Timeline for Colonial Brazil

The Timeline has been divided into general periods:

My principal sources are Hemming (1995a, 1995b).

Battle of Tupinamba
and Tupinikin 1578 AD
Jean de Lrys


Before 1494

Aggressive and warlike Tupi invade the Brazilian coast from their southern home in the Paraguay basin. They find and evict Gé-speaking tribes. As they move north the Tupi fragment into a score of warring tribes. They leave pockets of “Tapuia” (non-Tupi speakers) in the coastal forests or living a short distance inland.


Pope Alexander VI negotiates the Treaty of Tordesillas dividing the world into Spanish and Portuguese spheres (7 Jun).



The Spaniard Vicente Yáñez Pinzón arrive in Pernambuco and sail north-west to the Amazon river (Jan). They sail 130-160 km up river, then head for the West Indies.

A Portuguese fleet of 13 ships commanded by Pero Alveres Cabral spends nine days along the coast of southern Brazil (22 – 30 April).

1501 – 1502

A Portuguese feet under Gonçalo Coelho explores 3200 km of Brazilian coast. The Florentine Amerigo Vespucci – the man that the Americas were later named after – accompanies the fleet.


King Manoel of Portugal awards a monopoly of the brazilwood trade to a group of Lisbon merchants. The group start sending six ships a year to Brazil.

1503 – 1504

Gonçalo Coelho returns to the Brazilian coast. The expedition spends 5 months at Guanabara bay – which they call Rio de Janeiro (‘January River’). They build a tower and leave a 24 exiled criminals as a garrison with 12 pieces of artillery.


French ships start appearing on the Brazilian coast seeking brazilwood.

1503 – 1530

European ships are frequently found trading in Brazil. A typical example is the Portuguese Bertoa that spends three months in Brazil in 1511; the vessel is a náo and has a complement of 36: five officers, 13 able seamen, 14 apprentices, and four pages. Many ships return to Europe with Indian slaves in addition to other cargo. Portuguese and French rivalry gradually turns into undeclared war. Portugal sends fleets of “coast guards” to destroy French men, ships, and warehouses.

Initially the locals – the Tamoio, a branch of the Tupinambá – are friendly to the Portuguese at Guanabara bay. However, after some time the Colonists exploit the Indians so much that eventually the Tamoio kill and eat most leaving the survivors to flee to sea in a boat (all of which must have happended before 1519). As a result of this the Tamoio acquire a lasting dislike of the Portuguese and turn to the French as allies.


A Portuguese sailor called Diogo Alvares (aka “Caramuru” – “Son of Thunder”) is washed up in the Bahia de Todos os Santos (“Bay of All Saints) . The local Tupinambá adopt this castaway and gradually Caramuru becomes a chief of 300 huts and 1000 warriors.

Goianá Tupinikin Indians find a lone Portuguese settler (João Ramalho) on a beach near the site of the future São Vincente. João Ramalho acquires a reputation as a great fighter, marries the daughter of the tribe’s chief (Tibririça, based on the plateau of Piratininga), and is honoured by the local Indians.

1516 – 1519

The Portuguese “coast guard” fleet of Christovão Jacques fails to check French incursion.


The fleet of Ferno Magalhães spends two weeks at Guanabara bay before circumnavigating the world.


The Portuguese Aleixo Garcia leads a handful of Spaniards and 2,000 Guarani Indians across the continent to Bolivia and back. He is the first European to encounter the Inca empire.


Norman traders active at Guanabara.

Aleixo Garcia is killed on the Paraguay (either by Indians or Europeans).

The First Colonies


A Portuguese “coast guard” fleet of five ships and 400 men under Martim Afonso de Sousa sets out to plant a colony in Brazil. The fleet builds a store house at Guanabara bay (Apr) before sailing on.


Martim Afonso De Sousa’s fleet arrives at Bahia and is warmly welcomed by Caramuru’s people (Mar). They then sail south to Cananéia where 40 arquebusiers and 40 crossbowmen under Pero Lobo are sent inland in the footsteps of Aleixo Garcia (Sep). The Carijó Indians trick the Portuguese into damaged canoes – probably on the Paraná – and all drown or are killed.

A Spanish expedition under Diego de Ordaz makes an unsuccessful attempt to colonise the Amazon. One ship is wrecked – the survivors reach shore and intermarry with the Indians – and the other ship sails away.

Early 1532

After two years of coast guard work Martim Afonso de Sousa finally plants his colony 1600 km south of Bahia. He establishes settlements on the Island of São Vincinte, and following the advice of Joo Ramalho, another 60 km inland on the Piratininga plateau (near the future site of So Paulo).


A Spanish fleet bound for the River Plate pauses with Caramuru’s people.


King Joo II divides the Brazilian coastline east of the Line of Tordesillas into 14 ‘captaincies’ under hereditary donatories. The 11 I know about are from north to south:

  • Maranhão (Joáo de Barros)
  • Ceará
  • Rio Grande
  • Itabaracá (Pero Lopes de Sousa)
  • Pernambuco (Duarte Coelho)
  • Bahia de Todos os Santos (Francisco Pereira Coutinho)
  • Ilhéus (Vasco Fernandes Coutinho)
  • Pôrto Seguro
  • Espírito Santo
  • São Tomé (Pero de Góis)
  • São Vincente (Martim Afonso de Sousa)

1534 ???

Pero de Góis (the donatory) founds Vila da Rainha (‘Queen’s Town’) in São Tomé.



Joáo de Barros, the Donatory of Maranháo, and Aires da Cunha, one of the richest Indian Spice merchants, organise an expendition to found a colony in Maranháo. It comprises 900 men with mortars and firearms and includes 130 knights with their horses. The fleet is wrecked on the Maranháo coast, da Cunha is drowned, and few survivors struggle ashore.

The colonists sail up the Amazon for hundreds of kilometres.



The few Portuguese settlers that survived the wreck of ’35 – largely veterans from India – maltreat the local Tupinambá Indians, who are also incited to attack the Portuguese by French Normans operating in the area. The Portuguese colony is destroyed; the colonists are killed or evicted, although some survivors take refuge with the Gé-speaking Tapuia tribes of the interior – enemies of the coastal Tupinambá.



Pero Lopes de Sousa, donatory of Itabaracá, conquers the island from the French fairly painlessly. On the way to Brazil Pero Lopes de Sousa captures two French ships, and meanwhile sends Tupi speaking agents to convince the Potiguar to change sides. Concerned at these reverses the French evacuate their artillery and 100 man garrison from the fort on the Island. The Portuguese found a settlement called Conceiçádo. Pero Lopes de Sousa subsequently returns to Portugal.



Francisco Pereira Coutinho (the donatory) lands in Bahia de Todos os Santos.

1535 – 1545


Being veterans of colonial warfare in India Francisco Pereira Coutinho and his men quickly start abusing the local Tupinambá in Bahia. The colonists also fall out amongst themselves and side with hostile tribes. Eventually the Tupinambá fight back and destroy the Sugar Mills and force the Portuguese back into their settlement. Finding his position untenable Francisco Pereira Coutinho flees south to Ilhéus with all his men.



Pero Lopes de Sousa, donatory of Itabaracá, drowns whilst sailing to India.


Portuguese start establishing sugar mills at their colonies. The demand for labour is such that the Portuguese resort to slaving raids on the Indians.


Joáo Gonçalves, the manger of Itabaracá, tries to keep on good terms with the local Potiguar, however, Portuguese settlers from the island antagonise the Potiguar with slave raids along the mainland coast. The hostility of the Potiguar and their French allies reduces the Portuguese small settlement at the southern end of the island. Half a century of fierce fighting ensues with the Potiguar, armed and advised by the French, generally victorious. (In the raids coincide with the letters about them then they occur in 1546, 1548, 1549.)


The captaincy of Ilhéus is thriving due to Tupinikin support. The donatory of Ilhéus never comes to Brazil, leaving management of the captaincy to royal administrators in Bahia.



In an eight month epic the first Europeans descend the Amazon river. They are the Spanish Captain Frencisco de Orellana and his 50 men in two crudely built brigantines. They bring back reports of populous Indian tribes (who started friendly but ended by attacking the Spaniards on sight), and rumours of warrior women (Amazons) and the survivors of Diego de Ordaz’s expedition of 1531.



Finding his position in Bahia de Todos os Santos untenable due to Tupinambá hostility Francisco Pereira Coutinho (the donatory) flees south to Ilhéus with all his men.


The Tupinambá in Bahia success inspires other tribes to try to expel the Portuguese from the other captaincies.

São Tomé

A Portuguese trader called Henrique Luis sails from Espírito Santo to “trade” with the Waitacá Indians in São Tomé. He seizes the paramount chief in the area – a man friendly with the local Christians – and demanded a ransom of slaves for his release. The chief’s people hand over the ransom, but Henrique Luis then gives the chief to an enemy tribe to be eaten in exchange for more slaves. Aside from immediate profit, his aim is to create a new vendetta that will itself provide more slaves. The donatory, Pero de Góis, complains to the King, but this avails nothing.

In retaliation the Waitacá raze the São Tomé sugar plantations, seize the garrison’s artillery, and defeat all expeditions sent against them.



The Tupinambá in Bahia, possibly missing the trade good provided by the Portuguese or perhaps intending treachery, invite Francisco Pereira Coutinho (the donatory) back using Caramuru as the intermediary. Francisco Pereira Coutinho accepts the offer, but is ship wrecked on the island of Itaparica at the mouth of the Bay. He and his men are captured by the local Indians, and ceremonially killed and eaten (except for Caramuru).

Late in the year Caramuru flees his relatives and sails to France in a French ship.

1547 ???


Duarte Coelho, donatory of Pernambuco (and son of the Gonçalo Coelho who explored Brazil in 1501 – 1502 and 1503), builds a stone tower on a hill at Olinda, founds a settlement called Igaraçu, and builds the first of several sugar mills. One of his men, Vasco Fernandes de Lucena, marries a chief’s daughter and is esteemed by the locals as a great sorcerer.

1547 – 1549 ???


After the son of a Caet chief is killed by Duarte Coelho’s men in Igaraçu (Pernambuco/Recife) the Caet and Tupinambá (I would have thought Potiguar more likely ???) besiege the town for two years. Some 90 Christians and 30 black slaves under Afonso Gonçalves defend the town against 8,000 Indians. Even the women stand watch and fight while the men sleep. The besiegers prepare breastworks and foxholes as protection, and fire burning arrows into the settlement. Afonso Gonçalves is killed by an arrow through the eye.

The Indians also besiege Duarte Coelho in his tower at Olinda. The Indian wife of Vasco Fernandes de Lucena persuades the wives of the besiegers to provide food and water to the Portuguese in the tower. The siege is raised when Vasco Fernandes de Lucena goes out alone to convince the Indians to depart.

Duarte Coelho marches along the coast of Pernambuco subduing the Indians with the sword or with peace agreements.



The King of Portugal chooses Bahia as the seat of the first royal government of Brazil and purchases rights of the heir to the donatory of Bahia.

Caramuru returns to Bahia and persuades his Tupinambá relatives to kill the crew of the French ship that brought him back.



Tom de Sousa, the first governor of Brasil, arrives in Bahia (29 March) with six ships and 1000 people including the first members of the newly formed Society of Jesus under Father Manoel de Nóbrega.

Caramuru selects the site for the new capital and persuades the Indians to help build it. Salvador (also known as Bahia) is formally founded on 1 November.


A Tupi tribe under two Spaniards escape from Portuguese marauders up the Amazon. Most die on the way, including the Spaniards, however, 300 Indians make it to Peru.


Indian activity confines the Portuguese to small areas around Olinda and Recife in Pernambuco, and at Salvador in Bahia. The French are established with the Indians of the Sergipe river (presumably Tupinambá).

Espírito Santo

Espírito Santo is acquiring the title of “best captaincy” due to the abominable behaviour of the settlers (see the example of Henrique Luis in 1546).The local tribes were at war when the Portuguese arrived – a situation that well suited the settlers. The new comers encouraged warfare, and the eating or enslaving of prisoners. The Captain and other settlers are also rumoured to partake of the cannibal rites to encourage their Indian allies.

The Waitacá and Tupinikin exact divine retribution against the colonists of Espírito Santo. The Indians smash the colonist forces, kill the donatory’s lieutenants (Jorge de Menezes and Simão de Castello), burn the sugar mills and destroy the town. The donatory expends his fortune trying to rebuild the captaincy, fails, and dies a pauper. By the mid-1550s the Portuguese have either fled to other captaincies, or banded together in the sole remaining settlement of the captaincy on the Cricaré river.

São Tomé

Pero de Góis (the donatory) attempts another settlement in São Tomé, but fails again (presumably because of Waitacá resistance).



Disease hits the first batch of converts near Bahia.

1553 – 1555


Jerónimo de Albuquerque (the governor of Pernambuco and Duarte Coelho’s brother-in-law) leads the Portuguese in a hard fought war against the Potiguar to the north and the Caeté to the south. Two years of fighting leaves the settlers suffering financially, the two largest sugar mills destroyed, and the sugar crop depleted.


Duarte da Costa replaces Tomé de Sousa as governor of Brazil.

São Vincente

São Paulo founded by the Jesuits (29 Aug) on the Piritanga plateau.

Tomé de Sousa, the governor of Brazil, brings the Portuguese settlers (of São Vincente??) together in the town of Santo André on the Piritanga plateau. João Ramalho is put in charge and forties the town. Through his connections João Ramalho can put 5000 Indian warriors into the field.


Duarte Coelho, the donatory of Pernambuco, leaves for Portugal. With the donatory gone the local Indians attack the Portuguese and their black slaves.


Pôrto Seguro

The Jesuit João Azpilcueta Navarro explores inland from Pôrto Seguro. His expedition is accompanied by a Tupinikin escort, but after the lead scout is torn to pieces by a raiding party of Aimoré whilst in sight of the whites, both Tupinikin and Europeans dare not stray far from the party.


The sons of Joáo de Barros (the Donatory who failed to colonise Maranháo in 1535 – 1538) organise a relief expedition to Maranháo. The Portuguese are repulsed by land and sea, and subsequently abandon the ‘East-West Coast’ of northern Brazil. French traders subsequently move into the area and integrate with the Tupinambá (what are the Tupinambá doing here ???) locals.

São Vincente

Fevers and bloody flux hits São Vincente.


Two Jesuits are sent south from São Vincente to the forests of the coastal Carijó (Guarani). Although Initially successful the Indians soon kill them at the instigation of Paraguayan Spanish. This is a premonition of Luso-Spanish clashes in southern Brazil.



On 26 May 50 Indians in Bahia (presumably Tupinambá) attack a sugar mill (owned by António Cardoso) – a minor skirmish ensues. The Brazilian governor, Duarte da Costa, sends his son Alvaro with 76 Portuguese horse and foot to retaliate. Three Indian villages are burned, several defenders killed, a chief captured, and some white hostages released. Within a week 1,000 warriors are besieging António Cardoso’s sugar mill. Alvaro da Costa leads a strong force against the Indians burning five villages on the way; his horsemen overpower the besiegers many of whom are killed.


The Temimino at Guanabara bay under Chief Maracajá guaçu (‘Big Wild Cat’) are fighting a losing war against their more powerful Tamoio neighbours. The Tamoio are a branch of the Tupinambá under the paramount chief Cunhambebe. Maracajá guaçu and his people flee to Espírito Santo and seek sanctuary in Jesuit aldeias.

The Frenchman Nicholas de Villegagnon arrives at Guanabara bay with three ships to found a colony (10 Nov). The French fortify a small island (Fort Coligny) at the mouth of the bay and call their colony Antarctic France. Their island fort is entirely protected by cliffs or walls (built by Indian labour), except one small harbour which is protected by gun emplacements. Although strong, Fort Coligny has one fatal flaw: no fresh water. The fledgling colony and its Indian neighbours are struck by fevers.



On 16 June the first Bishop of Brazil (Bishop Sardinha) is ship wrecked in shallows between Bahia and Pernambuco. The Bishop and all those who accompany him are captured by the Caeté and then ceremonially killed and eaten.

Late 1550s


The Pernambuco tribes (presumably Caeté and/or Potiguar) wage another war against the Portuguese. The settlers are confined to Olinda and its immediate vicinity.

An alliance of Tupinambá and Tupina defeat the Caeté in a battle near the coast (after 1556 and probably after 1558). Many Caeté are killed and eaten, and many are sold as slaves to the Portuguese of Pernambuco and Bahia. Although beaten the Caet fight back against the Portuguese and their Tupinambá allies.


Although aided by the local Tamoio, the French colony at Guanabara does not thrive, and the settlers suffer from disease and famine. 26 disaffected mercenaries plot to assassinate Villegagnon, but he discovers the plot, hangs the ring leader, and enslaves the rest.



Caramuru dies (5 Oct) a respected citizen of Bahia.

Paraná (Guairá)

The Spanish found Ciudad Real del Guair on the eastern bank of the Paraná. Guairá is the Spanish province in what will eventually become the Portuguese state of Paraná. There will be 25 Guarani revolts against the Spanish in Guairá over the next half century.

1558 – 1572

Mem de Sá governs Brazil.



A miniature war of religion erupts in the French colony at Guanabara (Jan). Villegagnon executives five protestants, and banishes the remaining protestants to the mainland. Villegagnon returns to France shortly after.


Mem de Sá, and experienced old soldier, arrives in Brazil as governor and decides to subjugate the Tupinambá of Bahia.

To make an example of the a recalcitrant Tupinambá chief (Curupeba = ‘Bloated Toad’), Mem de Sá leads some picked men on a night attack on the chief’s village. The Portuguese take the village unawares, kill some Indians who resist, and take Curupeba into custody.

Later some Tupinambá kill three Christian Indians and their tribe refuses to surrender the culprits to Mem de Sá. To demonstrate that Christian Indians are protected by the Portuguese Mem de Sá leads a force against the tribe. The Portuguese and their Indian allies land at the mouth of the Paraguaçu and march up river for a day and a night. Although on top of a hill and protected by palisades, ditches, and thousands of warriors, the village falls to Mem de Sá after a long battle. Many defenders are killed in rout.

Mem de Sá pushes and takes another Tupinambá fort. This one is pallisaded, on top of steep, forested hill, and is manned by warriors from 200 villages. Mem de Sá’s men scramble up the hill covered by arquebus fire, charge into the fort against a barrage of arrows, kill many defenders in a fierce fight, and once again slaughter the routing fugitives.

Mem de Sá and his military commander Vasco Rodrigues de Caldas go on to crush the Tupinambá living near Bahia. They burn between 30 and 160 villages. Many Tupinambá enter the Jesuit missions being established near Bahia. A second group remains undefeated on the coast north of Bahia, and a final group flee into the interior. Over 40 years this last group march and fight their way across Brazil to the Andes and then back to the lower Amazon.


Espírito Santo

The settlers on the Cricaré river in Espírito Santo beg for help to the authorities in Bahia. Mem de Sá sends his son Fernão de Sá with six ships and almost 200 men. Fernão de Sá sails up the Cricaré river and took three native forts (presumably Tupinikin). On the return journey down river the Indians surprise the Portuguese foot, who running to the river bank come under fire of their own ships. Fernão de Sá is killed by an Indian arrow and his body is abandoned by the other settlers (including Cararuru’s grandsons). Baltasar de Sá (the governor’s nephew) continues the campaign: he relieves the siege of the Cricaré river settlement, and takes the fort where the Indians retreat to. The Indian sue for peace and surrender.

Due to the death of his son, the governor refuses to see the “cowardly” survivors the Espírito Santo expedition when they return to Bahia.

1559 ???


The Tupinikin of Ilhéus kill two Christians to avenge the death of two Indians. The settlers are caught off guard, abandon their sugar mills, and retreat to the town of Ilhéus with nothing but oranges to live on. The Tupinikin settle in for a siege.

Tupi Villages, Hans Stadden

Mem de Sá sails south to Ilhéus with his veterans and newly conquered Tupinambá allies, and immediately after he lands takes a Tupinikin village in a night attack. (The village was on a hill surrounded by by water from flooding.) The following day Mem de Sá to burn more villages on his way to the town of Ilhéus. The Tupinikin follow him along the beach, but Mem de Sá ambushes them. The Tupinikin try to escape out to sea across a lagoon however they are followed by the Tupinambá allies of the Portuguese who kill many of them.

Mem de S goes on to fight many battles against the Tupinikin and destroy 300 villages. On one occasion eight sick African slaves are sacrificed as a lure in a Portuguese ambush; the Africans are killed by the Tupinikin, but 40 of the 60 warriors that fall for the bait are themselves killed. The campaign ends when a federation of Tupinikin tribes is defeated in another bloody battle on the coast. The Tupinikin survivors suffer the normal fate of Brazilian Indians: slavery, descent to missions, or flight to the forest.

Espírito Santo

Fevers and haemorrhaging strike Espírito Santo, and then spread to the inland tribes.

1560 – 1599 ??

Pôrto Seguro

With the Tupinikin of Pôrto Seguro and Ilhéus decimated the Portuguese come into contact with the Gé-speaking Aimoré of the interior. The Europeans and their now domesticated Tupinikin can not cope with the all out war of these wild and elusive tribesmen. The Aimoré increasingly dominate the area and gradually the Portuguese abandon the two captaincies. Mills and plantations, and even towns, are destroyed or abandoned up to the south shore of Bahia de Todos os Santos. Settlers must go accompanied by 15 – 20 bow armed slaves as protection when they travel.

Espírito Santo

Espírito Santo in the south also suffers attacks from the Aimoré, Waitacá, and Temimino. The captaincy has to be re-established three times. .



Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho, the 20 year old son of Duarte Coelho, arrives in Pernambuco and is immediately elected to lead an expedition against the hostile Indians (probably Potiguar and/or Caeté).


Mem de Sá sails south to attack the French at Fort Coligny (Feb). He brings a force of Bahia Tupinambá with him, and similarly the French (under the Lord Bois-le-Comte, the nephew of Villegagnon) are aided by hundreds of their Tamoio allies. The Portuguese attack from the sea on all sides (15 Mar) and in a two day battle take the island. The French and Tamoio flee to the mainland. One of the reasons for the French defeat is the lack of drinking water. Each side claims different numbers were involved in the battle. The French claim 10 Frenchmen fighting 2000 attackers in 26 ships (plus canoes). The Portuguese claim 116 Frenchmen with 1000+ Tamoio (with fire arms) against 120 Portuguese with 140 Indian allies. Both sides mention heavy losses amongst the attackers. The Portuguese destroy the fort and some Indian villages but then abandon Guanabara bay again.

São Vincinte

The settlers of São Vincinte (Santos, São Vincinte, and São Paulo) fight a war of raid and counter raid with the Tamoio, generally having the worst of the encounters. However one Portuguese expedition from São Paulo did manage some success. 30 whites with 30 half-castes (mostly sons of João Ramalho) and Tupinikin allies take a Tamoio stronghold with the death of only two settlers, a half-caste and some Tupinikin.


Fevers and haemorrhaging reach Bahia via the inland tribes.

São Vincinte

Fevers also reappear in São Paulo.


Don Pedro de Ursúa leads 370 Spaniards and and 2,000 Andean porters (yanaconas) from Peru to the Amazon. The aim is to conquer the Omagua tribe on the upper Amazon and to found a town, but Don Ursúa is murdered by mutineers nominally under Don Fernando de Guzmán, but really under the Biscayan soldier Lope de Aguirre. Soon afterwards Aguirre purges the expedition of Don Guzmán, Don Ursúa’s mistress, the chaplain, and anybody suspected of loyalty to anybody but himself. In a fast but violent trip down stream the expedition is reduced to 230 Spaniards and no Indians.

1560 – 1565


Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho leads a force largely paid and equipped by himself through the coastal forests of Pernambuco against successive Indian villages. The Tobajara, who live near Olinda, ally with the Portuguese and support them in their wars. The alliance is sealed when Jerónimo de Albuquerque marries the daughter of the Tobajara chief Green Bow. By 1565, when Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho returns to Portugal, the Portuguese control 320 km of the coast around Pernambuco.


São Vincinte

Increasing tension between the Colonists in São Vincinte and their erstwhile allies the Tupinikin culminates in an Portuguese raid (at Easter) down the Tietê.


São Vincinte

The settlers of Santo André in the captaincy of São Vincinte, still under Joo Ramalho, move across the valley to a new town next to the Jesuit college of So Paulo.

In retaliation for the Portuguese attack upon the Tupinikin the previous year the Tupinikin and Tamoio join together for an attack on São Paulo. Chief Piquerobi leads a great number of warriors against the settlement (9 Jul). The Portuguese are only saved because the paramount chief Tibiriça rallies eight villages of converted Indians to the settlement’s defense. After two days of fighting the attackers withdraw.

The road between the coast and the Piratininga plateau is under constant Indian attack. Plantations are also attacked, and the islands and inlets near São Vincinte are harassed by war-canoes.


To appease settler demands for more slaves, Governor Mem de Sá proclaims an “just” war against the Caeté (north of Bahia). The settlers see this as an declaration of an open season on Indians: Christian Caeté settled in Jesuit missions north of Bahia are enslaved or flee to the forest, and even non-Caeté are enslaved on the pretext that they are Caeté. Realising his mistake Mem de Sá revokes his proclamation, but by 1587 the Caeté have ceased to exist as a tribal entity.


Plague and smallpox reach Itabaracá from Portugal.


Ditto for Ilhéus.


São Vincinte

Father Manoel de Nóbrega and another Jesuit spend time with the Tamoio on the Iperoig (‘River of Sharks’) and arrange a truce. The truce saves So Vincinte from a powerful attack; the Jesuits see 200 canoes ready for war – each capable of carrying 20 – 30 warriors. The main Tamoio motive for the peace is to allow them to safely attack the Tupinikin who are now estranged from the Portuguese. War continues against other branches of the Tamoio. For example by pacifying the coast between São Vincinte and Guanabara the truce opens up the Tamoio at Guanabara for attack.


Plague and smallpox reach Bahia from Ilhéus (Jan). Partly as a result of this the messianic movement of the Santidade starts among the Indian inhabitants of the plantations and missions of Bahia.

Estácio de Sá (nephew of Mem de Sá) arrives in Bahia from Portugal with two large ships. He sails south to Guanabara picking up the Maracajá Temimino (now under chief Arariboia) from Esprito Santo on the way.



Father Manoel de Nóbrega convinces Estácio de Sá to make further preparations before attacking the Tamoio at Guanabara bay. Estácio de Sá sails south to São Vincinte to recruit settlers and Indians from the Jesuit missions at São Paulo.

1565 – 1567


Estácio de Sá founds a settlement at Rio de Janeiro (1 Mar 1565); he is very young – probably 17 years old. For two years the Portuguese in their fortified camp face off the Tamoio in their fortified villages. There are frequent battles by land and sea (in at least one incident the Tamoio take a caravel and eat its crew), but neither side is strong enough to take decisive action.



Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho returns to Portugal.

Espírito Santo

Smallpox breaks out in Espírito Santo.



There are some great sea battles between the Portuguese and the Tamoio. Up to 180 canoes would try to lure the Portuguese into ambushes.


Cristóvão Cardos de Barros arrives with three galleons (Aug). He recruits more ships, settlers and Indian auxiliaries, and then sails south with the Governor (Mem de Sá) toward Guanabara.



Mem de Sá joins his nephew (Estácio de Sá) at Rio de Janeiro (18 Jan). They take the fortified village of chief Ibiriguaçu-mirim and after a hard battle (20 Jan); all the defenders are killed including 5 Frenchmen who are hanged. Estácio de Sá is hit in the face by an arrow and dies a month later.

Mem de Sá follows up this victory with another against the redoubt of Paranapecu (the defender have artillery). The Portuguese break into the fort after three days and enslave the defenders.

After these defeats the Tamoio of Guanabara sue for peace. Some are enslaved. Those who resist are crushed. Many flee inland for to the Tamoio at Cabo Frio.

Mem de Sá moves the site of Rio de Janeiro; the new settlement as 150 settlers. The Maracajá Temimino under Arariboia are settled in the most powerful of the Tamoio villages.

Espírito Santo

Mem de Sá lands in Espírito Santo to “calm” the Indians.



Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho (son of Duarte Coelho and brother of Jorge) arrives in Pernambuco as the the new donatory. He quickly comes under the sway of Antnio de Gouveia – a Portuguese sorcerer known as the ‘Golden Father’.

In his most famous act the ‘Golden Father’ persuades the Viatan tribe – neighbors of the Potiguar in Pernambuco who had recently struck by famine – to be bound and sold as slaves.


The Tamoio of Capo Frio, aided by four French ships, attack Arariboia’s village beyond Rio de Janeiro. Before dawn the next day Arariboia and his Temimino attack the mass of Tamoio and French outside the village, killing some Frenchmen and many Indians. A falconet on the Arariboia’s ramparts pounds the French ships which because they have grounded with the falling tide can not reply. The French flee to France once their ships refloat.

1569 – 1571


Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho leads six companies of Portuguese and 20,000 Indian allies against the natives (probably Caeté) of Cape St. Augustine (40 km south of Olinda in Pernambuco). All the nearby captaincies send men, for example Itabaracá sent all their able bodied men. The natives are eventually crushed and the Portuguese move on to attack the Indians (also probably Caeté) of Serinham (80 km south of Olinda) by land (under Jerónimo de Albuquerque) and sea (under Filipe Cavalcante, a Florentine noble and Albuquerque’s son-in-law). After a hard war the Serinhaém natives are also crushed. Most are sold into slavery, but many thousands escape into the interior of Brazil.



By now there are 23 sugar mills in the captaincy of of Pernambuco and both Olinda and Igaraçu have over 1000 households. All the richest settlers in Brazil live in this captaincy. This affluence is built on a slave culture – either Indians or negroes from Guinea.

Espírito Santo

In contrast there are only 68 European settlers in all of Espírito Santo.


Father Manoel de Nóbrega dies at Rio de Janeiro.



The ‘Golden Father’ is arrested (19 Feb) and shipped to Portugal to face the inquisition – although he escapes in Cape Verde. King Sebatiáo orders the donatory of Pernambuco (Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho) back to Portugal (25 April) because of his involvement with the sorcerer.

1572 – 1576


Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho returns to Pernambuco as governor.


Mem de Sá dies. The King divides Brazil into north and south governorships under Luís de Brito de Almeida and Dr António de Salema respectively.

Pôrto Seguro

António Dias Adorno is sent inland from to search for gold, but returns with 7000 Tupiguen slaves. The half-caste Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna accompanies him.



The Portuguese from Bahia launch a successful expedition against the remaining independent Tupinambá on the coast north of Bahia.


The Tamoio of the (southern) Paraíba valley make peace.


A half-caste trade elopes to Olinda with the daughter of the inland Potiguar Chief Iniguaçu (‘Big Hammock’). Iniguaçu’s sons retrieve the girl under a safe conduct from the governor. When they reach of the last estate before Potiguar territory – the estate of Diogo Dias 65 km north of Recife – were Iniguaçu’s children are seized by the ambitious colonist. Iniguaçu joins forces with the coastal Potiguar and their French allies on a attack on Diogo Dias. The Potiguar lure Diogo Dias and his men (hundreds of armed Indian and African slaves) out of their stockade and massacre them.

A large Portuguese expedition sails to the (northern-eastern) Paraíba river and formally takes possession of the area in the name of the King; but they don’t stay to enforce the possession.

Post 1574 ???

Governor Luís de Brito de Almeida also leads a campaign against the Caeté of Sergipe.



The Tamoio of Cabo Frio raid sugar plantations near Rio de Janeiro.

Dr António de Salema (the governor of southern Brazil) leads a powerful force of Portuguese (400 men, including all able bodied men from Rio de Janeiro) and Indians (700 – probably Temimino) against Cabo Frio (27 Aug). Governor Salema besieges the Tamoio village of Chief Japuguaçu. The defenders have French weapons including arquebuses and cannon, 500 (southern) Paraíba Tamoio allies, and are directed by three Europeans (two French; one English). On 22 Sep Japuguaçu surrenders. The European officers are hanged and the Paraíba killed or enslaved, but Japuguaçu’s people are allowed to remain in their village.

Other Tamoio villages surrender, but many Indians flee. Governor Salema changes them killing 2000 and enslaving 4000 more. The Tamoio of Cabo Frio are crushed.


The Tupinambá on the Sergipe, intimidated by the strong captaincies on either side ( Pernambuco and Bahia), invite the Jesuits to their areas. By June the missionaries are established. However, Governor Luís de Brito de Almeida imposes a escort of 20 soldiers on the missionaries – an act which alarms the locals. Trouble is guaranteed with colonists agitating amongst the Indians; they claim the military escort proves the Jesuits are just looking for slaves.

Governor Luís de Brito de Almeida (the governor of northern Brazil) sails north from Bahia but goes no further than Recife (Sep).

Governor Almeida leaves Bahia (Nov) for the Sergipe, nominally to subdue the independent Chief Aperipé (probably a French ally given the strong French influence in the area), but in reality in search of slaves. The mission Indians take fright at the Governor’s advance, particularly as settlers are already seizing Indians on the pretext that they are escaped slaves, and flee to Chief Aperipé. The Portuguese pursue (22 Dec), kill the Chiefs and enslave the rest.


A rich colonist called Fructuoso Barbosa is named Captain-Major of (northern-eastern) Paraíba.



João Brito de Almeida sends the experienced Indian-hunter called Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna on a five month slaving trip into the Arabó sertão inland from Bahia. .

Paraná (Guairá)

The Spanish found Villa Rica del Espirito Santo in their province of Guairá near the junction of the Ivaí and Corumbataí rivers.



Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna spends another six months in the Arabó sertão, but this time for the north Brazilian governor, Luís de Brito de Almeida.

1578 – 1579


Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna spends another 14 months in the Ilhéus sertão for Governor Luís de Brito de Almeida.



Fructuoso Barbosa equips four ships at Recife for an attack on (northern-eastern) Paraíba, but a storm drives his fleet to the West Indies. They return to Brazil via Portugal.

Post 1579 ???


Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna spends another 14 months in the Bahia sertão for Governor Lourenço da Veiga.


São Vincinte

The Indians around São Paulo have almost died out.


Paulistas start slaving amongst the coastal Carijó (Guarani).


Phillip II of Spain becomes King of Portugal, hence of Brazil.

João Ramalho dies aged over 90.



Fructuoso Barbosa’s expedition again heads for (northern-eastern) Paraíba. The Portuguese surprise and destroy five of the eight French ships they find there, however they take heavy losses in battles against the Potiguar and return to to Recife. (This is possibly the expedition in which a landing party is ambushed by the Potiguar and 40 Portuguese are killed including the commander’s son.)

Another Portuguese expedition that arrives at the (northern-eastern) Paraíba by land is defeated in battle with many Europeans killed.


So Vincinte

The storm wracked survivors of a Spanish fleet under Diego Flores de Váldez defeat two English ships under Edward Fenton (Jan).


Diego Flores de Váldez pursues the English north, but is persuaded to join a Portuguese expedition against the Potiguar on the (northern-eastern) Paraíba.

1584 – 1585


By now there are no Indians in Pernambuco between the Sáo francisco river and Lua (65 km), leaving no Indian allies to defend the captaincy against the Potiguar and the French.


The joint Luso-Spanish expedition from Bahia destroys more French ships at (northern-eastern) Paraíba, and then build a fort called São Felipe a few kilometers up river (May 1584). 110 Spanish arquebusiers and 50 Brazilian mamelucos are left to garrison the fort. The Potiguar ambush an expedition sent up river, killing the commander, 40 Portuguese, and many Indian allies. The Potiguar pursue the survivors back to Fort São Felipe and only stopped by the cannon of the fort. The expedition returns to Recife less 50 whites and 400 Indians.

Francisco de Caldas leads a large slaving expedition from Pernambuco to the São Francisco river (1584). 200 Tobajara under Pirajiba (‘Fish Fin’) join the expedition, which is quite successful capturing 7,000 Indians. Francisco de Caldas plots to enslave the Tobajara, who learning of this, kill the slavers in their sleep, free the captives, and go to join the Potiguar besieging Fort São Felipe.

The Potiguar besiege Fort São Felipe in European fashion (Nov 1584 – Mar 1585); French engineers show them how to build earthworks and trenches. The defenders are reduced to eating their horses to survive, and suffer rivalry between the Spanish and Portuguese defenders.

Martím Leitão, a judge from Recife, leads 500 settlers (including cavalry), plus Indian allies, overland from Pernambuco (1 Mar 1585) to the (northern-eastern) Paraíba. As night is falling they attack and take a stockade with 3000, mostly Tobajara, Indians (5 Mar 1585). Martím Leitão’s men then spend three days cutting their way through the forests, swaps, pits and traps along the river to Fort São Felipe, only to come down with dysentery once there and retreat back to Recife (by Apr).

A few months later the Spanish commander of Fort São Felipe throws his cannon into the sea and abandons the defenses.

Later Martím Leitão wins the Tobajara back the Portuguese allegiance, and then leads an expedition to the Jaguaribe river to build a fort. The Portuguese (300 men including eight whites, and only 18 with horses) have to fight their way back through two Potiguar ambushes. Both times Martím Leitão leads the Portuguese straight through the enemy and destroys the Indian camp.

São Vincinte

For the first time the town council of São Paulo officially authorises a slave raid into the sertão.



The Potiguar and their French allies (seven ship loads) attack the Tobajara village of Chief Guirajibe (‘Bird’s Perch’).

Martím Leitão takes all available men from Pernambuco along (140) with Pirajiba’s Tobajara (500) and marches inland across the dry wilderness to the Copaoba hills – a hilly but fertile region containing 50 Potiguar villages. Despite the hardship of the journey the expedition reaches the hills and takes two Potiguar villages. The expedition plunges on into the hills and finds itself in a stockade and under musket fire from the surrounding Indians. Martím Leitão rallies his men and they manage to destroy three more villages and to escape from encirclement.

Martím Leitão leads his men toward the coast and the Rio Grande seeking the village of the Potiguar Chief Tejucupapo who is assembling an army including many Frenchmen. Once again largely, because of personal example, Martím Leitão takes a well defended stockade.

The Portuguese build another fort on the (northern-eastern) Paraíba, and the Potiguar withdraw across the Rio Grande.

1587 – 1590


The Portuguese from Bahia finally subdue the remaining independent Tupinambá on the coast north of Bahia.

Governor Manoel Teles sends Barreto Domingos Fernandes Nobre Tomacauna and a company of soldiers to suppress the Santidade base on the Jaguaribe river.


A ‘ransoming’ expedition of 200 whites and mamelucos barters captives from the Tupinambá of the Raripe sertão of Sergipe and Pernambuco. As the slavers march home the Tupinambá attack, kill 14, wound others, recapture the slaves, and keep the trade goods.



Cristóvão Cardoso de Barros defeats the last of Sergipe Indians (presumably Tupinambá) in the Baepeba hills. 1,600 Indians are killed and 4,000 captured.

São Vincinte

In response to Paulista slave raids the Carijó threaten São Paulo.


São Vincinte

The Englishman Anthony Knivet is shipwrecked, captured and enslaved by the Portuguese.

1593 – 1594

São Vincinte

In response to Paulista slave raids the Carijó threaten São Paulo.



Two French ships – out of an expedition of three – are wrecked. The French leader settles the survivors amongst the local Tupinambá.



An English expedition under Sir Walter Ralegh sails up the Orinoco.

1595 – 1602

São Vincinte

The 2,000 inhabitants of São Paulo begin the slaving, prospecting, raiding, exploring expeditions
that will make the Paulistas famous as bandeirantes. From this point, year after year, the Paulistas
would find relief in the sertão – ‘relief’ meaning the ease of life derived from slaving profits.


Jerónimo Leitão leads an official Paulista slaving raid against the coastal Carijó (1595-1596) then raids along the Anhemby (Tieté) river (1596-1602).

Meanwhile another official Paulista slave raid heads north-west to the Paranaíba and beyond (1596 – 1600).



A French and Potiguar force fails to take the Portuguese fort on the (northern-eastern) Paraba.

Rio Grande

Captain-Major Manoel de Mascarenhas Homem leads a retaliatory expedition agasint the Potiguar beyond the Rio Grande. The Portuguese advance by land and sea. The Captain-Major leads a fleet along the coast. Feliciano Coelho, the Governor of (northern-eastern) Paraíba, marches overland with 178 Portuguese with 90 Tupinambá and 730 Tobajara. His force lose 12 men a day from smallpox, but manage to reach the Potengi by the end of the year where they build a fortified camp. A large number of Potiguar with 50 Frenchmen attack the Portuguese camp, but are driven off by the Portuguese. Fighting continues over the coming months.

São Vincinte

A Portuguese expedition under Martm de Sá (son of the Governor of Rio de Janeiro) goes to help the Goianá on the (southern) Paraíba against the Tamoio. One part of the expedition includes the Englishman Anthony Knivet. This group travels inland, then spends 40 days struggling up a river, and another month crossing infertile campo. They finally arrive on the Javari river sick, starved and thirty, and less 140 men than they had started with. The group camps in a deserted Tamoio village until the food runs out (2 months) then repeats the process in another village (3 months). Most of the bandeira return home, but Anthony Knivet and a small group push on. They are captured by Tamoio and Knivet’s Portuguese companions are eaten. Knivet survives and after some months convinces 30,000 Tamoio to migrate to the coast south of Santos. They defeat the local Carijó tribe due to better numbers and training, but the Carijó appeal to the Portuguese for help. The Portuguese under Martím de Sá find them, capture them without a fight, kill 10,000 of the weak and belligerent, and enslave the rest (including Knivet). That is the last of the Tamoio branch of the Tupinambá.


Rio Grande

Smallpox hits the Potiguar.

Feliciano Coelho takes reinforcements (24 horsemen, 60 arquebusiers and 350 Indians) to finish building the fort on the Potengi (Apr). While finishing the fort the Portuguese and Tobajara continue to raid the Potiguar. The completed fort, now named Reis Magos (‘Fort of the Magi’), is left under the command of a mameluco Jerónimo de Albuquerque, and Coelho marches back to (northern-eastern) Paraíba storming Potiguar villages on the way.

São Vincinte

A bandeira under Alfonso Sardinha – including 100 Christian Indians – to the Jeticaí (now Grande) river looking for slaves and precious metals.


Rio Grande

The Potiguar accept overtures from Jerónimo de Albuquerque and a peace treaty is signed in (northern-eastern) Paraíba (11 Jun). Jerónimo de Albuquerque becomes the first captain-major of Rio Grande, and the town of Natal is built near fort Reis Magos.


Rio Grande

In a last bid for freedom, 40,000 Potiguar besiege Natal (commanded by Feliciano Coelho). Manoel de Mascarenhas Homem leads 400 Portuguese and 3000 Indians (and the Englishman Anthony Knivet) to its relief. In a surprise attack the Portuguese break the siege. The Potiguar finally sue for peace and Anthony Knivet finally gets to go home.

São Vincinte

A bandeira under André de Leão looks for the legendary Lake Paraupava.

1602 – 1604

São Vincinte

A bandeira under Nicolau Barreto heads north ot the Rio das Vehas. This huge expedition – 300 whites and many indians – exhausts the reserves of São Paulo, but returns with 3,000 Terminmio and other slaves.


Ilhéus and Pórto Seguro

The Portuguese persuade 1300 Tobajara and Potiguar under Chief Zorobabe sail south to fight the Aimoré in Ilhéus and Pórto Seguro. They kill and capture many of these elusive enemy, and even persuade some to make peace and settle. (40 years of conflict ends when peace is later made with all the Aimoré. The Portuguese are very happy with the outcome, however being suspicious of the successful Zorobabe they arrest him and send him to die in prison in Portugal.)

1603 – 1605


Pero Coelho de Sousa 65 whites and 200 Indians (Tobajara and Potiguar) to the Jaguaribe, where they enslave 5,000 Indians, and on across Ceará to the Camocim (mid-1603 – Jan 1604).

One of the Portuguese on the expedition is Martím Soares Moreno – who will find fame later in life. He is the only white on the expedition to maintain good relations with the Indians.

From the Camocim Pero Coelho de Sousa men attack the Tobajara inland in the Ibiapaba hills. After hard fighting against the Tobajara and their French allies 30 villages submit to the Portuguese.

Some soldiers are left to settle the Ceará river (1604?).

Pero Coelho de Sousa returns to Rio Grande to sell his Indians – both his prisoners and his erstwhile warriors – but is prevented by royal decree.


Paraná (Guairá)

A bandeira under Diogo de Quadros illegally slaves amongst the Carijó.


São Vincinte

The muster of the captaincy of São Vincinte (5 towns) is estimated at 300 Portuguese and over 1,500 armed Indian slaves.


The disgraced Pero Coelho de Sousa sails to his settlement on the Ceará river. Extreme drought makes the settlement untenable, so the Captain, his wife and five children, 18 solders, and an Indian set out across the Ceará on foot. Some of the soldiers and the eldest child die of thirst, but the groups makes it to Rio Grande. Pero Coelho de Sousa and his family leave Brasil for Portugal.

Rio Grande

The Jesuits set up missions amongst the Rio Grande Potiguar.

1607 – 1608


A Jesuit missionary expedition into Ceará finally fails when the Tacariju kills the Jesuit leader (11 Jan 1608).


Paraná (Guairá)

After some years of work, the Jesuits found the first permanent mission in Spanish Guairá.

A Portuguese bandeira under Manoel Preto slaves amongst the Carijó near Villa Rica.

1607 – 1609

São Vincinte

A bandeira of 40 – 50 whites under Belichior Dias Carneiro and many Indians – most of the Indians of São Paulo – has two successful years of slaving.



From his base at Fort Magus on the Natal (Rio Grande), Lieutenant Martím Soares Moreno makes three expeditions into the Ceará. Unlike most Portuguese Moreno befriends the Indians, in particular the Tremembé a Tapuia tribe living on the coast of Maranháo near the mouth of the (northern-western) Paraíba.



124 Englishmen in a 200 ton ship under Sir Thomas Roe sail for the Amazon (Feb) and explore 480 km up the river.



Martím Soares Moreno is made Captain of Ceará. He builds a fort on the Ceará river,, founds Fortaleza, and captures a French ship that lands men at Mocuripe on the Ceará coast. Moreno leads the attack on the French naked, scarred and dyed black like his Tremembé men. 42 Frenchmen are killed.

Paran (Guairá)

Governor Luís de Sousa Henriques sends an official Paulista raid into Spanish Guair. A Carijó town is taken, but the bandeira is destroyed on its return trip by António Añasco, the new Spanish governor of Guairá.



Three French ships under the Lord of La Ravardière arrive at the island of Maranháo to found the colony of Maragnan. The Tupinambá help the French build For St Louis.

King Phillip orders the expulsion of the French from Brazil (8 Oct).

Paraná (Guairá)

Sebastão Preto – Manoel’s brother – captures 900 Carijó in Spanish Guairá. The Spanish Governor of Ciudad Real recaptures 500 of the Indians, but 250 of these escape back to the bandeira believing life with the Portuguese is better than life in the Spanish colony.

1613 – 1615

São Vincinte

A bandeira of 30 whites and 30 Indians spends 19 months traveling north from São Paulo north to the headwaters of the Tocantins (1,300 km), down that river until it meets the Araguaia (1,300 km), up the Araguaia, and then overland back to São Paulo.



A French expedition with 1,200 Tupinambá warriors attacks the Camarapin – a tribe living in huts built on stilts in the marshy islands at the mouth of the Amazon.


Martím Soares Moreno builds a fort close to Camocim.



Jerónimo de Albuquerque leads a Portuguese to expel the French from Maranháo (Aug). The expedition includes Portuguese, plus Trememb and Cear Potiguar trained in European warfare. Facing them is François de Rasilly with 400 Frenchmen and 2,000 Tupinambá. The smaller Portuguese force builds a fort facing the French settlement. The French invest the camp, but on 19 Nov the Portuguese storm out of their defenses and overwhelm the enemy. More than 90 Frenchmen are killed along with 400 of their Indians. As a result the Tupinambá switch allegiance to the Portuguese.

The Portuguese find the bearded descendents of the Colonists of 1535 still with the Gé-speaking Tapuia tribes of the interior.



Fort St Louis still has a European garrison of 200, however the Portuguese at Maranháo receive powerful reinforcements from Pernambuco. La Ravardière surrenders the fort and the French vacate Brasil forever (Nov).


Francisco Caldeira de Castelo Branco takes 150 men in three ships 650 km along the coast the the most southern mouth of the Amazon, the Pará river (Dec).


Amazon / Pará

Francisco Caldeira de Castelo Branco builds a fort on the site that will become Belém do Pará (‘Bethlehem of the Pará river’). As it happens the site of this settlement violates the treaty of Tordesillas, being on the Spanish side of the line.

Bento Maciel Parente leads an expedition up the Pindaré hunting Guajajara.

Francisco de Azevedo explores the Turiaçu and Gurupi rivers.

A Dutch ship is captured on the Amazon, however, the Dutch soon build forts at Orange and Nassau near the mouth of the Xingu.

The settlers in Belém send 4 whites and 30 Indians across country to Maranháo to ask for reinforcements (Mar). Pedro Teixeira, who will later become an famous Amazon explorer, is one of the party. The expedition suffers hunger, thirst, and Indian hostility but make it to their destination and Belém is reinforced.

The Tupinambá, offended by some Portuguese ransoming in their villages, kill the intruders and besiege Belém.

Paraná (Guairá)

Manoel Preto leads the first bandeira against the Jesuit missions in Spanish Guairá



Convinced that the Portuguese are intending to enslave them, the Tupinambá of the Maranháo mainland (but not the Island) storm the fort at Tapuitapera (or Cumá) and killed the 30 white defenders. 14 more whites are killed on the Pará.

Mathias de Albuquerque (the Governor’s son) leads 50 soldiers and 200 Indians pursue the Cumá Tupinambá into the forest. The Indians launch an unsuccessful attack on his stockade (3 Feb) and are crushed.


Other Pará Tupinambá join the war against the intruders at Belém. Diogo Botelho destroys one of the largest villages (Cuju), but the Indians are reinforced by the tribes of the Guamá river.


Amazon / Pará

Late in the year Mathias de Albuquerque lands on the Gurupi with 50 soldiers and 600 Tapuia. Most Tupinambá flee, but one groups is caught and slaughtered.



A Tupinambá frontal assault on Belém fails in the face of cannon and arquebus fire (7 Jan). The Tupinambá chief ‘Old Woman’s Hair’ is killed in the assault, and the tribesmen melt away into the forest.

The new governor, Jerónimo Fragoso de Albuquerque, leads a force of 100 soldiers and hundreds of Indians against the Tupinambá. Iguapé, the main village of the Tupinambá is stormed, and other villages along the Guanapus and Carapi rivers burnt.

The governor authorises Bento Maciel Parente to march overland from Pernambuco to attack the Tupinambá in the rear. Parente spends most of the year devastating the Tupinambá lands from Tapuitapera near São Luis de Maranháo to Belém with his force of 80 soldiers and 600 Indians.

Paraná (Guairá)

Manoel Preto leads another bandeira against the Jesuit missions in Spanish Guairá.



Captain Roger North takes 120 English and Irish colonists to the Amazon. They land 16 men under Bernard O’Brien 385 km up the Amazon, and then sail on to settle a further 285 km up stream. William White explores another 130 km in a pinnace.

Subsequently O’Brien befriends the local Indians, explores parts of the Amazon basin, and prevents the Dutch from settling near him.



The peaceful Tupinambá of Maranháo island are devastated by smallpox.

1623 – 1624

Paraná (Guairá)

A long expedition against the Jesuit missions in Spanish Guairá – again under Manoel Preto – nets a thousand Christian Carijó slaves.



Bento Maciel Parente leads 70 soldiers and over a thousand Indians in native canoes against the Dutch and Irish/English colonists. Indian allies of the Dutch and English harass the approaching force, but don’t prevent the Portuguese landing near the Irish fort. The Irish/English flee into the forest, and Parente sails on to Fort Orange on the east bank of the lower Xingu. The garrison of 14 Dutchmen are tricked into surrendering. The Portuguese paddle on, defeat a force of Indians allied to the Dutch, and reach Fort Nassau 67 km up the Xingu. Once again the fort surrenders without a fight. Later a Dutch ship is run around and the crew and passengers massacred.



Bernard O’Brien returns to Europe on a Dutch ship, leaving Philip Purcell in charge of his fort.



The Dutch destroy the Portuguese base near Gurupá.



The Portuguese retaliate for their loss the previous year and destroy another Dutch fort, English plantations and O’Brien’s fort.

Bento Maciel Parente becomes governor of Pará. Parente sends his son on a ransoming expedition up the Amazon, one of many such expeditions at this time. Later based on flimsy evidence of intended rebellion Parente seizes and executes 24 Indian leaders, and as a result of the uproar is removed from office (Oct).


São Tomé

The King awards two old soldiers (Miguel Ayres Maldonado and José de Castilho Pinto) the lands of the Waitacá in recognition of past service. They explore for awhile and leave with good reports of the Waitacá plains.

1628 – 1629

Paraná (Guairá)

Yet another bandeira – this time under António Rapôso Tavares – sets out for the Jesuit Missions of Spanish Guairá (Aug 1628). The bandeira is huge – 69 whites, 900 mamelucos and 2,000 Indians – big enough to be divided into four companies. The bandeirantes spend four months camped outside a mission village; they leave the mission along, but enslave any Indians they encounter. Eventually the bandeirantes march into the mission of San Antonio, enslave the 4,000 Indians living there and destroy the village (30 Jan 1629). A similar fate is meted out to the missions at San Miguel and Jesús-Maria.



Bernard O’Brien is back in the Amazon financed by the Dutch (Apr). He builds a fort at Toherego (or Tauregue) on the Manacapuru. When Pedro da Silva turns up with 200 Portuguese soldiers and 7,000 Indian auxiliaries, O’Brien defeats him with 42 whites and 10,000 friendly Indians. O’Brien is wounded in the fight, and his Indians flee, but the Europeans fight on and win.

Pedro Teixeira launches a surprise attack at night against the Irish fort with 120 Portuguese and 1,600 Indians. O’Brien rushes back from the interior with 16 whites and many thousands of Indians. With four English and Dutch ships threatening to remove him and his Catholic settlers from the area, O’Brien surrenders to the Portuguese. The Portuguese betray the Irish into slavery and imprisonment.

Pedro Teixeira goes on toe take the English and Dutch settlements on Tucujus.


Afonso Rodrigues Adorno – one of Caramuru’s descendants – takes his 200 bowmen and suppresses a Santidade near his estage at Cachoeira (‘Rapids’) on the Paraguaçu.

São Tomé

Miguel Ayres Maldonado and José de Castilho Pinto return to explore the plains of the Waitacá. At some later time they are persuaded to sell their rights and the Jesuits and colonists move in; the Waitacá are subdued.



Thomas Hixson builds a fort near Macapá on the Filipe river with 200 Englishmen.

Paraná (Guairá)

The bandeirante André Fernandes destroys two Jesuit missions in Spanish Guairá.



Jacomé Raimundo de Noronha, with a few whites and many canoes of Indians, defeat the English on the Filipe (1 Mar).

Paraná (Guairá)

The Paulista Paulo do Amaral destroys yet another Jesuit mission in Spanish Guairá. Subsequently the Jesuits abandon the remaining two missions in Guairá.


Paraná (Guairá)

With the missionaries gone from Spanish Guairá. the Paulistas attack the towns of Villa Rica and Ciudad Real. After a brief defense the Spanish abandon the towns and hence the province.



King Philip sends Governor Coelho de Carvalho on a ransoming expedition up the Amazon.



Bento Maciel Parente becomes hereditary donatory of the captaincy of Cabo do Norte, and then Governor of Maranháo. Ironically Cabo do Norte lay entirely on the Spanish side of the Line of Toresillas, yet a Spanish King awards it to a Portuguese.

A small group of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan friars arrives on the Pará; they have come down stream from Quito. Inspired by the Spaniards tales of docile tribes up river, Captain Pedro Teixeira leads 70 soldiers and 1,100 Indians up river (28 Oct). After eight months the expedition makes it to Quito where they are held by the authorities.



Captain Pedro Teixeira starts his descent of the Amazon from Quito (16 Feb). On their journey the Portuguese discover the descendents of the Tupinambá who escaped from Pernambuco after the Portuguese conquest (probably in 1571); the Indians had traveled 5,600 km across the continent and then back to end up on the Amazon. Teixeira’s expedition also encounters the ransoming force of Bento Marciel (the younger) against the Tapajós.


Treaty of Madrid fixes boundaries between Portuguese and Spanish Empires in South America.




Hemming, J. (1995a). Amazon Frontier: The defeat of the Brazilian Indians. Papermac.

Excellent book on the Portuguese conquest up to 1750. Lots of detail.

Hemming, J. (1995b). Red Gold: The conquest of the Brazilian Indians. Papermac.

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