Count of Vila Real (in Portuguese Conde de Vila Real) was a Portuguese title of nobility created by a royal decree, in 1424, by King John I of Portugal, and granted to Dom Pedro de Menezes, also known as Peter I of Menezes, 1st Count of Viana (do Alentejo).
The Menezes, a high nobility family quite close to the first Dynasty Kings in Portugal, was seriously affected when the new Aviz Kings took the power, after the 1383-1385 crisis, but Pedro de Menezes supported the new king John of Aviz and was later reworded.
He was involved in the north African conquests, and became the first Governor of Ceuta after the Portuguese conquest (1415).
He married four times from which he had three daughters. The eldest was Beatrice of Menezes, married to Fernando of Noronha (grandson of King Fernando I of Portugal through his mother, Infanta Isabel of Portugal). Their issue used Menezes as family name and they originated the powerful House of Vila Real (extinct in 1641).
Later, in the 19th Century, King John VI of Portugal, granted this title again, by a royal decree dated from July 3, 1823 (second creation), to José Luis de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos (1785-1855), a remarkable military and politician who fought during the Napoleonic invasions and the Liberal wars.
List of the Counts of Vila Real
First creation (1424 - Menezes family)
- Pedro de Menezes, 1st Count of Vila Real
- Brites de Menezes and her husband Fernando of Noronha, 2nd Counts of Vila Real;
- Pedro II of Menezes, 3rd Count of Vila Real (1425-1499), who became 1st Marquis of Vila Real in 1489;
( for the following counts, see Marquis of Vila Real)
Second creation (1823 - Sousa Botelho family)
- José Luis de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos (1785-1855);
- Fernando de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos (1815-1858)
- José Luís de Sousa Botelho Mourão e Vasconcelos (1843-1923);
- Maria Teresa de Sousa Botelho e Melo (1871- ? ), also 3rd Countess of Melo and Countess of Mangualde by marriage;
- Francisco de Sousa Botelho e Albuquerque (1909-1966), also 3rd Count of Mangualde and 4th Count of Melo.
- Duke of Vila Real
- Marquis of Vila Real
- Duke of Caminha
- List of Portuguese Dukedoms
- List of Marquesses in Portugal
- List of Countships in Portugal
"Nobreza de Portugal e do Brasil" – Vol. III, pages 522/528. Published by Zairol Lda., Lisbon 1989.