Garcia Mendes de Eixo
Trovador medieval

Nationality: Portuguesa

Biographical Note:

Portuguese troubadour from the early stages of the Iberian medieval poetry, Dom Garcia Mendes Do Eixo or De Sousa was the second son of Count Mendo Gonçalves de Sousa, the Sousão, chief of one of the most important Portuguese medieval lineages, being his mother Maria Rodrigues Veloso, from the Galician lineage of the Trava. Born probably in the middle 12th century, he appears documented for the first time in the court of king Sancho I, signing documents dating from the last decade of that century up until 1211. By that time, he would already be married to Elvira Gonçalves de Toronho, a lady from a local lineage in the south of Galicia. From 1211, the same year of Afonso II ascent to the Portuguese throne, until 1217, when he reappears in the Portuguese documentation, nothing is known of Dom Garcia Mendes’s whereabouts. It’s possible that, like his brother Count Gonçalo Mendes de Sousa, he went into exile in the neighbouring kingdom, following the conflict between the new monarch and his sisters regarding the paternal inheritance. In fact, Dom Gonçalo Mendes, mordomo-mor (chief of the staff) and main executer of the will of the late Sancho I, was one of the major defenders of the rights of princesses Teresa, Sancha and Mafalda, amply benefited in the mentioned will, which Afonso II refused to comply with. It’s possible, then, that Dom Garcia Mendes joined his brother in the Court of Leon or even, as José Augusto Pizarro suggests1, that he went on to Aragon accompanying prince Dom Pedro Sanches, brother of Afonso II. As is equally possible that he, at some point, deviated from this path by going to Toronho, his wife’s domains. Anyway, in 1217, certainly following the provisional agreement between the King and the princesses, he was again in the Portuguese court, signing documents until 1224, the year he had the tenure of Gouveia. He seems to have withdrawn himself again from the court shortly thereafter, probably following the death of Afonso II and the resurgence of the conflicts among the nobles during the pupilage of the new King, Sancho II.
He died in 1239, and was buried at the Sousa’s pantheon in the Alcobaça monastery.
Of the six children from Dom Garcia Mendes and Dona Elvira de Toronho, two were equally troubadours: count Dom Gonçalo Garcia (having gained the title by marrying king Afonso III’s bastard daughter, Leonor Afonso) and Dom Fernão Garcia Esgaravunha.
Named Sousa by birth, Garcia Mendes de Eixo owes the nickname for which he became known certainly to the village of Eixo, close to Aveiro, where he possibly had his Paço (palace).


1 Pizarro, José Augusto (1999), Linhagens medievais portuguesas: genealogias e estratégias 1279-1325, vol. I, Porto, Centro de Estudos de Genealogia, Heráldica e História da Família da Universidade Moderna, p. 214.
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