Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Voyagers to the East, Part XVI

For the previous entry in this series, click here.

As I've noted in the previous two posts in this series, during the first half of the 16th century Portuguese and Spanish sailors transported at least 500, and perhaps more than 1,000 Brazilian Indians to southwestern Europe for sale as slaves. These were not the only native Brazilians to cross the Atlantic, however. In 1549, for example, the city fathers of Rouen employed fifty Tupi-Guarani people in their pageant for King Henry II (see "Voyagers to the East," Part VIII). Moreover, there were a few Indians who voluntarily traveled from Brazil to Europe in the 1500s. In 1501, Amerigo Vespucci brought three Indian volunteers to Lisbon, presumably to display them as curiosities, while in 1505 the French explorer Binot Paulmier de Gonnevile took the son of a Carijo chief to France, where de Gonneville renamed the boy for himself, educated him, and (in 1521) married him to his daughter, Suzanne. Meanwhile, in 1513 three Tupinikin men from the region of Porto Seguro visited King Manoel I of Portugal, who received the Indians while they were attired in feathers and carrying bows. (John Hemming, Red Gold, 11-12.)

During the second half of the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries in Brazil selected a few Indian boys to send to Portugal, where they were baptized and educated. I am uncertain of their numbers - 10-20 is a guess - and their eventual fate, though I think it unlikely that all of them survived to return home. Metropolitan Portuguese interest in evangelizing native Brazilians appears to have declined in the seventeenth century, but the French elite remained fascinated with the region and its inhabitants. In 1613 French missionaries brought six Tupinambas to Paris for baptism, with King Louis XIII and Marie de Medici serving as godparents. Later in that same century, incidentally, Jean Paulmier de Courtonne, a descendant of the Carijo boy Binot de Gonneville and his wife Suzanne, became an abbot in Lisieux, in Normandy. (Hemming, op. cit., 103, 532; Luca Codignola, "The Holy See and the Conversion of the Indians in French and Spanish North America," in Karen Kupperman, ed., America in European Consciousness [Chapel Hill, NC, 1992], p. 217.)

For the next entry in this series, click here.

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