Death of a true knight

June 3, 2024

D. João de Castro, Portuguese Viceroy of India

Loyalty and service were what he recommended to Alvaro in their last talk, and gratitude for the royal benefits. Alvaro must prove himself worthy of the favors bestowed….

Then D. João de Castro blessed his son and said good-bye forever….Four holy men were his only attendants at this time: they were the Vicar General Father Pedro Fernandes, Frei Antonio do Casal who had stoody by him on the battlefield, Frei João de Vila do Conde, another Franciscan, and—most intimate of them all—the missionary Padre Mestre Francisco Xavier.

Perfectly conscious, he conversed with these until the end…

So D. João de Castro died upon a stormy June 6th, far from the Sintra mountains where he once had dreamed to rest. They wrapped him in the habit of St. Francis over the mantle of the Order of Christ; wearing his golden spurs, with his sword at his side, his face uncovered to the driving rain, they bore him through the town to the Franciscan church, and laid him on the Gospel side of the High Altar….

The late Viceroy had left his will in Portugal with the Bishop of Angra. He made no other since because he had acquired no property in India. In his house there was found neither money nor jewels, and, as he said, his plate was mostly gone. In a coffer, the key of which he always kept, there was nothing except three coins, a well-used scourge, and the tuft of his beard pledged to the citizens of Goa.

D. Alvaro carried these trophies home.

D. João de Castro died at forty-eight, but governors of India seldom made old bones….The scallywags survived, of course—they always do—and they and the mediocre remained to reap at last the aftermath of too much glory.

Elaine Sanceau, Knight of the Renaissance: A Biography of D. João de Castro the famous Portuguese Soldier, Sailor, Scientist and Viceroy of India, 1500-1548 (New York: Hutchinson & Co. Publishers, Ltd. n.d), pp. 219-220.


Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 139



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