of Dona Maria de Mendonça.18 From the social and symbolic standpoint, the first marquis was also responsible for the investment made in the marriage of his three daughters and in the building and rebuilding of the Portuguese residences. Despite this extraordinary expenditure, everything points to the fact that, at the time of his death in 1613, the house was no longer burdened with any great financial commitments. Not only had the debts been paid, but a new morgadio was established.19

Dom Manuel, on the other hand, allocated far fewer funds to expanding the house’s material base. Except for the purchase of two rural properties in Sintra in 1630, which together were worth around a million réis, he is not known to have made any other investments of this nature (ADL/ANTT, 15.º CNL, liv. 241, fl. 55-55v.º). The other extraordinary expenditure that he made until 1631 did not deviate from the trend that had already been foreshadowed in the previous administration. In other words, there were also a great number of investments of a symbolic nature, such as the creation of a built heritage, the perpetuation of the memory of the lineage or the arrangement of alliances through marriage. However, it was with the second Marquis that the first signs began to appear of greater pressure on the house’s financial resources, which were to reach their turning point after 1631. The reasons for this must be sought, on the one hand, in an eventual increase in current expenditure. If we consider that, between the death of his father and his own departure for the Rome embassy in 1631, Dom Manuel lived for thirteen years in Madrid, it seems reasonable to admit that the house was confronted with a growth in the expenses of representation and the upkeep of his residence, at a time when the displays of ostentation at court were increasing. On the other hand, the demands of royal service related to the embassy in Rome in 1631, gave rise to a level of indebtedness that was quite unusual for the house. In the ten years that he remained in Rome, the second Marquis must have spent close on 150 million réis and incurred some fairly heavy costs (Connors 1991: 439).


In less than two decades (1581-1598), Dom Cristóvão de Moura managed to amass an immense wealth, mainly composed of property belonging to the crown and the religious orders, which enabled a modest middle-ranking nobleman from a secondary lineage to form what was to be the third largest house in Portugal. It seems obvious that the singular nature of Dom Cristóvão’s social ascent was due to the part that he played in bringing about the incorporation of the Portuguese crown into the Spanish monarchy, which brought him an ample reward. His rapid accumulation of grants and favors was unusual in the light of the traditional practices to be found in the kingdom of Portugal, so that it must also be understood within the framework of the remunerative policy practiced in Spain, which was much more generous than the one that was followed by the members of the Avis dynasty. In this context, the case of Cristóvão de Moura was certainly a most extreme one. Despite his successful political career, his son, Dom Manuel de Moura, did not manage to receive any sizeable endowments until 1640, so that, under his administration, the house largely continued to be run on the fortune built up by his father.

It is difficult to say whether the marquises managed to show greater or lesser effectiveness in the management of their patrimony and income, in comparison with other aristocratic houses. It would be necessary to carry out a larger number of studies in order to be able to establish comparisons. But it seems clear that Dom Cristóvão de Moura demonstrated a great organizational capacity. He was responsible for putting together the network of officers (ouvidores and almoxarifes) which would administer his senhorios on his behalf as well as be responsible for the collection of his revenues. As the central and unifying link in this chain, Lisbon was the natural choice, given the double link of both the Mouras and the Corte Real family with the city, among other political and patrimonial reasons. It should be noted that added responsibilities were placed upon this administrative centre, and that no other house in the Portuguese context was so closely linked to the need to maintain constant flows of income to Madrid or Rome.

As we have seen, the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo made use of their sizeable income to establish their house among both the Portuguese and Spanish aristocratic hierarchies. Both the first and the second marquis sought to create a series of alliances with the leading Portuguese houses and with some of the noble houses in Spain, as well as to construct a symbolic image of what was, at the outset, a secondary lineage. In this sense, the Mouras were most successful, and their income proved to be sufficiently elastic to give substance to that strategy. The new demands of royal service after 1631 were to subject them to a tremendous pressure and would set in motion a spiral of expenditure and indebtedness. After ten years of diplomatic service at the Holy See and of great financial expenditure, Dom Manuel was also confronted with the effects of the secession of Portugal and the confiscation of all his property. The reconstruction of his patrimony was to come later within the Spanish possessions in Italy. But, by that time, the life of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo was already exclusively circumscribed to the Spanish monarchy.




ADL / ANTT—Arquivo Distrital de Lisboa / Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon District Archives / National Archives of Torre do Tombo)

ANTT—Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (National Archives of Torre do Tombo, Lisbon)

BNP—Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (Portuguese National Library, Lisbon)

Chanc.—Chancelaria (Chancellery)

CNL—Cartório Notarial de Lisboa (Lisbon Notary's Office)

fl. / fls.—fólio / fólios (folio / folios) liv.—livro (book)


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1 The School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre; CIDEHUS—University of Évora. E-mail: [email protected]
2 BNP, códice 3377 and ANTT, Manuscritos do Convento da Graça, Pecúlio, cx. 5, tomo II.
3 Strictly speaking, the Spanish Habsburg kings who governed Portugal from 1580 to 1640 should be referred to as Philip I, II and III. However, as in this text these monarchs are referred to both as kings of Portugal and as kings of the other crowns and territories that were under Spanish rule, preference has been given to the use of their Spanish titles (Philip II, III and IV).
4 Around 1600, the income from the commandery of Puertollano was valued at 486,187 maravedís (518,600 réis) (Gómez Centurión 1912: 386). The stipend had been bequeathed to him by Juana of Austria (Danvila y Burguero 1900: 200 and 205).
5 The Lei Mental, a royal edict of 1434, regulated the inheritance of crown property, according to the principles of primogeniture, masculinity, legitimacy, inalienability and indivisibility. On this subject, see Hespanha 1994: 402-414.
6 For more information on the time spent by Dom Manuel de Moura Corte Real in Rome, see Connors 1991 and García Cueto 2007.
7 Besides the chief commandery of the Order of Christ, the second marquis was given another twelve commanderies and a chief governorship (alcaidaria-mor) of the same military Order, in order to make up the same income as the one that he received from the Spanish commandery. The process of incorporating the commanderies began in January 1625 and was completed in November of that same year (ANTT, Chanc. da Ordem de Cristo, liv. 12, fls. 47-60v.º, 62-63, 64-66v.º and 73-74v.º).
8 Nearby Alencarces, the House also owned the alcaidaria-mor of Soure.
9 For the House of Braganza, see Cunha 2000: 222-229.
10 The House’s sources of income were distributed into two main groups. The first includes the aggregate income from properties donated by the monarchy on a perpetual or lifetime basis, which can be divided into three categories: crown property, stipends and the property of the Order of Christ. The second includes the income from the House’s ‘fully owned’ property, which can be divided into the revenues from estates (rural or urban) and those originating from interest on capital. On the criteria for this classification, see Monteiro 1998: 254-257.
11 An old Portuguese measure of weight that, on the island of Terceira, corresponded to approximately 792 litres.
12 Three quarters of these 410 moios came from the seigniorial dues levied on the 23 windmills that the House of Castelo Rodrigo owned in the two captaincies of the island of Terceira and the remaining ¼ from its redízimas.
13 For the English aristocratic houses, see Stone 1965: 548.
14 Among the graces and favors granted by the crown to the daughters of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo, three important ones should be mentioned here: the crown’s renunciation of the succession to the marquisate of Tarifa for the marriage of Dona Beatriz de Moura to Dom Fernando Enríquez de Ribera, the third Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules (Danvila y Burguero 1900: 746); the royal decree of lady (alvará de dama) granted to Dona Margarida de Moura (ADL/ANTT, 7.º CNL, liv. 61, fl. 23); and finally, for the marriage of Dona Mariana de Castro to Dom Miguel de Noronha, Philip IV implicitly undertook to grant the marquisate of Vila Real to the groom and to recognize him as the second Duke of Caminha (ANTT, Chanc. Filipe III, liv. 32, fl. 282v.º and liv. 29, fl. 331).
15 Sousa 1952 [1746]: V (2.ª parte), 376-389. On the value of the dowries of the nobility in Portugal throughout the sixteenth and sixteenth centuries, see Monteiro 1998: 99-125. On the matrimonial alliances between the Portuguese and Spanish houses during the Union of the Crowns, see Cunha 2009.
16 ADL/ANTT, 7.º CNL, liv. 61, fls. 2-12. The dowry agreed between the parties amounted to 12 million réis, of which 6.4 million réis were paid in cash and the rest in the form of jewels, dresses, etc.
17 On the practices adopted by the Portuguese houses in this field, see Cunha and Monteiro 2011: 202-211
18 ANTT, Chanc. de Filipe I, liv. 25, fls. 178-184 and Sousa 1952: V (2.ª parte), 376-389.
19 ADL/ANTT, 7.º CNL, liv. 61, fls. 12-30. The entailed estate was established by the joint will of Dom Cristóvão de Moura and Dona Margarida Corte Real. It was composed by the terças of the founders, the ‘fully owned’ property and interest existing at their death, the improvements made to the houses in Lisbon and the rents of Cabeceiras de Basto that they had bought from the crown. The successors in this entailed estate would in turn entail their legítimas and their terças.


Copyright 2012, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol. 9, number 2, Winter 2011


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