Pedro Álvares Cabral – Biography of Pedro Álvares Cabral

Pedro Álvares Cabral, who was born in 1467 or 1468, in Belmonte, Portugal, was a Portuguese navigator who is generally credited as the first European to arrive in Brazil (April 22, 1500). (The Spanish explorer Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, who had been on Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to America, may have reached Brazil a little before Cabral, in 1500.) His expedition was also the second European to reach India via the sea ​​route around the Cape of Good Hope (Vasco da Gama had done it in 1498).

Son of the ariostocrat Fernão Cabral, and Isabel de Gouveia, Pedro Cabral he was heir to a long tradition of service to the throne. He himself enjoyed the esteem of King Manuel I The Fortunate of Portugal, from whom he received various privileges in 1497; these included a personal assignment, the title of counselor to His Highness, and the habit of the military Order of Christ.
Following da Gama’s pioneering journey, the king entrusted him with the command of the second great expedition to India, expressing “the great confidence we have in Pedralvares de Gouveia, nobleman of our house.” Cabral He was appointed Supreme Admiral in command of 13 ships, and left Lisbon on March 9, 1500. He would follow the route previously taken by Vasco da Gama, reinforcing commercial ties and deepening the conquests initiated by his predecessor.

According to Da Gama’s instructions, based on his experiences during the first trip, Cabral it had to sail southwest to avoid the calm waters of the Gulf of Guinea. This course, which later became known as the “circle around Brazil”, had the added advantage of providing the Portuguese the opportunity to reconnoitre the lands to the west, along the coast of. They had previously seen those lands, which belonged to them according to the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which divided the still almost completely unknown New World between Spain and Portugal.

Cabral he sailed west under favorable conditions, and on April 22 he sighted the land that he called Isla de la Verdadera Cruz. Later renamed Santa Cruz by King Manuel; the country ultimately took its modern name, Brazil, from a kind of wood stain, pau-brasil, found there.

People say that Cabral he made a special effort to treat the inhabitants kindly, welcoming them aboard his caravel. However, he took formal possession of the country and sent one of his ships to Portugal to inform the king. Thereafter, maps of the region showed Portugal as the ruler of a large expanse of land with vaguely defined boundaries that served as the starting point for the long journey from Europe to the Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean.

After a stay of only 10 days in Brazil, Cabral he sailed for India, on a journey full of misfortunes. On May 29, as the fleet circled the Cape of Good Hope, four ships were lost with all their crew on board. The remaining ships anchored on September 13, 1500, at Calicut (now Kozhikode), India, where the zamorin (dynastic ruler) welcomed Cabral and allowed him to establish a fortified trading post. However, disputes soon broke out with Muslim merchants, and on December 17 a large Muslim force attacked the trading post. Most of the Portuguese defenders were killed before reinforcements arrived from the Portuguese fleet, which was anchored in the port.

Cabral retaliated by bombing the city, capturing 10 Muslim ships and executing their crews. He then sailed south from the port of Cochin (now Kochi), where he was graciously received and allowed to trade in precious spices, with which he loaded his remaining six ships.

Cabral he also made port at Carangolos and Cananor (Cannanore, now Kannur) on the same coast, completed his cargo, and on January 16, 1501, began the journey back to Portugal. On his way, however, two ships sank, and with only four ships, he finally reached the mouth of the Tagus River in Portugal, on June 23, 1501.

King Manuel was pleased by the outcome of the undertaking, despite the misfortunes that had beset it. It is said that he first favored Cabral naming him in command of a new and more powerful expedition, but in the end it was Vasco da Gama and not Cabral who was appointed to command. The accounts differ as to the reason for the change in the king’s wishes. One chronicle attributes it to disagreement over the division of authority within the new fleet; another offers the explanation that da Gama opposed the appointment of Cabral, based on the fact that Gama himself already had the title of admiral of all the fleets that could leave Portugal for India and that the disasters of the Cabral expedition disqualified him for this new mission.

Whatever the true explanation, Cabral he did not have a position of authority at the Portuguese court. He retired to his farm in the Beira Baixa province of Portugal and spent his remaining years there. His tomb in Santarém was identified in 1848 by the Brazilian historian Francisco Adolfo Varnhagen.