AZEVEDO, António Miranda de
A young gentleman at the Royal Household during King Manuel?s reign, António de Miranda de Azevedo left for the East in 1506 and stayed there for three decades at the service of the Portuguese Crown; during these thirty years he fulfilled several offices, including that of commodore of the sea of India.
António de Miranda Azevedo was born by the end of the 15th century into a relatively minor branch of an important family of the realm. This position was attained via his father?s side as a consequence of favourable matrimonial alliances with large noble families, as the Vasconcelos and the Cunha; and also via his mother?s side, through the influence of ancestors as Afonso Peres da Charneca (great-great-grandfather and founding member of the Avis dynasty), Martim Afonso da Charneca (great-grandfather) and Martim Afonso de Miranda (grandfather) ? both palatine officers of relative importance during the 14th and 15th centuries. His parents were Diogo de Azevedo and Dona Beatriz de Miranda (illegitimate daughter of Martim Afonso de Miranda); his younger brothers were Sebastião and Simão de Miranda de Azevedo, who also served in the East during the first half of the 16th century.
António de Miranda de Azevedo left for India still a young man. He joined the fleet captained by Tristão da Cunha (1506), where Afonso de Albuquerque also followed; the expedition?s main purpose was to build a fortress at the island of Socotra. On the way there, the Portuguese took over Brava, after which conquest António de Miranda was knighted by Afonso de Albuquerque.
In August 1507, the fleet split up. António de Miranda Azevedo probably followed Afonso de Albuquerque to the Arabic Peninsula, where he must have been part of the first conquest of Ormuz and other eastern African garrisons conquered at the time of their passage through that region.
Documents attesting to the presence of António de Miranda de Azevedo in the Malacca region date from 1512, so one can presume that he must have participated in the conquest of that city in July of the previous year. In order to solve the problems of food supply to Malacca, Afonso de Albuquerque started diplomatic negotiations with several realms of the Bay of Bengal. In the beginning of 1512, Miranda de Azevedo was in charge of the second embassy to the court of Ayuthia (capital of the kingdom of Siam); the first embassy had taken place in July, 1511, and had been led by Duarte Fernandes.
After the conquest of Malacca, commerce with the Far East and Maritime South Asia was possible and the Portuguese commenced commercial relations with those regions. The search for clove took António de Miranda de Azevedo to the Moluccas in 1513 as captain of the second Portuguese expedition. In 1514 he captained a fleet of three sails to Java and Banda in order to negotiate spices and, in the same year, participated in the expedition that conquered Linga.
In 1517, António de Miranda de Azevedo was one of the captains of the fleet that, under the command of Lopo Soares de Albergaria, went to the Red Sea and, a year later, in 1518, also under the command of Lopo Soares, was part of the fleet of Ceylon, whose purpose was to build a fortress on that island. Miranda de Azevedo remained there as commodore of the sea of Ceylon for two years, from 1518 to 1519. In February 1519, when he was sailing around Ceylon with two fustas, he lost course and came upon one of the ships of the fleet of Dom João da Silveira (of the first embassy to Bengal and Arakan), whose crew had mutinied, and António de Miranda de Azevedo took over the ship.
António de Miranda de Azevedo is only mentioned again in the Portuguese chronicles of 1521, by the time when he took part of the construction of the fortress of Pacem; he had been appointed captain of this fortress, but Dom André Henriques refused to turn it over. Miranda de Azevedo must have gone then to Malacca, returning then to India. On the voyage between Pacem and Malacca the following episode must have taken place: a Gujarat carrack ship was forced to dock and when it refused he took over the ship.
In the following years he was part of a fleet to the Straight and to Muscat and joined Dom Henrique de Meneses in the Malabar wars until he replaced Dom Simão de Meneses as commodore of the sea of India in late 1525 or beginning of 1526. After about twenty years of his arrival to the East, António de Miranda de Azevedo was the second in command in the military hierarchy of Portuguese India. He kept his office until 1528, during the government of Lopo Vaz de Sampaio, having taken part in the dispute that opposed the latter to Pêro Mascarenhas. In the succession crisis that followed and that distressed Portuguese India, António de Miranda de Azevedo played one of the leading roles. Together with Cristóvão de Sousa, he negotiated the terms of resolution. Until that time, Miranda de Azevedo became the interim governor-general.
During the two years in which he was the commodore of the sea of India, António de Miranda de Azevedo was also in charge of a fleet of twenty ships sent to the Straight of Ormuz, where he spent the winter, stopping at Aden and attacking Zeila on the way, and then returning to India.
From that point on, the story of his life intertwines with that of namesakes, for he was often designated as António de Miranda. To some authors, António de Miranda de Azevedo takes his leave after some fights in Malabar; to others, he was part of the grand armada that Nuno da Cunha put together in January 1531 to try and conquer Diu, and also performed services as captain of São Jorge da Mina between 1540 and 1543.
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, João Paulo Oliveira e COSTA (coord.), pp.91-109, Lisboa, Sociedade Histórica da Independência de Portugal, 2000. THOMAZ, Luís Filipe, De Ceuta a Timor, Lisboa, Difel, 1998. THOMAZ, Luís Filipe, ?O malogrado estabelecimento oficial dos portugueses em Sunda? in Aquém e Além da Taprobana, Estudos Luso-Orientais à memória de Jean Aubin e Denys Lombard, Luís Filipe THOMAZ (org.), pp. 381-607, Lisboa, Centro de História de Além-Mar, 2002.
Author: Maria Bastião
Translated by: Maria das Mercês Pacheco