Pombal, the Marquis of

(Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo)
(1699-1782)
   Eighteenth-century dictatorial prime minister of King José I (r. 1750-77). Born of rural nobility, Pombal—who became known as the Marquis of Pombal after the title he received only in 1770—represented Portugal abroad as a diplomat in London (1740-44) and Vienna (1745-50). When José I became king in 1750, he assumed the top cabinet post, and soon acquired great authority and power. For 27 years, Pombal managed the affairs of Portugal through various crises (the Lisbon earthquake of 1755) and several wars. Major goals in his political agenda included strengthening Portugal's home economy and empire, which featured resource-rich Brazil; economic independence from the oldest ally, Great Britain, which tended to treat Portugal as an economic and political colony; and greater power status in a Europe that considered Portugal a third- or fourth-rate power.
   Pombal's domestic agenda was imposed by repressing the power of the nobility, strengthening royal power in all spheres, and suppressing the influence and position of the Jesuits (Pombal expelled the Jesuit Order from Portugal in 1759). The extent to which Pombal was successful in these endeavors remains controversial among biographers and historians, but his pivotal role in 18th-century public affairs remains secure. An impressive statue of Pombal with a lion at his side today dominates the Rotunda, a massive traffic circle at the top of the Avenida de Liberdade, Lisbon; it was completed in 1934.
   See also Catholic church.

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

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