Letter from Pêro Vaz de Caminha
Documentary heritage submitted by Portugal and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2005.
Porto Seguro, Island of Vera Cruz, Brazil, 1 May 1500 – Letter from Pêro Vaz de Caminha to the King of Portugal, Manuel I. This is the first document describing the land and people of what became Brazil. It was written at the very moment of first contact with this new world. Pêro Vaz de Caminha was an official who had been commissioned to report on the voyage of the India-bound fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral. The Letter is a unique document because of the facts it narrates, the quality of its description of the people and territory and its account of cultural dialogue with a people unknown in Europe up to that time. It is rich in detail and shrewd observations that make us feel we are eyewitnesses of the encounter. Pêro Vaz de Caminha started his Letter on 24 April and finished it on 1 May, the date when one of the vessels of the fleet sailed for Lisbon to announce the good news to the King.