Today 255 years ago, the Marquis of Pombal - Sebastiao Jose de Carvahlo e Melo, stepped up his campaign against the Jesuits by ordering the confiscation of Jesuit Property. The communities had already been surrounded by troops - to 'protect' the Jesuits from the outraged mobs (effectively putting them under house arrest). Why were the supposed mobs outraged? A few months before there had been a serious attack on the King. Mystery surrounded the attack - rumours spread quickly that could be exploited by the enemies of the Society of Jesus, playing their trump card - accusing the Jesuits of regicide.
Members of the noble De Tavora family were arrested, tortured and brutally executed. On the basis of 'confessions' extracted under torture, ten Jesuits were arrested an put on trial on Jan 11 as conspirators against Joseph I, King of Portugal. The troops already called in 'to protect' the communities now became their jailers. Three months after today's order of confiscation of property would come the order of exile. The Vatican was not convinced by what were seen as opportunistic charges levied against the Society, the papal nuncio Acciaioli and the Secretary of State under Clement XIII tried to get a clear report from Cardinal Saldanha who had been sent on visitation to the Jesuits. They were frustrated because Saldhana was effectively in Pombal's pocket.
Portugal was the first country to act systematically against the Jesuits. The chief protaganist against the society was Pombal - and so is seen by many as a principle architect and orchestrator of the Supression. Av His venom and hatred of the Society was particularly fierce. Having been heavily influenced by the Anglican Church during his stay in London as a diplomat - he was keen to follow this model of subversion of the Church to the State. The Jesuits were particularly widespread and influential in Portugal and therefore became his chief enemy.