(b. Cantanhede, unknown date, died 1640) was a Portuguese explorer who became, in
1637, the first European to travel up the entire length of the
His exploits are
remarkable even today. Because of Teixeira and other Portuguese who
pushed into the depths of the Amazon, Brazil was able to obtain far
more of South America from their Spanish competitors
than the Treaty of Tordesillas
had granted in 1494.
1637: Amazon Expedition
In 1637, two Franciscan
threats from nearby natives, abandoned their mission on the Amazon
River and, with six soldiers, paddled a canoe up the entire length
of the river to the principal Portuguese settlement of Fort
Presépio. Their arrival led the Portuguese to wonder how far east
the Spaniards had settled the Amazon. Although Spain and Portugal
were both under the rule of Philip IV
, trading rivalry was nevertheless intense and there
was a strong movement towards Portuguese independence. Consequently, the
governor of Maranhão, Jacome
Raimundo de Noronha, lost no time in commissioning an expedition
under the command of Captain Pedro de Teixeira.
already had considerable experience exploring the Amazon and the
River leading expeditions to expel English and Dutch
traders and settlers. One of the Franciscan friars, Andres de
Toledo, was dispatched to Lisbon to report
his expedition to the Portuguese authorities.
Teixeira became the first European to travel up the Amazon River,
reaching Quito by way of
the Napo River.
expedition was a large one, consisting of 47 canoes powered by
1,200 natives and Negroes to transport 70 fully armed Portuguese
soldiers and their cargo of food, weapons, ammunition and barter
goods. Feeding so many over a journey of several months was a
formidable task, demanding the most of the explorers' hunting,
fishing and food gathering skills, and often requiring barter with
local tribes. The journey upstream against a strong current was
arduous, and advance parties were regularly sent out to reconnoiter
the way ahead in order to identify the correct fork in the river to
take. Teixeira also had difficulty persuading the natives to stay
with the expedition as it got farther from their homes.
After eight months, the Portuguese reached the first Spanish
settlement on the Rio Quijos
. At this
stage, Teixeira divided the expedition, sending eight canoes ahead
whilst the remainder were to stay at the settlement for the return
journey. The Rio Quijos was eventually abandoned when the current
grew too strong, and the rest of the journey was completed on foot.
After almost one year, in 1638, the expedition reached Quito to a
1638: Return Journey
Although the Spaniards of Peru afforded the Portuguese explorers
every hospitality, they were nevertheless concerned to know how far
the Portuguese had settled the Amazon. Based on the Treaty of
Tordesillas of 1494, and the strength of the expedition of Francisco de Orellana
, the Spanish
considered the Amazon theirs. Consequently, Teixeira and his party
were detained several weeks in Quito whilst the Spanish authorities
decided what to do. In the end it was decided to send a party of
Jesuit priests, headed by Cristóbal de Acuña
accompany the Portuguese on their return journey and report all
they observed. Father Cristóbal was to present his report to the
Royal Council of the
Father Cristobal's report was published as a book in 1641. In it,
he gives a glowing account the Amazon regions and is especially
complimentary towards the indigenous Brazilian natives and their
way of life. The expedition itself appears to have been uneventful,
apart from a disagreement between the Jesuits and the Portuguese
officers over a proposed slaving
expedition up the Rio Negro
gave way to the Jesuits over the slaving issue and the expedition
eventually reached Belém on 12
December 1639, just over two years after it had set out.
Although Father Cristóbal urged Spain to lose no time in settling
the Amazon, his advice came too late. In 1640, King João IV
was proclaimed king of
Portugal and, in 1641, king of Brazil as well.
Little is known about Pedro de Teixeira apart from the Amazon
expedition. After completing the expedition he went to
São Luís do
Maranhão to make his report to the governor.
duly promoted to Capitão-Mor
accepted the post of governor of Pará on 28
February 1640 but he yielded the office after three months due to
He died on 4 June 1640.
- Smith, Anthony (1994). Explorers of the Amazon.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226763374