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Famous Explorers | Pedro Alvares Cabral

Updated on May 26, 2014
Pedro Alvares Cabral
Pedro Alvares Cabral

Pedro Alvares Cabral (1467-1520) was born in Belmonte, Portugal, in the year of 1467. It was the third son of Fernao Cabral and Isabel Gouveia de Queiroz. Renowned noble family in the struggle against the Moors and the Castilians. In the court of King John II (1481-1495) perfected in cosmography and studied military tactics.

Pedro Alvares Cabral was a Portuguese navigator who on April 22, 1500, as chief captain of a fleet of 13 vessels, discovered Brazil. Descended from a noble family, studied in Lisbon where he learned literature, history, cosmography, the military arts and navigational techniques.

During the reign of John II Portugal began the great maritime discoveries. Experienced in the use of Caravels, a small but very manouverable ship, the Portuguese started to explore the west coast of Africa. In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias crossed the Cape of Good Hope (the southern tip of Africa) and in the year 1498 Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicut, India.

In 1499 he was appointed by King Manuel the chief captain of the fleet which would head to the Indies, following the route recently opened by Vasco da Gama around Africa, with a diplomatic and commercial mission. In the court of King Manuel (1495-1521) Cabral was awarded the title of nobleman of the Council of King and Knight of the Order of Christ.

On March 9, 1500, at the port of Lisbon, after a Mass amid a grand ceremony attended by the king and his court, Cabral receives from the hands of the King the royal standard, the symbol of his power, subsequently departing to the Indies.

Pedro Alvares Cabral assumes the post of chief captain of the fleet of 10 ships and three caravels, giving the command of the other ships to other famous explorers, including Bartolomeu Dias. There were very important people in each ship from the nobility and clergy, among them the Friar Henrique Soares de Coimbra, also employees of various categories, including the scribe Pero Vaz de Caminha and even scientists and astronomers.

Pedro Alvares Cabral Voyage Map
Pedro Alvares Cabral Voyage Map | Source

To avoid the lulls the route was diverted and the expedition was headed in the southeast direction, very far away from the African coast. On April 22 of 1500, Cabral' fleet arrived in Brazil.

The fleet reached the lands of the current state of Bahia, just south of Salvador. Cabral took possession of new land, on behalf of the Portuguese crown. A ship returned to the kingdom taking the letter with the discovery from the scribe Pero Vaz de Caminha.

On the 26th is recited the first mass in Brazil and on May 1, a new mass was celebrated as the inauguration, in front of a large cross that would serve as a framework of Portuguese sovereignty.

Pedro Alvares Cabral continued journey to the East, arriving in Calicut, India, on September 13, 1500. Cabral signed the first trade agreement and returned to Europe with a large shipment of spices and local products.

In 1503 he married D. Isabel de Castro, and in 1518 received the title of Knight of the Royal Council. He died in 1520 and was buried in Grace Church in Santarém, Portugal.

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