Sebastião José de Carvalho e Mello, Marquis de Pombal and Count of Oeiras (Lisbon 1699 – Leiria 1782), held the position of Secretary of State [Prime Minister] of the kingdom of King Dom José I from 1750 to 1777.
A representative of this enlightened despotism, he experienced first hand Portugal’s role in the history of the Enlightenment and played an important role in bringing Portugal closer to the more advanced countries of Central and Northern Europe, most notably on economic and social levels.
In Portugal, he put an end to the auto-da-fé practices dating from the Holy Inquisition and to the segregation of New Christians (Jews forced to covert to Catholicism). He did not officially abolish the Inquisition, which continued until 1821, and he was also principally responsible for the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portugal and its colonies. His administration was marked by two famous difficulties. The challenge presented by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 led to him being known in history books as the renovator of the city’s architecture, according to hermetic principles. He is also dramatically linked to the trial and execution of the Távora family (see previous post on this blog).
Although his affirmation to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry cannot be specifically proved, it is nevertheless generally accepted that he had close ties to the Casa Real dos Maçons da Lusitânia, paticularly through Carlos Mardel and Reinaldo dos Santos as well as Casa Dos 24, said to be a “Masonic” chapel in listed otherwise known as the church of São José dos Carpinteiros ( a blog on this church will follow).