ATAÍDE, Vasco de
Together with his brother Pedro de Ataíde, Vasco de Ataíde was one of the captains that took part in Pedro Alvares Cabral?s fleet that was sent to India but discovered Brazil in 1500.
Little is known from his life before he boarded to India, aside from him being a member of the Ataíde family, whose origins go back to Egas Moniz, tutor of King Dom Afonso Henriques and which gained more influence and power with the rise of the House of Aviz.
The biographee was marked by a double illegitimacy, since he was a child of a clergyman, the abbot of Penalva, Dom Pedro de Ataíde, who was himself illegitimate. He is, then, an example of several illegitimate or second children that tried to improve their social and economic situation by taking part in the Portuguese expansion. In addition, he was a relative of some high-ranking nobles, such as Dom Fernando Coutinho and his grandson Jerónimo, 3rd and 4th marshals of the Kingdom respectively, and Afonso de Albuquerque, governor of India.
Having been chosen as one of the captains in Pedro Alvares Cabral?s fleet, Vasco de Ataíde never made it to India, since he disappeared when the fleet was still in the Atlantic. Sources are not unanimous in what concerns his disappearance. Some chroniclers, including João de Barros and Fernão Lopes de Castanheda, state that the carrack ship he was captaining disappeared during a storm between the recently discovered land of Vera Cruz and the Cape of Good Hope. On the other hand, Pêro Vaz de Caminha, in his letter to King Dom Manuel I, makes clear that Vasco de Ataíde?s carrack ship was lost when the fleet passed by Cape Verde and that there were no signs of bad weather, with the hypothesis put forward by the latter being more likely, since he was a close spectator of the events. Consensus has also not been reach regarding the final destination of the ship; some sources state that it returned to Portugal, but there is no evidence that this may have been the case, and all of the accounts of losses of this fleet presented by the chroniclers include Vasco de Ataíde?s carrack ship.
TEIXEIRA, André Pinto S. D., ?Pedro e Vasco de Ataíde?, in Descobridores do Brasil. Exploradores do Atlântico e Construtores do Estado da Índia, Costa, João Paulo Oliveira e (coord.), Sociedade Histórica da Independência de Portugal, Lisboa, 2000.
Author: João Ferreira
Translated by: John Silva