José Travassos Valdez, 1st Count of Bonfim bigraphy, stories - Portuguese noble

José Travassos Valdez, 1st Count of Bonfim : biography

1787 - 1862

José Lúcio Travassos Valdez (February 23, 1787 – July 10, 1862), only Baron and first Count do Bonfim (), was a Portuguese soldier and statesman.

Insurrections and political office

Dom Pedro died immediately after his victory and a long period of political unrest between competing factions began under the young queen Maria II. Governments came and went, mostly lasting only a few months. On September 17, 1835 Travassos Valdez was elevated to the peerage as Baron Bonfim. From October 1836 he commanded forces in the Alentejo against the Spanish Carlist general, Miguel Gómez Damas, who was threatening the frontier. In 1837 he was elected deputy for the constituents of the district of Leiria to the parliament.

When the Chartist forces raised an insurrection against the government on July 12, 1837, and the Dukes of Saldanha and Terceira put themselves at its head, according to an early 20th-century account:

"The Lisbon government confided extraordinary powers to the Viscount de Sá and the baron de Bonfim. These two officers, with the constitutional forces, attacked the marshals' troops at Rio Mayor on the 28th of August, and, although on both sides they had more than six weeks in which to make preparations, neither of the armies counted 800 men. But the soldiers were more prudent than their leaders. After a slight infantry skirmish in which the Portuguese had sensible losses to deplore, the marshals gave the order to charge to their little squadron and the Viscount de Sá advanced at the head of his troop. The cavalry on both sides stopped at 50 paces, replaced their sabres in their scabbards, and having fraternised returned faithfully to the flags of their respective commanders. The latter saw themselves compelled to sign an armistice and the marshals retired to the North."The Historians' History of the World edited by Henry Smith Williams (London: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Co. Ltd., 1904 (5th edition 1926), Volume X, p. 552.

On September 9, 1837 Bonfim was appointed Minister of War and interim Foreign Minister and Minister of Marine in the second government of Sá de Bandeira. Among his acts in this office, following the crushing of the Chartist rebellion at the Battle of Ruivaes on September 20, 1837, was disarming the National Guard, which had been converted into a permanent force for insurrection. On March 13, 1838 he used troops to put down a revolt by rebels who had occupied the Lisbon Arsenal, a decisive act that probably prevented the fall of the liberal government. By a Decree of D. Maria II of April 4, 1838 he was elevated to the Nobility, as Conde do Bonfim. (The family tended to use the older spelling 'Bomfim'.) He was a senator in the legislature of 1839–40.and deputy for the constituents of the district of Leiria. On September 26, 1839 he assumed the leadership of the government as Prime Minister, and provided the first period of relative stability by presiding over the eleventh government, a coalition which succeeded in remaining in office for nearly two years, until 1841. He retained the office of Foreign Minister until December 28. Bonfim’s administration, in which he combined the posts of Prime Minister, Minister of War, and head of the Colonial Department, lasted to July 9, 1841. Among those taking office in his ministry were Costa Cabral, Rodrigo da Fonseca Magalhães and others. It was during the period of his government that various European powers (among them, the Holy See) resumed diplomatic relations with Portugal, having broken them off after the arrival of the constitutional regime. He especially cultivated friendly relations with Spain after the tensions of the Carlist War. He was responsible for the foundation in July 1840 of the fortress and town of Moçâmedes in southern Angola (now Namibe) and he promoted internal pacification in Portugal. On December 26, 1840, Portugal and the United States of America signed a Mutual Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. Bonfim resigned the premiership when he encountered resistance to his plans to reform the National Guard, and was succeeded in office by Joaquim António de Aguiar, who had been his deputy.

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