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Duarte da Silva

Birthplace: Lisbon, Lisbon District, Portugal
Death: 1688 (91-92)
Antwerpen, Antwerp, Vlaams Gewest, Belgium ((ook sprake van 17sep1677Antwerpen))
Immediate Family:

Son of Diogo (Didacus) Pinto da Silva and Catharina Pinto da Silva
Husband of Bianca da Solis da Silva
Father of Isaac da Silva y Solis aka Diego Pinto da Silva; Francisco da Silva y Solis, 1st Marquis de Montfort; Daniel da Silva Solis aka Guglielmo da Silva, João da Silva and Catherina da Silva y Solis
Brother of Francisco da Silva; Simon da Silva and Andreas da Silva

Occupation: Administrator of Catarina de Bragança's dowry
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Duarte da Silva

A History of the Marranos

Cecil Roth, 1932, page 118

The antecedents of the Marquisate of Montfort deserve special mention. Mention has already been made, on more than one occasion, of Duarte da Silva. Born in Lisbon in 1596, of middle-class New Christian parentage, he became one of the most opulent Portuguese merchants of his day. He had agencies at Antwerp, Rouen, Rome, Venice, London, and Leghorn. From the New World, he imported merchandise on a vast scale. He was in close relations with the Portuguese court, to which he advanced large sums. He provided ships, supplies, and munitions during the struggle with Holland for the possession of Brazil, the final retention of which province by Portugal was due in some measure to his assistance. More than once, he had been denounced by his personal enemies to the Inquisition as a Judaizer, without any proceedings being taken. In 1647, however, he was implicated in the confessions wrung from the children of his kinswoman, Brites Henriques, who was martyred in that year. The news of his impending arrest reached his ears, and he managed to keep in hiding until he could set his affairs (not all, apparently, of a business nature) in order. Ultimately, he gave himself up; but his action had exposed him to a second charge—that of violating the secrecy of the Inquisition, as well as that of Judaizing. The news of his arrest caused great commotion in Lisbon. It was bruited abroad that the Inquisitors were in the pay of Spain, and that they had acted as they did in order to undermine the credit of the country. In Amsterdam, the exchange on Lisbon slumped by 5%.
The trial dragged on for five years. In the end, on December 1, 1652 in the same auto-da-fè at which Manuel Fernandez Villareal lost his life Duarte da Silva appeared as a penitent; apparently escaping a worse fate through the intervention of the Court. It was not long before he regained his former position. When in 1662 Catherine of Braganza went to England as the bride of Charles II, she took Duarte da Silva with her to administer her dowry. Now that he was safe out of the country, he put forward certain proposals for the amelioration of the position of the New Christians in Portugal, for which he professed himself willing to pay heavily. Samuel Pepys knew him, and appreciated his comfits. Even now, he did not formally profess allegiance to Judaism. When his mission was ended, he retired to Antwerp, where he died in 1688. His sons, however, found the call of their ancestral religion stronger than their father had done. One of them, Diogo, went to Hamburg, where he assumed the name of Isaac da Silva Solis, became a pillar of the community, and was prevented only by the prejudices of the burghers from constructing in his house a synagogue which was alleged to threaten the outlook from a neighbouring Church. Francisco, another son, who had been reconciled at the auto of December 1, 1652, and accompanied his father to London, was destined to a more refulgent career. He became a Knight of the Military Order of Christ, as well as Counsellor and Treasurer General to Queen Catherine. In the Low Countries, he entered into the Spanish service and was responsible for the defeat of the Duc de Créqui's attempt to relieve Treves in 1673. In reward for his services, he was raised by the Emperor in 1682 to the dignity of Marquis de Montfort. His son, Fernando, the second Marquis, returned publicly to Judaism, assuming like his uncle the name of Isaac da Silva Solis

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