AZEVEDO, Simão Miranda de
Simão de Miranda de Azevedo was a fidalgo of the Royal House that stood out as one of the captains of the fleet that discovered Brazil and as the 4th captain of the Sofala fortress.
He was one of the many second and illegitimate children of the nobility that tried to get rich and to boost their social prestige by taking part in the Portuguese expansion. Two of his brothers, António and Sebastião de Miranda de Azevedo, also followed his steps in order to become rich and gain social prestige. Sebastião even took part in the Battle of Diu and in the conquests of Goa and Malacca. In turn, Simão did not stand out thanks to his military feats but thanks to holding administrative positions.
In 1500, a still young Simão de Miranda participated in the fleet captained by Pedro Alvares Cabral, which was heading to India but ended up discovering Brazil. Despite his military and navigation inexperience, he was assigned captain of one of the ships. Besides his return to the Kingdom together with the commodore of the ship in 1501, little is known about his participation in this fleet.
Around this time, he probably married Dona Joana Correia, the daughter of Factor Aires Correia, who had equally taken part in Cabral?s fleet. No children were born from this marriage. It also seems that he received some royal pensions, but there are doubts about whether these were given to the biographee or to a homonymous person, with the same being true for the poet named Simão de Miranda, mentioned in Garcia de Resende?s Cancioneiro Geral (General Chansonnier).
He left Portugal again in 1512, with royal orders that gave him the command of the fortress of Sofala, replacing António Saldanha, whose three years of government ended in that year. He left at the command of the carrack ship Nossa Senhora das Virtudes, integrated in the fleet captained by Jorge de Melo and Garcia de Sousa. Having reached his destination, he immediately took office.
The fortress of Sofala was established in 1505 with the aim of controlling the flow of gold from Eastern Africa. With the establishment of this fortress, the Muslin markets tried to divert their trade routes of gold in order to escape from the control of the Portuguese, something which forced Simão de Miranda, who continued the policy of his predecessor, to constantly go to Mozambique in an attempt to control these evasions. In these trips, the captains of Sofala usually met the fleets that were travelling between the Kingdom and India but did not stop at Sofala along their route. Simão de Miranda was successful in this action, but it was very difficult to completely control the flow of gold.
Simão de Miranda de Azevedo appears to have become considerably rich in an illegitimate way, while he held the position of captain of the Sofala fortress, a practice which was quite common at the time in that area of the world. Many of the men that went to India had the goal of becoming rich, so they used their positions and the inherent power to legally and illegally make a fortune.
In the last year of his three-year term (1515), Simão de Miranda ended up dieing possibly from malaria. He was replaced ad interim by the factor Pêro Vaz Soares until the arrival of Cristóvão de Távora, who had departed from the Kingdom in April of that year.
RIBEIRO, Madalena, ?Simão de Miranda, descobridor do Brasil e 4º capitão de Sofala?, 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