Damiao de Goes - Encyclopedia

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DAMIAO DE GOES (1502-1574), Portuguese humanist, was born of a patrician family at Alemquer, in February 1502. Under King John III. he was employed abroad for many years from 1523 on diplomatic and commercial missions, and he travelled over the greater part of Europe. He was intimate with the leading scholars of the time, was acquainted with Luther and other Protestant divines, and in 1532 became the pupil and friend of Erasmus. Goes took his degree at Padua in 1538 after a four years' course. In 1537, at the instance of his friend Cardinal Sadoleto, he undertook to mediate between the Church and the Lutherans, but failed through the attitude of the Protestants. He married in Flanders a rich and noble Dutch lady, D. Joanna de Hargen, and settled at Louvain, then the literary centre of the Low Countries, where he was living in 1542 when the French besieged the town. He was given the command of the defending forces, and saved Louvain, but was taken prisoner and confined for nine months in France, till he obtained his freedom by a heavy ransom. He was rewarded, however, by a grant of arms from Charles V. He finally returned to Portugal in 1545, with a view of becoming tutor to the king's son, but he failed to obtain this post, owing to the denunciations of Father Simon Rodriguez, provincial of the Jesuits, who accused Goes of favouring the Lutheran doctrines and of being a disciple of Erasmus. Nevertheless in 1548 he was appointed chief keeper of the archives and royal chronicler, and at once introduced some much-needed reforms into the administration of his office. In 1558 he was given a commission to write a history of the reign of King Manoel, a task previously confided to Joao de Barros, but relinquished by him. It was an onerous undertaking for a conscientious historian, since it was necessary to expose the miseries as well as relate the glories of the period, and so to offend some of the most powerful families. Goes had already written a Chronicle of Prince John (afterwards John II.), and when, after more than eight years' labour, he produced the First Part of his Chronicle of King Manoel (1566), a chorus of attacks greeted it, the edition was destroyed, and he was compelled to issue a revised version. He brought out the three other parts in 1566-1567, though chapters 23 to 27 of the Third Part were so mutilated by the censorship that the printed text differs largely from the MS. Hitherto Goes, notwithstanding his Liberalism, had escaped the Inquisition, though in 1540 his Fides, religio, moresque Aethiopum had been prohibited by the chief inquisitor, Cardinal D. Henrique; but the denunciation of Father Rodriguez in 1545, which had been vainly renewed in 1550, was now brought into action, and in 1571 he was arrested to stand his trial. There seems to be no doubt that the Inquisition made itself on this occasion, as on others, the instrument of private enmity; for eighteen months Goes lay ill in prison, and then he was condemned, though he had lived for thirty years as a faithful Catholic, and the worst that could be proved against him was that in his youth he had spoken against Indulgences, disbelieved in auricular confession, and consorted with heretics. He was sentenced to a term of reclusion, and his property was confiscated to the crown. After he had abjured his errors in private, he was sent at the end of 1572 to do penance at the monastery of Batalha. Later he was allowed to return home to Alemquer, where he died on the 30th of January 1574. He was buried in the church of Nossa Senhora da Varzea.

Damiao de Goes was a man of wide culture and genial and courtly manners, a skilled musician and a good linguist. He wrote both Portuguese and Latin with classic strength and simplicity, and his style is free from affectation and rhetorical ornaments. His portrait by Albrecht Diirer shows an open, intelligent face, and the record of his life proves him to have been upright and fearless. His prosperity doubtless excited ill-will, but above all, his ideas, advanced for Portugal, his foreign ways, outspokenness and honesty contributed to the tragedy of his end, at a time when the forces of ignorant reaction held the ascendant. He had, it may be presumed, given some umbrage to the court by condemning, in the Chronicle of King Manoel, the royal ingratitude to distinguished public servants, though he received a pension and other rewards for that work, and he had certainly offended the nobility by his administration of the archive office and by exposing false genealogical claims in his Nobiliario. He paid the penalty for telling the truth, as he knew it, in an age when an historian had to choose between flattery of the great and silence. The Chronicle of King Manoel was the first official history of a Portuguese reign to be written in a critical spirit, and Damiao de Goes has the honour of having been the first Portuguese royal chronicler to deserve the name of an historian.

His Portuguese works include Chronica do felicissimo rei Dom Emanuel (parts i. rand ii., Lisbon, 1566, parts iii. and iv., ib. 1567). Other editions appeared in Lisbon in 1619 and 1749 and in Coimbra in 1790. Chronica do Principe Dom Joam (Lisbon, 1558), with subsequent editions in 1567 and 1724 in Lisbon and in 1790 in Coimbra. Livro de Marco Tullio Ciceram chamado Catam Mayor (Venice, 1538). This is a translation of Cicero's De senectute. His Latin works, published separately, comprise: (1) Legatio magni imperatoris Presbiteri Joannis, &c. (Antwerp, 1532); (2) Legatio Davidis Ethiopiae regis, &c. (Bologna, 1 533); (3) Commentarii rerum gestarum in India (Louvain, 1 539); (4) Fides, religio, moresque Aethiopum (Louvain, 1540),incorporating Nos.(i) and (2);(5)Hispania(Louvain, 1542); (6) Aliquot epistolae Sadoleti Bembi et aliorum clarissimorum virorum, &c. (Louvain, 1 544); (7) Damiani a Goes equitis Lusitani aliquot opuscula (Louvain, 1 544); (8) Urbis Lovaniensis obsidia (Lisbon, 1546); (9) De bello Cambaico ultimo (Louvain, 1 549); (10) Urbis Olisiponensis descriptio (Evora, 1 554); (i i) Epistola ad Hieronymum Cardosum (Lisbon, 1556). Most of the above went through several editions, and many were afterwards included with new works in such collections as No. (7), and seven sets of Opuscula appeared, all incomplete. Nos. (3), (4) and (5) suffered mutilation in subsequent editions, at the hands of the censors, because they offended against religious orthodoxy or family pride.


(A) Joaquim de Vasconcellos, Goesiana (5 vols.), with the following sub-titles: (1) Retrato de Albrecht Direr (Porto, 1879); (2) Bibliographia (Porto, 1879), which describes 67 numbers of books by Goes; (3) As Variantes das Chronicas Portuguezas (Porto, 1881); (4) Damiao de Goes: Novos Estudos (Porto, 1897); (5) As Cartas Latinas - in the press (1906). Snr. Vasconcellos only printed a very limited number of copies of these studies for distribution among friends, so that they are rare. (B) Guilherme J. C. Henriques, Ineditos Goesianos, vol. i. (Lisbon, 1896), vol. ii. (containing the proceedings at the trial by the Inquisition) (Lisbon, 1898). (C) A. P. Lopes de Mendonga, Damiao de Goes e a Inquisicdo de Portugal (Lisbon, 1859). (D) Dr Sousa Viterbo, Damiao de Goes e D. Antonio Pinheiro (Coimbra, 1895). (E) Dr Theophilo Braga, Historia da Universidade de Coimbra (Lisbon, 1892), i. 374-380. (F) Menendez y Pelayo, Historia de los Heter. Espanoles, ii. 129-143. (E. PR.)

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