Ways of Being and Doing

The lost plaque from the time of the Discoveries, visit not to be missed

Pero Vaz de Caminha reading the Letter of the Discoveries

We discovered a plaque related to the Discovery Adventure in Chapel of São Jerónimo in Restelo, in Lisbon, another visit not to be missed:

“The departure from Belém, as you know, was on Monday, March 9th”.

His Majesty the King was distracted? So you didn't know that the ships had left that Monday? And what year?

Board; Sao Jeronimo Chapel in Restelo
Board; Sao Jeronimo Chapel in Restelo

We went to inquire about the meaning of this message.

It is a short sentence written by Pêro Vaz de Caminha, notary of the fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral when the discovery of Terra Nova. The adventure of discovery.

The phrase is in Pêro Vaz's letter to the King, two months after the start of the Cabral's armada trip. Letter made “From this Porto Seguro, from your island of Vera Cruz, today, Friday, the first day of May 1500.”

The Charter remained unpublished for more than two centuries in the National Archive of Torre do Tombo, in Lisbon. It was discovered in 1773 by José de Seabra da Silva and published by the historian Manuel Aires de Casal in your Brazilian Chorography (1817).

In 2005, this document was registered in the Memory of the World Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), therefore related to the adventure of discovery.

Letter to King D. Manuel, communicating the discovery of the Island of Vera Cruz

The adventure of the Discoveries. Original letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to King D Manuel I, Torre do Tombo, Lisbon
Original of the letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to King D Manuel I, Torre do Tombo, Lisbon

Some details of the letter by Pêro Vaz de Caminha, from the discovery of Terra Nova that made Pêro Álvares:


Since the captain of this fleet of yours and so the other captains write to Your Highness the new finding of your new land, which has now been found in this navigation, I will also give your Highness my account of it, the best I can, although, for the sake of counting and speaking, you know how to do it worse than everyone.


Therefore, Lord, what shall I speak of, I begin and say:

The departure from Belém, as you know, was on Monday 9 March.

Saturday, the 14th of that month, between 8 and 9 am, we found ourselves between the Canaries, closer to Gran Canaria.


And on Sunday, the 22nd of the said month, at 10 am a little more or less, we had a view of the islands of Cape Verde, or better, of the island of São Nicolau, according to what Pêro Escolar, a pilot, said.

The following night, Monday, at dawn, he lost himself from the Vasco de Ataíde fleet with his ship, with no strong or adverse weather for that to happen.


(April 22)

And the following Wednesday, in the morning, we ran into birds, which they call fura-buchos.

On this day, hours before, we had a view of the land!

First of all a large hill, very tall and round, and other lower mountains to the south of it, and of flat earth, with large thickets. On the high hill the captain named the Monte Pascoal and the land, the Land of Vera Cruz.


(April 23)

And on Thursday, in the morning, we sailed and followed land rights (…) we cast anchors in front of the mouth of a river.

And we would arrive at this anchorage at 10am, little more or less.


And the Captain-General sent Nicolau Coelho ashore in the boat to see that river.

And, so much so that he started going there, men came to the beach, when at two, when at three, so that, when the boat reached the mouth of the river, there were already 18 or 20 men there.


There could be no speech or understanding there (...) he gave them a red cap and a linen cap, which he wore on his head, and a black sombrero.

One of them gave him a long bird feather umbrella, with a small cup of red and brown feathers, like a parrot.


And with that he turned to the ships because it was late and there could be no more speech, because of the sea.


I kiss Your Highness's hands.

From this Porto Seguro, from your island of Vera Cruz, today, Friday, the first day of May 1500. ”
Pêro Vaz de Caminha.

Pêro Vaz de Caminha (Porto, 1450 - Calicut, India, 15/12/1500)
Registrar of the fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral.

The history and adventure of Portuguese discoveries and in particular the discovery of Brazil in a letter that you can read in more detail.

Pero Vaz de Caminha's letter to King Manuel I was published in 1998 by Expo98.

Pero Vaz de Caminha's Letter to King D. Manuel I

Download Pero Vaz de Caminha's letter to King D. Manuel I, about the finding of Brazil.

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