First posted on June 23rd 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004






External Links : Biographies of Famous Portuguese; to the History of the Era of Discovery

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

DHP - Dicionario Historico e Corografico de Portugal, in Portuguese
Discoverer's Web, in English
Vidas Lusofonas (The Lives of Lusophones; Lusitania being the Latin name of Portugal); in Portuguese
The Portuguese Discoverers, from Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site
The Portuguese in Asia, from Discoverers' Web
Dutch Portuguese Colonial History, by Marco Ramerini
Who had gone before ?, chronological listing of telegram style notes on discoverors, discoveries, posted by Michael Dickinson
Ilustres Navegadores Portugueses, in Portuguese
Alphabetisches Suchverzeichnis der Reisenden in China und Tibet bis 1949 (Alphabetic Index of Travellers in China and Tibet until 1949), from Das Klassische China (Classical China), in German
The Portuguese in Ceylon, by Marco Ramerini
Explorers of Africa, from Enchanted Learning
Navigacoes Portuguesas, from Virtual Camoes, in Portuguese
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of Portuguese Discovery and early Colonialism





Biographies of Portuguese Discoverers and Conquistadores

Note : Discoverers of non-Portuguese background, sailing on behalf of the Portuguese King, are here treated as Portuguese.



Abreu, Antonio de
Portuguese navigator, left for India in 1506, first European to reach the Moluccas (Spice Islands) in 1509 or/and 1511-1512. Visited Java, Sumatra in 1511.

The Portuguese in the Moluccas and lesser Sunda Islands, from Dutch Portuguese Colonial History
Cronologia das Ilhas (Timeline of the Islands of Madeira), in Portuguese; details on Abreu's accomplishmenmts; posted by CEHA


Albergaria, Lopo Soares de
Portuguese Governor of India 1515-1518; in 1518 he sailed to Ceylon, where he had a fort constructed at Colombo.

The Portuguese in Ceylon, by Marco Ramerini
Vice-reis e governadores da India Portuguesa (1505-1754), from SuperGoa (List of Portuguese Viceroys of India), in Portuguese


Albuquerque, Afonso de, 1462-1515
Portuguese conquistador. Sailed to India in 1506 in order to succeed Francisco de Almeida as Viceroy of India; raided Oman and Hormuz (1507), on arrival in India he was placed under arrest by Almeida. Another Portuguese fleet in 1509 confirmed Albuquerque's appointment; he was released and Almeida handed over command. Under Albuquerque, the Portuguese conquered Goa from Bijapore (1510), Malacca (1511), Hormuz (1515). He retirned to Goa, now the capital of the Portuguese Indian Ocean Empire, and died upon arrival.

English language biography, from Columbia Encyclopedia, from Goanet, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Portuguese language biography, from Vidas Lusofonas


Almeida, Francisco de c.1450-1510
Portuguese admiral, first viceroy of Portuguese India. Sent to India in 1503, promoted Viceroy in 1505, constructed forts at Sofala and Kilwa Kisiwani, sacked Mombasa (1505), victor in a naval battle against a combined Arab & Indian fleet off Diu in 1509. Succeeded by Afonso de Albuquerque; on his return voyage, at the Cape of Good Hope, killed by a bushman.

English language biography, from Columbia Encyclopedia
French language biography, from Les Navigateurs du Renaissance


Almeida, Lourenco de
Portuguese navigator, first Portuguese on record to visit Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in 1505 or 1506.

The Portuguese in Ceylon, by Marco Ramerini

Alvares, Jorge
Portuguese navigator, first European to reach Pearl River (Canton/Guangdong, China) in 1513.



Brito, Antonio de
Portuguese navigator, visited the Moluccas (Spice Islands) in 1522, claimed the Banda Islands for Portugal, constructed a fortress on Ternate.

The Portuguese in the Moluccas and lesser Sunda Islands, from Dutch Portuguese Colonial History

Cabral, Pedro Alvares (1467-1520)
Portuguese navigator; sailed out for India in 1500 (second Portuguese expedition to India), was driven off course by a storm; discovered coast of Brazil, which was located within the Portuguese sphere (according to the Treaty of Tordesillas). Continued journey to India; returned to Portugal in 1501.

English language biography from Enchanted Learning
French language biography, from Les Navigateurs du Renaissance
Portuguese language biography, from Vidas Lusofonas


Cadamosto, Luigi de (c.1432-1488)
Venetian merchant, entered the service of Portuguese King Afonso V. in 1454; he claimed the Canary Islands for Portugal. Entered the service of the King of Portugal, because the Africa trade in the 1450es was highly profitable.

English language biography from Columbia Encyclopedia

Cao, Diogo (Diogo Cam)
Portuguese discoverer; in 1482 ordered to resume the exploration of the African coast. Discovered the Congo River estuary in 1483. On a second voyage (1485-1487) he reached Walvisbaai in present Namibia, then entered the Congo River estuary; there, in c. 1487, he went missing.

English language biography, from DW, from Wikipedia, from EB 1911


Corte-Real, Gaspar
Portuguese discoverer; in 1500 he obtained a permit to undertake voyage of discovery to the New World. Reached a land they called Terra Verde; (translates to Green land); the identity - Greenland or Newfoundland, is disputed). Died on return voyage.

English language Biography, from Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site, scroll down; from Portuguese Discoveries in North America

Covilhao, Pero de (Covilha, c.1450-c.1524)
Portuguese-born Spanish discoverer, was charged in 1487 with exploring a sea route to India and with establishing contact with Abyssinia (an Abyssinian ambassador had arrived in Portugal that year). Disguised as a Muslim, he travelled via Alexandria and Suakin, then Zeila, to Ethiopia (1488), then via Socotra to Kozhikode (Calicut) in India, to Goa and Hormuz (1489), then down the East African coast to Sofala (1490). From 1493 to 1523 he stayed in Abyssinia. Since 1490 his contact, through middlemen, with Portugal had been interrupted. In 1520 a Portuguese embassy arrived in Abyssinia, and Covilhao was found.

English language biography, from DW
Portuguese language biography, from Vidas Lusofonas


Cunha, Tristao da 1460-1514
Portuguese navigator, en route to India, in 1506 he discovered the island of Tristan da Cunha, named after him.

English language biography, from Columbia Encyclopedia

Dias, Bartolomeo c.1450-1500
Portuguese discoverer, son of Dinis Dias. In 1486 appointed captain of an expedition to continue the Portuguese exploration of the African coast; amongst others charged with finding a way to contact Prester John (Abyssinia). Left Lisbon in 1487, discovered Cape of Good Hope in 1488, returned to Lisbon later that year. In 1500 he commanded a ship in the expedition to India lead by Pedro Alvarez de Cabral. Shipwrecked near the Cape of Good Hope; died at sea.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
French language biography, from Les Navigateurs du Renaissance
Portuguese language biography, from Vidas Lusofonas


Dias, Dinis
Portuguese discoverer, the first to sail past the Cape Verde Islands in 1445. Father of Bartolomeo Dias.


Dias, Diogo
Portuguese navigator, brother of Bartolomeo Dias; captain of a ship of Cabral's fleetm from which he got separated. In 1500 he landed on Madagascar.

English language biography, from Explorers of Africa, scroll down
Magagascar, a Portuguese Settlement, by Marco Ramerini


Eanes, Gil (Eannes)
Portuguese discoverer; the first to sail past Cape Bojador (1433 or 1434); undertook a second voyage of discovery in 1435.

Portuguese language biography from DHP, from Historia de Portugal
English language description of his accomplishments, from DW, from Enchanted Learning


Fagundes, Joao Alvares
Portuguese discoverer; sailed to New World, with the task to found a colony; believed to have sailed along the southern coast of Newfoundland, perhaps into St. Lawrence River.

English language Biography, from Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site, scroll down

Fernandes, Joao
Portuguese navigator; was given a royal permit to undertake a voyage of discovery in the direction of the New World in 1499.. He discovered a land he called Lavrador, which is believed to be Greenland; the name later was applied to coastal streches of norteastern Canada (Labrador).

English language Biography, from Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site, scroll down

Galvao, Antonio
Portuguese colonial administrator, arrived in Ternate, Moluccas (Spice Islands) in 1536, governor of the Portuguese Spice Islands, organized the mission amon the Moluccans ("apostle of the Moluccas"). Wrote A Treatise on the Moluccas (c.1544).

The Portuguese in the Moluccas and lesser Sunda Islands, from Dutch Portuguese Colonial History

Gama, Vasco da c.1469-1524
Portuguese discoverer, in command of a fleet charged with finding the sea route to India; departed from Lisbon in 1497, reached Kozhikode (Calicut) on the Malabar coast in 1498; his ships loaden with spices, he arrived in Lisbon September 1499. Sailed out again in 1502, visited Sofala, laid siege to Calicut. Sent to India once again in 1524, where he died of Cholera.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia; from Web Chron at North Park
Source : Vasco da Gama: Round Africa to India, 1497-1498 CE, from Modern History Sourcebook
Spanish language biography, from ArteHistoria, illustrated
French language biography, from Les Navigateurs du Renaissance
Portuguese language biography, from Vidas Lusofonas, in Portuguese


Gomez, Fernao
Lisbon merchant who in 1469 acquired from King Afonso V. of Portugal a monopoly for the trade beyond Sierra Leone, in return for taking upon himself the task to undertake further exploration. During his monopoly, which terminated in 1474, the Portuguese established a trade route to the Africans who exploited the gold fields (1470); they named the respective coastal stretch 'Gold Coast'.


Mascarenhas, Pero
Portuguese navigator, visited island of Mauritius in 1512, which he names Swan Island (probably because of the Dodo birds found there); cartographers named Reunion and Mauritius the "Ilhas Mascarenhas".

Chronologie de l'ile Maurice

Mendes Pinto, Fernao c.1509-1583
Portuguese navigator, first European to set foot on Kyushu, Japan, in 1542. Established a Portuguese settlement near Yokohama in 1548. Returned to Portugal in 1558.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia, from EB 1911
Source : Excerpt of the Travels of Fernao Mendes Pinto, posted by E. Ann McDougall at UAlberta


Mendonca, Cristovao
Portuguese navigator, nelieved to be the first European to have sighted Australia, in 1522.

A History of Exploration and Research on the Great Barrier Reef, from AIMS, scroll down for 1600

Meneses, Jorge de
Portuguese navigator, first European to set foot on New Guinea, in 1526-1527; named the island "Ilhas dos Papuas" - Land of the Fuzzy Hairs. The island had been discovered by other Portuguese navigators, possibly Antonio de Abreu, in 1511 or 1512.

EB 1911, web edition garbled


Sequeira, Diogo Lopez de (Diego Lopez de Sequira)
Portuguese navigator, Governor of Portuguese India 1518-1522; first to reach Malacca (Melaka) in 1509.

Portuguese Conquerors, from Serajah Melayu, a History of the Malay Peninsula
Vice-reis e governadores da India Portuguesa (1505-1754), from SuperGoa (List of Portuguese Viceroys of India), in Portuguese
Source : Instruccions del rei Dom Manuel de 1508 a Diego Lopes de Sequeira, enviat a explorar fins Malaca, posted on Historia d'Extrem Orient by Dolors Folch


Tristao, Nuno
Portuguese discoverer, reached Cape Blanco in 1441

Vespucci, Amerigo 1452-1512
Italian navigator, undertook two journeys to the New World for Spain, two more for the King of Portugal. On his first voyages (on behalf of Spain) he found a stretch of the South American coast located within the Portuguese sector, extreme northern Brazil and Guyana (hence the continent named after him). After the accidental discovery of Brazil by Cabral in 1500, Vespucci explored the Brazilean coast (1501), sailing as far south as South Georgia (1502). Undertook a fifth voyage for Spain.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Amerigo Vespucci, Account of his first Voyage, 1497 (excerpt), from Modern History Sourcebook


Xavier, Francis 1506-1552
Spanish Jesuit missionary; sailed for India in 1541, stayed in Malacca 1545-1546, again in 1547-1548, reached Japan 1549, returned to Goa 1552, died in 1552 off the Chinese coast. Canonized in 1622.

English language biography, from Catholic Encyclopedia




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