3rd Portuguese India Armada (Nova, 1501)

3rd Portuguese India Armada (Nova, 1501)

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The Third India Armada
Portuguese India Armadas
The Portuguese India armadas were the fleets of ships, organized by the Portuguese crown and dispatched on an annual basis from Portugal to India, principally Goa...

was assembled in 1501 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

 and placed under the command of João da Nova
João da Nova
João da Nova , Xoán de Novoa or Joam de Nôvoa galician spellings, Juan de Nova, Spanish spelling, was a Galician explorer of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the service of Portugal...

. Nova's armada was relatively small and primarily commercial in objective. Nonetheless, they engaged the first significant Portuguese naval battle in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. The Third Armada is also credited for the first discovery of the uninhabited islands of Ascension
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

 and Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

 in the South Atlantic Ocean. There is also some speculation that it may have been the first Portuguese armada to reach Ceylon.

The Fleet


Of all the early Portuguese India armadas
Portuguese India Armadas
The Portuguese India armadas were the fleets of ships, organized by the Portuguese crown and dispatched on an annual basis from Portugal to India, principally Goa...

, the Third Armada of 1501 is perhaps the most elusive. The chroniclers' accounts are scant on details and differ significantly at several points. There are very few contemporary documents to help us substantiate information, reconcile accounts or supply missing details.

The Third Armada was primarily a commercial run to India, composed of only four ships, two owned by the crown, two privately owned, plus (possibly) one supply ship.
Ship Name Captain Notes
1. uncertain João da Nova
João da Nova
João da Nova , Xoán de Novoa or Joam de Nôvoa galician spellings, Juan de Nova, Spanish spelling, was a Galician explorer of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the service of Portugal...

 
Flagship. Owned by crown.
2. uncertain Francisco de Novais  Owned by crown.
3. uncertain Diogo Barbosa  Privately owned by D. Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza was the 4th son of Ferdinand I, 2nd Duke of Braganza and his wife, Dona Joana de Castro.-Biography:...

, partially outfitted by Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni was a Florentine merchant established in Lisbon during the Age of Discovery.Bartolomeo Marchionni arrived circa 1468 at Lisbon as an agent to the Cambini. In a long career he become the most successful merchant and one of the richest men in Lisbon at the time...

 consortium
4. uncertain Fernão Vinet  Florentine. Private, owned by Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni was a Florentine merchant established in Lisbon during the Age of Discovery.Bartolomeo Marchionni arrived circa 1468 at Lisbon as an agent to the Cambini. In a long career he become the most successful merchant and one of the richest men in Lisbon at the time...

 consortium
partner Girolamo Sernigi
Girolamo Sernigi
Girolamo Sernigi was an Italian merchant, originally from Florence, based in Lisbon, Portugal. Circa 1500, Florentine merchants were the most prominent foreign group active in Lisbon's economic life and played an important role in the financing of Portuguese maritime expeditions in search of new...

 may have been aboard as factor
Factor (agent)
A factor, from the Latin "he who does" , is a person who professionally acts as the representative of another individual or other legal entity, historically with his seat at a factory , notably in the following contexts:-Mercantile factor:In a relatively large company, there could be a hierarchy,...

.
5. supply ship? unknown Uncertain if existed. If it did, then probably scuttled and burnt along the way.


This list of captains is given in João de Barros
João de Barros
João de Barros , called the Portuguese Livy, is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his Décadas da Ásia , a history of the Portuguese in India and Asia.-Early years:...

's Décadas, Damião de Góis
Damião de Góis
Damiao de Góis , born in Alenquer, Portugal, was an important Portuguese humanist philosopher. He was a friend and student of Erasmus. He was appointed secretary to the Portuguese factory in Antwerp in 1523 by King John III of Portugal...

's Chronica, Castanheda
Fernão Lopes de Castanheda
Fernão Lopes de Castanheda was a Portuguese historian in the early Renaissance.His "History of the discovery and conquest of India", full of geographic and ethnographic objective information, was widely translated throughout Europe.- Life :Castanheda was the natural son of a royal officer, who...

's História, Couto
Diogo do Couto
Diogo de Couto was a portuguese historian.-Biography:He was born in Lisbon in 1542 and studied Latin and Rhetoric at Saint Antão College and philosophy at the convent at Benfica...

's list, Faria e Sousa
Manuel de Faria e Sousa
Manuel de Faria e Sousa was Portuguese historian and poet during the period of the Iberian Union, frequently writing in Spanish.right|thump|300px|Portrait of Manuel de Faria e Sousa in Ásia portuguesa...

's Asia and Quintella's Annaes. Barbosa is replaced by a certain "Fernão Pacheco" in the lists given by Gaspar Correia
Gaspar Correia
Gaspar Correia or Gaspar Corrêa was a Portuguese historian, author of "Lendas da Índia , one of the earliest and most important works about Portuguese rule in Asia, being referred to as a Portuguese Polybius.- Biography :There is little information about the life of the author...

's Lendas and the Relação das Naus. The Livro de Lisuarte de Abreu replaces Novais and Barbosa with Rui de Abreu and Duarte Pacheco
Duarte Pacheco Pereira
Duarte Pacheco Pereira, called the Great, was a 15th century Portuguese sea captain, soldier, explorer and cartographer. He travelled particularly in the central Atlantic Ocean west of the Cape Verde islands, along the coast of West Africa and to India...

 (!).)


This modest armada carried 350-400 men, only 80 of which were armed. The admiral was João da Nova
João da Nova
João da Nova , Xoán de Novoa or Joam de Nôvoa galician spellings, Juan de Nova, Spanish spelling, was a Galician explorer of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the service of Portugal...

, a Galician-born minor noble, alcaide
Alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

 pequeno of Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, whose principal recommendation was probably his connection to the powerful Portuguese nobleman Tristão da Cunha
Tristão da Cunha
Tristão da Cunha was a Portuguese explorer and naval commander. In 1514 he served as ambassador from king Manuel I of Portugal to Pope Leo X leading a luxurious embassy presenting in Rome the new conquests of Portugal...

.
The owners of the two private ships, D. Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza was the 4th son of Ferdinand I, 2nd Duke of Braganza and his wife, Dona Joana de Castro.-Biography:...

 and the Florentine Bartolomeo Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni was a Florentine merchant established in Lisbon during the Age of Discovery.Bartolomeo Marchionni arrived circa 1468 at Lisbon as an agent to the Cambini. In a long career he become the most successful merchant and one of the richest men in Lisbon at the time...

, happened to have jointly outfitted the Anunciada, one of the ships of the Second India Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

 of Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

 that was still out at sea at the time. It was a considerable gamble for these private entities to outfit new ships before knowing the results of their previous enterprise. As it happens, the Anunciada would return safely to Lisbon later that same year, with a splendid cargo of spices.

One of the passengers on the fleet was Paio Rodrigues, an employee of D. Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza was the 4th son of Ferdinand I, 2nd Duke of Braganza and his wife, Dona Joana de Castro.-Biography:...

, who was under instructions to remain as a factor
Factor (agent)
A factor, from the Latin "he who does" , is a person who professionally acts as the representative of another individual or other legal entity, historically with his seat at a factory , notably in the following contexts:-Mercantile factor:In a relatively large company, there could be a hierarchy,...

 in India, not for the crown but for the private consortium. Another was Álvaro de Braga, a crown factor designated for Sofala
Sofala
Sofala, at present known as Nova Sofala, used to be the chief seaport of the Monomotapa Kingdom, whose capital was at Mount Fura. It is located on the Sofala Bank in Sofala Province of Mozambique.-History:...

.

The Mission


The objective of the Third Armada was wholly commercial. Their mission was to go to India, load up with spices, and return home. It was expected to be uneventful.

Their destination was Calicut (Calecute, Kozhikode), the principal spice entrepôt in Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 and dominant city-state on the Malabar coast
Malabar Coast
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain...

 of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. The Third Armada expected - or hoped - that the well-equipped Second India Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

 of Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

, that had departed the previous year (1500), had succeeded in its ambassadorial mission to secure a treaty with Calicut and set up a factory
Factory (trading post)
Factory was the English term for the trading posts system originally established by Europeans in foreign territories, first within different states of medieval Europe, and later in their colonial possessions...

 (feitoria) there. What they could not have guessed before their departure, of course, was that Cabral's Second Armada had not only failed in that mission, they had opened hostilities between Portugal and Calicut. João da Nova's little Third Armada was sailing into a war it did not expect and was not equipped for.

The Third Armada seems to also have expected to put in at Sofala
Sofala
Sofala, at present known as Nova Sofala, used to be the chief seaport of the Monomotapa Kingdom, whose capital was at Mount Fura. It is located on the Sofala Bank in Sofala Province of Mozambique.-History:...

, where Cabral had also been instructed to set up a factory
Factory (trading post)
Factory was the English term for the trading posts system originally established by Europeans in foreign territories, first within different states of medieval Europe, and later in their colonial possessions...

. According to Correia, the crown ship of Francisco de Novais was designated to go to trade for gold in Sofala and drop off the factor
Factor (agent)
A factor, from the Latin "he who does" , is a person who professionally acts as the representative of another individual or other legal entity, historically with his seat at a factory , notably in the following contexts:-Mercantile factor:In a relatively large company, there could be a hierarchy,...

 Álvaro de Braga, the clerk Diogo Barbosa (same name as captain) and an additional twenty-two men. In any case, Cabral's Second Armada had fumbled that mission too - there was no Portuguese factory in Sofala.

Unfortunately, the Third Armada could not have delayed its departure until the arrival of the news of the Second Armada. The seasonal monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 wind patterns of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 imposed the requirement that that India-bound expeditions must leave Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 by April at the latest, if they were to have any hope of catching the summer southeasterly winds from Africa to India. Unfortunately, those same wind patterns determined that return fleets would only arrive in Europe in the summer, June at the earliest. Although the difference between one fleet's departure and another fleet's arrival was only a matter of a couple of months, outbound fleets could not delay their departure until the previous year's fleet returned, or else an entire year would be lost.

It is for this reason that both the crown and the private consortium's were willing to equip and launch the Third Armada in March, 1501 before they had received any news of the outcome of the Second Armada, the earliest ship of which only arrived in late June.

Nova's Third Armada would learn of the turn of events along the way from notes and letters left by Cabral's ships at African staging posts. But there was no question of returning home to pick up reinforcements. The lightly armed Third Armada would have to press on, sneak into India stealthily, avoid Calicut, load up at the friendly ports, and slip away as quickly as possible.

The Outward Voyage


March 5, 1501 - The Third Armada of João da Nova
João da Nova
João da Nova , Xoán de Novoa or Joam de Nôvoa galician spellings, Juan de Nova, Spanish spelling, was a Galician explorer of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the service of Portugal...

, composed of four ships (possibly five, if accompanied by a supply ship) sets out from Lisbon. (alternative date of April 10 has also been suggested.

May, 1501 - According to Correia (but not the other chroniclers), following the instructions given by Gaspar de Lemos
Gaspar de Lemos
Gaspar de Lemos , Portuguese explorer and captain of the supply ship of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet that discovered Brazil. Sent back to Portugal with news of their discovery, he was credited by the Viscount of Santarém as having discovered the Fernando de Noronha archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean....

/André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves , Portuguese explorer that accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral in the discovery of Brazil. Gonçalves was one of Cabral's captains of the fleet. According to some sources he was sent back to Lisbon with important news and not Gaspar de Lemos ....

 (the captain of the ship that had returned from Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 the previous year) João da Nova's expedition strikes southwest and makes a brief watering stop at Cape St. Augustine
Cabo de Santo Agostinho
Cabo de Santo Agostinho is 35 km south of the city of Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Although the official Portuguese discovery of Brazil was by Pedro Cabral on April 21, 1500, some historians believe that Vicente Yáñez Pinzón already had set anchor in a bay in Cabo de Santo Agostinho on January...

 (northeast Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

), before heading on towards southern Africa.

May 1501 - Discovery of Ascension Island (?) According to chroniclers Barros and Gois (but not Correia), proceeding in the South Atlantic, João da Nova sighted the south Atlantic Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

 which he names Ilha da Conceição ("Conception Island", it was only named ilha da Ascensção in 1503, when it was re-discovered by Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

. However, see discussion below.)

July 7, 1501 - After crossing the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 without known incident, João da Nova's fleet anchors at Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay is a harbour town of about 130,000 people on the Southern Cape of South Africa. It is an important tourism and farming region of the Western Cape Province...

 (Aguada de São Brás). There, in a shoe by the watering hole, Nova finds the note left a month or so earlier by Pêro de Ataíde
Pêro de Ataíde
Pêro de Ataíde or Pedro d'Ataíde , nicknamed O Inferno , was a Portuguese sea captain in the Indian Ocean active in the early 1500s...

, one of the captains of the returning Second Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

. Ataíde's note warns all captains bound for India that Calicut is now hostile to the Portuguese, but that Cochin and Cannanore
Kannur
Kannur , also known as Cannanore, is a city in Kannur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur and 518km north of state capital Trivandrum. During British rule in India, Kannur was known by its old name Cannanore, which is still in...

 are friendly ports where spices may be procured. They are also informed that captains bound for India should go by way of Malindi
Malindi
Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi is 117,735 . It is the capital of the Malindi District.Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The city is...

 where they will find letters from Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

 held by a Portuguese degradado, which contain more detailed information. (The milkwood tree where Ataíde hung his shoe was declared a national monument in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and a shoe-shaped postbox erected below it).

mid-July, 1501 - The Third Armada arrives at Mozambique Island. Discarding his instructions, Nova decides against dispatching Novais's ship to Sofala. Contemplating the new hostile state of affairs in India, Nova probably concluded he decided that he needs to take all the men he had in case of a military engagement in India. He sets sail up the East African coast soon after. It is possibly now that Nova discovers what has since been called Juan de Nova Island
Juan de Nova Island
Juan de Nova Island is a low, flat, tropical island in the narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, about one-third of the way between Madagascar and Mozambique at...

  in the Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between the island nation of Madagascar and southeast Africa, primarily the country of Mozambique. It was a World War II clashpoint during the Battle of Madagascar...

 and possibly also the Farquhar atoll
Farquhar Group
The Farquhar Group belong to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, lying in the southwest of the island nation, more than 700 kilometres southwest the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. The total land area of all islands in the group is less than 11 km², but the total area of the atolls measures...

 (part of the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

, were also named 'João da Nova islands' until the 19th C.)

mid-July, 1501 - Climbing up the coast, the Third Armada arrives at the Swahili citadel of Kilwa
Kilwa Kisiwani
Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an island off the coast of East Africa, in present day Tanzania.- History :A document written around AD 1200 called al-Maqama al Kilwiyya discovered in Oman, gives details of a mission to reconvert Kilwa to Ibadism, as it had recently been effected by the Ghurabiyya...

 (Quiloa). They are greeted on the beach (or on a rowboat) by a Portuguese degredado
Degredado
A degredado is the traditionalPortuguese term for a convict exile, esp. in 15th-18th C.The term degredado is a traditional Portuguese legal term used to refer to anyone who was subject to legal restrictions on their movement, speech or labor. Exile is only one of several forms of legal impairment...

 (António Fernandes, carrying Cabral's letters, according to Barros and Gois; Pero Esteves, with no letters, according to Correia) Fernandes/Esteves informs Nova of the state of affairs in Kilwa. Barros suggests that, on this occasion, João da Nova might have personally met Muhammad Arcone, a Kilwan noble who would later play a critical role in Portuguese-Kilwan affairs. But Correia notes Nova was wary of approaching Kilwa, and refused to go ashore, despite repeated invitations; he had the degredado negotiate the provision of some supplies (probably citrus fruit) from the city for his scurvy
Scurvy
Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. The chemical name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus, which also provides the adjective scorbutic...

-sick crews, and hurriedly moved on.

Late July 1501 - Barros suggests that after leaving Kilwa, the Third Armada immediately set sail for India. But Correia claims Nova sailed first to Malindi
Malindi
Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi is 117,735 . It is the capital of the Malindi District.Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The city is...

, to deliver a letter from King Manuel I of Portugal to the Sultan of Malindi. The sultan of Malindi receives the Portuguese well, supplying them amply with biscuit, rice, butter, chickens, sheep and other foodstuffs. Correia claims that it is now that Nova picks up the letters that Cabral had dispatched by messenger from Mozambique, and learns more of the details of the falling out with the Zamorin of Calicut, the Portuguese factory at Cochin and the friendly relations with Cannanore
Kannur
Kannur , also known as Cannanore, is a city in Kannur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur and 518km north of state capital Trivandrum. During British rule in India, Kannur was known by its old name Cannanore, which is still in...

 and Quilon
Quilon
Quilon may refer to,* Venad, a former state on Malabar Coast, India* Kollam , Kerala state, India* Kollam district, Kerala state...

.

July 28, 1502 - The Third Armada leaves Malindi and sets across its Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 crossing. Catching the favorable monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 winds, the journey will take eighteen days (according to Correia.)

Nova in India



August, 1501 - João da Nova's Third Armada alights in India, at Santa Maria islands off the Malabar coast
Malabar Coast
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain...

 (according to Correia, so named at this time because of the feast of the Assumption of Mary
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

 (August 15).

What ensues varies in the chronicles. Barros suggest he immediately began making his way down the Indian coast towards Kerala, but Correia suggests he stopped by the port of Batecala (Bhatkhal), then the principal trade port of the Vijayanagara Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

 and lingered there, engaging in some trade with a variety of merchants in the harbors, and chasing down some pirates in Onor (Honnavar). The Third Armada eventually begins making its way down the Indian coast towards Kerala, capturing two merchant ships (allegedly from Calicut) near Mount d'Eli
Ezhimala Hill
Ezhimala , a hill reaching a height of 286 metres, is located in Kannur District of Kerala, South India. As the former capital of the ancient Mushika Kingdom, it is considered to be an important historical site. It is a conspicuous, isolated cluster of hills, forming a promontory 38 km north...

 along the way.

The two-month delay between the Third Armada's reputed arrival in India (August) and their first recorded activities in India (November) is unusual and been subject to some speculation. As suggested by Correia, they Third Armada seems to have simply lingered in the area between Batecala and Mount d'Eli,to do some trading and maybe some piracy too, before heading south to Cannanore.

On the other hand, it has been hypothesized that during this interlude, Nova might have launched some exploratory ventures in the area during, in particular taken a wide swing far south, below Cape Comorin, to see if he could locate the fabled island of 'Taprobana
Taprobana
Taprobana was the historical name of an island in the Indian Ocean. It was first reported to Europeans by the Greek geographer Megasthenes around 290 BC, and was taken up by Ptolemy...

' (Ceylon), the world's main source of cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

 (see below.)

Fall, 1501 - The Third Armada arrives in Cannanore
Kannur
Kannur , also known as Cannanore, is a city in Kannur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur and 518km north of state capital Trivandrum. During British rule in India, Kannur was known by its old name Cannanore, which is still in...

 (Cananor, Kannur). They are well-received by the Kolathiri
Kolathiri
Kolathiri or Kolathiri Rājā was the title by which the senior most male along the matilinial line of the Mushika or Kolathunādu Royal Family was styled...

 Raja of Cannanore, who immediately urges João da Nova to load up his ships with spices from that city's markets. Nova side-steps the offer courteously, noting that he must first collect the supplies already acquired by the Portuguese factory in Cochin (Cochim, Kochi). Nonetheless, before setting off, Nova drops off a few agents, with instructions to initiate arrangements to purchase spices (principally ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

 and cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

) in the Cannanore markets, to be picked up later.

It is sometimes said that Nova established the Portuguese factory
Factory (trading post)
Factory was the English term for the trading posts system originally established by Europeans in foreign territories, first within different states of medieval Europe, and later in their colonial possessions...

 in Cannanore at this point. But the factor he left behind was Paio Rodrigues, a private agent of D. Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza
Álvaro of Braganza was the 4th son of Ferdinand I, 2nd Duke of Braganza and his wife, Dona Joana de Castro.-Biography:...

 and the Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni
Bartolomeo Marchionni was a Florentine merchant established in Lisbon during the Age of Discovery.Bartolomeo Marchionni arrived circa 1468 at Lisbon as an agent to the Cambini. In a long career he become the most successful merchant and one of the richest men in Lisbon at the time...

 consortium, not an employee of the Casa da India
Casa da Índia
Casa da Índia was the Portuguese organization that managed all overseas territories during the heyday of the Portuguese Empire in the 16th century. It was both the central authority for managing all aspects of overseas trade, the central shipment point and clearing house...

 (the crown trading house). The Casa (and thus the Portuguese Crown) would only install a factor in Cannanore on the next expedition (4th Armada
4th Portuguese India Armada (Gama, 1502)
The Fourth India Armada was assembled in 1502 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of D. Vasco da Gama. It was Gama's second trip to India...

).

On the way to Cochin, Nova pounces on three merchant ships, including one owned by the Zamorin himself, at the mouth of Calicut harbor, seizing their cargoes and burning the vessels in plain view of the city. Some valuable silver Indian nautical instruments and navigational charts were among the loot seized from these ships.

Arriving in Cochin, João da Nova encounters the factor left behind by Cabral, Gonçalo Gil Barbosa. Barbosa reports trading difficulties in the local markets. Indian spice merchants require payment in cash (silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 principally), but Cabral had left him only with a stock of Portuguese goods (cloth mainly), expecting him to use the revenues from their sale to buy up the spices. But European goods have little vent in Indian markets, and Barbosa was still saddled with his unsold stock, unable to raise the cash to buy the spices. Barbosa seems to suspect that the Arab merchants guild has engineered a boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

 of Portuguese goods on Indian markets. He also reports that the Raja Trimumpara of Cochin, despite his alliance and protection of the factory, is in fact infuriated at the Portuguese because Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

's Second Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

 had departed so suddenly (without cordialities and taking two noble Cochinese hostages with them).

The lack of silver cash seems to be the pressing problem that Nova did not anticipate. He certainly did not bring much cash with him, having also expected to sell Portuguese goods in India to raise it.

Nova immediately sets sail back to Cannanore, to see if the agents he left there had any more success, but they are facing much the same problem - Portuguese merchandise is going unsold, and the spice merchants are demanding payment in silver. The Third Armada's mission is on the verge of failure, when the Kolathiri
Kolathiri
Kolathiri or Kolathiri Rājā was the title by which the senior most male along the matilinial line of the Mushika or Kolathunādu Royal Family was styled...

 Raja of Cannanore intervenes, and places himself as security for the sale of spices to the Portuguese on credit. This breaks the deadlock and allows the Portuguese to finally load up on the spice markets.

Discovery of Ceylon?


In 1898, excavations underneath the Breakwater Office in Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, revealed a boulder with a Portuguese inscription, a coat of arms, alongside the clearly denoted date 1501 (see Report, 1899) - that is, four years before Lourenço de Almeida
Lourenço de Almeida
Lourenço de Almeida , son of Francisco de Almeida, acting under him, distinguished himself in the Indian Ocean, and made Ceylon tributary to Portugal...

's arrival on the island, the formal date (1505) of the Portuguese discovery of Ceylon. Much speculation has surrounded this mysterious inscription. At first, it was speculated to have been an uncompleted gravestone for a Portuguese captain born in 1501 (death date missing), but the arms and style of the inscription has all the trappings of a Portuguese padrão
Padrão
A padrão was a large stone cross inscribed with the coat of arms of Portugal that was placed as part of a land claim by numerous Portuguese explorers during the Portuguese Age of Discovery...

, the typical marker of a Portuguese claim. Some argue the date is simply a mistake, or that the "1" in 1501 is simply some other poorly carved digit. Another possibility is that it is not a number at all, but an acronym, ISOI (Iesus Salvator Orientalium Indicorum - 'Jesus the Savior of the East Indies')

Nonetheless, some historians (notably, Bouchon, 1980) have argued that the inscription was probably made by a captain of the Third Armada of 1501. Alas, there is no written record or chronicle suggesting that the Third Armada stumbled upon Ceylon. On the other hand, the activities of the Third Armada as a whole are poorly recorded, so it is not out of the question either.

If the Third Armada did stumble upon Ceylon, when might such a jaunt have happened? The most obvious possibility is sometime during the two month gap (already mentioned above) - that is sometime between the departure from Africa (August 1501) and arrival in Cannanore (November).

Bouchon (1980) speculates it was an exploratory venture launched from Angediva/Santa Maria. However, that would mean Nova went south along the Indian coast and doubled back north, without stopping at the Portuguese factory in Cochin on either leg. This is unlikely, as there was really nothing back in Angediva/Santa Maria to return to. Moreover, one of the captains of the Third Armada, Diogo Barbosa, happened to be the uncle of the Cochin factor Gonçalo Gil Barbosa, and would likely have been anxious to stop by as soon as possible.

An alternative possibility is that Third Armada struck too far south at the crossing to begin with, missing the Indian coast entirely, and ended up at Ceylon directly (whether by accident or intention). Being forced to take a wide swing northwest to get to India, landing at Santa Maria/Angediva on their second try, might be a better explanation for the long interlude.

Finally, there is the possibility, also suggested by Bouchon (1980: p. 257) that the journey to Ceylon was later - specifically, sometime in late November/early December 1501. That is, after realizing the cash constraint problem in Cochin, Nova did not immediately return to Cannanore, but he (or one of his captains) undertook a journey to Ceylon, probably guided by a local pilot, hoping that the Portuguese merchandise would have better success there.

Nonetheless, none of this is confirmed or suggested in any written accounts. The mysterious inscription on the boulder in Colombo is really all there is to go on.

Naval Battle of Cannanore


Late December 1501 – Having loaded up with the spices he could get on credit in Cannanore (plus whatever cargoes he managed to steal by piratical attacks on Malabari ships), João da Nova makes preparations to leave India.

December 31, 1501 - As he is about to set out of Cannanore, João da Nova's Third Armada is cornered in the bay by a fleet dispatched by the Zamorin of Calicut, composed of nearly forty large ships, plus some 180 small paraus and zambuks, an estimated armed Malabari force of 7,000 men.

The Raja of Cannanore urges João da Nova to stay under his protection and avoid a fight. But Nova, noticing the landside breeze in his favor, decides to attempt a break-out. After a few rounds of cannon open a little hole in the Calicut line, Nova orders his four ships into a column formation and charges through it, cannon blasting on either side. The powerful Portuguese cannonades and carracks' height foil Malibari attempts to throw grappling hooks and board the Portuguese quartet. As the Portuguese column continues out to sea, Nova continues firing his cannon relentlessly at his pursuers. The Calicut fleet, less seaworthy, begins to splinter and lag behind. As the Third Armada pulls away, the prospect of a grapple dims, and the battle is limited to a ranged artillery duel. The Malabari ships quickly realize their Indian cannon cannot match the range and speed of reloading of the Portuguese cannon, and begin to turn away. At this point, Nova gives a brief chase, before finally breaking up the engagement on January 2, 1502.

On the whole, after two days of fighting, the Third Armada had sunk five large ships and about a dozen oar-driven boats. But they inflicted a great deal of damage on the remaining Malabari vessels, while sustaining very little damage themselves.

Although João da Nova had not come prepared for a fight, the two-day naval battle off Cannanore was the perhaps the first significant Portuguese naval engagement in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. It was not the first clash between Portuguese and Indian ships - Gama's First Armada and Cabral's Second Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

 had their share. But earlier encounters had been largely with poorly armed merchant ships, scrawny pirates and isolated squads, targets a single, well-armed fighting caravel
Caravel
A caravel is a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The lateen sails gave her speed and the capacity for sailing to windward...

 could see off without much difficulty. This time, the Zamorin of Calicut had attacked directly, stretching his sinews to deploy the best his navy could offer against a small group of relatively lightly armed Portuguese merchant carracks. The results were disheartening to the Malabari sea-king.

The Battle of Cannanore made abundantly clear the great disparity between European and Indian technology in ship design and artillery - a gap that, in subsequent years, the Portuguese would repeatedly exploit and the Zamorin of Calicut was desperate to close. To nullify the Portuguese naval superiority, the Zamorin would have to stick to land or look abroad - to the Arabs, the Turks and Venetians.

The battle is also historically notable for being one of the earliest recorded deliberate uses of a naval column
Column (formation)
A military column is a formation of soldiers marching together in one or more files in which the file is significantly longer than the width of ranks in the formation...

, and for resolving the battle by cannon alone. These tactics would become increasingly prevalent as navies evolved and began to see ships less as carriers of armed men, and more as floating artillery. In that respect, this has been called the first 'modern' naval battle (at least for one side).

Return Voyage


Early 1502 - Before finally undertaking his ocean crossing, the Third Armada captured one last ship, a Calicut merchant ship off Mount d'Eli, which after sacking, they burnt and sunk. On the return journey, the Third Armada made two watering stops in East Africa - first at Malindi
Malindi
Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. It is 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa. The population of Malindi is 117,735 . It is the capital of the Malindi District.Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The city is...

 (where he dropped off some letters, that would be picked up later that year by Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes or Tomé Lopes was a Portuguese scrivener, writer of an eyewitness account of the second journey of Vasco da Gama to India .Thomé Lopes's background is obscure...

), the second at Mozambique Island.


May 21, 1502 Discovery of St. Helena - After turning the Cape of Good Hope, João da Nova sails into the south Atlantic Ocean and discovers the uninhabited island of Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

 along the way. It is believed to be named after saintly empress, who's day it was. Legendarily, Nova anchors on the western side of the island and builds a timber chapel on the location of what will become future Jamestown
Jamestown, Saint Helena
Jamestown is the capital and historic chief settlement of the island of Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Located on the island's north-western coast, it is the island's port, with facilities for unloading goods delivered to the island, and the centre of the island's road and...

. Although Saint Helena will become a routine staging post on future India runs
Portuguese India Armadas
The Portuguese India armadas were the fleets of ships, organized by the Portuguese crown and dispatched on an annual basis from Portugal to India, principally Goa...

, the island's existence and location will remain a Portuguese secret for the next eighty years (until stumbled upon by English captain Sir Thomas Cavendish
Thomas Cavendish
Sir Thomas Cavendish was an English explorer and a privateer known as "The Navigator" because he was the first who deliberately tried to emulate Sir Francis Drake and raid the Spanish towns and ships in the Pacific and return by circumnavigating the globe...

 in 1588).

September 11, 1502 - João da Nova's Third Armada arrives in Lisbon. According to the letters by Italian merchants in Lisbon, the Third Armada had brought back 900 cantari (quintal
Quintal
Quintal may refer to:* Quintal , a unit of mass* Quartal and quintal harmony in music* Quintal, Haute-Savoie, a commune of the Haute-Savoie département in France* Stéphane Quintal, NHL ice hockey player...

s) of black pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

, 550 of cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, 30 of ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

, 25 of lac
Lac
Lac is the scarlet resinous secretion of a number of species of insects, namely some of the species of the genera Metatachardia, Laccifer, Tachordiella, Austrotacharidia, Afrotachardina, and Tachardina of the superfamily Coccoidea, of which the most commonly cultivated species is Kerria lacca.The...

, and other assorted goods. The sizeable proportion of cinnamon lends some support to the idea that the armada had visited Ceylon, although it was not unusual to find it on Indian markets. Doubtlessly a good amount of this came also from seized cargos on Malabari and Arab vessels.

Aftermath


The expedition of the Third Armada had not been a resounding success. Although there was no significant loss of ships or men, they came back with less spices than anticipated (letters insinuate that cargo holds came back partially empty) and they had failed to trade for gold in Africa. The report of the cash constraint in India and their reliance on piracy to fill their holds disheartened Lisbon merchants who thought they could make easy profits on both legs of the India run.

On the plus side, the Third Armada's discovery of Ascension and St. Helena islands was welcome, and the latter in particular was to be subsequently used as a staging post on the Atlantic crossing.

All this information was supplied too late to influence Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

's heavily-armed 4th India Armada
4th Portuguese India Armada (Gama, 1502)
The Fourth India Armada was assembled in 1502 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of D. Vasco da Gama. It was Gama's second trip to India...

, which had already left Lisbon.

Revision of discovery of Ascension and St. Helena


It is customary to credit João da Nova's Third Armada for discovering Ascension island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

 (albeit naming it "Conception Island") on his outward journey in May, 1501, and St. Helena island on his return journey in May 21, 1502. This is principally due to the chroniclers João de Barros
João de Barros
João de Barros , called the Portuguese Livy, is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his Décadas da Ásia , a history of the Portuguese in India and Asia.-Early years:...

 and Damião de Góis
Damião de Góis
Damiao de Góis , born in Alenquer, Portugal, was an important Portuguese humanist philosopher. He was a friend and student of Erasmus. He was appointed secretary to the Portuguese factory in Antwerp in 1523 by King John III of Portugal...

.

Barros and Gois later suggest that Ascension island was re-discovered by Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

's outgoing Fifth Armada
5th Portuguese India Armada (Albuquerque, 1503)
The Fifth India Armada was assembled in 1503 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque. It was Albuquerque's first trip to India. It was not a particularly successful armada - navigational mistakes scattered the fleet on the outward journey...

 on May 20, 1503 and renamed ilha da Ascensção), and that St. Helena was rediscovered by a returning squadron of Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

's 4th Armada
4th Portuguese India Armada (Gama, 1502)
The Fourth India Armada was assembled in 1502 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of D. Vasco da Gama. It was Gama's second trip to India...

 in the Spring of 1503 (the date is given as July 30, 1503 by eyewitness Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes or Tomé Lopes was a Portuguese scrivener, writer of an eyewitness account of the second journey of Vasco da Gama to India .Thomé Lopes's background is obscure...

).

Nonetheless, there are some problematic anomalies with this account which suggests some likelihood that Barros and Gois may have been mistaken, and has led modern historians to consider alternative accounts of the discovery of Ascension and St. Helena.

Firstly, in the liturgical calendar, the Feast of Conception
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on 8 December, nine months before the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on 8 September. It is the patronal feast day of the United States and the Republic of the...

 is on December 8, while the Feast of the Ascension
Feast of the Ascension
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is one of the great solemnities, in the Christian liturgical calendar, and commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day from Easter day...

 landed on May 20 in 1501. The latter fits the timing of the Third Armada better. That is, if Nova did indeed find Ascension island on the outward journey, he would be unlikely to have named it "Conception island" and more likely to have named it "Ascension" from the start.

Secondly, the Cantino planisphere
Cantino planisphere
The Cantino planisphere is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese Discoveries in the east and west. It is named after Alberto Cantino, an agent for the Duke of Ferrara, who successfully smuggled it from Portugal to Italy in 1502...

, composed in late 1502 (after Nova returned, but before Albuquerque left) already denotes an ilha achada e chamada ascenssam ("island found and called Ascension"), but depicts no St. Helena. This disparity is reinforced by Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes or Tomé Lopes was a Portuguese scrivener, writer of an eyewitness account of the second journey of Vasco da Gama to India .Thomé Lopes's background is obscure...

, an eyewitness on the returning 4th Armada, who stumbled on St. Helena on July 30, 1503, calling it an "unknown island", and gave its position as 200 leagues away from "Ascension island" (which he refers to by that name).) (Note: the 4th Armada left Portugal before Nova returned).

Because of these anomalies, historian Duarte Leite
Duarte Leite
Duarte Leite Pereira da Silva, GCC Duarte Leite Pereira da Silva, GCC Duarte Leite Pereira da Silva, GCC (Porto, 11 August 1864 - Porto, 29 September 1950; , was a Portuguese historian, mathematician, journalist, diplomat and politician. He graduated in Mathematics at the University of Coimbra, in...

 has discarded Barros and Gois' version, and concluded Nova discovered and named Ascension island on the outgoing voyage on May 20, 1501, but did not discover St. Helena on the return.

This resolution, however, remains doubtful. In particular, there is yet another anomaly - namely, that it would have been nautically bizarre for Nova, on his outgoing journey, to sail from Cape St. Augustine in Brazil to Ascension island, as it implies Nova was sailing directly against the winds and currents, when the usual route to the Cape of Good Hope was to follow the South Atlantic gyre
South Atlantic Gyre
The South Atlantic Gyre is the southern branch of the subtropical gyre in the south Atlantic. This gyre is heavily influenced by northwesterly winds that drive a broad eastward drift, which makes it difficult to distinguish between the northern boundary of the subtropical gyre and the southern...

 (i.e. bearing south parallel to the Brazilian coast until the Tropic of Capricorn
Tropic of Capricorn
The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, marks the most southerly latitude on the Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This event occurs at the December solstice, when the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun to its maximum extent.Tropic of Capricorn is one of the five...

, to catch the Westerlies
Westerlies
The Westerlies, anti-trades, or Prevailing Westerlies, are the prevailing winds in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, blowing from the high pressure area in the horse latitudes towards the poles. These prevailing winds blow from the west to the east, and steer extratropical...

). On the basis of this, Roukema has proposed that Nova did discover Ascension island, but not on his outgoing voyage, but rather on his return voyage, that is, on May 5, 1502 (when the Ascension day landed in 1502). That this (and not St. Helena) is the island discovered on the return fits better with the winds and trajectory, and helps explain why St. Helena goes unmentioned in the Cantino planisphere. (N.B. - Neither Barros nor Gois suggest Nova stopped in Brazil; this is due solely to Gaspar Correia, who in turn does not report Nova finding any island on the outgoing voyage; so Roukema's insistence that the Third Armada would not have sailed from Brazil to Ascension rests on conflating separate and conflicting chronicles.)

Nonetheless, Roukema agrees that Barros and Gois read reports that Nova discovered some island on his outgoing journey, and conjecture that this was probably the Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is a remote volcanic group of islands in the south Atlantic Ocean and the main island of that group. It is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying from the nearest land, South Africa, and from South America...

 group in the South Atlantic (particularly as Ascension island is shown in the 1502 Cantino planisphere as part of a "group" of islands it calls ilhas tebes, while in reality, Ascension island is solitary). Because Ascension day landed on May 20 in 1501 and St. Helen's day is May 21, this one day difference may have been the source of confusion of the names in the records, particularly as the return island was indeed discovered on Ascension day. In short, Roukema hypothesizes that Nova discovered and reported the Tristan da Cunha group on the outgoing voyage on May 21, 1501 and called it "St. Helena", and that he discovered Ascension island on the return voyage on May 5, 1502, and called it "Ascension island". But because of the dates, Ascension and the Tristan da Cunha group ("ilhas tebes") were conflated together (as on the Cantino map), with the name St. Helena hovering in and out of the reports, misleading Barros and Gois.

There remain a couple of loose ends. What is Conception island? This has to be a mistake - Nova was in India in December, and there is simply no way of reconciling that with the liturgical calendar. The second question is how did Thomé Lopes know the name "Ascension island" in July 1503, if his ship left Lisbon before Nova returned? A possible resolution to the latter is that Lopes reports coming across the outgoing ships of the 5th Armada of Albuquerque around the Cape of Good Hope in early July 1503. The 5th Armada would have had this information.

Finally, accepting this revision opens the question of who discovered St. Helena proper and when? It is common to cite Estêvão da Gama
Estêvão da Gama (c.1470)
Estêvão da Gama was a Portuguese navigator and explorer, discoverer of the Trindade and Martim Vaz islands .Estêvão da Gama was Vasco da Gama's cousin, son of his cousin Aires da Gama, as explained by Manuel de Faria e Sousa, in its work "Ásia Portuguesa"...

 (Vasco da Gama's cousin), on the returning fleet of the 4th Armada
4th Portuguese India Armada (Gama, 1502)
The Fourth India Armada was assembled in 1502 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of D. Vasco da Gama. It was Gama's second trip to India...

, in early 1503. But this is not exactly correct. The eyewitness account of Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes
Thomé Lopes or Tomé Lopes was a Portuguese scrivener, writer of an eyewitness account of the second journey of Vasco da Gama to India .Thomé Lopes's background is obscure...

 indicates clearly he landed on St. Helena on July 30, 1503. A reading of his account shows that, on St. Helen's day (May 21, 1503), almost all the ships of the 4th Armada (including Estêvão da Gama's ship, the Flor de la mar) were still stuck in Mozambique Island, with severe sailing problems. Vasco da Gama ordered ships off in small waves as they were repaired. Thomé Lopes reports that he departed Mozambique on June 16 with a trio of ships - his ship (commanded by Giovanni Buonagrazia), the Julioa (captained by Lopo Mendes de Vasconcellos) and the Leitoa Nova (captain uncertain, but probably Pedro Afonso de Aguiar, which carried another eyewitness, an anonymous Flemish sailor, who also confirms landing on a South Atlantic island on June 30 (sic)).) Two of these three ships (Buonagrazia's and Vasconcellos's) had indeed gone to India in 1502 as part of a squadron led by Estêvão da Gama
Estêvão da Gama (c.1470)
Estêvão da Gama was a Portuguese navigator and explorer, discoverer of the Trindade and Martim Vaz islands .Estêvão da Gama was Vasco da Gama's cousin, son of his cousin Aires da Gama, as explained by Manuel de Faria e Sousa, in its work "Ásia Portuguesa"...

, but they were returning in 1503 without him.

The date reported by Lopes - July 30, 1503 - is problematic, as there is no apparent reason to name it "St. Helena" - unless they lingered until August 18 (another possible feast date for St. Helen of Constantinople). Lopes doesn't report a departure date, but the Fleming reports they left August 1. The only other possibility is if St. Helena was first discovered by a different ship of the 4th armada (not the trio that carried Lopes, but another that preceded it in an earlier wave in May.)

This weakens the revised chronologies, and suggests that perhaps Barros and Gois may not have been as mistaken as historians have suggested. Nova's timeline seems adequate enough for the discovery of St. Helena on May 21, 1502.

Sources


Chronicles
  • João de Barros
    João de Barros
    João de Barros , called the Portuguese Livy, is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his Décadas da Ásia , a history of the Portuguese in India and Asia.-Early years:...

     (1552) Décadas da Ásia: Dos feitos, que os Portuguezes fizeram no descubrimento, e conquista, dos mares, e terras do Oriente., 1777–78 ed. Da Ásia de João de Barros e Diogo do Couto, Lisbon: Régia Officina Typografica. Vol. 1 (Dec I, Lib.1-5),

  • Diogo do Couto
    Diogo do Couto
    Diogo de Couto was a portuguese historian.-Biography:He was born in Lisbon in 1542 and studied Latin and Rhetoric at Saint Antão College and philosophy at the convent at Benfica...

     "De todas as Armadas que os Reys de Portugal mandáram à Índia, até que El-Rey D. Filippe succedeo nestes Reynos", de 1497 a 1581", in J. de Barros and D. de Couto, Décadas da Ásia Dec. X, Pt.1, Bk.1, c.16

  • Fernão Lopes de Castanheda
    Fernão Lopes de Castanheda
    Fernão Lopes de Castanheda was a Portuguese historian in the early Renaissance.His "History of the discovery and conquest of India", full of geographic and ethnographic objective information, was widely translated throughout Europe.- Life :Castanheda was the natural son of a royal officer, who...

     (1551–1560) História do descobrimento & conquista da Índia pelos portugueses (1833 edition, Lisbon: Typ. Rollandiana v.1

  • Gaspar Correia
    Gaspar Correia
    Gaspar Correia or Gaspar Corrêa was a Portuguese historian, author of "Lendas da Índia , one of the earliest and most important works about Portuguese rule in Asia, being referred to as a Portuguese Polybius.- Biography :There is little information about the life of the author...

     (c.1550s) Lendas da Índia, first pub. 1858-64, Lisbon: Academia Real de Sciencias Vol 1.

  • Damião de Góis
    Damião de Góis
    Damiao de Góis , born in Alenquer, Portugal, was an important Portuguese humanist philosopher. He was a friend and student of Erasmus. He was appointed secretary to the Portuguese factory in Antwerp in 1523 by King John III of Portugal...

     (1566–67) Chrónica do Felicíssimo Rei D. Manuel, da Gloriosa Memoria, Ha qual por mandado do Serenissimo Principe, ho Infante Dom Henrique seu Filho, ho Cardeal de Portugal, do Titulo dos Santos Quatro Coroados, Damiam de Goes collegio & compoz de novo. (As reprinted in 1749, Lisbon: M. Manescal da Costa) online

  • Relação das Náos e Armadas da India com os Sucessos dellas que se puderam Saber, para Noticia e Instrucção dos Curiozos, e Amantes da Historia da India (Codex Add. 20902 of the British Library), [D. António de Ataíde, orig. editor.] Transcribed and reprinted in 1985, by M.H. Maldonado, Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra. online


Secondary
  • Birch, W. de G. (1877) "Introduction" to translation of Afonso de Albuquerque
    Afonso de Albuquerque
    Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

     (1557) The Commentaries of the great Afonso Dalboquerque, second viceroy of India, 4 volumes, London: Hakluyt Society

  • Dames, M.L. (1918) "Introduction" in An Account Of The Countries Bordering On The Indian Ocean And Their Inhabitants, Vol. 1 (Engl. transl. of Livro de Duarte de Barbosa), 2005 reprint, New Delhi: Asian Education Services.

  • Bouchon, G. (1980) "A propos de l'inscription de Colombo (1501): quelques observations sur le premier voyage de João da Nova dans l'Océan Indien", Revista da Universidade de Coimbra, Vol. 28, p. 233-70. Offprint.

  • Danvers, Frederic Charles (1894) The Portuguese in India, being a history of the rise and decline of their eastern empire. Vol. 1 (1498–1571) London: Allen.

  • Diffie, B. W., and G. D. Winius (1977) Foundations of the Portuguese empire, 1415-1580, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press

  • Leite, Duarte (1960) História dos Descobrimentos, Vol. II Lisbon: Edições Cosmos

  • Mathew, K.S. (1997) "Indian Naval Encounters with the Portuguese: Strengths and weaknesses", in K.K.N. Kurup, editor, India's Naval Traditions, New Delhi: Northern Book Centre.

  • Quintella, Ignaco da Costa (1839) Annaes da Marinha Portugueza, v.1. Lisbon: Academia Real das Sciencias.

  • Radulet, Carmen M. (1985) "Girolamo Sergini e a Importância Económica do Oriente", Revista da Universidade de Coimbra, Vol. 32, p. 67-77. Offprint.

  • Report (1899) "Antiquarian Discovery Relating to the Portuguese in Ceylon", Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 16, p. 15-29 Online

  • Roukema, E. (1963) "Brazil in the Cantino Map", Imago Mundi, Vol. 17, p.7-26

  • Subrahmanyam, S. (1997) The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Smallman, D.K. (2003) Quincentenary: A Story of St Helena,1502-2002. Pezance, UK: Patten.