Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa, 3rd Count of Castelo Melhor
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The Count of Castelo Melhor
|Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Portugal|
12 July 1662 – 9 September 1667
|Preceded by||Gaspar Severim de Faria|
|Succeeded by||Manuel Pereira|
|Captain-major of Santa Maria Island|
|Preceded by||Joana de Meneses|
|Succeeded by||Afonso de Vasconcelos|
Kingdom of Portugal
|Died||1720 (aged 83–84)
Santa Maria, Azores, Kingdom of Portugal
|Allegiance||Kingdom of Portugal|
|Years of service||1657-1659|
|Battles/wars||Portuguese Restoration War|
Dom Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa, 3rd Count of Castelo Melhor (1636 – 15 August 1720) was a Portuguese politician and prime minister.
Portuguese royal favourite who, as effective governor of Portugal from 1662 to 1667 during the reign of Afonso VI, was responsible for the successful prosecution of the war against Spain, which led, in 1668, to Spanish recognition of Portugal's new ruling dynasty.
Shortly after Afonso VI's coming-of-age in 1662, Castelo Melhor saw an opportunity to gain power at court by befriending the mentally unstable king. He managed to convince the king that his mother, Luisa of Medina-Sidonia, was out to steal his throne and exile him from Portugal. As a result, Afonso took control of the throne and his mother was sent to a convent.
The King appointed Castelo Melhor his secret notary (escrivão da puridade), a position in which the favourite was able to exercise the functions of first minister.
Castelo Melhor overcame the difficulties which had hitherto beset Portugal in the war against Spain, reorganizing the troops (now reinforced by an English contingent by virtue of the English king Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza) and entrusting their command to competent generals. Consequently the Portuguese Restoration War entered a victorious phase for Portugal (1663–65) and Spain began peace negotiations.
Agreement proved difficult to attain and meanwhile the internal political situation in Portugal deteriorated. Castelo Melhor and his Francophile party were losing ground to the Anglophile party. The King was obliged to dismiss Castelo Melhor on 9 September 1667, in a palace coup organized by the king's wife Maria Francisca of Nemours and brother Pedro . Shortly afterwards, the king himself was also deprived of power.
Castelo Melhor went into exile in Paris and then London, but in 1685 he was permitted to return to Portugal and, two years after that, to court. On the accession of John V (1706), he was appointed a councillor of state and he continued to occupy a position of distinction until his death in 1720.