|Pedro ├lvares Cabral
"discoverer of Brazil"
Pedro ├lvares Cabral was born
in Belmonte, Portugal, about 1467. Both his
father, FernŃo Cabral, and his mother,
Isabel de Gouveia, were related to King Manuel I.
Although it is assumed that Cabral received an
education appropriate to a minor noble and
probably did some military service, exactly how
he spent his early life is unknown.
da Gama returned from his historic voyage to
India in 1499, King Manuel I named Cabral to
command a follow-up voyage and establish trading
ports on the Malabar Coast. Cabral and his fleet
of 13 ships and 1,200 men (including Bartolomeu
Dias as one of the commanders) left Lisbon on
March 9, 1500, passed the Canary and Cape Verde
Islands, and then set a course sourhwestward,
away from the African coast, in order to take
advantage of prevailing winds and currents.
Whether what happened next was intentional or
accidental is still a matter of debate, but in
either case Cabral and his men next sighted land
on April 22, and landed near what is now Porto
Seguro, Brazil, three days later. Cabral claimed what he called True Cross Island
for Portugal, erected a cross, and held a
Christian service to mark the occasion, but did
not undertake any major exploration of the area.
The fleet spent about ten days on and around True
Cross Island before setting back out across the
Atlantic. Before leaving, Cabral left two exiled
criminals behind, and those two men became the
"founders" of Brazil's first mestizo
On May 29, while the fleet was rounding the Cape
of Good Hope, four ships were lost with all hands
aboard, including the ship commanded by
Bartolomeu Dias. The remaining ships cast anchor
at Calicut, India, on September 13. Cabral set up
a trading post, but on December 17 hostile
Muslims attacked the post and killed 50 men.
Cabral sought revenge by bombarding Calicut. He
then sailed to Cochin, where he was much better
received and was very successful with the trading
post and in gaining commercial treaties for
Portugal. Two more ships were lost on the return
voyage, and by the time Cabral got back to
Portugal, on June 23, 1501, his fleet had been
reduced to four ships.
Although Cabral returned
with a great amount of pearls, diamonds,
porcelain, and such spices as pepper, ginger,
cinnamon, and cloves, he was never again given a
command. He got married, had six children, and
lived near the Tagus River until his death around
There has been much debate over Cabral's
discovery of Brazil. Some say it was an accident,
while some believe he had secret orders to sail
west to determine if any land was at the western
part of the area given to Portugal under
the Treaty of Tordesillas. There were also
three other explorers who went to the region and
laid claims to the land. Amerigo Vespucci,
Vincente Yß˝ez Pinzˇn, and Diego de Lepe all
sailed along the Coast of Brazil and went ashore
before Cabral, but all three only explored the
known land of the northern section of South
America and reached Brazil by the Amazon River.
Cabral is, therefore, given credit for being the
discoverer of unknown land, and Brazilians
celebrate Cabral for discovering their county.
EncyclopŠdia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pedro-Alvares-Cabral
The Mariners Museum http://exploration.marinersmuseum.org/subject/pedro-alvares-cabral/
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