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Tomás António Gonzaga (11 August 1744 – c. 1810) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian poet. One of the most famous Neoclassic colonial Brazilian writers, he was also the ouvidor and the ombudsman of the city of Ouro Preto (formerly "Vila Rica"), as well as the desembargador of the appeal court in Bahia. He wrote under the pen name Dirceu.

Tomás António Gonzaga
A drawing of Gonzaga
A drawing of Gonzaga
Born(1744-08-11)11 August 1744
Miragaia, Porto, Portugal
Died1810 (aged 65–66)
Island of Mozambique, Portuguese Colony of Mozambique
Pen nameDirceu
OccupationPoet, jurist, activist
Alma materUniversity of Coimbra
Literary movementNeoclassicism
Notable worksMarília de Dirceu, Cartas Chilenas
SpouseJuliana de Sousa Mascarenhas
ChildrenAna Mascarenhas Gonzaga, Alexandre Mascarenhas Gonzaga

He is patron of the 37th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.



Gonzaga was born in the freguesia (or parish) of Miragaia, in Porto, to João Bernardo Gonzaga and Tomásia Isabel Clark, who was of British descent. Tomásia died when Gonzaga was 1 year old, and soon after his mother's death, he and his father moved to Recife, and then to Bahia, where João Bernardo served at the magistrature, and Gonzaga studied at a Jesuit school. Gonzaga was sent back to Portugal as a teenager, to the University of Coimbra, to finish his studies. With 24 years old, he finished his Law course. He presented himself as a candidate for a chair at the University, with the thesis Tratado de Direito Natural, heavily influenced by Enlightened ideals.

He became the juiz de fora of the city of Beja in 1778, until 1781. In the following year, he returned to Brazil, becoming the ouvidor of the city of Vila Rica (nowadays Ouro Preto). He held this post until 1789, when he was accused of being involved with the Minas Conspiracy. Arrested, he was sent to a prison in Ilha das Cobras, Rio de Janeiro. He spent three years in there, when he was given the sentence of an exile in the Island of Mozambique. By that time, he was engaged to a woman named Maria Doroteia Joaquina de Seixas Brandão, possibly the "Marília" of his verses. His hope of being freed from his prison in order to see his beloved again is a prominent theme of the second part of his poetry book Marília de Dirceu.

Arriving at Mozambique, he was charitably received by a wealthy Portuguese gentleman. He then married his daughter, Juliana de Sousa Mascarenhas, having with her two children: Ana and Alexandre.

Gonzaga had a wealthy and happy life during his exile, becoming a lawyer. He would die of a lethal tropical disease he contracted; his date of death is unknown, although it's commonly accepted to be in 1810. His remains are currently interred at the Museu da Inconfidência in Ouro Preto.


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