Miguel da Silva

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D. Miguel da Silva (c. 1480 - 1556) was a Portuguese nobleman, the second son of Diogo da Silva, 1st Count of Portalegre and of his wife Maria de Ayala, a Castilian noblewomen. Educated at the University of Paris, he was appointed by King Manuel I of Portugal as ambassador to Rome in 1514. He served on that post during the reigns of popes Leo X, Adrian VI and Clement VII. Both pope Leo X and Clement VII wanted to make him Cardinal, but were opposed by the Portuguese Crown. He was recalled to Lisbon in 1525 where he served as member of the Royal Council. Clement VII made him Bishop of Viseu in 1526 and Pope Paul III finally elevated him to cardinal in 1539, albeit in pectore. Falling out of favour with King John III of Portugal, D. Miguel da Silva run away to Rome in 1540, where he was warmly welcomed to the Curia by Paul III. His statute as a Cardinal was revealed in 1541 and John III of Portugal promptly condemned him of treason and revoked his Portuguese nationality. He served as papal legate to Venice, Ancona and Bologne and was made Bishop of Massa Marittima.

Greatly praised for his classical culture and ancient languages mastery, he was a personal friend of the painter Raffaello Sanzio and Baldassare Castiglione dedicated him his masterpiece Il Cortegiano.


Deswarte, Sylvie, "La Rome de D. Miguel da Silva (1515-1525)," O Humanismo Português. Primeiro Simpóso Nacional, 21-25 de Outubro de 1985. Lisboa: Il Centenario da Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, 1988, pp. 177-307.

Deswarte, Sylvie, Il "perfetto cortegiano," D. Miguel da Silva. Roma: Bulzoni Editore, 1989.

  • PAIVA, J.P. Os Bispos de Portugal e do Império 1495-1777. Coimbra, Universidade de Coimbra, 2006