Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VIEIRA, Antonio (ve-ay'-e-rah), Portuguese author, born in Lisbon, 6 February, 1608 ; died in Bahia, Brazil, 18 July, 1697. He went early to Brazil, studied with the Jesuits at Bahia, and entered their order in 1635. He learned the Indian dialects, but was refused by his superiors permission to engage in missionary work, and in 1641 accompanied to Lisbon Fernando de Mascarenhas, son of the viceroy of Brazil. He preached with remarkable success before the king, was appointed member of the privy council, and employed in several diplomatic missions. In 1652 he obtained the king's consent to return to Brazil, and on his arrival engaged immediately in missionary work among the Indians of the province of Para and of the basin of the Tocantins. He endeavored to free the Indians, and denounced the labor that they were compelled to perform for the Portuguese. The latter opposed him bitterly, and, being threatened with imprisonment by the local authorities, he sailed for Lisbon. There he justified himself before the king, who issued peremptory orders to the viceroy, and Vieira, on his return to Brazil in 1655, was henceforth supported by the governor of Maranhao. During the following six years the Indians enjoyed relative freedom, but at the death of Joao IV. the settlers obtained Vieira's arrest, and he was taken to Lisbon in 1661. The regent, Luisa de Gusman, approved his conduct, but for the sake of policy he, was exiled to Coimbra by order of the state secretary, Castelmenor. Vieira in his exile constructed an Ideal Portuguese empire in a remarkable work, "O Quinto Imperio do Mundo," of which he circulated a few copies. They were seized by the tribunal of the Inquisition, and the author was imprisoned from 1665 till 1667, when he was released by order of Pope Alexander VII, and greatly honored in Rome. But he longed to return to Brazil, and in 1681 obtained permission to labor again among the Indians. He was appointed visitor and provincial of the Brazilian missions, which posts he retained till his death. Vieira was the most celebrated preacher of his age, and is considered as the purest and most eloquent of the Portuguese classic authors. His works include "Sermoes "(16 vols., Lisbon, 1683) ; "Historia do futuro" (1718) ; " Cartas " (3 vols., 1736); and "Ecco dos voces Saudosos" (1757). The original and only known copy of " 0 Quinto hnperio do Mundo," is preserved among the manuscripts in the National library of Paris. " Arte de furtar" (Amsterdam, 1652), one of the most curious and popular works of the seventeenth century, is also attributed to him. Biographies of Vieira were written by Francisco de Fonseca (Lisbon, 1734)and Antonio de Barros (1746).
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