Anthroponyms seta LAZANROTE

In several documents he is referred to as Lançarote de Freitas or Lançarote de Lagos. He was the royal treasurer of the king of the village of Lagos and was, according to Zurara, a squire, and had been «a groom in the infant Prince?s privy chamber». He was already married at the time of his first voyage. In 1444 the infant Prince Henrique bestowed him permission, together with other inhabitants from Lagos, to put together a fleet of six caravels, of which he would be commodore, to sail to the coast of Arguin; there took place the first large capture of natives ? according to Zurara, it amounted to 235 people. When he returned to the Realm, the infant Prince made him a knight. In 1445 he captained the largest expedition to Africa, with 26 caravels and 1 foist, most originating in Lagos (the expedition was armed by Lançarote himself, with the help of judges, alcaides and members of the municipal council of Lagos), but also in Lisbon and Madeira; the expedition?s mission was to avenge the death of Gonçalo Sintra, killed at the Tidra Island in 1444. Lançarote?s reasons, as described by Zurara, were that the population of this island could prove perilous to Portuguese ships; besides the military and sailing strategies, this mission had a commercial side to it, a side that could not be forgotten and was based mostly on the capture of slaves. Amongst several captains of the expedition was Lançarote?s father-in-law, Soeiro da Costa, former alcaide of Lagos. After having taken the island of Tidra, Lançarote ? following the orders of the infant Prince ? stepped back and gave the other captains freedom to do as they pleased. The smaller caravels returned to Portugal, but captain Gomes Pires decided to continue sailing so that he could gather information on the «land of the negroes» and the Nile, which at the time people thought to be nearby. Lançarote and three other captains decide to accompany Gomes Pires, sailing to the Senegal River and then to the Cap-Vert.

CORTESÃO, Armando, Subsídios para a História do Descobrimento da Guiné e Cabo Verde, Lisboa, 1931. NASCIMENTO, Paulo, ?Lançarote?, in Dicionário de História dos Descobrimento Portugueses, vol. II, Caminho, Lisboa, 1994, pp. 584-585. ZURARA, Gomes Eanes de, Crónica dos feitos notáveis que se passaram na conquista de Guiné por mandado do infante D. Henrique, 2 vols., Lisboa, Academia Portuguesa de História, 1981.

Author: Teresa Lacerda
Translated by: Maria das Mercês Pacheco
Sponsorship: Câmara Municipal de Lagos

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