Documents in the Archive of the Casa de Mateus dating from 1577 take us back to the first occupiers of the Casa de Mateus, Cristóvão Álvares (-1619) and his wife, D. Maria Gonçalves, (- d. after 1625), succeeded by, following the death of his mother in 1625,
Licentiate António Álvares Coelho (-1647), married to D. Helena Álvares Mourão (-1665) of the Casa da Cumieira.
The vast wealth accumulated by the Mateus family through successive marriage alliances with four important lineages – Botelho, Coelho, Álvares and Mourão – led Licentiate António Álvares Coelho in 1641 to establish the Morgadio de Mateus, entailed to the Capela de Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres. The original Casa de Mateus, with its domestic chapel and the farm known as Quinta da Porta or Quinta de Mateus, formed part of this entail.
The creation of morgadios, or entails, became established in Portugal from the 13th century onwards.
The morgadio was an institution designed to preserve the landed property of the nobility. The assets entailed to a morgadio, which were inalienable and indivisible, were passed down only to the firstborn male descendant. Morgadios were abolished in Portugal in 1863.
António Álvares Coelho nominated as the First Administrators of the Morgadio de Mateus his elder sister, D. Maria Coelho (-1696), and her husband, Dr. Matias Álvares Mourão de Aguiar (-1675). The couple also inherited the Casa da Cumieira, thereby becoming the administrators of two of the Region’s great entails.
High Court Judge Dr. Matias Álvares Mourão de Aguiar died in 1675.
D. Maria Coelho, “the Old Lady”, continued to administer the Casa for 21 years and, entailed to the morgadios of Mateus and Cumieira, in addition to the founding assets, all the silver listed on a roll and a further 117 arráteis (approximately 117 lbs) of crude silver and three arráteis of gold bars. Dying childless, she nominated as her sole heir her cousin, Matias Álvares Mourão, son of Domingos Botelho Ribeiro Álvares, of the Casa de Sabrosa, and of his wife, D. Joana Mourão.
Matias Álvares Mourão (1669 – d. after 1730), Morgado da Prata, married D. Maria Coelho de Barros e Faria (1670 – d. after 1730), daughter of the founder of the morgadio of Arroios, High Court Judge Cristóvão Álvares Coelho.
Thus began to be created a “coherent family nucleus, which was reinforced as the result of various endogamous alliances designed to accumulate wealth or avoid its dispersal, something that also resulted from the fact that several members of the family who died without issue left their estates to nieces and nephews”:
It was, furthermore, a family characterised “not simply by wealth but also by the strong ties of many of its members to the University, the Church and the Magistracy, and by an early interest in culture”…
António José Botelho Mourão, (1688-1746) 4th Morgado de Mateus, built the grand Casa de Mateus. By his marriage to D. Joana Maria de Sousa Mascarenhas e Queirós (1695-1723), he linked the Casa de Mateus to the family of the Marqueses de Minas.
D. Joana, the heiress of her parents, D. Luís António de Sousa and D. Bárbara Mascarenhas e Queirós, brought to the Casa the morgadios of Moroleiros, Fontelas and Queirozes and initiated the ascent of this ancient family from the provincial squirearchy to the Court nobility.
D. Luís António de Sousa Botelho Mourão (1722-1798), Lord of the Honour of Ovelha in Marão, Lord and Administrator of all his parents’ morgadios and of the Casa de Mateus, Knight of the Royal Household, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Chaves Dragoons, Captain-General and Governor of the Captaincy of São Paulo in Brazil, Military Governor of the City of Bragança, Knight of the Order of Santa Maria de Vermiosa, the Order of Christ and of His Majesty’s Council, married D. Leonor Ana Luísa Josefa de Portugal (1722-1806) of the House of the Counts of Redondo.
Following his appointment as Captain-General and Governor of São Paulo in 1765, D. Luís António spent ten years in Brazil.
Imbued with the Enlightenment ideals of his time, Dom Luís António sought to apply them in his governorship of the Captaincy of São Paulo, which also included part of the Santa Catarina region and Paraná. His efforts are still viewed today as decisive in the development of this region of Brazil.
During her hsuband’s absence in Brazil, D. Leonor skilfully administered the Casa, keeping her husband informed of all that happened and seeking his advice in the long letters that they exchanged.
At that time, Mateus accounted for 68 households and 256 souls – 118 men and 138 women, icluding 3 priests, 26 farm hands, 20 day labourers, 9 male servants and 9 female servants.
D. José Maria do Carmo de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos (1758-1825), lord of all his parents’ morgadios, became famous as the Morgado de Mateus, the publisher of “Os Lusíadas”. D. José Maria was educated in Lisbon at the Colégio dos Nobres, later taking a degree in Mathematics at the University of Coimbra, where José Anastácio da Cunha influenced him morally and culturally and instilled in him a love of the works of Camões.
He married D. Maria Teresa Soares de Noronha (1760-1785), who died two years later. On his appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Sweden, he interrupted his military career.
After 15 years as a diplomat, Le Chevalier de Souza, as he was known on the international diplomatic circuit, decided to settle in Paris, where he married the writer Adelaïde Marie Emilie Filleul (1761-1836), the widow of the Conde de Flahaut, a vivacious and witty woman. A tireless reader of Luís de Camões, the Morgado dedicated several years of his life to the preparation of his monumental edition of “Os Lusíadas”, which was printed at the Firmin Didot works.
D. José Luís de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos, 1st Count of Vila Real (1785-1855), heir to the Morgados de Mateus, Cumieira, Sabrosa, Arroios, Moroleiros, Fontelas e Queirozes, married D. Teresa Frederica Cristina de Sousa e Holstein (1786-1841), sister of the 1st Duke of Palmela, Dame of the Order of Maria Luísa of Spain. Their daughters married into the families of the Condes da Ponte, Condes de Rio Maior and Viscondes de Asseca.
He was a Member of the Upper Chamber of the Cortes, Counsellor of State and Minister of State, and he was accredited as Minister Plenipotentiary to several of the Courts of Europe. In Madrid, he arranged the marriages of the Princesses D. Maria Isabel and D. Maria Francisca, and in 1817 he was appointed by D. João VI as ambassador to the Court in London.
He was decorated with the Peninsular War Gold Cross and the Grand Cross of the Orders of Aviz, Carlos III of Spain, Leopold of Austria and St.Anne of Russia.
He was appointed Knight Commander of the Orders of the Torre e Espada and S. Luís de França. D. José Luís passed much of his life as a diplomat abroad and spent little time at the Casa de Mateus. He died in St. Petersburg.
D. Fernando de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos 2nd Count of Vila Real (1815-1858). At the wish of his father, who was absent for career reasons, D. Fernando took over the administration of the Casa de Mateus early. He continued to organise the estate documents, known as the Records.
His first marriage, to Maria Amália Burchardt (1820-1839) in 1838, was childless. He married a second time to D. Júlia Adelaide Braamcamp de Almeida Castelo Branco (1822-1878), with whom he had seven children, some of whom married into the Brederode, Condes de Paraty and Viscondes de Pindela families.
Politically active, D. Fernando particpated in various campaigns in defence of the social, political and economic interests of the Trás os Montes region, of whose Governing Junta he was President, and gave particular attention to the problems of farmers in the Douro.
He took part in the Septembrist and Chartist revolts. He was prominent in the Maria da Fonte and Patuleia revolts of 1846 and 1847.
D. José Luís de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos, 3rd Count of Vila Real (1843-1923), son of the 2nd Count and Countess of Vila Real, married D. Teresa Francisca de Melo da Silva Breyner Sousa Tavares e Moura, 2nd Countess de Melo (1848-1926) on 2 March 1867. The family assets that D. Teresa Francisca brought with her, among them a wealth of ancient documents, enriched the Casa de Mateus and its Archive. The 3rd Count and Countess of Vila Real were the 8th and last Morgados de Mateus. In 1898 D. José Luis was appointed a Member of the Upper Chamber of the Cortes by King D. Carlos. He was Civil Governor of Vila Real District in 1886, 1897 and 1907.
His correspondence with the Real Companhia Vinícola and the Liga dos Lavradores do Douro, of which the 3rd Count of Vila Real was a member, testifies to the role played by the Casa de Mateus in the Douro Demarcated Region.
D. Fernando de Sousa Botelho e Melo, 4th Count of Vila Real, son of the 3rd Count and Countess of Vila Real, died a bachelor and without legitimate descendants. Although he lived for most of the time at his Quinta at Almojanda, in the Alentejo, he took a keen interest in the administration of the Casa de Mateus until his death in 1928.
On his death, the titles reverted to his elder sister Maria dos Prazeres, a nun in the Order of São José de Cluny, and his younger sister Maria Teresa.
D. Maria Teresa de Sousa Botelho e Melo, 5th Countess of Vila Real and 4th Countess de Melo (1871-1947), married the 2nd Count of Mangualde, Fernando de Almeida Cardoso de Albuquerque (1874-1932).
They had three children, D. Maria Teresa, Countess of Tomar by marriage, D. Maria Rita, Sister Maria do Carmo in religion, and D. Francisco.
Their lives were marked by the Monarchist Invasions of 1910 to 1920 which followed the establishment of the Republic, in which Fernando de Albuquerque played an active part with the unconditional support of his wife. These were nine years of struggle and sacrifice during which they continued to have faith in the restoration of the Monarchy.
The Countess of Mangualde renewed the entire electrical installation of the House and made significant alterations to the Gardens.
D. Francisco de Sousa Botelho de Albuquerque, 6th Count of Vila Real, 5th Count de Melo and 3rd Count of Mangualde (1909-1973).
He married D. Maria Adelaide de Sousa Canavarro de Meneses Fernandes Costa (1917-1989). The children of the marriage were D. Maria João, D. Isabel, D. Fernando and D. Francisco.
A company director and a businessman in his own right, he dedicated his life to the Casa de Mateus, undertaking extensive restoration work and improvements and modernising it and adapting it to the 20th century. Interested in the landscaping of the House, he continued his mother’s work in the Gardens. He constructed the water mirror and the park surrounding it, planted the tunnel of cedars and commissioned the construction of the tanks that flank it, created the garden on that level and altered the entrance to the Quinta.
He modernised the agricultural sector and developed the productive businesses of the Casa, both wine-making and olive oil production.
Deeply interested in the conservation, study and publication of the Archive, he commissioned Luís de Bivar Guerra, who organised it and authorised scholars to study the documents. He installed the Library in its present location to preserve the books that constitute it.
He opened the House to the public and established the Museum, arranging for the restoration of many of the artefacts in its collection.
In order to ensure the continuation of the Family’s connection with the House, he founded the Fundação da Casa de Mateus, the Board of which has done its utmost to continue his work.