Fernão Mendes Pinto

Fernão Mendes Pinto

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Fernão Mendes Pinto (Montemor-o-Velho
Montemor-o-Velho
Montemor-o-Velho is a town and municipality of the Coimbra District, in Portugal. It has roughly 30,000 inhabitants.-Demographics:-Parishes:* Abrunheira* Arazede* Carapinheira* Ereira* Gatões* Liceia* Meãs do Campo* Montemor-o-Velho* Pereira...

, c. 1509 — Almada
Almada
Almada is a municipality in Portugal, covering an area of 70.2 km² located on the southern margin of the Tagus River. Its municipal population in 2008 was 164,844 inhabitants; the urbanized center had a population of 102,357.The seat is the city of Almada....

, Pragal
Pragal
Pragal is a Portuguese parish, located in the municipality of Almada. It has a population of 7,721 inhabitants and a total area of 2.21 km².It is one the six parishes in the city of Almada, along with Almada, Cacilhas, Cova da Piedade, Feijó and Laranjeiro.Overlooking the Tagus river and the...

, 8 July 1583) was a Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 explorer and writer. His exploits are known through the posthumous publication of his memoir Pilgrimage in 1614, an autobiographical
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 work whose truthfulness is nearly impossible to assess. In the course of his travels in the Middle
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

, Pinto visited Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 (where he claimed to have been a forced laborer on the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

), 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...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. He claimed to have been among the first group of Europeans to visit Japan and initiate the Nanban trade period. He also claimed to have introduced the gun
Gun
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

 there in 1543. It is known that he funded the first Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 church in Japan, after befriending a Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 and founding member of the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 later known as St Francis Xavier. At one time Pinto himself was a Jesuit, though he later left the order.

Pilgrimage shows Pinto as sharply critical of Portuguese colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 in the Far East, recording moral and religious objections to what he perceived to be a hypocritical and greedy enterprise disguised as a religious mission. This view later became common, but was unusual at the time. The vivid tales of his wanderings over twenty years – he wrote, for example, that he was "thirteen times made captive and seventeen times sold" – were so unusual that they were mostly not believed. They gave rise to the saying "Fernão, Mentes? Minto!", a Portuguese pun
Pun
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic,...

 on his name meaning "Fernão, do you lie? Yes, I lie!".

Early life


Fernão Mendes Pinto was born in Montemor-o-Velho
Montemor-o-Velho
Montemor-o-Velho is a town and municipality of the Coimbra District, in Portugal. It has roughly 30,000 inhabitants.-Demographics:-Parishes:* Abrunheira* Arazede* Carapinheira* Ereira* Gatões* Liceia* Meãs do Campo* Montemor-o-Velho* Pereira...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, circa 1509, to a poor rural family. He had at least two brothers and at least two sisters. His brother Álvaro was present at Malacca in 1551 and other letters reveal that a brother suffered martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

dom in Malacca. It is also known that Pinto had a wealthy cousin, Francisco García de Vargas who was present at Cochin in 1557. Pinto departed for 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...

 in 1521, where he served George, Duke of Coimbra
George, Duke of Coimbra
Jorge de Lencastre was a Portuguese Prince, illegitimate son of King John II of Portugal and Ana de Mendonça, a maid of Joanna la Beltraneja. He became the second Duke of Coimbra in 1509...

 (the illegitimate son of King John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

). Two years later Pinto set out for Setúbal
Setúbal
Setúbal is the main city in Setúbal Municipality in Portugal with a total area of 172.0 km² and a total population of 118,696 inhabitants in the municipality. The city proper has 89,303 inhabitants....

, a short distance down the coast from Lisbon, to work for nobleman Francisco de Faria, but his ship was attacked by French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 pirates who abandoned the crew and passengers on a beach in Alentejo.

Voyages


Pinto's travels can be divided into three phases: a) his initial voyages from Portugal to India, in which he attempted to join Portuguese outposts on the Western coast of India, and was diverted several times; b) travelling through many nations around the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, from the coast of Africa to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

; c) after reaching India, he voyaged to the eastern coast of India and to Portuguese possessions around Malacca
Malacca
Malacca , dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south...

, bringing him to Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, Siam, China, and Japan. Finally, Pinto returned to Europe.

First voyage to India



Fernão's first voyage to India began on 11 March 1537, when he set sail from Lisbon. Little happened on the voyage besides a brief stop in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. On 5 September 1537 Pinto arrived in Diu, a fortified island and town northwest of Bombay, which had become a Portuguese possession in 1535. According to his account the fortress was under siege by Muslims led by Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

, who was determined to overthrow the Portuguese rule in India and to maintain the Muslim monopoly on eastern trade.

Enticed by the tales of riches that could be obtained by attacking Muslim shipping, Pinto joined a reconnaissance mission to the Red Sea, with a brief stop in Ethiopia to deliver a message to the Portuguese soldiers who were guarding Eleni of Ethiopia
Eleni of Ethiopia
Eleni or Helena was the wife of Zara Yaqob, and Empress of Ethiopia. She played a significant role in the government of Ethiopia during her lifetime, acting as regent or advisor to a number of Emperors; one testimony of this is the manuscript Bruce 88, which states that she had been in the palace...

, the mother of "Prester John
Prester John
The legends of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, and told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval...

" (Emperor Dawit II of Ethiopia
Dawit II of Ethiopia
Dawit II , enthroned as Emperor Anbasa Segad , better known by his birth name Lebna Dengel was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

) in a mountain fortress. After leaving the Ethiopian port of Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, the Portuguese ships engaged three Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 galleys, but were defeated. Crews of the ships were taken as prisoners to Mocha
Mocha, Yemen
Mocha or Mokha is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until it was eclipsed in the 19th century by Aden and Hodeida, Mocha was the principal port for Yemen's capital Sana'a.-Overview:...

, a port in southwest Arabia, and put on an auction block. Pinto was sold to a Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Muslim who he claims was a cruel master. Pinto threatened to commit suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 which convinced his master to sell him to a Jewish merchant for about thirty ducat
Ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

s' worth of date
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

s.
Pinto's new master took him on the caravan
Caravan (travellers)
A caravan is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defence against bandits as well as helped to improve economies of scale in trade.In historical times, caravans...

 route to Hormuz
Ormus
The Kingdom of Ormus was a 10th to 17th century kingdom located within the Persian Gulf and extending as far as the Strait of Hormuz...

, then the leading market town in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, where Pinto was offered to the Captain of the Fortress of Hormuz and the King's special magistrate for Indian affairs, who had recently been sent by the Governor of Portuguese India
Portuguese India
The Portuguese Viceroyalty of India , later the Portuguese State of India , was the aggregate of Portugal's colonial holdings in India.The government started in 1505, six years after the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama, with the nomination of the first Viceroy Francisco de...

 on a mission for the crown. Pinto was freed at a cost of three hundred ducats paid by the crown.

Pinto's second voyage to India occurred soon after he was freed, when he signed on a Portuguese cargo ship bound for Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

, the Portuguese colony and naval base
Naval base
A naval base is a military base, where warships and naval ships are deployed when they have no mission at sea or want to restock. Usually ships may also perform some minor repairs. Some naval bases are temporary homes to aircraft that usually stay on the ships but are undergoing maintenance while...

 established to seize complete control of the spice trade
Spice trade
Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes...

 from other European powers after traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks. Against his will Pinto was transferred while en route to a naval fleet bound for the Sindhi
Sindhu Kingdom
Sindhu&sandhu was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. It stretched along the banks of river Sindhu in the Ancient Greater India, which is now Pakistan. It is believed that Sindhu kingdom was founded by Vrsadarbh, one of sons of Sivi...

 port city of Debal
Debal
-Introduction:Debal was an ancient port located near modern Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. In Arabic, it was usually called Daybul it is adjacent to the nearby Manora Island and was administered by Mansura, and later Thatta....

 near Thatta
Thatta
Thatta is a historic town of 220,000 inhabitants in the Sindh province of Pakistan, near Lake Keenjhar, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Thatta's major monuments especially its necropolis at Makli are listed among the World Heritage Sites. The Shah Jahan Mosque is also listed...

 {the Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 administrative capitol of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 province, the Portuguese attempted to capture or destroy the Ottoman Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 vessels anchored there. After a number of engagements in the Arabian Sea, with varying success, Pinto ultimately reached Goa.

Malacca and the Far East



From 1539 on it appears Pinto was based in Malacca
Malacca
Malacca , dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south...

 under the newly appointed Captain of Malacca, Pero de Faria, who sent Pinto to establish diplomatic contacts with unknown states in the region.

Fernão Mendes Pinto was the first Portuguese to note the Ottoman fleet led by Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis
Kurtoglu Hizir Reis
Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis was an Ottoman admiral who is best known for commanding the Ottoman naval expedition to Sumatra in Indonesia .-Background and family origins:...

, which arrived in Aceh
Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

, a steadfast force of sailors which consisted of 300 Ottomans, some Swahili
Swahili people
The Swahili people are a Bantu ethnic group and culture found in East Africa, mainly in the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya, Tanzania and north Mozambique. According to JoshuaProject, the Swahili number in at around 1,328,000. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil,...

s and Afars
Afar people
The Afar , also known as the Danakil, are an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. They primarily live in the Afar Region of Ethiopia and in northern Djibouti, although some also inhabit the southern point of Eritrea.-Early history:...

 from Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 (known as Abyssinian), Sindhis
Sindhi people
Sindhis are a Sindhi speaking socio-ethnic group of people originating from Sindh, a province Formerly of British India, now in Pakistan. Today Sindhis that live in Pakistan belong to various religious denominations including Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity...

 from Debal
Debal
-Introduction:Debal was an ancient port located near modern Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. In Arabic, it was usually called Daybul it is adjacent to the nearby Manora Island and was administered by Mansura, and later Thatta....

 and Thatta
Thatta
Thatta is a historic town of 220,000 inhabitants in the Sindh province of Pakistan, near Lake Keenjhar, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Thatta's major monuments especially its necropolis at Makli are listed among the World Heritage Sites. The Shah Jahan Mosque is also listed...

, Gujaratis from Surat
Surat
Surat , also known as Suryapur, is the commercial capital city of the Indian state of Gujarat. Surat is India's Eighth most populous city and Ninth-most populous urban agglomeration. It is also administrative capital of Surat district and one of the fastest growing cities in India. The city proper...

, and some 200 Malabar
Malabars
Malabars is an appellation originating from the colonial era that was used by Westerners to refer to all the people of South India...

 sailors of Janjira to aid the Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

 in 1569.

Most of his early time in Malacca included missions to the petty kingdoms of Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, which was allied with the Portuguese against the Muslims of Aceh
Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

 (known as Achin in Portuguese) in northern Sumatra. During these voyages he made private trades, hoping to make profits himself, but remained loyal to the King's interests, in contrast to many of his colleagues, who would engage in private trade to the extent that it would be a detriment to the interests of the crown.

Patani voyage


Following Pinto's mission to Sumatra, he was sent to Patani
Pattani kingdom
Pattani or Sultanate of Pattani was a Malay sultanate that covered approximately the area of the modern Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and much of the northern part of modern Malaysia. The King of Patani is believed to have converted to Islam some time during the 11th century...

, on the eastern shore of the Malay peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

. In a joint venture with Patani-based countrymen, Pinto travelled with a shipload of merchandise to the coast of Siam (modern-day Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

), but they were attacked by a pirate, who stole their goods. Sailing in search of the pirate, they essentially become pirates themselves, under command of António de Faria. Faria's exploits led him to become a popular figure in Portuguese literature.

Pinto continued in this role for months, operating in the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

, especially in the Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin
The Gulf of Tonkin is an arm of the South China Sea, lying off the coast of northeastern Vietnam.-Etymology:The name Tonkin, written "東京" in Hán tự and Đông Kinh in romanised Vietnamese, means "Eastern Capital", and is the former toponym for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam...

 (between Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 and Hainan
Hainan
Hainan is the smallest province of the People's Republic of China . Although the province comprises some two hundred islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast, of its land mass is Hainan Island , from which the province takes its name...

).

Prisoner in China


Ranging northward along the coast of China into the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 Pinto entered the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 (between the peninsulas of Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 and Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

). Here his party raided the tomb of the Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 - but a shipwreck left them in the hands of the Chinese. The survivors of this ordeal were sentenced to one year of hard labor on the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

.

Pinto was surprised to come upon a mixed Portuguese-native household
Vasco Calvo
*This article is about a fictional character. The real/historical Vasco Calvo was a Portuguese merchant held prisoner by the Ming empire. Not much is known of him beyond the fact of a letter which he managed to get out....

, and was encouraged by the experience. He did not complete his sentence, but was taken prisoner by a new power - the invading Tatars. Pinto and his comrades bought their freedom by teaching the Tatars how to storm a fortress, and in the company of a Tatar ambassador, they traveled toward Cochinchina
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, the southernmost part of modern-day Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

.

While on the journey, they encountered a major religious figure whom Pinto describes as "pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

-like" --possibly the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

-- who had never heard of Europe. Frustrated with the slow pace of travel, and still in the vicinity of the deserted islands off the coast of Canton
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

, Pinto and two companions boarded a Chinese pirate junk
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

, which was cast by a storm onto the Japanese island of Tanegashima
Tanegashima
is an island lying to the south of Kyushu, in southern Japan, and is part of Kagoshima Prefecture. The island is the second largest of the Ōsumi Islands....

, just south of Kyūshū
Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

; this is the source of Pinto's claim to be the first westerner to enter Japan.

Voyages to Japan


A few years later (1542), Pinto made his first voyage to Japan, accompanied by other Portuguese, supposedly introducing the arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

, a kind of firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

, to that country.


They landed in Japan in 1542 or 1543 and gained the favor of a feudal lord, to whom they claim to have given the first firearm to have entered Japan, the Portuguese arquebus. The weapon was rapidly reproduced and had a major impact on the ongoing Japanese civil wars. Pinto returned to the coast of China after being released at Ningpo, and made contact with Portuguese merchants who were highly interested in a trade mission to Japan. Their expedition was shipwrecked on the coast of the Ryukyu Islands
Ryukyu Islands
The , also known as the , is a chain of islands in the western Pacific, on the eastern limit of the East China Sea and to the southwest of the island of Kyushu in Japan. From about 1829 until the mid 20th century, they were alternately called Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew, akin to the Mandarin...

, however, where they were arrested for piracy but were released because of the compassion of the island's women.

In 1549 Pinto left the port of Kagoshima but he took with him a Japanese fugitive, Anjiro
Anjiro
or , later known as Paulo de Santa Fé, was a well known Japanese interpreter from Satsuma Province. After committing a murder, he fled to the province of Goa, where he met Saint Francis Xavier and returned to Japan with him as an interpreter...

, and introduced him to Saint Francis Xavier. Xavier joined Pinto's voyage to Japan, and famously went on to spread Catholicism to that country. In 1551 Pinto met Xavier again, and worked for him during the evangelization
Evangelization
Evangelization is that process in the Christian religion which seeks to spread the Gospel and the knowledge of the Gospel throughout the world. It can be defined as so:-The birth of Christian evangelization:...

 period of the region.

In 1554 Pinto decided to return to Portugal with the fortune gained during his voyages, but prior to returning home he underwent conversion to the Society of Jesus and donated a large sum of his wealth to the Society itself, becoming a brother of the Society. Pinto then departed with Xavier as a shipmate when Xavier left his work in Japan to a successor.

Final voyage to Japan



A letter from Otomo Yoshishige supports the history of these events: when the daimyo
Daimyo
is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings...

 of Bungo requested that Pinto return to Japan, and offering his conversion. The letter arrived at the same time that Xavier's body was being displayed in Goa. Pinto was to accompany the mission, which to a small degree was a successful diplomatic mission, establishing an embassy, but he failed to convert Otomo because of an ongoing civil war — Otomo could not afford to alienate his supporters by converting to a foreign religion during the conflict. Twenty-two years later, however, Otomo eventually did convert to Christianity, at the same time as Pinto was completing his autobiography.

During Pinto's final voyage to Japan (1554–1556) with Xavier's successor, he served as the Viceroy of Portuguese India's ambassador to the daimyo of Bungo
Bungo Province
was a province of Japan in eastern Kyūshū in the area of Ōita Prefecture. It was sometimes called , with Buzen Province. Bungo bordered Buzen, Hyūga, Higo, Chikugo, and Chikuzen Provinces.-History:...

 on the island of Kyūshū.

At the end of the voyage, Pinto lent money to Xavier to create the first church in Japan. For an unknown reason, Pinto abandoned the Jesuits in 1557 on his return trip.

Martaban


Pinto returned to Malacca and reported to the captain who sent him on a mission to Martaban which is today part of Lower Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

. He arrived in the midst of a siege and took refuge in the Portuguese camp of mercenaries who had betrayed the Viceroy of Martaban. At the end of the siege, Pinto was likewise betrayed by a mercenary. He was made a captive of the Burmese
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 and placed under the charge of the king's treasurer who took him to the kingdom of Calaminham, now called Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang , is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province...

. Pinto fled to Goa on his return trip while the Burmese besieged Sandoway.

Java


Once Pinto returned to Goa, he again met Pero de Faria, now the former Captain of Malacca. Pero sent him on a voyage to Java to buy 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...

, which could then be sold in China, and while buying goods in the Javan port of Bantam
Bantam (city)
Bantam in Banten province near the western end of Java was a strategically important site and formerly a major trading city, with a secure harbor on the Sunda Strait through which all ocean-going traffic passed, at the mouth of Banten River that provided a navigable passage for light craft into...

, Pinto was joined by forty Portuguese merchants who were alarmed by violence that erupted in the area after the Emperor was slain by his page boy over a point of honor.
The Japanese wakō
Wokou
Wokou , which literally translates as "Japanese pirates" in English, were pirates of varying origins who raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the 13th century onwards...

 shipwreck them in the Gulf of Siam where they end up tossed onto the coast of Java.
There they resorted to cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 in order to survive, and those that did survive (including Pinto) sold themselves as slaves in return for passage out of the swamp. They were then sold to a Celebes
Sulawesi
Sulawesi is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. In Indonesia, only Sumatra, Borneo, and Papua are larger in territory, and only Java and Sumatra have larger Indonesian populations.- Etymology :The Portuguese were the first to...

 merchant and resold to the King of Kalapa
Kalapa
Kalapa, according to Buddhist legend, is the capital city of the Kingdom of Shambhala, where the Kulika King is said to reign on a lion throne. It is said to be an exceeding beautiful city, with a sandalwood pleasure grove containing a huge three-dimensional Kalachakra mandala made by King...

, (modern-day Jakarta
Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

). After hearing their stories, he generously sent them on a ship — to Sunda
Sunda Kingdom
The Sunda Kingdom was a Hindu kingdom located on the western part of Java from 669 to around 1579, covering areas of present-day Banten, Jakarta, West Java, and the western part of Central Java...

 from which they had previously departed.

Siam


Using borrowed money, Pinto bought passage to Siam, now known as Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Pinto then describes how not long after his arrival the King of Siam
Chairacha
Phrabat Somdet Phra Chairachathirat reigned 1534–1546 as King of the Ayutthaya kingdom of Siam. His reign was remarkable for the influx of Portuguese traders, mercenaries, and early Modern warfare technology.-Uparaja:...

 requested Portuguese residents to enlist to quell a revolt in the Northern boundaries. The King was subsequently poisoned by the Queen, who also murdered the young heir to the throne
Yodfa
Phrabat Somdet Phra Yodfa or Phra Kaewfa was the short-reigning king of Ayutthaya from 1546 to his execution in 1548. Yodfa was the son of Chairacha and his concubine Sri Sudachan from the Uthong clan. In 1546, Chairacha aprubtly died maybe due to the poison by his concubine Sri Sudachan...

, and placed her lover
Worawongsathirat
Khun Worawongsathirat was a usurper in the Ayutthaya Kingdom, ruling for only 42 days in 1548 before being assassinated. Siamese chronicles relate that Worawongsathirat attainted the crown — his kingship is not accepted by most traditional historians....

 in the boy's place. The new King was then murdered, and unrest ensued provoking the King of Burma
Tabinshwehti
Tabinshwehti was a king who unified Burma in 1539 and known as the founder of the Second Burmese Empire.Tabinshwehti succeeded his father Mingyinyo as ruler of the Toungoo dynasty in 1530...

 to lay siege to Ayuthia
Ayutthaya (city)
Ayutthaya city is the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand. Located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River. The city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya...

 the capital of Siam.

The description of these events in Burmese and Thai history, whether they were actually witnessed firsthand by Pinto, represents the most detailed account of these events that can be found in all of recorded Western history.

Return voyage


Pinto returned to Portugal on 22 September 1558 after an uneventful voyage. He was already famous in Western Europe as the author of a letter that had been published by the Society of Jesus in 1555. From 1562-1566 he spent four and a half years in court hoping to receive a reward or compensation for his years of service to the Crown.

The book



In 1558 Pinto returned to Portugal where he married Maria Correia Barreto with whom he had at least two daughters; exact details of his family are unknown. He bought a farm in the region of Pragal
Pragal
Pragal is a Portuguese parish, located in the municipality of Almada. It has a population of 7,721 inhabitants and a total area of 2.21 km².It is one the six parishes in the city of Almada, along with Almada, Cacilhas, Cova da Piedade, Feijó and Laranjeiro.Overlooking the Tagus river and the...

 (near Almada
Almada
Almada is a municipality in Portugal, covering an area of 70.2 km² located on the southern margin of the Tagus River. Its municipal population in 2008 was 164,844 inhabitants; the urbanized center had a population of 102,357.The seat is the city of Almada....

) in 1562 and in 1569 he started to write the account of his voyages in the Orient
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

.

Fernão Mendes Pinto died on 8 July 1583 on his Pragal farm. His book would be published in 1614, 31 years after his death, by friar Belchior Faria. The full title of the book was
"Pilgrimage of Fernam Mendez Pinto in which is told the many and very strange things he saw and heard in the kingdom of China, in the one of Tartary, in the one of Sornau, usually called Siam, in the one of Calaminhan, in the one of Pegù, in the one of Martauão, and in many other kingdoms and lordships of the Oriental parts, and that in our Occident there are few or no accounts. And also the account of many particular affairs that occurred both to him and many other people. And in the end of it briefly regards some things, & the death of the Holy Priest Francis Xavier, sole light and brightness of those parts of the Orient, & universal ruler of the Society of Jesus in those parts."


(in Old Portuguese: "Peregrinaçam de Fernam Mendez Pinto em que da conta de muytas e muyto estranhas cousas que vio & ouvio no reyno da China, no da Tartaria, no de Sornau, que vulgarmente se chama de Sião, no de Calaminhan, no do Pegù, no de Martauão, & em outros muytos reynos & senhorios das partes Orientais, de que nestas nossas do Occidente ha muyto pouca ou nenhua noticia. E tambem da conta de muytos casos particulares que acontecerão assi a elle como a outras muytas pessoas. E no fim della trata brevemente de alguas cousas, & da morte do Santo Padre Francisco Xavier, unica luz & resplandor daquellas partes do Oriente, & reitor nellas universal da Companhia de Iesus.")

It is thought that the printed version of the book does not correspond exactly to the author’s manuscripts — some sentences appear to have been erased and others were "corrected". The disappearance of references to the Society of Jesus, one of the most active religious order
Religious order
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...

s in the Orient, is notable, as there are clear indications of Fernão Mendes Pinto's relations with the society.

Notable views held in the book


Although Fernão Mendes Pinto did not have an education similar to his contemporary authors and did not reveal knowledge of either classical culture
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 or of the aesthetics of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, his experiential knowledge and intelligence enabled him to create a fascinating and lasting work.

The absence of a formal education, his physical distance from the dominant culture, and his humble roots were his advantages. His work has no signs of prejudice regarding the "new" cultures discovered by the Portuguese and thus it is a living testimony of their habits, attitudes and ways of life.

Historicity


The tale of his adventures was written after the fact, according to Pinto's memories of the events, and for that reason it may be open to doubt as a completely accurate historical source. However, it well documents the impact of the Asian civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

s on the Europeans and constitutes a perfectly realistic analysis of Portuguese action in the Orient, far more realistic than the one made by Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões
Luís Vaz de Camões is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas...

 in The Lusiads.

The most controversial of his claims is that of having been the first European to land in Japan and the introduction of the arquebus. Despite the impossibility of proving these specific assertions, there is little doubt that Pinto was among the first Europeans in Japan, and therefore his account may be considered more reliable than other books describing this period that were written long afterwards.

Another controversial claim, that he fought in Java against the Muslims, has been analyzed by various historians. The Dutch historian P. A. Tiele, who wrote in 1880, did not believe Pinto was present during the campaign, but rather that he wrote his information from secondhand sources. Even so, Tiele admits Pinto's account cannot be disregarded because of the lack of alternative information about Javanese history during the time period; despite the doubts over Pinto's accuracy, his viewpoint may represent the only authoritative source in existence. Maurice Collis
Maurice Collis
Maurice Stewart Collis was an administrator in Burma when it was part of the British Empire, and afterwards a writer on Southeast Asia, China and other historical subjects.-Life:...

, a modern expert on Asian affairs who lived in the area for twenty years, holds the opinion that Fernão's accounts, while not entirely true, remain essentially true with respect to the basic events. Because of this Collis considers Pinto's work the most complete European account of 16th century Asian history.

The new American cyclopaedia: a popular dictionary of general knowledge, Volume 11



Legacy and following



Among Pinto's legacies is his claim to introducing the arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 on the island of Tanegashima
Tanegashima
is an island lying to the south of Kyushu, in southern Japan, and is part of Kagoshima Prefecture. The island is the second largest of the Ōsumi Islands....

 that would be known throughout Japan as the "Tanega-shima". Based on Portuguese models, Japanese swordsmiths managed to mass-produce arquebuses, initiating the tradition of the firearms of Japan
Firearms of Japan
Firearms were introduced to Japan in the 13th century. Following an intense development, with strong local manufacture during the period of conflicts of the 16th century, Japan then almost completely abandoned firearms through a policy of forced disarmament, helped by a policy of seclusion, sakoku...

. By 1553 there were more guns per capita in Japan than in any other country. In 1600 the Japanese guns were the best of the world.
The "Tanega-shima" drastically changed Japanese warfare until the Tokugawa era
Tokugawa Ieyasu
 was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara  in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...

 when they were outlawed. Another legacy of his is funding the first Christian church in Japan which would mark the beginning of Christianity in Japan
Christianity in Japan
Christianity is a minority religion in Japan, with less than one percent claiming Christian belief or affiliation. Nearly all known traditional denominations of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity are represented in Japan today.The root of the Japanese...

. His greatest legacy is not his voyages but his detailed description of Asian culture
Culture of Asia
The culture of Asia is human civilization in Asia. It features different kinds of cultural heritage of many nationalities, societies, and ethnic groups in the region, traditionally called a continent from a Western-centric perspective, of Asia...

, and history
History of Asia
The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe....

 of the 16th century. It is more descriptive than any other European reports, and from a much earlier date.

Mendes Pinto, a crater on Mercury
Mercury (planet)
Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

, was named after him in 1978. A high school in Almada, Portugal built in 1965 was named in his honour.

Books

  • Breve História da Literatura Portuguesa, Texto Editora, Lisboa, 1999
  • A. J. Barreiros, História da Literatura Portuguesa, Editora Pax, 11th ed.
  • A. J. Saraiva, O. Lopes, História da Literatura Portuguesa, Porto Editora, 12tg ed.
  • Verbo – Enciclopédia Luso-Brasileira de Cultura, 15th ed., Editorial Verbo, Lisboa
  • Lexicoteca – Moderna Enciclopédia Universal, vol. 15, Círculo de Leitores, 1987
  • The Travels of Mendes Pinto, Edited and translated by Rebecca D. Catz, The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226669513
  • Fernão Mendes Pinto and the Peregrinação - studies, restored Portuguese text, notes and indexes, directed by Jorge Santos Alves, Fundação Oriente, Lisbon, 2010, ISBN 9789727850969

Online



External links