Duarte Coelho

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Duarte Coelho Pereira
Governor of Pernambuco
In office
Monarch John III of Portugal
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Brites de Albuquerque
Personal details
Born c. 1485
Porto, Kingdom of Portugal
Died August 7, 1554(1554-08-07)
Kingdom of Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Military service
Allegiance Portuguese Empire

Duarte Coelho Pereira (c. 1485 – August 7, 1554) was a nobleman, military leader, and colonial administrator in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He was the first grantee of the captaincy of Pernambuco and founder of Olinda.

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He was the bastard son of old family Coelho, the landed nobility of Entre-Douro e Minho. Without having an organized home, he would have been raised by a maternal aunt who was prioress of the Monastery of Vila Nova de Gaia. His father was Gonçalo Coelho, Register of the Royal Treasury and commander of the Portuguese expedition that went to Brazil in 1503, which accompanied Duarte. His mother was Catarina Anes Duarte, a commoner. In 1506, he went to India in the fleet of D. Fernando Coutinho. Between 1516 and 1517 he was ambassador to Siam, visited China, in 1521 built the church of Our Lady of Oiteiro in Portuguese Malacca, he returned to Portugal in 1527. In 1531 he was again sent to India. In 1532, he received command of the fleet to push the French off the Brazilian coast. For his service he received on March 10, 1534, the donation of 60 miles of coastline in Brazil, in the current states of Pernambuco and Alagoas, the captaincy of Pernambuco, or New Lusitania.

Arriving at the factory of Pernambuco on March 9, 1535, was accompanied by his wife, Dona Brites de Albuquerque, her brother Jerónimo de Albuquerque and relatives, aside from families of northern Portugal. They arrived to try his luck in the development of the sugarcane industry.

The story says that they landed on the shores of Santa Cruz canal, where there was a nucleus of settlement in the Porto dos Marcos. He advanced to the mouth of the Igaraçu River, Pernambuco, where he founded the village of the same name and fought battles with the Indians. He built the Church of Santos Cosme e Damião, the first in Brazil, giving the administration of the village to Afonso Gonçalves, and headed south.

With the help of Vasco Fernandes Lucena, who lived with Tabajaras in 1537 amounted to a town the village of Olinda, which appeared in 1535 in place of the native village of Caetés Marim. The beauty of the location was great, especially the top, with a broad view of the ocean. Legend has it that the grantee would have exclaimed: "O beautiful situation to found a village." The village was elevated to village, receiving this name, on March 12, 1537.

The tribe of Marim Caeté was the most bellicose of the region, therefore Duarte Coelho teamed up with them. Enslaved in their place the tribes of the region of Sergipe. He managed to consolidate the captaincy, cultivating sugar cane, installing the first sugar plantations, tobacco and cotton.

Many were the fights between Indians and Duarte Coelho's settlers . After the marriage of his brother-in-law Jerónimo de Albuquerque with the daughter of the chieftain of the Tabajaras, named Maria do Espírito Santo, the Indians were quiet and content. Having achieved peace with the natives, there remained the concern with the French, which led Duarte Coelho to send ships along the coast and begin the exploration of the São Francisco River.

It was up to his deployment, in a systematic way, the foundations of the sugar industry. For it brought new techniques to manufacture the product, as the accompanying specialized masters of the island of Madeira. And above all, assured the Jewish capital and Protestant Netherlands, derived from the slave trade, to finance the venture. Good organizer, he tried to fix the colonists creating plantations, importing slaves from Guinea, mastering the rebellious tribes and protecting her friends. Under his guidance Pernambuco prospered economically, based on bourgeois families and the gentry in the North of Portugal.

Since 1549, Brazil was run by a Governor-General. The grantees had to pay her bills, as representative of the King, The headquarters of the General Government was Salvador, Bahia. On November 24, 1550, however, Duarte Coelho was exempted from the jurisdiction of the first Governor-General Martim Afonso de Sousa.

In 1554, Duarte returned sick to Portugal, where he died, leaving the command to his wife Dona Brites. He had managed his captaincy for almost 20 years. At the time of his death two of his children attended in Portugal and did not travelled immediately to Brazil. When they arrived, they gave a little help in managing the property. D. Brites, then the government had to assume the captaincy, with the help of his brother-in-law, Jerónimo de Albuquerque.

After all, from 1560, Duarte Coelho was succeeded by his two sons Duarte Coelho de Albuquerque and Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho. However, Jorge returned to Portugal in 1565, and Duarte, 1572. Both were incorporated into the army of King Sebastian, who was advancing on northern Africa. Both were seriously injured after the Battle of Alcácer Quibir on August 4, 1578, and never returned to Brazil. The last grantee of the captaincy will be Duarte Coelho de Albuquerque (1591–1658), son of Jorge.