Pedro Teixeira

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Pedro Teixeira
Retrato Pedro Teixeira.jpg
Died4 July 1641
Known forFirst European to travel up the Amazon River.

Pedro Teixeira (b.1570-1585 - d.4 July 1641), occasionally referred to as the Conqueror of the Amazon, was a Portuguese explorer and military officer, who became, in 1637, the first European to travel up and down the entire length of the Amazon River, he also headed the government of the captaincy of Pará in two different periods, one in 1620-1621 and another in 1640-1641.[1]

Teixeira was born either in 1570 or 1585 at the Vila of Cantanhede, born to a noble family, he was a Knight of the Order of Christ and a portuguese nobleman in service of the royal family (Portuguese: Moço Fidalgo da Casa Real), he married Ana Cunha in Praia, Azores, daughter of Sargento-Mor Diogo de Campos Moreno, with whom Teixeira fought together in Maranhão[2][3]

First arriving in Brazil on 1607, Teixeira participated in Portugal's campaign against French Maranhão, he fought in the Battle of Guaxenduba and distinguished himself commanding either the fort of Natividade or Santa Maria.[2][3]

His exploits are considered remarkable even by today's standards. Because of Teixeira and other Portuguese who pushed into the depths of the Amazon, Portugal was able to obtain far more of South America from their Spanish competitors than the Treaty of Tordesillas had granted in 1494. Teixeira's expedition became the first simultaneously to travel up and down the Amazon River. He was called by the Indian natives Curiua-Catu, meaning The Good and Friendly White Man.[4]

Early Colonization of Pará[edit]

Pedro Teixeira was part of Francisco Caldeira Castelo Branco's expedition to found the city of Belém.[5] In 9 August 1616, by orders of Francisco Caldeira, he left with two armed canoes to fight the Dutch and English, which had established positions in the northern shore of the Amazon River, where he captured a dutch ship in the Xingu estuary and brought its artillery guns to Belém.[2][3][6] In 1617, he also lead attacks against the Tupinambás, aiding a ongoing campaign by portuguese settlers in Maranhão, with the goal of a clearing a land road between Belém and São Luis.[7]

In 1620, when Custodio Valente, the Capitão-Mor in charge of Pará left for Portugal. Teixeira, his adjunct, became interim governor of the Captaincy. During this period, Bento Maciel Parente made an attempt to take the captaincy for himself by force, but facing resistance by Pedro Teixeira, left for Maranhão. However, Parente is later given the position by the Governor of Brazil, and immediately gave orders for Teixeira to leave and lead another expedition against the natives.[7]

In 1623, he commanded a large-scale operation to destroy the Dutch fort of Mariocai, where he and Bento Maciel Parente raised the fort of Santo Antônio to protect the surrounding area against foreign incursions, the settlement around the fort would later be known as the town of Gurupá.[8]

He also lead several more campaigns and expeditions in the Amazon defeating the Dutch in their forts of Orange and Nassau, both in the Xingu River, and in 23 May 1625 assaulted the shared Dutch and English fortress of Mandiatuba(Maniutuba?) on the Xingu River, facing the forces of Dutch commander Nicolau Ouaden, who briefly fled to the Island of Tucujus where he and the English commander Philip Pursell, both of whom were killed by Teixeira's forces in Tucujus, in the same month he stops a new attempt by the Dutch to occupy the islands in the Amazon Delta and in 21 October 1625 he defeated the Dutch in the fort of Taurege(Tourege/Torrego), expelling the Dutch from their holdings in the Amazon.[2][3][8]

In 1626, Manuel de Sousa d'Eça, Capitão-Mor of Pará, ordered Pedro Teixeira to procure native slaves. Teixeira left Belém with 26 soldiers and a Capuchin friar, visiting two native villages, one of Tapuyusús indians which he bribed, and another of Tapajós indians, who refused to trade men for goods.[9]

In September 1629, Teixeira besieged the English Fort of Taurege, where he defeated two enemy sorties and in 24 October 1629 the help that was sent to relieved the fort's forces, with the garrison led by James Pursell surrendering in the same day and being sent to Belém. This earned a reprisal in 26 October 1929, led by the English Captain, Roger North, who attacked Teixeira in the Fort of Santo Antônio in Gurupá, where Teixeira triumphed and rebuked the English assault, North, defeated left to found the fort of Camaú.[2][3][9]

Amazon Expedition[edit]

1637: Upriver Journey[edit]

In 1637, two Franciscan friars, André de Toledo and Domingos de La Brieba, under threats from nearby natives, abandoned their mission on the Amazon River and, with six soldiers, paddled a canoe up the entire length of the river to the Portuguese settlement of Gurupá, from where they left to Belém, and later to São Luís.[3]

Their arrival led the Portuguese to seriously consider an expedition against the current of the Amazon River.[10] Consequently, the governor of Maranhão, Jácome Raimundo de Noronha, commissioned a expedition with the goal of discovering the river all the way to Quito, learning the best places to establish fortifications, securing through the good conduct of the expeditionaries and small gifts the peace and friendship of the indigenous tribes, and founding a settlement to mark the limit, in the Amazon, of Portuguese control. And so did Pedro Teixeira.[3]

In 25 July 1637 Pedro Teixeira's fleet arrived in Guajará, from where it left to Cametá to secure more crewmates and ships, with everything ready Teixeira left in 28 October 1637,[3] his expedition consisted of 47 large canoes, with 70 soldiers, a few clergymen, and 1,200 Natives, his guide was the friar Domingos de La Brieba.[10]

In January 1638, the expedition found the mouth of the Rio Negro, and in 3 July 1638 the mouth of the Napo River, finally reaching the Quijos river in 15 August 1638, crossing the Spanish settlement of Baeza, and from there arrived in Quito in September 1638.[3]

1639: Return Journey[edit]

Completed the initial journey, in 16 February 1639, Teixeira and his expedition left Quito for Belém. Six months later, in 16 August 1639, they founded the settlement of Franciscana, whose name was chosen in honor of the Franciscan friars whose initial journey served as the impetus for Teixeira's expedition, on the River Ouro (theorized to be the Aguarico River).[3] Of Franciscana little remains to this day, and the Portuguese didin't manage to keep that border, with it later being fixed on the Javary River.[10]

Teixeira's expedition arrived back in the city of Belém on 12 December 1639, for his merits he was promoted to Capitão-Mor. He accepted the post of governor of Pará on 28 February 1640, a position in which he would remain in for a year and three months, until 26 May 1641. He died on 4 July 1641.[3] His ashes rest on the Belém Metropolitan Cathedral in the city of Belém. [11]


Teixeira's grand expedition and the founding of the settlement of Franciscana to mark the limit between the Portuguese and Spanish Crown would be used extensively by the Portuguese to sustain their claims to Upper Amazonas, including in the negotiations for the Treaty of Madrid, over a hundred years afterwards.[10]

In 10 December 2009, the Brazilian Senate made a tribute to Pedro Teixeira, celebrating the 370 years since Teixeira's Amazon Expedition.[5]


  1. ^ Varnhagen, Francisco Adolpho de (1857). Historia Geral do Brazil, Volume 2 [General History of Brazil, Volume 2]. Brazil: E. e H. Laemmert. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "PEDRO TEIXEIRA". Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cruz, Ernesto (1973). História do Pará, v. 1 [History of Pará, v. 1] (2nd ed.). Belém: Governo do Estado do Pará. pp. 42–46. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  4. ^ Coutinho, Isabel (10 December 2009). "Os índios chamavam-lhe o Homem Branco Bom" [The natives called him the Good White Man]. Público (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Senado comemora 370 anos da expedição amazônica de Pedro Teixeira" [Senate celebrates 370 years of Amazon expedition of Pedro Teixeira]. Brazilian Senate (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  6. ^ Abreu e Lima, José Ignácio de (1845). Synopsis ou deducção chronologica dos factos mais notaveis da historia do Brazil [Synopsis or chronologial deduction of the most notable facts of the history of Brazil]. Brazil: M. F. de Faria. p. 448. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  7. ^ a b Lisboa, João Francisco (1864). Jornal de Timon (v. 3): Apontamentos, noticias e observações para servirem a história do Maranhão [Journal of Timon (v. 3): Points, news and observations to serve the history of Maranhão]. São Luis, Maranhão: Typ. B. de Mattos. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b Guarany, Olimpio (5 June 2021). "Expedição Pedro Teixera em Gurupá, símbolo de resistência e bravura do Conquistador da Amazônia" [Pedro Teixeira Expedition in Gurupá, symbol of resistance and bravery of the Conqueror of the Amazon]. Portal Amazônia (in Portuguese). Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  9. ^ a b BAENA, Antonio Ladislau Moreira (1969). Compêndio das eras da província do Pará [Compendium of the Eras of the Province of Pará] (in Portuguese). Belém: UFPA. p. 395. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d Lima, Sergio Eduardo Moreira; Coutinho, Maria do Carmo Strozzi (2016). Pedro Teixeira, a Amazônia e o Tratado de Madri [Pedro Teixeira, the Amazon and the Treaty of Madrid] (2 ed.). Brasília: Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation. pp. 30–33. ISBN 978-85-7631-583-4. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  11. ^ Brasil Hoje n. 118 , Documentário da Agência Nacional sobre a cidade de Belém, Pará [Brazil Today nº 118, Documentary from the National Agency about the City of Belém, Pará] (Motion Picture) (in Brazilian Portuguese). Brazil: Agência Nacional. 1975. Event occurs at 4:30. Retrieved 5 March 2022.

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