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History of Brazil

Martim Afonso de Sousa

martim afonso de sousa
Historic Tours / Brazil – 30 years after the official discovery of Ilha de Vera Cruz and many exploratory expeditions afterwards, King John III decided to send again an armed armada, under the command of the Portuguese nobleman Martim Afonso de Sousa (or Souza), to Brazil.

The main objectives of this expedtion were the expulsion of the French from Brazilian territories (in accordance to the Tordesillas Treaty), the start of the colonization and the discovery of gold, silver and other precious metals. De Sousa left Lisbon on December 3, 1530, with 5 vessels and about 400 soldiers. He arrived at Cabo de Santo Agostino (Pernambuco) on January 31, 1531.

During his journey along the Brazilian coast, he defeated and captured French vessels and dismantled French brazilwood factories (feitorias). His armada stayed three month (30.04 - 01.08) in Rio de Janeiro, where they established a military outpost (casa forte).

They left Rio on August 1, shipping directly to Cananéia, where they arrived on August 12. One of his catpains made contact with a group of Europeans who lived there since decades and apparently had knowledge about a mysterious trail (Peabiru ?) which about 5 month inland would lead them to gold and silver mines. Martim Afonso de Sousa decided to send an armed group of 80 soldiers under the commando of one of his men, Pero Lobo, and guided by one of the locals (Francisco de Chaves) in direction to Paraguay. On September 24th, the other part of his armada left Cananéia, continuing its journey to the south.

When they arrived at Rio da Prata in early November, due to severe weather conditions, Martim Afonso de Sousa's vessel sank. On November 23rd, his brother, Pero Lopes de Sousa, left with his vessel and 30 soldiers to explore the Rio da Prata. After 20 days he met again with the other vessels. On their way back to the north, they stayed again for 7 days in Cananéia (in order to check if there were any news from the Pero Lobo expedition) and continued than to São Vicente, where they arrived on January 22, 1532.

During the pre-colonial time, between the discovery of the island of São Vicente on January 22, 1502 (Expedition of Lemos / (Coelho) / Vespúcio) and the arrival of Martim Afonso de Sousa in 1532, several explorers had landed in São Vicente (e.g. Diogo Garcia, on his way to Rio da Prata, on January 15, 1527). Similar to Cananéia, among others due to the existence of many brazilwood factories along the coast, there had also many Europeans settled on and around the island. Even so, Martim Afonso de Sousa, who at that time not even had the formal authority to constitute villages, is considered the official founder of São Vicente, the first permanent Portuguese village in Brazil and the commence of the colonial time.

On October 10, 1532, two local habitants, João Ramalho and Antônio Rodrigues, both married with the daughters of the local tribal chiefs Tibiriçá and Piquerobi, guided Martim Afonso de Sousa on the Tupiniquim Trail, to the Piratininga highlands (actual Paulista Plateau). There, Martim Afonso conceded the first sesmaria of the new colony to the Portuguese nobleman Pero de Góes. Possibly, de Sousa also established a military outpost on the plateau, because he might have heard or at least suspected the existence of other trails (Peabiru ?) from the plateau to the hinterland. Some historians even argue that de Sousa, with the exception for a few Portuguese noblemen and João Ramalho, closed the trail in order to inhibit the access to the plateau and to preserve the right of its exploration for the Portuguese crown.

When Martim Afonso heard, that Pero Lobo and his 80 soldiers were killed by the Carijó Indians, close to the confluence of the Iguaçu with the Paraná river, he decided to return to Lisbon, where he arrived in August 1533. On March 14, 1534 he left Lisbon again, as captain of a new expedition to India. In recognition of his services in Brazil for the Portuguese crown, he was nominated, on January 20, 1535, donatário of the captaincies of São Vicente and Rio de Janeiro. He never again returned to Brazil – Cultural Travel / Brazil.

See also: History of Brazil