David Melgueiro

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David Melgueiro
Born Unknown date
Porto, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 1673?
Porto, Kingdom of Portugal
Occupation Navigator and explorer

David Melgueiro (Porto, ? – Porto, 1673?) is supposed to have been a Portuguese navigator and explorer. Several sources state that he sailed across the Northeast Passage in 1660, travelling from Japan to Portugal through the Arctic Ocean.[1] This issue aroused strong polemics along the time. It is still unclear if this is truth or legend.

However, the possibility of navigation between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans across the Arctic is, nowadays and for the future, a crucial point in politics, climate oceanography and environment questions.


According to the story of a diplomat and French spy in Portugal, the Seigneur de La Madelène (or Madelleine), Captain David Melgueiro, at the command of the Dutch ship Pai Eterno (Perpetual Father), left Kagoshima, Japan, on March 14, 1660, sailed north and entered the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait (known at the time as Strait of Aniam). The expedition reached 84° N and, upon sighting Svalbard, headed south, towards Scotland and Ireland. Carrying on board a number of emigrant passengers back to Europe with valuable goods. The ship finally arrived in 1662 at Porto, an important northern seashore Portuguese city, Melgueiro’s birthplace. The reason why his route was chosen was due to the risk of pirate attacks, common on southern seas for those who dared to return to their native countries sailing across the waters of Cape of Good Hope or Strait of Magellan.[citation needed]

Due to the strategic importance of the arctic route,[2] this achievement should be kept secret. That is why La Madelène is supposed to have been murdered when he was preparing to leave Portugal to reveal Melgueiro’s achievement to the French.[3] In 1754, in his memories, the French geographer Philippe Buache traces the route taken by Melgueiro on a map of 1649 drawn by a Portuguese named Teixeira. This map was found in the French Navy archives. How the French Navy acquired this map would be a Portuguese state secret as well.[4]

Following Melgueiro’s journey, a Portuguese scientific project using avant-garde technologies in naval construction is in course at present.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Os Corte Reais e o Novo Mundo, Eduardo Brazão, Agência-Geral do Ultramar, 168 pp, 1965, Lisbon
  2. ^ 4th Fase of the discovery period (1510 – 1580)] – at Causa Merita NOTE: Melgueiro figures as the last explorer of the Portuguese discoveries period
  3. ^ David Melgueiro, o navegador mistério (Melgueiro, mysterious navigator) – Article at the Portuguese daily newspaper Diário de Notícias, September 14, 2014
  4. ^ Article published at the Portuguese Railways Company Magazine, number 1276, pp 125/126, February 1941, Lisbon
  5. ^ Associação procura apoios para construir veleiro científico (Society aiming at finantial support to build scientific sailing boat) – article by Paula Mourato, LUSA agency / Diário de Notícias, April 8. 2014
  6. ^ David Melgueiro: Na rota da lendária viagem do navegador português pelo Árctico (David Melgueiro: on the route of the legendary Portuguese navigator across the Arctic) – article by Teresa Firmino at the Portuguese daily newspaper Público, April 9, 2014