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The King of Portugal, Afonso
Sam's entry on the 19th November 1662 mentions the King of Portugal sending the fleet and landmen back to England, but in reality this should read the Conde de Castello Melhor who is virtually running the country. Perhaps drawing together some points together may be of interest.
On the death of Catherine's father D.Joao, and her elder brother Teodosio in 1653, Afonso became heir to the throne at the age of 10 years. The Courts were divided as to whether to confirm this succession due to his health (discussed above) and his behaviour problems. Some hesitated but it was decided that, in those days of struggle against Spain, that a King must exist, and so Catherine's mother D. Luisa became Queen Regent. Although being of Spanish origin, she was well respected and considered one of the driving forces behind her husbands decision to lead the rebellion in 1640.
Luisa chose the Conde de Odemira to govern the King, but this was a thankless task, and by the time Odemira died in 1661 he had become ungovernable. The King spent most of his time riding, coursing bulls, and watching cock and dog fights, although it is said that he had a most prodigious memory. He had taken to roaming the streets with the "lower order" people in the Square, especially with a gang led by one Antonio Conti, of Italian origin. Conti was given many favours by the King and assumed the air of the Royal Favourite, even setting himself up with rooms in the Palace. Some factions in the Court sided with the King for their own interests.
Meanwhile Luisa was doing her best to cement alliances, for the benefit of Portugal, by the marriage of her daughter Catherine. She had tried to stand aside from the differences in the Court, but things had got so bad in 1659 that the balance of power that she maintained was being destroyed. She threatened to resign the Regency, in the hope that it would bring the factions together, and as she was urged not to do so by many, it seems to have worked.
After successfully agreeing the marriage treaty with England in 1662, she must have felt that her job had been completed, and she was tired of the enormous pressures that had been thrust upon her. In June she announced that she would resign in two months. In response the factions favouring Afonso's younger brother Pedro, agreed to remove Conti and ship him off to Brazil, and Luisa appealed to her son to prepare for government, and to refrain from unscrupulous company. He took no interest at all.
After the removal of Conti, the leader of another faction Conde de Castello Melhor saw his chance to move. He told Afonso that the same fate awaited him, and that he should go to Alcantara where a force was waiting for his defence. From there he advised Afonso to announce his takeover of the government, but in effect Castello Melhor alone had access to the King and issued orders and decrees in his name. Catherine's mother retired to a convent, and he purged the Court of his enemies and held power for 5 years.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.