In addition to the issue about the naming of the Tower – popularly known as “Tower of the Moors”, “Tower of Lordelo” or “High Tower”, and officially known as “Tower of the Alcoforados” -, there is also another discussion regarding the founders of this property.
Opinions are divided. While Felgueiras Gayo and Alão de Morais claim that this Tower was the manor house of the Alcoforados, A. de Almeida Fernandes ascribes its foundation to the clan of milites Brandão, from the lower nobility, who had assets in the area during a period that lasted between the 12th and 13th centuries.
It turns out that, regarding the centuries that comprise the Middle Ages, sources are inconclusive. We would have to wait until the 18th century to have access to more detailed information about its ownership.
According to Father António Carvalho da Costa, in 1706, the lord of the Tower was Pedro Vaz Cirne de Sousa, the son of Manuel Cirne Soares and Antónia de Sousa Alcoforado. He was a military man, a Porto City Councillor and a writer. He inherited the property from his mother, the granddaughter of Gonçalo Vaz Alcoforado and Margarida de Sousa who lived in the 15th century.
Margarida de Sousa descended from the house of Urrô due to her great-grandmother Inês Vasques (of Urrô), who probably lived in the second half of the 13th century. This family was linked to the Brandões, through the marriage of Teresa Fernandes, the daughter of Ximena Dias de Urrô, to Martim Brandão.
We should also add that D. Ximena was the sister of an ancestor of the aforementioned Margarida de Sousa, through whom the representation of the Alcoforados and the Tower’s lordship persisted; the Tower may not even have been a work of the Brandões, but rather of individuals belonging to the Urrô family circle, which later diluted in the Brandões, who then diluted in the Alcoforados.
The Tower was surely built after 1258 and fits into the so-called domus fortis or fortified manorial residence typology. This type of residence follows the military architecture of the keeps, but uses them for civilian, namely housing, purposes.
However, by applying this military design, they associated to them and through them, a family, an image of power and a demonstration of strength. As a result, these residential towers were eventually used by noble families while they were in a full assertion and ascension period. In other words, the Tower of the Alcoforados represents the power of a family over a given territory in its surrounding area.
It was mainly second-line lineages, milites aspiring to become noblemen who adopted this architectural solution of the domus fortis in the first place, as a way to lead their domains.
However, as time went on and with the dispersion of its lords among families from Porto and from the Entre-Douro-e-Minho region – in other words, with the fading of a given manorial lineage -, this Tower lost its main function, and it was probably left uninhabited from a very early stage.
Once the idea of territorial control had been lost, the property eventually turned into an empty building, which was strongly affected by the constructions that were built around it over time.