As featured on TIME Magazine – July 22, 1946

When [Salazar] decided to give a reception for Dona Amélia de Orleans e Bragança, mother of Don Duarte Nuno, the pretender to Portugal’s throne, his advisers suggested that the Countess de Asseca, a widow with two young children, should act as hostess. 

When the Countess took over the flower arrangement for the party, Salazar was so impressed by her taste that he wrote her a short note. She replied with a long letter and Salazar asked permission to call on her. 

The Countess received him at tea. Since then she has been official hostess at his social affairs, which have increased in number, and his manner has become less introspective and austere. He takes more interest in clothes and food, and even in the pomp and trappings of office. 

The most significant fact about Salazar’s relationship with the Countess is that not even the gossipy Portuguese, not even Salazar’s thousands of enemies, suggest that she is his mistress. His reputation for piety is so great that a liaison is considered unthinkable. 

Many Portuguese hope the rumors that he intends to marry are true; they say marriage might humanize the man whom most of them fear, but whom few love.

TIME Magazine