Melo, Francisco Manuel de

(1608-1666)
   One of Portugal's two greatest prose writers of the 17th century, along with Father An- tónio Vieira, and one of the greatest in both Spain and Portugal in early modern times. Noted as a prose writer for his clarity, wit, satire, and realism, Melo lived through the supreme dramas of his time: the final struggle between the Inquisition and the New Christians, the loss and also recovery of parts of Portugal's overseas empire, as well as the independence of Portugal from Spain in 1640, following 60 years of Castilian rule. Melo was born in Lisbon to a noble family of Spanish descent. His profession was soldiering and, later, diplomacy. After he participated in the restoration of Portugal's independence and in the triumph of the Braganza dynasty as the ruling royal family of Portugal, Melo was imprisoned and exiled to Brazil. He ended his life as a diplomat on important missions in London, Rome, and Paris.
   Educated by the Jesuits in a Lisbon school, Melo led the life of a man of action rather than that of a sedentary scribbler. His greatest works, some written in Castilian, some in Portuguese, gave him fame outside Portugal and well after his relatively brief life span. His História de los Movimientos y Separación de Cataluna (1645) is a classic, eyewitness account of the 1640 Catalan revolt against Castile. Among other works that mark the author's enduring accomplishment are his Cartas Familiares (1664); Apólogos Dialogaes, his short histories; Epanéforas (1649-59); and his internationally popular Carta de Guia de Casados (Guide Map for Married Persons), which was translated into English first in 1697 by Captain Stevens as The Government of a Wife and was a minor best-seller of the early modern age.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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  • Melo, Francisco Manuel de — ▪ Portuguese author born Nov. 23, 1608, Lisbon, Port. died Oct. 13, 1666, Alcântara, near Lisbon       Portuguese soldier, diplomat, and courtier who won fame as a poet, moralist, historian, and literary critic in both the Spanish and Portuguese… …   Universalium

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