Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Departure of Cabral's Fleet to India

The departure of Pedro Alvares Cabral's, partially Florentine financed thirteen strong fleet, from Lisbon to India, was described by various chronicles of the period such as this classic account: '…The fleet being in full readiness, the king went in procession, on Sunday the 7th of March 1500, to hear mass at the monastery of Belem, accompanied by the Captain-General, whom he took along with himself behind the curtain in the royal seat, to do him the more honor. After mass, Don Diego Ortis, Bishop of Viseu, preached a sermon, in which he gave high praise to Cabral for undertaking the command of this expedition, as serving not only the king his temporal master, but the eternal GOD his spiritual Lord, drawing many comparisons in his favour from the Grecian and Roman histories. Mass being ended, a banner of the royal arms of Portugal was delivered to the bishop, who solemnly blessed it, and returned it to the king, who delivered it to Cabral, that it might be displayed at his main-top. The bishop then, gave a bonnet to the general, which had been blessed by the pope, and placed a rich jewel with his own hands on his head, and gave him his blessing. When these ceremonies were ended, the king accompanied the captain-general to the water side, where he and the other captains of the fleet took leave of the king, kissing his hands, the king giving them Gods blessing and his own; after which all went on board, and the whole fleet saluted the king by discharging all the ordnance of all the ships: But the wind being foul, the fleet could not depart that day, and the king returned to Lisbon….

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