Goïs, Damiäo de
(1502-1574)
   Portuguese humanist. Born into a family of the lower nobility, after his father's death he became a page at the court of King Manuel I. He entered diplomatic service in 1521 and soon became secretary for the Portuguese trading center in Antwerp. Later he served on an embassy to England. Even as a youth at the Portuguese court, he had become interested in the diversity of customs and beliefs of various peoples, attracted particularly by his contact with an Ethiopian emissary to King Manuel. His residence in Antwerp, a center for world trade, fostered these interests, and he made the acquaintance of the humanist and geographer Cornelius Grapheus, who assisted him in his study of Latin. Grapheus' sympathy for the Reformation did not offend Goïs. During a diplomatic mission to Denmark and Prussia in 1531, he visited Wittenberg and heard Martin Luther preach, and he formed a durable friendship with Philipp Melanchthon.
   Conversations with the exiled Swedish archbishop of Uppsala, Johannes Magnus, aroused Goïs' concern for the sufferings of the Lapps, who refused to become Christians because of mistreatment by their Swedish landlords. On his return from the Baltic region, Goïs completed his first publication (1532), a collection that included a letter of 1514 from the ruler of Ethiopia to King Manuel of Portugal and also Goïs' own tract pleading for more humane treatment of the Lapps. In 1531 he enrolled in the University of Louvain. His travels also brought him to Freiburg-im-Breisgau in 1533 to visit Erasmus. King John III had decided to appoint Goïs treasurer of the royal commercial center in Lisbon, but he chose to abandon his diplomatic and commercial career and received royal permisson to return to his studies in Louvain. During a second visit to Erasmus in 1534, his open expression of sympathy for some Protestant doctrines aroused hostility in Catholic Freiburg and forced him to depart. His interest in Ethiopian Christians led to publication of Fides, religio, moresque Aethiopium / The Religion and Customs of the Ethiopians (1540), which criticized the papacy's refusal to recognize the Christian faith of the Ethiopians. From Freiburg, he moved to Italy in 1534 to continue his study of languages at Padua. In memory of Erasmus' death, he published at Venice in 1538 a Portuguese translation of one of the humanist's favorite works of Cicero, De senectute.
   That same year, Goïs returned to Louvain. He participated in the defense of Louvain against French attack in 1542 and was captured and held as a prisoner for more than a year. King John III of Portugal then made him royal archivist (1545), with a commission to write the chronicles of the reigns of kings John II and Manuel I. These vernacular chronicles, published in 1566 and 1567, established his reputation as a historical writer. But a Portuguese Jesuit who had heard him mention his good relations with the Lutherans made several efforts to initiate prosecution of Goïs by the Inquisition, and in 1572, after the death of his royal patron John III, Goïs was tried and convicted for his contacts with the Wittenberg reformers and with Erasmus. He was imprisoned and died two years later. Goïs was also a talented musician, and a few of his compositions survive.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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