The Portuguese Empire (Portuguese: Império Português), also known as the Portuguese Overseas (Ultramar Português) or the Portuguese Colonial Empire (Império Colonial Português), was composed of the overseas colonies and territories governed by Portugal. One of the longest-lived empires in world history, it existed for almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415, to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999. The empire began in the 15th century, and from the early 16th century it stretched across the globe, with bases in North and South America, Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania.
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Pedro Álvares Cabral (European Portuguese: [ˈpeðɾu ˈaɫvɐr(ɨ)ʃ kɐˈβɾaɫ] or Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈpedɾu ˈawvɐɾis kaˈbɾaw]; born Pedro Álvares de Gouveia; c. 1467 or 1468 – c. 1520) was a Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil. In 1500 Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life remain unclear, it is known that he came from a minor noble family and received a good education. He was appointed to head an expedition to India in 1500, following Vasco da Gama's newly-opened route around Africa. The undertaking had the aim of returning with valuable spices and of establishing trade relations in India—bypassing the monopoly on the spice trade then in the hands of Arab, Turkish and Italian merchants. Although the previous expedition of Vasco da Gama to India, on its sea route, had recorded signs of land west of the southern Atlantic Ocean (in 1497), Cabral led the first known expedition to have touched four continents: Europe, Africa, America, and Asia.
His fleet of 13 ships sailed far into the western Atlantic Ocean, perhaps intentionally, and made landfall (April 1500) on what he initially assumed to be a large island. As the new land was within the Portuguese sphere according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, Cabral claimed it for the Portuguese Crown. He explored the coast, realizing that the large land mass was probably a continent, and dispatched a ship to notify King Manuel I of the new territory. The continent was South America, and the land he had claimed for Portugal later came to be known as Brazil. The fleet reprovisioned and then turned eastward to resume the journey to India. (Full article...)
Image 4The arrival of the Portuguese in Japan, the first Europeans who managed to reach it, initiating the Nanban ("southern barbarian") period of active commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West. (from History of Portugal)
By 1591, the king of Jaffna Ethirimanna Cinkam was installed by the Portuguese. Although he was nominally a client, he resisted missionary activities and helped the interior Kandyan kingdom in its quest to get military help from South India. Eventually, a usurper named Cankili II resisted Portuguese overlordship only to find himself ousted and hanged by Phillippe de Oliveira in 1619. The subsequent rule by the Portuguese saw the population convert to Roman Catholicism. The population also decreased due to excessive taxation, as most people fled the core areas of the former kingdom. (Full article...)