LEMOS, Gaspar de
Gaspar de Lemos´ family origins are unknown. He appears in the historical record as of his nomination for captain of a provisions ship in Pedro Alvares Cabral´s fleet. The lack of information related to his past is evidence of his low social class, so that his selection as captain would have been based on criteria other than the nobility of his blood. On 9 March, 1500, he departed Lisbon with Cabral´s fleet, heading for Brazil, where he arrived on 22 May of the same year.
After the discovery of Brazil, Gaspar de Lemos, either by order of Pedro Alvares Cabral or by instructions from King Manuel I, returned to Lisbon in order to report the good news, carrying several letters addressed to the King, as well as objects from the newly-discovered lands. After reconnoitering a small portion of the American coast, he headed for Lisbon, arriving there in June 1500.
After his arrival in the kingdom in the summer of 1500, the name, Gaspar de Lemos, disappeared from the historical record, reappearing between 1536 and 1537 in India, at the service of Martim de Afonso de Sousa. The data which is available, however, is insufficient to either confirm or refute the hypothesis that it is the same man who had captained the provisions ship in 1500 or merely a homonym. Nevertheless, in 1536 this man went to aid Cochim and, later in the year, led thirty musketeers against the Zamorin of Calicut. In 1537, he sailed the Indian Ocean as captain of a fleet led by Martim Afonso de Sousa.
In addition to this reference, the name, Gaspar de Lemos, appears again in King João III´s Chancellery. The information associated to it, however, does not allow for the development of any concrete hypotheses.
Gaspar de Lemo´s comparative anonymity and ostensible lack of social significance could be deceptive. On the one hand, while having no notable ancestors, he was selected to be a captain in the fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral, although the principal selection criteria for such a position was nobility of blood. On the other hand, the stealthy nature of his mission, particularly considering the requirement of secrecy imposed by King Manuel I, would demonstrate that, despite his social position, Gaspar de Lemos was a man who enjoyed the King´s strict confidence.
Bibliography: SANTANA, Célia; Gaspar de Lemos, in Descobridores do Brasil. Exploradores do Atlântico e Construtores do Estado da Índia, coord. João Paulo Oliveira e Costa, Lisboa, Sociedade Histórica da Independência de Portugal, pp. 209-214.
Autor: Elias Pinheiro
Translated by: Maria João Pimentel