SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.4 edição especial índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
Home Pagelista alfabética de periódicos  

História (São Paulo)

versão impressa ISSN 0101-9074

História vol.4 Franca  2010


An America unknown


Uma América incógnita



Susani Silveira Lemos França

Professor – History Department – Faculty of History, Law and Social Service - UNESP - 14409-160 - Franca - SP - Brazil. E-mail:

Translated by Aline Camargo
Translation from História, Franca, v.28, n.1, p. 127-143, 2009




If we consider that the Spanish chroniclers had gradually invented what eventually became America, as O'Gorman proposed, the Portuguese chroniclers of the first half of the 16th century were even more cautious in building an identity for the overseas territories visited by Columbus and Cabral. These sixteenth century chroniclers, focusing on Asia, only later ceased to think of this "almost other world" as a place of passage, to think of it as a place to stop. Disregarding the surprised tone of the letters and reports used as sources, and showing concern in giving Cabral's travels a specific place in the construction of Portuguese history, the explorers' adventures highlight the peculiarities of the lands and peoples that would later come to deserve special attention from their congeners. It is the place that the Portuguese sixteenth century chronicler has given to these territories, and the place that was fixed in the memory of the 16th century Portuguese, which are the aspects covered in this text.

Keywords: Chroniclers. Portuguese discoveries. 16th century.


Se os cronistas espanhóis inventaram paulatinamente o que viria a ser a América, como O' Gorman propôs, os cronistas portugueses da primeira metade do século XVI foram bem mais cautelosos na construção de uma identidade para os territórios do ultramar visitados por Colombo e por Cabral. Esses cronistas quinhentistas, com os olhos na Ásia, só tardiamente deixaram de pensar esse "quase um outro mundo" como lugar de passagem para pensá-lo como lugar de parada. Embora distanciando-se do tom de espanto que marca cartas e relatos utilizados como fontes e revelando uma preocupação em atribuir um lugar específico para a viagem de Cabral na construção da história portuguesa, as peripécias dos navegadores sobressaem às peculiaridades das terras e gentes que viriam futuramente a merecer dos seus congêneres uma atenção especial. Neste ensaio, o alvo visado é o lugar, na cronística portuguesa quinhentista, conferido a esses territórios de pouco prestígio, melhor, o lugar que lhe é concedido na memória portuguesa desses primeiros tempos.

Palavras-chave: Cronistas. Expansão portuguesa. Século XVI.



Not a few historians questioned the reports of European travelers seeking to highlight the main elements responsible for composing the image that they and their readers forged about America and its habitants. Behind this question was the will of dismantle the relation between the observed facts and its interpretation (DUVIOLS, 1985, p.14), raise the cultural references that participated in the construction of the oversea world (Cf. GREENBLATT, 1996), or draw a profile of those who made factual displacement or recorded the experience of others (Cf. MOLLAT, 1992), or even to stay in a few instances, to map the topics and the specific image they have forged of places and people of America (Cf. CHINARD, 1934; KNOX-SHAW, 1986).

But when interrogation goes to a genre that took these narratives to think about these same places, the history-chronic, the game between the past and present told by the chroniclers1 (Cf. RICOEUR, 1994, p.27-28) who were responsible for fixing a certain past, as well as implications of mediations they have applied, it demands a question to be made not only about the place they speak from, but also where their speech fits in the long process of awareness of America by European. In the writings of the Portuguese chroniclers of the early sixteenth century, i.e., in the writings of those who wrote when the great findings were recently, it is already possible to notice an overview, differently from Zurara's writings, written in the previous century (REBELO, 1998, p. 175) about the achievements and expansionary effects though devoid of advances on the cultural significance of enlargement of the world (BONNICHON, 1994, p. 7-12). Phillipe Bonnichon, by the way, in Des Cannibales aux Castors. Les découvertes françaises de l'Amérique (1503-1788) considers that although the Iberians were the first to set foot on America, the findings are fact just when they are back to America. In his words, the findings extends far beyond the first blow: it extends in space and time, because demand coming and going, deed and advertising; demand, in short, that the features found should return to the conquering nations and their neighbors and sisters2 (BONNICHON, op. cit., p. 7-8).

Considering the importance of this return, we are less interested in thinking about the known stages of the conclusion of the expansion - stages that come from internal to external expansion of Europe, or even the Portuguese expansion - and more fixed in the tortuous turns of the spreading news about the findings,  named Discovery of America as did Pierre Chanu (1978), Fréderic Mauro (1993) and Oliveira Marques (1988). The question to be answered in this essay is: How and where are fixed the chroniclers' thoughts of those Portuguese who wrote when the oversea journeys and the great findings were recent? This question is relevant because if the discoveries are not just spatial or geographical but mainly historical and cultural it is important to know what  roles these writers (from the nationality of those who initiated a process that would compose the whole world with their journeys) had in the historical building of the America's Discovery. And this question emerges when we consider that if the prior of the Portuguese arrival in Brazil is not questionable - or the Spanish arrival in the West Indies, even if some background of Colombo and Cabral are not questionable (BONNICHON, op. cit., p. 7) - the Portuguese role would not be so striking, at least the chroniclers', in the continuous process if invention and disclosure of the found places.

Considering the historical knowledge of the first half of the sixteen century, it is interesting to remember that Portugal had an effort to draw an image of an honored past (although this country has shifted from direct engagement with the legitimacy of Avis Dynasty3 or the formation of kings and nobles for overseas expansion) and it demonstrates how important is the Ciceronian heritage that tried to make the past writings "time witnesses", "light of truth" and instructor of the coming times. Cicero understood History as a "master of life" and its edifying feature justified the immortalization that he launched. In this way, history should be composed in a list of political and moral examples once the truly ethic should be in the objectives4. This idea is in the base of the reading of Saint Agostinho, especially with regard to the moralization of memory and its  understanding  as a part of the "virtue of prudence," considered by medieval and still lingering in the sixteenth century, as one of the greatest virtues, as well as courage, temperance and justice5 (RICOUER, 2000, p. 76). In his decades of Asia, João de Barros defines history in the following terms:

[…] history is an  agro & camp in which it is sown every divine, moral, rational & instrumental doctrine. Who graze its fruit will turn it into forces of understanding and memory, to use it as perfect and fair life, as it pleases God and men. (BARROS, 1988.).

Castanheda also highlights commendable Egyptian kings' behavior of:

Having everyday history lessons: not only from their priors: but from other foreign kings in order to learn the doctrine of how to govern their kingdoms in situations of peace and war. Behavior of great praise and worthy to be noted: that kings and princes had to keep because those ones who govern well would progressively do it better and those who do it badly would amend (once stories keep the best examples that can be taken to any condition of life) and for that they should have every lesson from them (the stories) especially from their priors stories [...] (CASTANHEDA, 1924,p.205).

Although the update of this heritage, at the beginning of the sixteen century, is conducted by the oversea expansion: its targets, importance, settings and events, the performance of those men who endeavored and, although briefly, the presentation and mapping of the places and people of the visited oversea. Thereby, if the bases of history that chroniclers of the sixteen century made were other historian's stories, the official documents, testimonials of the great men who lived the told events and, in more rare cases, the direct observation itself6, the chroniclers had to "eat" mainly the narratives of the journeys. There is a kind of familiarity, because, despite of all the writing of the middle age be defined by the truth commitment assumed by the authors of different genres, the journey's reports and the chronic combine the truth and witness concern (Cf. WOLFZETTEL, 1996, p. 23).  By its preservation, chronic emphasize its objective of reaching the knowledge of the truth as Castanheda asserts: "if I took twenty-odd years to write this story that was because I did it as it had to be done, particularly in fact". Likewise in the reports there are moments that the truth commitment is similarly declared as in the report initiated in 1505, Esmeraldo de Situs Orbis, in which the Portuguese cosmographer Duarte Pacheco Pereira declares to D. Manuel that "all these things are true, Serene Prince [...]." (PEREIRA, 1988, p. 12).

Regarding to the common function of witnesses to both sets of discourse, although in the sixteenth century chroniclers appeal to it more offensively7 (cf. CASTANHEDA, op.. Cit, L. III, p. 2), thanks to the increasing importance that knowledge begins to gain by experience in the affirmation of the truth8 (DIAS, 982, p.21 and p.76-85, HOOYKAAS, 1983, p.34-37.), we cannot say it gains the same importance as the reports from travelers at the authentication of the truth, since the use of sources considered legitimate to other stories, to testimonials of others and to authorities play equal value in determining the true. In the reports, though the same quest of the notable reality in the chronic features the truth concerning (WOLFZETTEL, op. cit., p.23), the unity of the world that the traveller seeks to restore is explicitly founded on empirical, rather than the combination between the idea of mirror of the past, the appeal to ancient and medieval authorities and the use of truths in other written statements. Even if the reports are fed by the cultural referents of the prior travellers and, in some cases, they are built in the past writings and based on compilation, it is the direct testimonial, the affirmation of the reality that support them. However it should not let us believe in the documentary function of these texts, or the function of the chronic. Likewise we cannot feel the opposite temptation of deny, since what matters is to be attempted to how they turned to true classes that seemed so convincing to their contemporaries to the point of presenting themselves as a mirror of the world (ANKERSMIT, 1996, p.50). And, with respect of chronic of the sixteen century, this mirror is mainly fed by the travel narratives.

These travel narratives, characterized as "first hand" documents, protected by personal experience (cf. DUVIOLS, op.. Cit, p. 3), were, however, few in the early sixteenth century and, with respect to America they were elusive, since the eyes were still trained to see mainly above the East. Mostly with no great work on development and, as They used to do at that time, without worrying about originality, the narratives interest to writers - and later to the readers- for the information they could gather and for being testimonials about lands, men and societies that they themselves could not visit. By the way, it was in this direct testimonial that the chroniclers thought they could find the acclaimed authenticity they sought in their own historical reports.

 However, if the fifteenth century chroniclers9 sought, in those scattered reports of the past, a better knowledge of unknown people and lands, in what concerns to America, which would interest their successors, they only contributed to keep the void in the spread of images of the place at the first times of geographic and historical discoveries. The past they fixed to America, as we are going to see, seems to be neither one of the curious humanists with the news, nor the past of the men moved by the philosophic or scientific interests, as it happened with men of the enlightenment age. Therefore, in these Portuguese historical texts of the sixteenth century, the America presented is that one far from to interest by itself; In one hand because what mattered were the deeds of great men of expansion; On the other hand because, as many historians noticed, this America was still a place of passing to a more promising conquer: The East Indies.

In what concerns to the first aspect, it is possible to notice that João de Barros10, in his Ásia, also includes a subtitle that betrays a marked tendency of his story, "the deeds that the Portuguese did in the discovery and conquers of seas and East lands", presents as the point of starting of his past register project - in decades, as did the ancient - the military deeds in all the four continents, a starting point, however, that did not continue, as long as Barros could not perform the proposal of composing a geographic part and a part dedicated to the commercial relation and products (Cf. BARROS, op. cit., Década I, p. 10). The historian restricted to think the deeds by the merits of those who undertook it. Maybe because of this they praise, in the prologue of the Second Decade, the four princes who, in different moments, underpinned the findings: D. Henrique, who launched the "rough stones" of the conquest of Guiné, D. Afonso V and D. João II, because they added to which he (D. Henrique) had begun, and D. Manuel, once, in the point of view of the chronicler, give to Europa the chance to know about the Indies discovery and sparked interest in it (Cf. Ibid., Década II, p. 1). The chronicler, in his commitment of "ordering things to the custody of letters" and fill the void that  his precursors and contemporary Portuguese left about the findings, only refers to the east part of the discoveries and it does not contemplate that, in what concerns to the western part, he himself will enlarge the void11 - (Cf. DUVIOLS, op. cit., p. 3) maybe because its main source had been the Relation of the Anonymous Pilot. The subjects discussed by Barros are worried mainly with East. From the action and adventures of the Infant D. Henrique and its servers- Gil Eanes, Gonçalo de Sintra, Nuno Tristão, Gomes Pires, Diogo Gil, etc - to the successful initiatives of D. Manuel, kept forward by the notorious Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Francisco de Albuquerque, Francisco de Sá, Henrique de Meneses, Pêro Mascarenhas, and others, considering the lease of Fernão Gomes by D. Afonso V and the boost given by D. João II.

Castanheda is also more attentive to the Portuguese domination in India- "their notable deeds", their "exploits"- than to the kings manners and people from East or to the characteristics of the places; some of them described above all things in order to make better the greatness of Portuguese deeds12. And even Gaspar Correia (1975, p.2), who distinguished from Damião de Góis for not having D. Manuel as a central character of his narrative, he declares he would write "nothing about lands, people, and deals", but he would care about "noble deeds" of those Active Portuguese in parts of India.

If the target of aggrandizement of Portuguese who campaigned in the oversea was more important than the description of places of India, in what concerns to future America, the absence of differences about places and people is more notable. According to Mollat (op. cit., p. 69-70), the navigators of the times of Colombo looked for Catai and found America, so, it took a long time to consider America by itself, for the aim was still Catai. Thereby, in the first decades of the sixteenth century the far West found comes as reminiscence of the Far East (BONNICHON, op. cit., p.9), and more than that it comes as an interjacent. It is not to be amazed when Fernão Lopes de Castanheda,  the most translated Portuguese chronicler13,  synthesizes the great Portuguese deeds, opening seas and worlds,  highlights only Africa, Cabo da Boa Esperança, Ethiopia, Saudi, Persia, China and Molucas Islands (CASTANHEDA, op. cit., L. IV, p. 379).

Concerning to American Lands as a passing place, by the way, the Portuguese historian-chroniclers, whose writings were published from 1550 and, as mentioned, wrote when the overseas trips and the great findings were recent, reaffirm the mediated characteristic of America, as did the documents they used. However, the interest of what they told is for they have exceeded the direct reports which was based only on experience towards the preparation of historical reports that was organized around a purpose, moved by the search of checking an only direction to different events and prepared with some distance and reflection14. As we noticed, Barros does not give up the ethical dimension of the History, as he defines it as a doctrinal instrument, with religious, moral, rational and practical finality (BARROS, 1992). The things of oversea should also be included in this general direction, i.e., they should compose the paradigm of virtuous action", that he believed to be History (CIDADE, 1963, P. 53). But even if Castanheda turns History a lived experience, he takes, as his own words declare, twenty years to make History "in its truth" and with concatenated  ideas around a general direction, as did Barros. And others like Gaspar Correia (1495-1561), or even Antônio Galvão (1490?-1557), Jerônimo Osório (1506-1580) and much less Damião de Góis differed from Barros. The first one declared he did not ignore "noble deeds" nor even "doubtful strife"- duplicity that appears more than once in his India legends - because he wanted to make of his History a sort of warning  to the sinners who, making public their ills in India,  imposed their presence in a narrative initially projected to remind "noble deeds"  undertaken by the Portuguese (CORREIA, op. cit., L. IV, p. 729). The second one turned to the aim of advising about Portuguese ocean trips, gather, in his geographic-historical agreement, narratives of Asia, Africa and America. Osório and Góis, finally are led by the objective of thinking about the expansion from the role of king D. Manuel in its effectiveness and expansion or, as Góis announced, try to answer to the ‘merit" of his deeds after thirty years of the death of this king - that interested him as long as they could spread national glories in the European world.

However the construction of America, notably the construction of Brazil as an interjected, arises more clearly in the dilution of the event in the set of Portuguese exploration and conquers over worth, interest and characteristic of the visited places. In The History of Discovery and Conquer of India by the Portuguese, after contemplating from D. Manuel determination so that Pedro Álvares Cabral went to Calicute with a navy, as well as to describe the departure rituals,  the narrative discourses about the overseas lands- already called Brazil in Castanheda times. Although this narrative affirms to be "well known" in its time, it seems to reproduce the same diffuse impression of the travel narratives, including a bit of wonder, as we can see in its description of a weird fish seen on the shores of the land. It talks only about the fish and the lush of the grove, the freshness of water, the abundance of food and cotton. His description- despite of being grounded by a wider documentation than the other chroniclers (AVELAS, 1997, p. 118-123) - turns to the navigation and mishaps found by captains: wrecks, reverse sea, storms (Cf. CASTANHEDA, op. cit., cap. XXX-XXXI, p. 71-74), etc, i.e, it referred more about the sailors than the Western lands.

João de Barros is not different from his contemporaries, for he believed the findings were God's will of "opening the doors of the new world of infidels, where His name could be known and praised[…]"(BARROS, op. cit., Década I, L. V, cap. I, p. 169). After spreading the impact of Vascos da Gama's return, as well as the praise to D. Manuel for his contribution to the kingdom and for his effort in continuing the oversea activity, he describes the farewell of Pedro Álvares Cabral and his navy, the rituals, the reaction of those who stayed, the captains who took part of the journey, people from the crew - arming men or people who took care about spiritual things - and the signs of the regiment to be followed by Cabral. Concerning to Santa Cruz land, we can see more details about the native people seen there: The surprise of Cabral's partners for the difference in relation to other people they have already found - dull color, long and straight hair, a unique face and a language still unknown - but the unfulfilled promise (Ibid., Década I, L. V, cap. II, p. 174) of talking about the place and native people is turned to the first celebrated mass in thanksgiving to the main resolution given to the captain: take the Gospel to the "barbarian" lands found. The priority of the historian-chronicler is restricted to the trajectory of these adventurer Christian people, who wanted to dedicate to God and take the new lands found away from "Devil's" hands - an effort that, as Castanheda said, is highlighted by mishaps and misfortunes of the sailors (Ibid., Década I, L. V, caps. I e II, p. 169-177).

In the chapters reserved to the trip of Pedro Álvares Cabral which resulted in finding Brazil, Gaspar Correia, another chronicler of the first half of sixteenth century who took three decades in preparing his History15, differs from the aforementioned historians for he gives a notable space to preparations of Cabral's journey. Although it permeates similar subjects to the other chroniclers like the name "Brazil" or the wreck of ships, he add a bit about priors advices for the trip, the payment to the crew and the letters from D. Manuel to the kings of the East. Regarding to the "new land Brazil", even the narrative's description is composed by simple impressions, it is interesting for it does not destine a great space to write about America (and its lack of knowledge about the finding) in the contemporary chronicler or near the events of exploration of the new lands. In these description, people found are featured as "bestial white", "large faces", "low and large noses as a jau's one", and more , "with no cloth to cover their shame", "mild" and almost unarmed, except for the bows they carried - like the British- and the "cane arrows" (CORREIA, op. cit., L. I, p. 151-152). And He add other brief information about the lack in those people's house, about the grove, colored birds and many harbors and rivers of that place. Despite these full details, which remembers Caminha's letter, the place that emerges as a new discovery is still a promise, because, as suggested by the chronicler, in respect to the chronological order of the exploration, the other things found should be mentioned in another narrative.

It is a blank that, though the discoveries were thirty years or more -if we consider that Barros wrote from 1545, Castanheda at the same time, Correia a little before, from 1529, Góis near the half of the century and Osório at almost the same time- it was maintained until at least half of the sixteenth century. Góis and Osório followed the same line of the priors, highlighting the simplicity of people, stupefaction with the Mass, the fertility and pleasantness of the land. Although, the full details in Góis's Chronic of the delighted D. Manuel, and the trajectory of the chronicler, integrated into the intellectual circle of Europe, suggests that he applied for more than the chroniclers reports that preceded him, supported by non-Portuguese travellers' reports - as Hans Staden and André Thevet16. It is possible to notice in his chronicle an interest that exceeds mere exaltation of the Portuguese travellers' trajectory, maybe an interest encouraged by his European contacts, wealth and diversity of the land: medical plants, habits and manners of the native people, archers skills, food, superstitions, marriage between relatives - except between Father and daughter and brother and sister - types of habitation, detachment of wealth, motivation to wars, treatment of captives, celebrations and parties, discontinued language, anthropophagic customs, etc (GÓIS, 1926). These detailed description of a people marked by their simplicity is also compiled by Correia - who does not hide the importance of his precursor, Góis - and allow, if not demark a shift in the priorities of the chroniclers, at least point out some announcement that Portuguese history, in the spreading of the news about the findings, was determined to go beyond the glorification of the achievements of the Portuguese, the explanation of the high mobiles of the Portuguese rulers and the description of hardships endured by travellers - also a description with great purpose.

Even if any change can be noticed, at the second half of sixteen century, in the trajectory of spreading of the news about the expansion of the Portuguese chroniclers- whose narratives is marked by temporal distance (Cf. REBELO, op. cit., p. 194) and an intermediated view - the general trace of its historical construction still seems to be the character of the divine plan of the discoveries and, consequently, of grace to the Portuguese. Future America is still few announced in the past released by them; it is, until then, made by natural assets and simple people, with no commercial or spiritual interests, given its "bestiality".



ANKERSMIT, F. R. A verdad en la literature y en la historia. In: OLABARRI, I.; CASPITEGUI, F. J. La "nueva" historia cultural: la influencia del posestructuralismo y el auge de la interdisciplinariedad. Madrid: Ed. Complutense, 1996, p. 50.  

AVELAR, Ana Paula M. Fernão Lopes de Castanheda. Historiador dos Portugueses na Índia ou Cronista do Governo de Nuno da Cunha? Lisboa: Cosmos, 1997, p. 118-123.

BARROS, J. de. Prólogo. In: Ásia. Dos feitos que os portugueses fizeram no descobrimento e conquista dos mares e terras do Oriente. Reedição fac-similada das 1ª, 2ª e 3ª Décadas. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional - Casa da moeda, Década III, 1988.

BARROS, J. de. Prólogo. In:____. Ásia, Década III, 1992.

BONNICHON, P. Des cannibales aux castors: les découvertes francaises de l'Amérique (1503-1788). Paris: Édition France-Empire, 1994, p. 7-12.

CASTANHEDA, F. L. de. História do descobrimento e conquista da Índia pelos portugueses. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, L. I, 1924, p. 205

CHAUNU, P. Expansão Européia do Século XIII ao XV. Trad. José Carlos de Souza Araújo. São Paulo: Livraria Pioneira Editora, 1978. p. 47-49.

CHINARD, G. L'Amérique et le rêve exotique dans la littérature française au XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle. Paris: E. Droz, 1934

CICERÓN, M. T. El Orador. Ed. Bilingüe, texto revisado y traducido por A. Tovar e A. R. Bujaldón. Barcelona: Alma Mater, 1967.

CIDADE, H. A literatura Portuguesa e a expansão ultramarina. Lisboa: Armênio Amado Editor, 1963, p. 53.

CORREIA, G. Aos senhores leitores. In: ____. Lendas da Índia. Introd. e rev. de M. Lopes de Cf. AMADO, J.; FIGUEIREDO, L. C. Brasil 1500. Quarenta Documentos. Brasília; São Paulo: Editora Universidade de Brasília; Imprensa Oficial do Estado de São Paulo, 2001, p. 411.

DIAS, J. S. da S. Os descobrimentos e a Problemática Cultural do Século XVI. Lisboa: Presença, 1982, p. 21 e 76-85.

DUVIOLS, J-P. L'Amérique espagnole vue et rêvée: les livres de voyages de Christophe Colomb à Bougainville. Paris: Promodis, 1985, p. 14.

FRYDE, E. B. The revival of a 'scientific' and a erudite renaissance. In: Humanism and Renaisance Historiography. London: The Hambledon press, 1983, p. 7.  

GÓIS, D. de. Crónica do felicíssimo rei D. Manuel. Nova ed., conforme à primeira, anotada e prefaciada. Ed. dirigida por Joaquim Martins Teixeira de Carvalho e David Lopes. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 1926, Parte I, cap. LIV-LVII.

GREENBLATT, S. Possessões Maravilhosas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996.

GUENÉE, B. Histoire et culture historique dans l'Occident médiéval. Paris: Editions Aubier-Montaigne, 1980, p. 9-17.  

HOOYKAAS, R. O Humanismo e os Descobrimentos na Ciência e nas Letras Portuguesas do Século XVI. Lisboa: Gradiva, 1983, p. 34-37.

KNOX-SHAW, P. The explorer in English fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986

MARQUES, A. H. O. A Expansão Quatrocentista. Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, v. II, 1988, p. 11-139.

MAURO, F. Expansão externa e expansão interna e A expansão européia antes dos grandes descobrimentos. In: A Expansão Européia. Trad. Franco de Sousa. Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1993, p. 11-12.

MOLLAT, M. Les Explorateurs du XIIIe au XVIe siècle. Paris: Éditions du C.T.H.S., 1992.

MONOD, G. Études Critiques sur les sources de l'histoire carolingienne. Paris: Elibron Classics, 2006, p. 6.

PEREIRA, D. P. Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis. Lisboa: Academia Portuguesa da História, 1988, p. 12.  

REBELO, L. de S. As crónicas portuguesas do século XVI. In: GIL, F. e MACEDO, H. Viagens do Olhar. Porto: Campo das Letras, 1998, p. 175.

RICOEUR, P. Tempo e Narrativa. Trad. Constança Marcondes Cesar. Campinas: Papirus, 1994, p. 27-28.

RICOUER, P. La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2000, p. 76.

WOLFZETTEL, F. Le discours du voyageur. Paris: Presses Universitaires de Franca, 1996, p. 23.



Article received in 05/2009.
Approved in 07/2009.



1 St. Agostinho,in his complex comprehension of time , understood that present would give the  importance to the past, this idea fed great part of the history written in the Middle Age.
2 Cf. " découverte suppose que l'on aille voir, mais aussi que l'on revienne et que cela se sache; aller et retour et continuité, puis publicité, émulation; malgré le secret ou à cause de lui, la nouveauté s'intègre progressivement à l'universel. Revenir de la lune et que tous en aient conscience, voilà le vrai changement". BONNICHON, op. cit., p. 7-8. Concerning to the importance of the expansion of the news,  António Alberto Banha Andrade's writings can be highlighted. Mundos Novos do Mundo, in which he explores the expansion of the news in Europe so that they could know the new worlds of the world.
3 Check, among others, REBELO, L. de S. A concepção de Poder em Fernão Lopes. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte, 1983;  AMADO, T. Fernão Lopes, Contador de História. About the chronicle of D. João I Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1991;  MONTEIRO, J. G. Fernão Lopes: Texto e Contexto. Coimbra: Liv. Minerva, 1988; SARAIVA, A. J. O Crepúsculo da Idade Média em Portugal. Lisboa: Gradiva, 1993.
4 Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis, qua voce alia nisi oratoris immortalitati commendatur? Cf. De oratore, II, 9, 36, In: CICERÓN, M. T. El Orador. Ed. Bilingüe, texto revisado y traducido por A. Tovar e A. R. Bujaldón. Barcelona: Alma Mater, 1967.
5 (My translation)
6 It is important to remind Zuzara and Rui de Pina's experience: the first one travelled to Africa to see closer how the Portuguese exporation was; The second one narrated events of government that he himself witnessed.
7 "[...] And if I took twenty years to write this story it was because I did it as it had to be done, especially based on truth. And I can confirm to your highness I did not know it at home, nor ordered to ask  those who knew, because they would not tell me by occupation or anyway. However I knew it by suffering terrible storms: in which I saw myself next to death and with no hope, hungry and thirsty".
8The reflection about experience and  book culture as both confronted ways to understand the world are explored by many authors, including DIAS, J. S. da S. Os descobrimentos e a Problemática Cultural do Século XVI. Lisboa: Presença, 1982, p. 21 e 76-85, etc.; HOOYKAAS, R. O Humanismo e os Descobrimentos na Ciência e nas Letras Portuguesas do Século XVI. Lisboa: Gradiva, 1983, p. 34-37.
9 Damião de Góis (1502-1574); João de Barros (1496/7-1562/70?); Fernão Lopes de Castanheda (1500?-1559); Gaspar Correia (1490-1563?) e Jerônimo Osório (1514?- 1580).
10 He initiates his activities as a man of letters in 1520 and his historical work in 1531.
11 Duviols goes on to say that during more than three centuries, Spain and Portugal protected their possessions from the oversea, so the news were sparse at the time of Barros. Cf. DUVIOLS, op. cit., p. 3
12 As it is done when he emphasizes the King of Melide, p. 31.
13 The first book was published in 1551 and republished in  1554,The second book came in 1552, the third came at the same year, The fourth, fifth and sixth books were published in 1554, and the eighth book, posthumously in 1561. Translation emerged soon: french in 1553, Spanish in1554, Italian in 1578, English in 1582. Cf. AMADO, J. e FIGUEIREDO, L. C. Brasil 1500. Quarenta Documentos. Brasília; São Paulo: Editora Universidade de Brasília; Imprensa Oficial do Estado de São Paulo, 2001,  p. 411.
14 Many historians highlight the documental character of the chroniclers, once there is a temporal proximity between the chroniclers and the written facts, the involvement between chroniclers and kings or knights (characters of their narratives) and, supposedly, their source compilation work. Cf. MONOD, G. Études Critiques sur les sources de l'histoire carolingienne. Paris: Elibron Classics, 2006, p. 6. Although, the articulate speech around present interests, the assertion of truth and the reflection of the chroniclers about their own work, as well as about the political function of preservation of the past, shows a gradual building of a speech that could be defined as historiographical. Cf. GUENÉE, B. Histoire et culture historique dans l'Occident médiéval. Paris: Editions Aubier-Montaigne, 1980, p. 9-17; FRYDE, E. B. The revival of a 'scientific' and a erudite renaissance. In: Humanism and Renaisance Historiography. London: The Hambledon press, 1983, p. 7.
15 The text was prepared between 1529 e 1561, and was published only in the nineteenth century.
16 Staden e Thevet were published in 1557.