Constantino of Braganza

Dom Constantino of Braganza (Portuguese: Constantino de Bragança; 1528–1575) was a Portuguese nobleman, conquistador, and administrator of the Portuguese Empire. Born a member of the powerful House of Braganza, he is best known for having served as Viceroy of Portuguese India and for initiating the Portuguese conquest of Sri Lanka.

Constantino de Bragança
Constantino de Bragança
Viceroy of Portuguese India
In office
MonarchKing Dom Sebastian of Portugal
Preceded byDom Francisco Barreto
Succeeded byDom Francisco Coutinho
Captain of Ribeira Grande
In office
MonarchDom Sebastian of Portugal
Preceded byDom Manuel de Andrade
Succeeded byOffice eliminated
Personal details
Born1528 (1528)
Kingdom of Portugal
Died15 July 1575(1575-07-15) (aged 46–47)
Kingdom of Portugal
SpouseMaria de Melo


He was the son of Dom James, 4th Duke of Braganza from his second marriage to Joana of Mendoça, daughter of Diogo of Mendonça, High-Alcaide of Mourão.

When he was 19 years old, he was appointed by King Dom John III of Portugal as his special ambassador to the baptism ceremony of King Henry II of France's son.

In 1558, he was appointed by the regent Dona Catherine of Habsburg (King Dom John III's widow) as the 20th Governor of Portuguese India, using also the title of 7th Viceroy. He left Lisbon on 7 April 1558 and arrived in Goa on 3 September.

He was a remarkable organiser of the local State, and he conquered Daman, Ceylon (nowadays known as Sri Lanka) and the island of Manar.

A first expedition, led by Viceroy Dom Constantino de Bragança in 1560, failed to subdue Jaffna, but captured Mannar Island.[1] By June 1619, despite sharp resistance from Cankili II of Jaffna, there were two Portuguese expeditions; a naval expedition that was repulsed by the Malabari corsairs and another expedition by Dom Filipe de Oliveira and his land army of 5,000, which defeated Cankili and conquered Jaffna, strengthening Portuguese control of shipping routes through the Palk Strait.[2]

His government in India took three years and eight days, and during that period he made important reforms. He was considered by the historian C. R. Boxer one of the most fanatic Portuguese governors of India together with Dom Francisco Barreto (1555–1558).

He protected the poet Luis Vaz de Camões, during his stay in India.

He was later governor of Ribeira Grande, in the island of Santo Antão, Portuguese Cape Verde, from 1562.

Dom Constantino afterwards returned to the Kingdom. There he married his cousin, D. Maria de Melo, daughter of the 1st Marquess of Ferreira and 1st Count of Tentúgal, D. Rodrigo de Melo, and Dona Brites de Menezes (daughter of Dom Antão de Almada, 3rd Count of Avranches). The couple had no issue. King Sebastian of Portugal thought, in 1571, to appoint him as perpetual viceroy of India, but he refused.

Tooth relicEdit

According to Mutu Coomara Swamy, Constantino claimed to play a part in capturing and destroying the Tooth-Relic of Gotama Buddha, during the wars of the Portuguese. The native authorities however, maintained the relic was kept safe from harm.[3]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abeysinghe, T. Jaffna Under the Portuguese, p.3
  2. ^ Kunarasa, K The Jaffna Dynasty, p. 115
  3. ^ Mutu Coomara Swamy. The Dathavansa, Or The History of the Tooth-relic of Gotama Buddha. Trübner & Co. p. xix.
  • Nobreza de Portugal e do Brasil – Vol. II, page 443. Published by Zairol Lda., Lisbon 1989.

External linksEdit

Preceded by 7th Viceroy of Portuguese India
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonial heads of Ribeira Grande, Portuguese Cape Verde
(1562 - early 1570s)
Succeeded by