Image of the Day – Pedro Álvares Cabral

It seems appropriate to follow-up yesterday’s image with another “foundational moment” in Brazilian history, myth-making, and identity. Today’s image is a portrayal of Pedro Álvares Cabral’s “discovery” of Brazil. Much like the portrayal of the “Grito de Ipiranga,” this image adds a romanticism that exaggerates the “heroic” nature of Cabral’s encounter. Portugal had already established a sea-route to India via circling the African continent; indeed, Spain opted to head west in hopes they could monopolize a third route to India (after Portugal’s monopolization of the oversea route eastward and the Ottoman Empire’s monopoly on the land route). Cabral was actually attempting to go to India and either got blown far enough off course that he ran into Brazil, or intentionally went further west in order to make his own claim on the Americas. Accounts vary, but many scholars (and Brazilians) believe Cabral was just blown off course, making his encounter with the land that would become Brazil much more accidental than this image portrays.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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