Saldanha, Duke of

(1790-1876)
   Born João Carlos de Saldanha Oliveira Daun, and later called duke, marshal, count, and marquis of Saldanha, he pursued a military career and personified military intervention in 19th-century politics. Saldanha fought against the French in the Peninsular War, as well as in conflicts in Uruguay and Brazil, and he backed the constitutional monarchist cause of King Pedro IV. Perhaps the most famous of career officers during the century, in his younger years he was often in exile. Critics quipped that his true name was "Dom João VII" for his imperious manner. As minister and prime minister in various liberal governments after 1851, his name later became used as a generic term for an impetuously planned military coup, a "Saldanhada," meaning a military golpe almost whimsical in spirit, carried out by a wild, headstrong general.
   A soldier from the tender age of 14, Saldanha was a much-discussed figure during various generations of soldiers and politicians. The writer Oliveira Martins later described the man as "a liberal and Portuguese Cid," after El Cid, the Castilian crusading warrior who fought Muslims in medieval Spain. For the constitutional liberal cause of Regent Dom Pedro, Saldanha's personal valor and military prowess were essential in the civil wars, and his prestige in the military was important in the era of the Regeneration of 1851-70; however, this officer lacked political ideas and was out of his element in governance. Queen Maria II, however, in part owed her throne to the force of this military personality who had become a general at age 27. In later life, Saldanha, loaded with honors and freighted with medals, served as Portugal's ambassador in Paris and London, in which city he died at his last post.
   See also Golpismo.

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

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