500 Years of Brazil
Divisão de Bibliotecas e Documentação

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The Works

CASTANHEDA, Fernão Lopes de. Historia do     Descobrimento e Conquista da India pelos     Portugueses. Lisboa: Na Typographia Rollandiana,     1833.

The História do Descobrimento e Conquista da Índia pelos Portugueses by Fernão Lopes de Castanheda ( ? – 1559) is considered by many authors as the most complete account of the Portuguese expansion in the Orient, albeit wanting in literary quality. 

In his prologue, Castanheda reveals what inspired his project in the lines: realizing what an enormous loss it would be not to register the remarkable feats of the Portuguese, and for the other reasons I have given, I set myself this task, which was greatly aided by my gong to India.

Having gone to the Orient with his father around 1528 and stayed there for about ten years, Castanheda himself knew many of the places and protagonists of the events he relates, just as he was able to add numerous testimonies to the reading and consultation of material written for the many volumes that make up his work. 

Published in 1551, the first book or volume of the História had to be redone for the second edition, which came out in 1554. The information contained therein aroused the animosity of influential families and official scribes such as João de Barros, although it had contributed to publicising the work abroad. On the occasion of the publication of book VIII in 1561, Queen Catarina prohibited the printing of the remaining volumes, which nevertheless did not prevent the translation of the book into French, Spanish, Italian and English. Of the non-published portion of the work, thirty-one chapters of book IX were saved.

In 1833, the Tipografia Rolandiana in Lisbon produced a complete edition of the História which, together with the work of João de Barros, constitutes one of the main sources of Luís de Camões' narrations of the Portuguese exploits in the Indies.