The Portuguese House of  Braganza

 Jamaica was ‘the largest and the most important’ of the West Indian Sephardic communities; Mordechai Arbell (ref 14) explains that Colombus' hereditary governorship of Jamaica led to a settlement of Portuguese immigrants, principally merchants. Inducements were offered for Portuguese New Christians to settle there, as they were seen as being able to develop active commerce with the other Spanish colonies. When Jamaica passed to England in 1655, the New Christian merchants stayed on – distinguishing themselves from Spaniards who were asked to leave – and became openly Jewish once the contemporaneous English resettlement under Cromwell and later Charles 2 acquired some robustness. 

Christopher Columbus' grand-daughter Isabella Colon (Columbus is the Latinized version of the family name Colon) inherited the Jamaican governorship and this upon her marriage passed to her husband a Portuguese nobleman Count de Galvez of the House of Braganza. In 1640 the House of Braganza  became the Portuguese Royal Family. This Portuguese-held Spanish fiefdom was a curiosity but perhaps is less surprising if as seems probable (ref 60) that Christopher Columbus was born to a family of Spanish Jews in Genoa, and if the House of Braganza, like many Iberian aristocratic families had a significant New Christian component.

Until 1501 the House of Braganza was based at Guimaraes near the Portuguese Lousada villages - and the regional town of Braganza is not far away (see map). Perhaps this dictated the choice of destination for the first Losada/Lousada refugees from Spain in 1492 but we do not know what the Baruch Lousada or indeed Jewish element in the de Losada nobility was if any, nor do we know much about the linkage between the de Losada nobility and the House of Braganza. It has been suggested (ref 31) that the Portuguese House of Braganza was at least in part a Lousada bloodline. An illegitimate son Alfonso (Count de Barcelos 1370-1461) of the Portuguese King Joao I, was conceived with a Lousada mistress (Ines Esteves Pires - though it will take some serious sleuthing to confirm she was a Lousada), and was made the first Duke of Braganza in 1442. Then, as is well-known, the 6th Duke Joao married Catarina of Aviz in 1583 who was a granddaughter of King Manoel 1 and thus a claimant to the Portuguese throne. In 1640 when Portugal and Spain went their separate ways, the 8th Duke Joao was crowned King Joao IV of Portugal on 1 Dec (ref 31).

Better documented in ref 35 is the story of the Curiels. Here the 1493-5 period saw the nobility acquiring Jewish female concubines at least for a few years and in some cases the offspring were well looked after. One such father was Jeronimo de Saldanha who 'was a Visigoth and a direct male descendant of the 9th century kings of Leon and Asturias........and (through) Afonso Henriques.....Jeronimo de Saldanha was related to all the Portuguese titled nobility'. Afonso Henriques was the 1st King of Portugal 1130-85 from whom all the non-imposed Portuguese Kings descend and also the Dukes of Braganza. Manuel 1 was King 1495-1521 and succeeded his cousin John 2 who died without leaving an heir. He in turn was great-great-great grandson of John 1 who reigned 1385-1433. The son of Jeronimo Saldanha ie Fernao Lourenco had a great grand-daughter Sarah Curiel who married Antonio Rodrigues Lamego of Rouen who was an ancestor via Aaron Lamego of Jamaica. Jeronimo's concubine however from her Curiel name is unlikely to be a Lousada as the town of Curiel is in the southern half of Portugal whereas Lousada is in the north. 

We also know that Luiza de Guzman, daughter of the 8th Duke of Medina-Sidonia, a relative of Don Gaspar de Guzman, married the Duke of Braganza on 12 Jan 1633. This was a source of shame to Don Gaspar de Guzman (the Count-Duke d’ Olivares, first minister of King Philip 4 of Spain 1625-43) in view of the fact that his official position opposed Portuguese independence and any accommodation of it. He wanted Luisa expunged from family history! But she became Queen of Portugal in 1640 after the cheeky coup of her husband who thus became Joao 4 of Portugal. The Olivares notes based on ref 70 show that Olivares himself made extensive use of Portuguese New Christians especially in his financial reforms..

 The 1662 marriage of Charles 2 of England with Catherine of Braganza (Luisa's daughter) was important for English/Portuguese relations but it was also important for the northern Portuguese Jews. Charles and Catherine were hardly close, but Charles was favorably pre-disposed to the Jewish merchants (ref 12). Portuguese Jews suggested the marriage of Catherine of Braganza and then helped Charles by negotiating and arranging the payment of a magnificent dowry, which included the ports of Tangier and Bombay – which gave the English a foothold in India - and a great deal of money (which - it is not hard to guess - helped in repayment of his debts to Portuguese Jewish financiers and the other royal financiers).

The  'Duque de Losada' title seems to have been created in 1741, but its holder Jose Fernandez Miranda must have been somehow earmarked for it from his birth in 1706 in a way which excluded his older brother, his other brother and their descendants, and other relatives such as the poet/politician Jovellanos y Ramirez! It can only have been highly-placed Royal supporters who won the title for him in preparation for high office - appointment initially as head of guards in 1749 to the future King Charles 3 of Spain when still King of the Two Sicilies in Naples and retained his post as ‘el sumiller de corps’ when they returned to Madrid in 1759 for Charles to become King of Spain. Some credence to this speculation is given by the fact that Miranda when in Italy was in contact with Barbara of Braganza (wife of Ferdinand 4 - Charles' predecessor as King of Spain) for he acted as her agent in the purchase of some paintings by Giordano for her to give to the singer Farinelli - ref 71.