Francisco de Melo e Torres, 1st. Conde da Ponte and 1st. Marquês de Sande
(Cr. Count of Ponte 1661 and Marquess of Sande (1662)
Arms: Torres impalling Melo.
He was one of the nobleman that took part in the revolt that overthrew the Spanish rule and ended 60 years of Habsburg domination, on December, 1st, 1640, acclaiming John, Duke of Braganza as the rightful King of Portugal.
During the War with Spain that followed, he commanded a Terço at the battle of Montijo (1644), becoming Governor of Olivença and General of Artillery. During Queen D. Luísa de Gusmão’s Regency, he begun a brilliant diplomatic career praised by Lord Clarendon.
Sent to England in 1657, he signed a treaty (which was never ratified), in 1660, by which Portugal was allowed to recruit soldiers in England and buy horses and weapons in the Commonwealth. After the restoration he remained in England, being the first foreign Ambassador to have been received in audience by King Charles II.
He signed the marriage contract between the King Charles II and princess Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), daughter of King John VI of Portugal, by which Portugal was to give Britain Tangiers, in Morocco and Bombay, in India, securing the British alliance to the cause of the restored dynasty.
In 1662, the new Queen left Lisbon accompanied by the Marquess of Sande in a fleet under the command of the Earl of Sandwich, arriving at Portsmouth on May 24th where she was received by the Duke of York.
While Ambassador at the court of Louis XIV, King of France, he was involved in the negotiations for the marriage of King D. Afonso VI (brother of Queen Catherine of Braganza) with the Grande Demoiselle. Having this project failed due to the prospective bride’s opposition, the Duke of Guise reminded the Count da Ponte, Mademoiselle of Nemours and of Aumale (1646-1683). The new bride-to-be was well accepted in Lisbon and the marriage was celebrated at La Rochelle, in March 1666, having the Ambassador Marquess of Sande represented the King of Portugal.
The Queen then embarked in a French fleet under the command of her uncle the Duke of Beaufort accompanied by the Portuguese Ambassador having arrived to Lisbon in August 1666.
Two years later a coup d’état led by the Queen and her brother-in-law prince Dom Pedro took place declaring the King mad and forcing to abdicate power in favour of his younger brother who was declared regent. Then invoking that her marriage was never consummated the marriage was annulled and she married her brother-in-law the future King D. Pedro II.
The Marquess was treacherously murdered in 1667 when returning home form the Royal Chapel.