Joao de Castilho



(this is a summary of the research published in the previous page)

The "Heráldica de Cantabria" says that CASTILHO (CASTILLO in Spanish) is a name of Cantabrian noblemen with  origin in the denomination of the place where they had their primitive solar, called Castillo (municipality Arnuero, Cantabria). The houses of these lords were mainly located in Trasmiera (ie the region beyond the river Miera, so east of Santander), in localities such as Castillo, Cudeyo, Castillo de Siete Villas, Noja,  Colindres and Ruesga. But they had also houses at west of  that river , suchs as in Castillo Pedroso, Saro of Carriedo, Soto la Marina, San Vicente de la Barquera and Santander.

 Map of Cantabria

As a consequence of  difficult communication among the cantabrian valleys in the mountains, the people living there were very independent since old times. This statute of independence and self-governing was recognised by the kings of Asturias and Castile and it is the basis of the “hidalgo” or "fijodalgo" quality: this was a man who was free to choose his profession and to whom he wanted pay homage and did not pay any tax. Hidalgo” means a noble lineage-man. Almost every man of Cantabria was a “hidalgo”. For example, 90% of cantabrian men were “hidalgos” as late as in 18th Century. Even the villages of Barreda, Polanco e Rumoroso had 100% since 16th until 19th Century.

In Portugal the noble lineage-men  had  the same asturian-cantabrian origin, through the Kingdom of Leon, when Portuguese lands at north of Coimbra were a part of its territory, until 12th century. But they were called  "rico-homem", ie "a rich-man".   In 15th century  "hidalgo" was imported from Castile, translated as "fidalgo" and  used for all noble men. 

As the mountain region of Cantabria  was poor and only the eldest son of a lord, after 15th century, was the heritor of the father's wealth, those who did not possess land had to emigrate. They went mainly to Andalucia, America and Portugal. In Portuguese language their name was written CASTILHO, in order to be pronounced as the Castilian "CASTILLO".

At least three of them became important Portuguese noblemen: Juan de Castillo, who was the important architect of manuelin  style, as well his brother Diego, who were soon appointed Portuguese “fidalgos” by the king. The third was João de Castilho (perhaps Juan del Castillo when he lived in Cantabria). 

João de Castilho was a Castilian Hidalgo from Cantabria (perhaps living in Biscay) and emigrated to Castelo Branco, a town in the center of Portugal, where he married a noble woman. He was the ancestor of the  "fidalgos" Tudella de Castilho, very important in that town during 17th and 18th  centuries. Fernão Tudella de Castilho was Fidalgo of the Royal House and an important Judge. He was the grand-father of Paulo da Costa de Castilho (1716-1739), from whom descends a numerous family branch living nowadays mainly in Castelo Branco and nearby (some were born in this town but live in Lisbon). 

One of the Castilhos,  just  Fernão Gomes Castilho (born c. 1575), grandfather of Fernão Tudella de Castilho, married Isabel Cardoso, daughter of Paulo Rodrigues Cardoso, also a Fidalgo of the Royal House in Castelo Branco.

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