Tristão Vaz Teixeira

Tristão Vaz Teixeira (c. 1395–1480) was a Portuguese navigator and explorer who, together with João Gonçalves Zarco and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, was the official discoverer and one of the first settlers of the archipelago of Madeira (1419–1420).

Tristão Vaz Teixeira
Bornc. 1395
Silves, Kingdom of Portugal
OccupationExplorer, colonial administrator


He was born Tristão Vaz, adding the name Teixeira after his marriage with Branca Teixeira.

Statue of Tristão Vaz Teixeira in Machico.

Tristão was a nobleman of Prince Henry the Navigator's House, taking part in the conquest of Ceuta.[1] Around 1418, while exploring the coast of Africa, he and João Gonçalves Zarco were taken off course by bad weather, and came upon an island which they called Porto Santo (Holy Harbor). Shortly after, they were ordered by Prince Henry to settle the island, together with Bartolomeu Perestrelo. Following a rabbit outbreak that made it difficult to grow crops, they moved to the nearby island of Madeira. It proved to be hospitable and cultivable, so Prince Henry sent for more settlers to colonize the island. The governance of Madeira was divided between Zarco and Tristão, who were appointed Captain-majors (capitães-donatários) of Funchal and Machico, respectively. Tristão was officially designated to the post in May 11, 1440.

Tristão Vaz took part in further raids and explorations along the coast of Africa throughout his life.[2] He died at Silves, at an advanced age.

Tristão Vaz Teixeira's Coat of Arms


  1. ^ Zurara, p.388
  2. ^ Zurara, p.413


  • Zurara, Gomes Eanes de (1841). Chronica do descobrimento e conquista de Guiné, 1453. Paris: J. P. Aillaud.