João Vaz Corte-Real

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File:João Vaz Corte-Real, Portuguese explorer, 15th century..jpg
João Vaz Corte-Real Portuguese explorer (Canada) 15th century

João Vaz Corte-Real (pron. IPA [ʒu'ɐ̃ũ vaʃ 'koɾt(ɨ) ʁi'aɫ]) (d. 1496) was a Portuguese explorer in the 15th century. In 1472, he was granted lands on Terceira Island on the Azores because he had discovered Terra Nova do Bacalhau (literally, New Land of the Codfish); there is considerable speculation that this unidentified isle was most likely Newfoundland. If this is true, Corte-Real would have come to America over twenty years before Columbus. The plausibility of such a voyage is not questioned, but the lack of evidence condemns it to remain conjecture.

Corte-Real was the father of Miguel and Gaspar Corte-Real, who accompanied him on his trip. Various fragmentary evidence suggests the expedition was a joint venture between the kings of Portugal and Denmark, and that Corte-Real was accompanied by the German sailors Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst, and even the possibly-mythical Pole John of Kolno.

Corte-Real had made two explorations in the Northwest Atlantic. On the first voyage, according to some historians, he reached Terra Verde (Green Land) (later known as Terra Nova, English: Newfoundland) some time before 1472.1 It was during the second voyage with his sons that he found the Island of Bacalhau. For his discovery, he was granted the title of Capitão-Donatário of Angra do Heroísmo in 1474, and in 1483 he took the same position in the Capitania of São Jorge Island.


  1. História de Portugal XIII - Dicionário de Personalidades - Câmara a Corte-Real page 141, QuidNovi 2004 ISBN 989554118X


  • In 1996 Portugal issued a stamp in honour of the 500th anniversary of his death.