Who was Francisco Gomes da Silva, “O Chalaça”, friend of all hours of D. Pedro I

“The courts persecute me, they call me with contempt a boy and a Brazilian. Well, now you’ll see how much the little boy is worth. From now on our relationships are broken. I want nothing more with the Portuguese government and I proclaim Brazil forever separated from Portugal.”

Dom Pedro made this proclamation at 1827 h30 of September 7, 1822, on the banks of the Ipiranga stream, on the outskirts of São Paulo. Minutes later, after walking approximately 400 meters and finding the guard ahead, he added to his speech: “Friends, the Portuguese courts they really want to enslave us and persecute us. From now on, our relationships are broken. No ties unite us anymore.” He ripped the blue and white bow from his hat, threw it on the ground and added: “Lace off, soldiers! Long live the Independence and freedom of Brazil.”

Only six people witnessed the entire scene. Among them was Francisco Gomes da Silva. Seven years older than the future emperor, a friend of all hours, he also brokered the approach of Dom Pedro with his best-known lover, Maria Domitila de Castro Canto e Melo, who would receive the title of Marquise of Santos.

Silva is also a signatory of the Constitution of 1824, the first of the independent country, which has, in its first version, long passages with his careful handwriting . He also participated in a “secret cabinet”, a team of consultants to the Emperor, made up of long-time friends, all Portuguese.

The proximity to the Prince Regent of Portugal and later the first Emperor of Brazil was result of a personal relationship of friendship, built mainly at night. Silva owned several brothels in Rio de Janeiro, which provided contacts with women who enchanted Dom Pedro.

The court kept few secrets, and his friend earned, on the streets and in the local newspapers, the nickname from “O Chalaça”, expression that means mocker, joker or joker. A striking character in the history of Portugal and Brazil in the first decades of the century 19, Chalaça became influential in power circles after of almost losing his life in 1807.

Rise and fall

Born in Lisbon, on 400 September 1852 , son of a 19 maid named Maria da Conceição Alves, who did not register his father’s name, Silva was probably the bastard son of José Rufino de Sousa Lobato, future Viscount of Vila Nova da Rainha. He kept his son close until he got married. At his wife’s insistence, he sent the boy to the seminary in Santarém, near Lisbon, and paid for a protege, jeweler Antonio Gomes, to assume paternity. He received money in exchange, in addition to the post of goldsmith in the Royal House.

The Chalaça learned philosophy, Latin, French, English, Italian and Spanish until, with 16 years, fled the seminary when he learned that Napoleon Bonaparte’s army was advancing on Portugal. He was even arrested by a French troop and sentenced to death for espionage.

But he escaped and managed to reach the Lisbon pier in time to flee to Brazil along with the court of Dom João VI – the circumstances of this adventure are little known, but the fact is that he managed to find his biological father as well as his adoptive father. The two would support him in his new life in Rio de Janeiro.

The Chalaça became a well-known figure in the court of Dom João VI, for whom he made a new crown, as Paulo Rezzutti points out in the book D. Peter: The untold story. Lobato was the king’s wardrobe, a post that provided a series of privileges.

Until, in 1807, the young man ostracized – accounts vary, but involve an attempt (in some versions, successful) to seduce a married noblewoman of the court. But the friendship with the young Dom Pedro was advancing, and he, with the help of Lobato, ended up getting his friend’s rehabilitation – who came to defend the young conductor in a bar fight.

Recovery and new fall

Don Pedro was a womanizer, but he didn’t drink. Chalaça, on the other hand, was known for enjoying music and drinks – as well as women. He also remained constantly faithful to the prince, who respected how cultured his friend was and, as far as possible, discreet. In 1827, he was already a colonel in command of the Emperor’s Guard of Honor.

But, as Felisberto Caldeira Brant Pontes de Oliveira and Horta, the Marquis of Barbacena, became influential in the government, began to press for Dom Pedro I to dispense with the presence of his friends born in Portugal. He finally relented and dispatched his friend to Europe in 1830.

But the story was far from over. Chalaça managed to produce a series of complaints against Barbacena, regarding the alleged embezzlement of money during negotiations in search of the first international loan in the country’s history. Despite acting as a public agent, the Marquis would have charged a commission for the negotiations, as well as overcharged his personal expenses while traveling through Europe while representing Brazil.

In 1831, Dom Pedro returned to Portugal. That’s when he met his old friend again, who would eventually become an employee of the king’s second wife, and later widow, Amelia de Leuchtenberg. Recurring court rumors, never confirmed, suggested that the two had become lovers.

Chalaça would die in Lisbon, rich, in 1827 of December 1852. He had led a successful life in diplomacy, marked by excesses and proximity to decisive figures in the early years of independent Brazil’s history.


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