Anthroponyms seta TEIXEIRA, Tristão Vaz

He was Prince Henry the Navigator´s squire. In 1415 he participated in the conquest of Ceuta. In the aftermath of the conquest, he was knighted by Prince Henry, either in 1415 or between 1418 and 1419. After Ceuta, Tristão Vaz joined the Algarve fleet, where he met João Gonçalves Zarco. Together, they asked Prince Henry to authorize their participation in a maritime expedition to the Coast of Africa. During this trip, they would deviate from their course, finding the island of Porto Santo, named thus due to their arrival there in 1419 on All Saints Day. These two navigators would lead the settlement of the island. The following year, they made a second trip to Porto Santo with Bartolomeu Perestrelo. They remained there for one year. Perestrelo would return to the Kingdom while Tristão Vaz and Zarco went on to Madeira, initiating the reconnaissance of the island and, in 1425, its settlement. Tristão Vaz occupied the northeast area of the island therefore, on May 11, 1440, he was granted the Captaincy of Machico; the position he already held was ratified. Kings Afonso V, João II, and Manuel I confirmed the grant. In 1437 Tristão Vaz participated in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Tangier. With João Gonçalves Zarco, he worked diligently on its preparation, though Zarco would remain in Madeira, while Tristão Vaz went to North Africa. In 1445 the largest expedition undertaken at that time, comprising a fleet of twenty-six caravels and a galliot, departed to the West Coast of Africa. Some of the ships were from Madeira. Tristão Vaz equipped and commanded one of these ships and travelled to the Islands of Gomera and Palma in the Canary Archipelago but did not go on to the island of Arguin and to the Cape of Ransom. In 1447, he equipped and commanded a caravel which is likely to have sailed to the Canary Islands or to the West African Coast. Around 1420, in mainland Portugal, he married Branca Teixeira, with whom he had numerous children, who would start various Madeiran families. As his wife´s family enjoyed higher social status, he started using her surname. He lost the captaincy due to committing atrocities against an exiled nobleman, who had maintained an illicit relationship with one of his daughters. On February 17, 1452, King Afonso V pardoned his infractions and authorized him to return to Machico where he would continue to govern. Due to having some business ventures in Algarve, he eventually moved to Silves, where he died, probably in the 1580´s.

SANTANA, Célia, ?Tristão Vaz Teixeira? in A Nobreza e a Expansão. Estudos biográficos, João Paulo Oliveira e Costa (coord.), Cascais, Patrimonia, 2000, pp. 55-72.

Author: Teresa Lacerda
Translated by: Maria João Pimentel

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