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Pombal, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, marquês de

Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo Pombal, marquês de (səbəstyouN´ zhŏŏzĕ´ dĬ kərvä´lyō ē mĕ´lŏŏ märkās´ dĬ pŏŏmbäl´), 1699–1782, Portuguese statesman. After studying law at the Univ. of Coimbra, he served as ambassador to England and Austria, was made secretary for foreign affairs and war by King Joseph in 1750, and became chief minister in 1756. The most dynamic political figure in Portugal since the 16th cent., Pombal was an exponent of absolutism, an anticlerical, and a zealous organizer. When Lisbon was destroyed by earthquake (1755), he met the emergency and supervised the reconstruction of the city. He curbed the Inquisition by subordinating it to the king's authority, expelled the Jesuits from Portugal and its colonies, and redrafted the property laws to prevent the accumulation of great wealth by the church. A believer in enlightened despotism, he also ended slavery in Portugal, reorganized the educational and military systems, and encouraged agriculture and industry, partly by establishing monopolies. Pombal took strong measures to build up Brazil with increased production of minerals, tobacco, and sugar. He also sought to regulate Portuguese commerce and strengthen it, thus making the country less dependent on the English. Pombal's whole program, however, was executed by ruthless suppression of all opposition. The creation of a wine monopoly caused an uprising in Oporto, which was put down (1757) with ferocity. A group of nobles accused of an attempt (1758) to kill the king were tortured to death. Thousands of people were imprisoned. Upon the death (1777) of King Joseph, Pombal was deprived of power, his prisoners were freed, and many of his measures were revoked. The new ruler, Maria I, banished the former minister from Lisbon.

See biography by M. Cheke (1938, repr. 1969).

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