ATAÍDE, Pedro de
Pedro de Ataíde, nicknamed Inferno, was together with his brother Vasco de Ataíde one of the captains that was part of Pedro Alvares Cabral?s fleet and one of the first Portuguese to make two voyages to India, where he stood out for his various military feats.
He was one of the many men that, despite belonging to prestigious and powerful families, due to being either illegitimate or second children, attempted to improve their social and economic condition through the Portuguese expansion. Pedro de Ataíde 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. Besides his ancestry, little is known from his life before he was appointed captain of the carrack ship São Pedro.
Pedro Alvares Cabral?s fleet, despite being headed to India, became known for discovering Brazil in 1500, with Pedro de Ataíde being one of the first captains to set foot on the land of Vera Cruz and to contact the Tupiniquim Amerindians of Brazil. After arriving in India, the biographee stood out in the seizure of a ship from Kochi upon the request of the Samorim of Calicut. After the attack to the Portuguese trading post of Calicut, in which several Portuguese died, Pedro de Ataíde headed to Kochi together with the fleet, where they were able to load the ships and leave to the Kingdom in the summer of 1501.
However, as soon as 1502, Pedro de Ataíde left again to India, as part of the fleet of Vasco da Gama and Vicente Sodré, with there being no evidence about whether he captained a carrack ship or not. He took part in the bombing of Calicut, staying with the fleet of Vicente Sodré in the blockade of the port of that city, while Vasco da Gama loaded his carrack ships in Kochi and Kannur, departing back to Portugal afterwards.
After Vasco da Gama?s departure, Vicente Sodré decided to attack Muslin ships in the Red Sea, leaving the Kingdom of Kochi, an ally of the Portuguese, exposed to the attacks of Calicut. From this moment onwards, Pedro de Ataíde was unequivocally one of the captains of Vicente Sodré?s fleet. After seizing some ships in the mouth of the Red Sea, the fleet cast anchor on the Kuria Muria Islands, where part of it was hit by strong wind, leading to the sinking of the carrack ships of Vicente and Brás Sodré, who passed away. Pedro de Ataíde was then chosen as commodore with the aim of returning to Malabar, something which was not attained due to bad weather, which forced the fleet to spend the winter on the Anjadip Island.
Pedro de Ataíde was found on Anjadip by the fleet of 1503, captained by Francisco and Afonso de Albuquerque, who merged Pedro de Ataíde?s ships to their fleet. Embedded in this force, he actively took part in the expulsion of Calicut forces that had invaded Kochi, taking advantage of the absence of the Portuguese fleet. With the enemy forces expelled from the kingdom of Kochi, he was part of the diplomatic expedition to Kollam that established a Portuguese trading post there.
He started his return voyage to Portugal together with Francisco de Albuquerque?s fleet, but his carrack ship was destroyed in the shoals of São Lázaro, some 25 leagues from Mozambique. The crew was able to survive and sought refuge in Mozambique, where the biographee passed away from an illness.
As many Portuguese that were driven to India in search of a better future, Pedro de Ataíde was also not able to grow rich, since his five children had to either take part in the Portuguese expansion or to become priests to make ends meet. However, he was able to boost his social standard, becoming a knight of the Royal House in 1502 and a fidalgo of the same house in 1503.
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