|Author(s)||Helena da Costa|
Family letter from Helena da Costa, resident in Guimarães, to her husband Francisco Rodrigues, a tailor in Alcácer do Sal.
The author complains to her husband, accusing him of his long absence. Also, she tells him in detail the legal and economic problems that she has been through.
This particular letter was written by Helena da Costa, resident in Guimarães, to her husband, Francisco Rodrigues, tailor, and it was intercepted in Alcácel do Sal, place where the author believed her husband was. The letter was filed by the Inquisition as evidence of bigamy
The Inquisition archives contain, apart from the around 40 thousand individual proceedings ("processos"), a collection of scattered charges, for which the Inquisition "Promotor" had to decide whether or not to prosecute. Complaints, confessions, letters by the commissioners or about different stages of each proceedings are some of the document types that can be found in these books. This letter has been kept among such documentation.
«Francisco Rodrigues. I was very pleased to hear from you, for I live in such misery and without any news from you, imagining you had forgotten me and your daughter, since I have written you forteen letters, all addressed to Setúbal, to Maria Ribeira's house, like you told me to, and I've read nothing but a letter from you. I've received two letters so far, counting this one, and this fact causes me great sorrow for the reasons I've told you before and for believing you might be sick. I've addressed you letters to Lisbon through seven holders. I still have no answer. I have now sent a letter to Bexiga de Manuel Machado, who is there. And still no answer.As you say you didn't receive my letters, I don't blame you for not answering me, even though, from all my letters, you'd be sure to find one if you had looked for them. In this letter I want to warn you about everything, so you can know what's going on: I've moved to Torre Velha through São Miguel. During the time I was there, Jerónimo came to seize all the goods the house contained. I warned your "compadre". He ordered the seizure to be torn. They were left with a bitter taste in their mouths and they were in such anger, Jerónimo and Maria Fernandes, that their conversation with "compadre" didn't last much and now she says rants and raves about you, that you shall never return this land and she is telling everyone to tell me that you were at Lisbon's hospital or that you have died, and that she won't save me. When they saw the seizure had been carried out, they thought they could take advantage and since I couldn't prove nothing against them, they made a petition to the judge proving you had run away and that I had no belongings.They evicted me. I´ve lived with your mother until I found a house. Now I live opposite my godmothers, where Grelha used to live. I'm just fine there. However, I would be much better if you were here with me. Everyday I wait for you to knock on my door. Tell me when you are back or come and pick me up, because if I weren't pregnant, I would go with this man. However, I feared I couldn't walk, moreover being sick, and so I didn't dare to meet that man at his village, although I wished to do so, as well as to take him this letter; when he gave me your letter, he sent it through a boy who didn't want to wait and so I (...) but willing to go there. I swear to you I've been so sick that I didn't dare to go. I've sent my mother there with this letter,four days after receiving yours. I beg you to write whenever you can and I hope I won't spend Easter the way I spent Christmas; because, if you aren't back until then, pretend that (...),for I'll be giving birth on Easter. Come back soon. Don't worry about money, God won't deprive us of it, and I still haven't sold nor pawned any of the things you left me, although that doesn't help me much. Only God knows my misery! By day I sew to eat, at night I spin for when the baby is born and to pay for the nightgown and other small things you are aware of. Nothing links you to Licenciado Leite anymore, because Castinheiro was in jail until the debt was paid. He said you made him a deal at Chapéu Pardo's house, to give him a thousand réis. He doesn't mention that anymore, and I don't know where he is, I never see him. You owe a lot to your "compadre" because in all (...) ever since you're gone. He brought you some money the other day. When he realized you weren't here, he was devastated. While (...) I think he is quite right. He sends you regards and so does my mother; your daughter sends you a very tight hug; Jerónimo Luís sends you regards,as well as Pirdigão. I send you a hug too, even tough you haven't sent me one and I beg you to send me news from you. I have two things to ask you from that city when you come back. I would like you to bring me a bit of muslin and some corals, things I truly wish, for you know what happened to mine. And in case you find a trustworthy holder, I beg you to remember me, suffering great difficulties, and of your daughter who's in bed. I wrote this letter to you a long time ago. Let me also tell you my troubles with the judge of the High Court, that almost led me to jail. But then I asked two men to speak to the judge of the High Court. I testified saying you had been absent for three months. Half of the village is in jail due to the remit of this court. David Miranda was found guilty on the death of Matias de Faria's son. The Feijoeiros' mother and Pedro da Costa, the Nigger, were arrested, and if the court knew were you were, they would have come to get you. I didn't want to tell them, since I was afraid. They only looked for you, the court is still here, this is not finished yet. I don't know what will happen to the village, being in such a mess as it is. Let God keep it, as I wish. Please, write me whenever there is mail and look for my letters. From your wife. Helena da Costa.»