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Entail of the month (December, 2020)

Paço da Quinta, by Gil Rodrigues de Vasconcelos

Évora, December 23, 1355

The inauguration of the Entail of the month iniciative, in December 2020, features the entail of Paço da Quinta, founded 665 years ago.

The morgado of Paço da Quinta was founded in Évora, on December 23, 1355, by Gil Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, a member of the local medium-rank nobility. Due to the loss of the original will, historical knowledge of this entail comes from an 1855 court sentence. Among many other documents, there is a copy of the entail’s foundation deed; the long sentence also reveals several other legal actions presented to courts of law during 500 hundred years – mainly family disputes aiming at gaining the administration of the rich estates. These disputes have left rich documentation, preserved at Arquivo Distrital of Évora and at the National Archives – Torre do Tombo, which will be analysed by the VINCULUM project.

Throughout its more than five centuries, the history of the entail accompanies the history of local society and beyond. Kept in the same descent almost until the entails’ abolition, in the second half of the 19th century, the entail allows for a variety of social, political, and cultural history inquiries. Some of them have already been studied in a local monography, but the insertion of the entail in a much larger perspective, as allowed by VINCULUM, will certainly bring new conclusions.

Reflecting the political and social transformations that marked Portuguese medieval history, the entail’s first administrator, Nuno Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, is inscribed in the history of the 1383-85 Portuguese interregnum due to a misfortune – his murder. The assassination was perpetrated by a group of women, in Estremoz, who considered him a partisan of King John I of Castile. This episode is mentioned in the Crónica de D. João I, by Fernão Lopes, which highlights the tense atmosphere and the death of probable innocents, accused for being supporters of Castile:

“mas as mulheres antre sii tinham bando pello Meestre contra qualquer que da sua parte nom era; em guisa que hum dia se levantaram […] contra Nuno Rodriguez de Vascomçellos […] ellas per ssi o mataram e foram no lançar do muro afundo”.

“these women gathered in favour of the Master [of Aviz] against its non-partisans; one day they rose […] against Nuno Rodrigues de Vasconcelos […] and amongst themselves killed him and toss his body down the walls”.

Nuno’s nephew and second administrator of the morgado, Gonçalo Casco, squire (escudeiro) and judge (sobrejuiz) of King João I of Portugal, proved to be an expert on legal disputes with ecclesiastical authorities. Later, in 1578, Rui Mendes de Vasconcelos Casco (7th administrator) accompanied King Sebastião to the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. Decades later, Agostinho Manuel e Vasconcelos (9th administrator), a cult and literate nobleman, was accused of conspiracy against King João IV and the Brigantine Dynasty, in a pamphlet-like campaign. The accusations referred his alleged preference for the Castilian language, as well as his friendship with the Archbishop of Braga, who was sentenced for direct collaboration with the Madrid government. However, they seem to have involved family conflicts within the Bragança’s, in which the Casco morgado found himself involuntarily involved, with tragic consequences, since he was executed. We hope that the ongoing investigation can help to clarify the episode.

With the abolition of entails, in 1863, the properties and assets of the morgadio became free estates. They were left by the last morgado, who died in 1878, to his testamentary heiress, Ana Maria Adelaide, and came shortly afterwards to be sold and dispersed.

Joana Soares and Maria Beatriz Merêncio.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES (Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo) – Livro do Registo do Arquivo, n. 54, fol. 97v-165 – “Gil Rodrigues de Vasconcelos – Morgado do Casco, Évora. Sentença a favor de D. Maria Isabel de Meneses” (August 8, 1855).

CAEIRO, Francisco – O Morgadio do Paço da Quinta: estudo histórico. Lisboa: Ramos, Afonso & Moita, 1973.

LOPES, Fernão – Crónica de D. João I, vol. 1. Porto: Livraria Civilização, 1983.


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