Miguel da Silva

Miguel da Silva (c. 1480 – 5 June 1556) was a Portuguese nobleman, the second son of Diogo da Silva, 1st Count of Portalegre and of his wife Maria de Ayala, a Castilian noblewomen. He was ambassador of the king of Portugal to several popes, and papal ambassador to the Emperor and others.

D. Miguel da Silva
Cardinal, Bishop Emeritus of Viseu
D. Miguel da Silva (pormenor de Cristo em Casa de Marta, 1535-40, Gaspar Vaz - MNGV).png
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed21 November 1526
PredecessorJoão de Chaves
SuccessorAlessandro Farnese
Other post(s)
OrdinationDecember 1529
Created cardinal19 December 1539 (in pectore)
2 December 1541 (published)
by Pope Paul III
Personal details
Birth nameMiguel da Silva e Meneses
Bornc. 1480
Évora, Portugal
Died5 June 1556(1556-06-05) (aged 75–76)
Rome, Papal States
ParentsD. Diogo da Silva, 1st Count of Portalegre
D. Maria de Ayala
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Styles of
Miguel da Silva
Coat of arms of Miguel da Silva.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Sometimes referred to through antonomasia as the Cardinal of Viseu (Portuguese: Cardeal de Viseu), he was Bishop of Viseu (Portugal), and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Massa Maritima (Tuscany). He was a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church from 1539 to 1556, and served as governor of several papal states.

Education and careerEdit

Silva was educated at the University of Paris, then in Siena, then Bologna, and finally in Rome. After his stay in Rome, he travelled to Venice, and from there he returned to Portugal, visiting several European principalities along the way.[1] On his return to Portugal in 1502, he was appointed escrivão da puridade, or keeper of the royal seal, to the eldest son of King Manuel I, who succeeded him as John III of Portugal.[2]

He was appointed by King Manuel I of Portugal as ambassador to Rome in 1514. He served in that post during the reigns of popes Leo X, Adrian VI and Clement VII.[3] Both Leo X and Clement VII wanted to make him a Cardinal, but were opposed by the Portuguese Crown.

He was recalled to Lisbon in 1525 where he served as member of the Royal Council. Pope Clement VII appointed him Bishop of Viseu on 21 November 1526. He resigned the see on 22 April 1547, in favor of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the grandson of Pope Paul III.[4]

Pope Paul III finally elevated Miguel da Silva to the cardinalate on 19 December 1539, though the appointment was kept secret (in pectore) for the time being.[5] Falling out of favour with King John III of Portugal, D. Miguel da Silva ran away to Rome in 1540, where he was warmly welcomed to the Curia by Paul III. His status as a Cardinal was revealed in 1541, and on 6 February 1542 he was assigned the titular church of Ss. XII Apostolorum.[6] King John III of Portugal promptly condemned him on a charge of treason and revoked his Portuguese nationality.

On 30 August 1542, Silva was named Legate to the Emperor Charles V.[7]

On 9 January 1545, he was appointed Legate of the Marches of Ancona, and on 19 March 1545 was also named governor of Fermo.[8]

He served as papal legate to Venice and Bologna.

On 20 May 1549, he was named Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Massa Marittima by Pope Paul III.[9]

Silva took part in the papal conclave following the death of Paul III, which began on 29 November 1549 and concluded on 7 February 1550 with the election of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, who took the name Julius III.[10] He also took part in the conclave following the death of Julius III, which began on 5 April 1555 and ended on 9 April 1555, with the election of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who took the name Marcellus II. He died three weeks later, on 30 April.[11] A conclave followed immediately, opening on 15 May 1555 and concluding on 23 May with the election of Giampetro Carafa (Paul IV).[12]

Silva died in Rome on 5 June 1556, and was buried in the church of S. Maria in Trastevere, which had been his titular church since 11 December 1553.[13]

Greatly praised for his classical culture and command of ancient languages, he was a personal friend of the painter Raffaello Sanzio. Baldassare Castiglione dedicated his masterpiece Il Cortegiano to Silva.


  1. ^ Cardella, p. 234.
  2. ^ Susannah Humble Ferreira, "Inventing the Courtier in early Sixteenth-Century Portugal," in: Charles Lipp; Matthew P Romaniello, eds. (2013). Contested Spaces of Nobility in Early Modern Europe. Burlington VT USA: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-4094-8206-2.
  3. ^ Alfonso Chacón (Ciaconius) (1677). A. Olduinus (ed.). Vitae et res gestae pontificum romanorum: et S.R.E. cardinalium ab initio nascentis ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. (in Latin). Tomus tertius. Roma: P. et A. De Rubeis (Rossi). p. 676.
  4. ^ Eubel, p. 335.
  5. ^ Eubel, p. 27 no. 39. Seniority in the College of Cardinals is measured from the date of appointment, not the date of publication.
  6. ^ Eubel, p. 27 note 9.
  7. ^ Eubel, p. 27, note 10.
  8. ^ Eubel, p. 27, note 11.
  9. ^ Giuseppe Cappelletti (1862). Le chiese d'Italia dalla loro origine sino ai nostri giorni (in Italian). Volume decimosettimo. Venezia: Antonelli. p. 707. |volume= has extra text (help) Eubel, p. 237.
  10. ^ Eubel, p. 31, with note 1.
  11. ^ Eubel, p. 33, with note 1.
  12. ^ Eubel, p. 34, with note 1.
  13. ^ Chacón, pp. 675-676.


  • Cardella, Lorenzo (1793). Memorie storiche de' cardinali della santa Romana chiesa (in Italian). Tomo quattro (4). Roma: Pagliarini. pp. 233–236.
  • Eubel, Conradus (ed.); Gulik, Guilelmus (1923). Hierarchia catholica (in Latin). Tomus 3 (second ed.). Münster: Libreria Regensbergiana.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Deswarte, Sylvie, "La Rome de D. Miguel da Silva (1515-1525)," O Humanismo Português. Primeiro Simpósio Nacional, 21-25 de Outubro de 1985. Lisboa: Il Centenario da Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, 1988, pp. 177–307.
  • Deswarte, Sylvie, Il "perfetto cortegiano," D. Miguel da Silva. Roma: Bulzoni Editore, 1989.
  • Paiva, J.P. Os Bispos de Portugal e do Império 1495-1777. Coimbra, Universidade de Coimbra, 2006
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
João de Chaves
Roman Catholic Bishop of Viseu
Succeeded by
Alessandro Farnese
Preceded by
Ennio Filonardi
Oldest living Member of the Sacred College
9 December 1549 - 5 June 1556
Succeeded by
Claude de Longwy de Givry