14 de febrero de 2009

Brasil 1500-1503

1500.

Reinando em Portugal El-Rei D. Manoel, parte de Lisboa huma esquadrilha sob o commando de Pedro Alvares Cabral com destino á India, cujo caminho pelo Cabo Tormentorio ou de Boa-Esperança havia sido descoberto por Bartholomeo Dias e Vasco da Gama; porém obrigado a descambar para O. afim de desviar-se das cóstas, é acossado pelos ventos e impellido cada vez mais para este rumo. Entregue assim á mercê da Providencia, avista elle terras da America Meridional em 22 de Abril. (Muito divergem os Historiadores sobre o dia do descobrimento do Brasil; porém a opinião mais geralmente seguida, ao menos até certa época, foi a de Ozorio, Barros, e outros que assignalão a este acontecimento o dia 24 de Abril, fundados talvez na relação de um piloto que vinha nesta expedição e por isso testemunha ocular. Nós porém assignalamos o dia 22, fundados na carta que a D. Manoel escreveo Pedro Vaz de Caminha, que vinha na expedição como Escrivão da armada, testemunha ocular, e digna de todo o conceito; carta que se vê publicada pelo P. Ayres do Cazal na sua insigne--Corographia Brasilica,--e mais accuradamente nas--Noticias Ultramarinas Tom. 4.º Além disto temos em nosso apoio as autoridades mui valiosas do mesmo Cazal, de Varnaghen, de Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz no seu Indice Chronologico e de outros Escriptores. Accresce que os proprios Autores que opinão ter sido o dia 24, nos ministrão armas para nos confirmarmos nesta nossa opinião: porque o mencionado piloto assevera ter sido o descobrimento na Quarta feira do oitavario de Pascoa, que he exactamente o mesmo que diz Caminha na carta citada. Estando pois concordes huma e outra testemunha ocular no dia da semana, alguma se engana no dia do mez. E com effeito, tendo sido neste anno o dia de Pascoa em 19 de Abril (V. Taboa Chronologica da Arte de verificar as datas), Quarta feira do oitavario não podia ser senão 22, como com toda a razão diz Caminha, e não 24 como menos exactamente affirma o piloto referido).--Ao primeiro monte avistado dérão o nome de monte Pascoal e á terra Terra da Vera Cruz (que depois chamárão de Santa Cruz, e mais tarde Brasil).--Desembarca Pedro Alvares Cabral no lugar denominado mais tarde Porto seguro. No dia 1.º de Maio planta a Cruz com o padrão das Armas de Portugal em signal de solemne posse do paiz para a Corôa Portugueza. Depois de despachar para Lisboa o Capitão Gaspar de Lemos a dar parte a El-Rei da inesperada e felicissima descoberta, faz-se de véla para o Cabo de Boa-Esperança e India seu primeiro destino.
1501.

Ao mando de Gonçalo Coelho chega ao Brasil a primeira expedição Portugueza para explorar as costas das novas terras. (N'esta expedição, segundo alguns escriptores, veio tambem o celebre Americo Vespucio em serviço de Portugal. E outros, como seja Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz no seu Indice Chronologico, dão a entender que esta expedição foi commandada por Americo, o qual não só percorreo toda a costa do Brasil até o Prata, como chegou á Patagonia: porém, a darmos crédito ás cartas do próprio Americo, lá temos nas Noticias Ultramarinas, Tom. 2.º, a sua 1.ª carta, da qual se deprehende que não era elle o Capitão da expedição).
1503.

Segunda expedição é enviada ao Brasil ás ordens de Christovão Jacques. (Alguns Escriptores dizem ter sido ás ordens de Fernão de Noronha, primeiro Donatario da ilha do mesmo nome). Descobre elle a Bahia de Todos os Santos (segundo Fr. Francisco de S. Luiz na obra já citada, foi esta bahia descoberta por Americo Vespucio em huma segunda expedição que fez por mandado do Rei); e funda huma Colonia em Vera-Cruz. Depois desta expedição começa a ser levado á Europa o páo brasil, donde veio a denominação que ora tem o paiz. (Segundo alguns Escriptores, Christovão Jacques explorando as costas foi plantando padrões nos lugares mais apropriados; porém, segundo outros, cabe este feito a Martim Affonso de Sousa).


Leia também: 1500-1507

PRIMITIVE ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY

If the ancient Chaldæans gave to the planetary conjunctions an influence over terrestrial events, let us remember that in our own time people have searched for connection between terrestrial conditions and periods of unusual prevalence of sun spots; while De la Rue, Loewy, and Balfour Stewart thought they found a connection between sun-spot displays and the planetary positions. Thus we find scientific men, even in our own time, responsible for the belief that storms in the Indian Ocean, the fertility of German vines, famines in India, and high or low Nile-floods in Egypt follow the planetary positions.

And, again, the desire to foretell the weather is so laudable that we cannot blame the ancient Greeks for announcing the influence of the moon with as much confidence as it is affirmed in Lord Wolseley’s Soldier’s Pocket Book.

Even if the scientific spirit of observation and deduction (astronomy) has sometimes led to erroneous systems for predicting terrestrial events (astrology), we owe to the old astronomer and astrologer alike the deepest gratitude for their diligence in recording astronomical events. For, out of the scanty records which have survived the destructive acts of fire and flood, of monarchs and mobs, we have found much that has helped to a fuller knowledge of the heavenly motions than was possible without these records.

So Hipparchus, about 150 B.C., and Ptolemy a little later, were able to use the observations of Chaldæan astrologers, as well as those of Alexandrian astronomers, and to make some discoveries which have helped the progress of astronomy in all ages. So, also, Mr. Cowell has examined the marks made on the baked bricks used by the Chaldæans for recording the eclipses of 1062 B.C. and 762 B.C.; and has thereby been enabled, in the last few years, to correct the lunar tables of Hansen, and to find a more accurate value for the secular acceleration of the moon’s longitude and the node of her orbit than any that could be obtained from modern observations made with instruments of the highest precision.

So again, Mr. Hind was enabled to trace back the period during which Halley’s comet has been a member of the solar system, and to identify it in the Chinese observations of comets as far back as 12 B.C. Cowell and Cromellin extended the date to 240 B.C. In the same way the comet 1861.i. has been traced back in the Chinese records to 617 A.D.

The theoretical views founded on Newton’s great law of universal gravitation led to the conclusion that the inclination of the earth’s equator to the plane of her orbit (the obliquity of the ecliptic) has been diminishing slowly since prehistoric times; and this fact has been confirmed by Egyptian and Chinese observations on the length of the shadow of a vertical pillar, made thousands of years before the Christian era, in summer and winter.

There are other reasons why we must be tolerant of the crude notions of the ancients. The historian, wishing to give credit wherever it may be due, is met by two difficulties. Firstly, only a few records of very ancient astronomy are extant, and the authenticity of many of these is open to doubt. Secondly, it is very difficult to divest ourselves of present knowledge, and to appreciate the originality of thought required to make the first beginnings.

With regard to the first point, we are generally dependent upon histories written long after the events. The astronomy of Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians is known to us mainly through the Greek historians, and for information about the Chinese we rely upon the researches of travellers and missionaries in comparatively recent times. The testimony of the Greek writers has fortunately been confirmed, and we now have in addition a mass of facts translated from the original sculptures, papyri, and inscribed bricks, dating back thousands of years.

In attempting to appraise the efforts of the beginners we must remember that it was natural to look upon the earth (as all the first astronomers did) as a circular plane, surrounded and bounded by the heaven, which was a solid vault, or hemisphere, with its concavity turned downwards. The stars seemed to be fixed on this vault; the moon, and later the planets, were seen to crawl over it. It was a great step to look on the vault as a hollow sphere carrying the sun too. It must have been difficult to believe that at midday the stars are shining as brightly in the blue sky as they do at night. It must have been difficult to explain how the sun, having set in the west, could get back to rise in the east without being seen if it was always the same sun. It was a great step to suppose the earth to be spherical, and to ascribe the diurnal motions to its rotation. Probably the greatest step ever made in astronomical theory was the placing of the sun, moon, and planets at different distances from the earth instead of having them stuck on the vault of heaven. It was a transition from “flatland” to a space of three dimensions.

Great progress was made when systematic observations began, such as following the motion of the moon and planets among the stars, and the inferred motion of the sun among the stars, by observing their heliacal risings—i.e., the times of year when a star would first be seen to rise at sunrise, and when it could last be seen to rise at sunset. The grouping of the stars into constellations and recording their places was a useful observation. The theoretical prediction of eclipses of the sun and moon, and of the motions of the planets among the stars, became later the highest goal in astronomy.

To not one of the above important steps in the progress of astronomy can we assign the author with certainty. Probably many of them were independently taken by Chinese, Indian, Persian, Tartar, Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Phoenician, and Greek astronomers. And we have not a particle of information about the discoveries, which may have been great, by other peoples—by the Druids, the Mexicans, and the Peruvians, for example.

We do know this, that all nations required to have a calendar. The solar year, the lunar month, and the day were the units, and it is owing to their incommensurability that we find so many calendars proposed and in use at different times. The only object to be attained by comparing the chronologies of ancient races is to fix the actual dates of observations recorded, and this is not a part of a history of astronomy.

In conclusion, let us bear in mind the limited point of view of the ancients when we try to estimate their merit. Let us remember that the first astronomy was of two dimensions; the second astronomy was of three dimensions, but still purely geometrical. Since Kepler’s day we have had a dynamical astronomy.

See also:
Newtonian Dynamics and Gravitation

1518-1520

Juan de Grijalva explored the south coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from Yucatan toward the Panuco. Interest attaches to this enterprise mainly because the treasure which Grijalva collected aroused the envy and greed of the future conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortez.

In 1518, Velasquez, governor of Cuba, sends Cortez westward, with eleven ships and over six hundred men, for the purpose of exploration. He landed at Tabasco, thence proceeded to the Island of San Juan de Ulua, nearly opposite Vera Cruz, where he received messengers and gifts from the Emperor Montezuma. Ordered to leave the country, he destroyed his ships and marched directly upon the capital. He seized Montezuma and held him as a hostage for the peaceable conduct of his subjects. The Mexicans took up arms, only to be defeated again and again by the
Spaniards. Montezuma became a vassal of the Spanish crown, and covenanted to pay annual tribute. Attempting to reconcile his people to this agreement he was himself assailed and wounded, and, refusing all nourishment, soon after died. With re-enforcements, Cortez completed the conquest of the country, and Mexico became a province of Spain.
Vasquez de Ayllon, one of the auditors of the Island of Santo Domingo, sent two ships from that island to the Bahamas for Indians to be sold as slaves. Driven from their course by the wind, they at length reached the shore of South Carolina, at the mouth of the Wateree River, which they named the Jordan, calling the country Chicora. Though kindly treated by the natives, the ruthless adventurers carried away some seventy of these. One ship was lost, and most of the captives on the others died during the voyage. Vasquez was, by the Emperor Charles V., King of
Spain, made governor of this new province, and again set sail to take possession. But the natives, in revenge for the cruel treatment which they had previously received, made a furious attack upon the invaders.
The few survivors of the slaughter returned to Santo Domingo, and the expedition was abandoned. These voyages were in 1520 and 1526.

In connection with the subject of Spanish voyages, a passing notice should be given to one, who, though not of Spanish birth, yet did much to further the progress of discovery on the part of his adopted country.
Magellan was a Portuguese navigator who had been a child when Columbus came back in triumph from the West Indies. Refused consideration from King Emmanuel, of Portugal, for a wound received under his flag during the war against Morocco, he renounced his native land and offered his services to the sagacious Charles V., of Spain, who gladly accepted them, With a magnificent fleet, Magellan, in 1519, set sail from Seville, cherishing Columbus's bold purpose, which no one had yet realized, of reaching the East Indies by a westward voyage, After touching at the Canaries, he explored the coast of South America, passed through the strait now called by his name, discovered the Ladrone Islands, and christened the circumjacent ocean the Pacific.

The illustrious navigator now sailed for the Philippine Islands, so named from Philip, son of Charles V., who succeeded that monarch as Philip II. By the Tordesillas division above described, the islands were properly in the Portuguese hemisphere, but on the earliest maps, made by Spaniards, they were placed twenty-five degrees too far east, and this circumstance, whether accidental or designed, has preserved them to Spain even to the present time. At the Philippine Islands Magellan was killed in an affray with the natives. One of his ships, the Victoria, after sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, arrived in Spain, having been the first to circumnavigate the globe. The voyage had taken three years and twenty-eight days.

See also: 1506-1513