Monday, 25 May 2015

Pedro Alvares Cabral Banknote

Between 1995 and 1997 Czeslaw Slania engraved five banknotes for Portugal. Each banknote depicted a famous explorer on the obverse (front) and an example of the type of ship used by the explorer on the reverse (back). In this blog I will focus on the 1996 1000 Escudos banknote depicting Pedro Alvares Cabral.

Little is known of the early years of Pedro Cabral. He was born in either 1467 or 1468. He was born into a minor noble family and he received a good education. In 1500 he was appointed commander-in-chief of a fleet sailing for India. As was the practice in those times a nobleman was chosen to command the fleet. These noblemen didn't necessarily have any naval experience.  It is thought by some that he was chosen for this role due to his standing in the court of the then king, King Manuel I. It was during this voyage that he is believed to have discovered Brazil. The fleet consisted of two divisions. The first division, which included Cabral's vessel, set sail from Lisbon on 9 March. On 22 April he landed at a spot of the northeastern coast of what we now call Brazil. He named this place: Monte Pascoal (Easter Mount, since it was Easter at the time). Below is a map of his full journey...

There is modern debate over whether he can truly be called the discoverer of this country. I make no assumptions or offer any opinions on this issue. For more on this journey and his later career click HERE


The obverse of the 1000 Escudos banknote contains the protrait of Pedro Alvares Cabral. Interestingly no contemporary paintings survive - if any ever existed at all - of Cabral.

The reverse of the banknote contains a stunning engraving of the type of ship used by Cabral on this journey.

The ship is called a carrack. A carrack was a three- or four-masted ship developed in the 15th century by Genoese for commercial use. The Portuguese and Spanish used them for world travel and exploration. They were large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and they had plenty of internal room for storage. Just as an interesting final note, Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria, the ship that sailed to America in 1492, was a carrack.

Until next time...

Stay Slania Crazy!

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