Manuel I, King of Portugal
Portuguese and other European artists often had to imagine how non-Europeans looked since they often times never left Portugal. The Indian represented on the cover of this ordinance is obviously based on woodcuts of the indigenous male in Brazil, who was often erroneously represented as bearded, as opposed to an Indian from India. Note that the couple is designed along classic European lines, which was also in keeping with images of inhabitants of the colonial empire. The shield and the crown are symbols of the Portuguese monarchy.
João de Barros
Born in 1496, two years prior to Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India, Barros was raised in the court and as a young man wrote the popular chivalric Crónica do Imperador Clarimundo (1522), about the supposed Hungarian royal ancestry of the Portuguese kings. He was later rewarded with an official posting in the Gold Coast (now Ghana). He returned to Lisbon and held administrative positions in the India House, which oversaw all the territories under Portuguese rule. He was presented a large land grant or captaincy in northern Brazil, which was a failed venture. Barros’ major work is his multi-volume Décadas da Asia, a history based on the decades of the Portuguese presence in India. The Decades are considered one of the most important works on Portuguese expansionism.
Fernão Lopes Castanheda
Fernão Lopes de Castanheda spent over ten years in India, where his father was a judge in Goa. Upon returning to Portugal, he worked as an administrative assistant at the Universidade de Coimbra, where he began writing his multi-volume history of the Portuguese in India. The book on display is the second edition of the first volume published in 1551. Castanheda dedicates the work to Dom João III of Portugal. This volume describes the navigation, conquest and commerce associated with the Portuguese in Ethiopia, Persia, Arabia and India.
Garcia de Orta
Born of Jewish parentage in 1501 in Castelo de Vide, Garcia de Orta studied medicine in Spain and moved to Lisbon in 1526, where he became one of King João III’s physicians. He left for India in 1534 as the personal physician to Martim Afonso de Sousa, a captain and later governor of India. Orta settled in Goa and became friends with the adventurer and poet Luís Vaz de Camões, later author of Os Lusíadas (1572), the epic poem of Portugal. TheColloquies became an important reference on tropical medicines for physicians and Orta is regarded as a pioneer in that field. Historian Charles R. Boxer considered the Colloquies the most important printed book in his collection—a massive trove of books, articles and rare manuscripts that was acquired by the Lilly Library. Composed of long series of dialogues about indigenous medicines between Orta and a friend recently arrived to Goa, the Colloquies is also important for its inclusion of the first-ever published poem by Camões.
Son of Duarte Galvão, chief counselor and chronicler of King Dom Afonso V, António Galvão (Lisbon, c. 1490-1557) sailed to Portuguese India in 1527 and served as governor of the Ternate fortress (1536-1540) in the Maluku Islands (East Indonesia). João de Barros describes him as a much-respected official in his chronicle, Décadas da Ásia. Galvão returned to Lisbon in 1540 and died in poverty. Based on historical records and published posthumously, his treatise is the first work to describe all the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries prior to 1550. The manuscript was published after his death and an English version by Richard Hakluyt appeared in 1601.
Diogo do Couto
Diogo do Couto traveled to India in 1559 and remained there for a number of years. As he traveled down the African coast on the way back to Portugal, he encountered Camões on Mozambique Island. Couto and others helped the penniless poet return to Lisbon with his manuscript of Os Lusíadas. Couto returned to India, where he was commissioned to continue the multi-volume Decades begun by João de Barros. Unlike most royal chroniclers, Couto wrote frankly about crimes and corruption by the Portuguese in India.
João Tavares de Velez Guerreiro
A very rare 1718 Macanese edition of the journey of the Governor of Macau by land and sea from Goa to China in order to assume his administrative duties as colonial official. The narrative is written by his assistant Velez Guerreiro, and describes their journey across India, Indo-China and China and their involvement in a coup d’état in the Malay Peninsula. This edition used Chinese printing methods that were adopted by the Lisbon printers for the 1732 edition. [Information from Livraria Castro e Silva.]