São João Baptista (galleon)

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Battle of Tunis 1535 Attack on Goletta.jpg
The São João Baptista (on the left of the image), opening fire in the conquest of Tunis
History
Flag Portugal (1521).svgPortugal
NameSão João Baptista
BuilderKingdom of Portugal
Launchedc. 1530
Out of service1551
General characteristics
Class and typeGalleon
Tons burthen1,000 tons

The São João Baptista (English: Saint John the Baptist), commonly known as the Botafogo, was a Portuguese galleon built in the 16th century, around 1530, considered the biggest and most powerful warship in the world by Portuguese, Castillian and Italian observers of the time.[1][2]

History[edit]

The exact date of its construction is unknown; the oldest known references to the vessel mention the "great galleon São João" sailing in a convoy to Guinea, under the command of Duarte Coelho in 1532.[3]

The São João most famously distinguished itself during the Conquest of Tunis (1535), when it bombarded La Goletta fortress. It was commanded by Infante Luís, Duke of Beja, brother of John III and brother-in-law of Charles V.

Besides the São João itself, a further 20 war-caravels and 2 carracks, bearing a total of 1500 men (of which 515 were soldiers and 230 were artillery gunners) made up the Portuguese expedition. The oldest available estimates regarding its armament range from 80 to 200 guns.[4] The entire fleet carried 598 guns in total, most of them small caliber (1 basilisco, 2 leões, 3 águias, 19 camelos, 21 esperas, 52 pedreiros, 150 falcões, 350 berços).[5]

In 1550, the São João was dispatched to Brazil, along with a convoy of several merchantships with supplies, in the aid of the nascent colony and city of Salvador. The following year, it was dismantled in Pernambuco and its iron parts and ammunition salvaged by the colonists, according to a report by governor Tomé de Sousa to King John III of Portugal.[6]

Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro[edit]

One member of the crew named João de Sousa Pereira Botafogo, a nobleman from the city of Elvas, became famous because he was responsible for the ship's artillery, earning the nickname "botafogo" ("kindler"), which he later added to his family name. Later, he went to live in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, fighting against the French and the local Tupi Indians. As a reward, the Portuguese Crown granted him some lands known today as Botafogo.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Batalhas e Combates da Marinha Portuguesa, Vol. II, pages 243/245 – from Saturnino Monteiro. Livraria Sá da Costa, 1st edition, 1991.
  • Nobreza de Portugal e do Brasil – Vol. I, pages 382/384. Published by Zairol Lda., Lisbon 1989.
  • O Galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, José Virgílio Pissarra, in Fernando Oliveira e o Seu Tempo - Humanismo e Arte de Navegar no Renascimento Europeu (1450-1650), Cascais 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spanish Galleon: Notable Galleons - Serving History
  2. ^ José Virgílio Pissarra: O galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, Cascais 1999, p.222-223
  3. ^ José Virgílio Pissarra: O galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, Cascais 1999, p.202
  4. ^ José Virgílio Pissarra: O galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, Cascais 1999, p.193
  5. ^ José Virgílio Pissarra: O galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, Cascais 1999, p.196
  6. ^ José Virgílio Pissarra: O galeão S. João (c. 1530-1551). Dados para uma monografia, Cascais 1999, p.203