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Fernandes Villareal, Manoel


FERNANDES VILLAREAL, MANOEL (1608–1652), Portuguese soldier, diplomat, and author. He was a prominent businessman and writer. Born in Lisbon of *Marrano descent, Fernandes Villareal became a captain in the Portuguese Army. He eventually went to live in France, settling in Rouen in about 1638. An agent of the House of Braganza, he was for a time Portuguese consul general in Paris, where he entered the circle of Cardinal Richelieu. Under Richelieu, France welcomed Iberian refugees, many of whom were New Christians. He supported Portugal's efforts to achieve independence and in 1642 he became a close advisor of the Portuguese ambassador, Dom Vasco Luis da Gama. He headed two centers which were in charge of Portuguese propaganda in support of Portuguese independence. As a reward for his services he was appointed to the post of regulating trade between Portugal and France. He prepared some economic programs for the welfare of the newly reestablished Portuguese kingdom and hoped to curtail the power of the Inquisition. He planned the return to Portugal of New Christian merchants. Under his influence an attempt was made to abolish any distinction between Old and New Christians and a pardon was granted in February 1649 to all Portuguese who would return from exile. It was then that Fernandes de Villareal decided to return to Portugal for a visit. While visiting Lisbon in 1649–50, Fernandes Villareal was denounced as a Judaizer by a friar who was a literary rival. The Inquisition uncovered his "New Christian" origin and secret adherence to Judaism, and Fernandes Villareal was condemned to death. He was garroted on Dec. 1, 1652. A few years after his death, some of his relatives officially reverted to Judaism in Leghorn. Fernandes Villareal wrote, in Portuguese and Spanish, works on history, politics, and military techniques. These include his Epítome genealógico del Duque de Richelieu y discursos políticos (Pamplona, 1641), a panegyric dedicated to Richelieu. The title of the 1642 edition was El político cristianíssimo o dicursos políticos sobre algunas acciones de la vida del … Duque de Richelieu. He was inspired by Machiavelli's Discorsi and Principe. He also wrote the poem El color verde a la divina Celia (Madrid, 1637) and a play, El Príncipe Vendido (Paris, 1643). He was destined, however, to be remembered more as a tragic victim of the Inquisition than as a writer. While his works had no influence in Spain, in Portugal they were received with great interest.


Roth, Marranos, 159–60, 340; J. Caro Baroja, Judíos en la España moderna y contemporánea, 2 (1962), 128–9; Kayserling, Bibl, 109. add. bibliography: I.S. Révah, in: Iberida, 1 (1959), 181–207; M. Gendreau-Massaloux and C. Hubard Rose, in: rej, 136 (1977), 368–87; H.P. Salomon, in: Inquisição, vol. 2 (1989–90), 765–73.

[Kenneth R. Scholberg /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

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