Wednesday, November 20, 2013

[Resources] Pedro Cabral

File:Pedro alvares cabral 01.png
Pedro Cabral (c. 1467 - c. 1520) was the Portuguese explorer who discovered Brazil on April 22, 1500. He was born into a noble family (with a family coat of arms of two purple goats on a field of silver) and a family story that their ancestor was Caranus, the first king of Macedonia, who was himself a descendant of Hercules.

As a young nobleman, he learned to fight and campaigned in North Africa for his king and country. Reputed to have been vain and overly concerned with his position and honor, he was also known for courtesy, a generous and prudent nature, was well-educated and tolerant to his enemies.

Appointed commander-in-chief of a fleet of 13 ships by the King of Portugal in 1500, he landed on the coast of Brazil in April with only the loss of one ship on the voyage to the New World. Cabral's men erected a large wooden cross to celebrate Portugal's claim to the land and one of his ships was sent back to inform the King of the discovery.

The fleet continued sailing along the coast of Brazil then crossed the Atlantic to Africa in May but a storm sank four ships, with a loss of nearly 400 men, one ship became lost and the remaining six regrouped. Although damaged, the fleet made repairs along the east coast of Africa before reaching Calcutta in September.

Cabral's stay in Calcutta was less than ideal. Fifty of his men were killed in a confrontation in the streets and Cabral seized 10 Arab merchant ships, killing 600 crewmen, looting the ships and then burning them as a reprisal.

The Portuguese fleet sailed to Kochi, a city beholden to Calcutta and forged an alliance with it's king, exploiting the king's desire for independence from Calcutta. Cabral filled his ships' holds with spices and sailed for Africa.

Along the way, they lost another ship, burning it where it ran aground with the loss of the cargo. At Mozambique, the fastest ship was sent ahead to the King, one was sent on another errand, while a third became lost.

Cabral's remaining two ships met up with another Portuguese fleet (and found the lost ship from the Atlantic crossing with only seven men left alive). Part of that fleet sailed to Brazil with Amerigo Vespucci (the navigator credited with naming the Americas) while Cabral sailed for home.

Five of the original 13 came home with full holds, two returned empty and six were lost. All told, the profit from the voyage more than made up for the cost, making Cabral (and the Crown) wealthy.

Cabral was chosen for a new voyage but was replaced with a rival nobleman and he lost favor with the King. He married a rich woman in 1503, had four children and remained estranged from the royal court. He was knighted in 1518 and he died two years later.

Pedro Cabral would be an excellent NPC in any exploration game set around 1500, either as a patron or an enemy (especially in India).


  1. Your Resources posts are really cool. Thanks.

  2. Thanks! I hope that they generate game ideas for other GMs.


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