Portuguese Discover Brazil

Pedro Álvares Cabral sees the land that would later be known as Brazil for the first time
Pedro Álvares Cabral sees the land that would later be known as Brazil for the first time

Historical Context

Pedro Álvares Cabral was chosen by the Portuguese crown to lead a major expedition to India in 1500. A fleet of 13 ships and an estimated 1500 men left Portugal to follow in the footsteps of Vasco da Gama's earlier expedition in search of new trade routes.

It is still unclear today whether Cabral's journey into the west Atlantic was deliberate or not but on the 22nd April 1500 land was spotted at what Cabral christened Monte Pascoal in what is now modern Brazil. The expedition went on to spend about 10 days exploring the coast and interacting with indigenous peoples. Cabral claimed the lands for the Portuguese crown under the conditions of the Treaty of Tordesillas, agreed with Spain which granted Portugal sway over undiscovered lands along the meridian of 370 leagues.

The rest of the expedition was equally momentous. Cabral lost six of his ships in a storm off Mozambique before reaching India, where he battled with locals and competing Arab merchants before loading up with spices and returning home in July 1501.

Painting Info


Artist: F. Aurélio
Location painted: Off the coast of Monte Pascoal, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil

Source: Revista de História da Biblioteca Nacional (Issue 55), April 2010

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