Catherine of Braganza
Although the two letters which are here reproduced do not contain, in their general contents, any outstanding feature of value to a historian of Anglo-Portuguese connections, they nevertheless represent two interesting testimonies of a Portuguese subject who, if he did not actually witness the last moments of the death of Charles II, at least was near at hand at the time and was able to record the reaction in the royal circle which the king’s demise provoked.
These two letters, the first of which was addressed to the Portuguese monarch, D. Pedro II, and the other to the first Duque de Cadaval, D. Nuno Caetano Alvares Pereira de Melo, were written by Queen Catherine’s personal chaplain, Padre Manoel Dias. During his stay in England this faithful servant of Catherine of Bragança gave his greatest attention to all matters relating to political and court events. Often the Queen’s messenger, he was entrusted with her most private affairs, both as regarded the religion she professed and of her political and domestic interests.
Yellowed with age, these letters describe for us, with deep feeling and preciseness, the very last days of the «Merry Monarch» and the profound grief of the Queen. Not only do they set forth the grief she felt for the «inconstant spouse» political expediency had enforced upon her – and to whom she had become devotedly attached – they yet also forecast the conflicts which were to agitate England during the ensuing reign of James II.
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