500 Years of Brazil
Divisão de Bibliotecas e Documentação
The Exposition
When great historical events are celebrated, it is not uncommon for some discoveries to lead on to others. In such cases the events make the institutions dedicated to culture - and to memory! - such as archives and libraries, look at their own documental or bibliographical holdings, and then documents and rare works that are unknown to the public at large are sometimes (re)discovered.
The motivating seed of this Exposition was to share with all, during the commemorations of the 500 years of Brazil, the treasures that exist in the Division of Libraries and Documentation at PUC-RIO and in this way make another "discovery" possible: an impressive collection of rare works related to Cabral's discovery. Part of this collection are some chronicles written in the 16th century by Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French travellers. In addition, there are also first editions of renowned 19th -century historians.
If the chronicle is the narration of events such as they were experienced by the witness or by someone who heard of them from some witness, then this exposition offers us some of the fundamental chronicles of Brazil's colonial period: the História da Província de Santa Cruz, by Pero de Magalhães Gandavo (1576), the História do Brasil, by Friar Vicente do Salvador (1627), and the História da América Portuguesa, by Sebastião da Rocha Pita (1727). Add to these the Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis, by Duarte Pacheco Pereira, and the Diário da Navegação da armada que foi à terra do Brasil em 1530..., written by Pero Lopes de Souza, the brother of Martim Afonso de Souza, whose manuscript was discovered and published by Varnhagen in Lisbon in 1839.
The documental and bibliographical treasure, however, comprises much more than that. Here we have the documents of the National Archive of the Torre do Tombo, published in 1892, including the Treaty of Tordesilhas and the letters penned by Pero Vaz de Caminha and Bacharel Mestre João. There are also some valuable editions of the Décadas da Ásia, by João de Barros, the Lendas da Índia, by Gaspar Corrêa, and the História do Descobrimento e Conquista da Índia..., by Fernão Lopes de Castanheda.
Here too can be found important chronicles of non-Portuguese authors that are far less known among us, especially those written by Italian chroniclers such as the outstanding Orbe Novo, by Pietro Martire d'Anghiera (1511), and Delle Navigationi et Viaggi, by Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1554).
These are just a few of the chronicles gathered here. There are also some rare editions of 19th century historians such as Robert Southey (1810-1819), Varnhagen, the discoverer of Pedro Alvares Cabral's grave in Santarém (1838) and author of the most important general history of Brazil published in the 19th century, and J. Capistrano de Abreu, whose O Descobrimento do Brasil refutes the arguments in favour of the alleged French arrival in Brazil before the Portuguese, claims that appear in Paul Gaffarel's Histoire du Brésil Français au Seizième Siècle, which also features in this exposition. In short, this presentation has no pretensions to be anything like a description of what is contained in this Exposition. These are just a few "flashes" to try to illuminate the circumstances of this exhibit and describe briefly how it was designed.
Prof. Dr. Francisco J. C. Falcon
Department of History

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