“ENIGMATIC DISCOVERY OF BRAZIL” – REVIEW BY ACADEMICIAN RAMIZ MAMMADOV AND CANDIDATE OF GEOGRAPHICAL SCIENCES SHAMIL AZIZOV
“Enigmatic discovery of Brazil” is about the age full of interesting, contradictious problems and obscurities – the beginning of the age of great geographical discoveries (XV-XVII centuries). There was very intensive conflict between great sea countries (Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, England etc.) for hegemony in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Expeditions were sent to almost all parts of the Earth for the purpose to pass ahead of opponent countries and to discover new lands.
Discovery of the way to America and Africa, colonization of new lands, increase of exchange of raw materials and goods supported development of the trade, navigation and manufacture and made metropolises rich. That’s why rich wealth of India and Chine attracted Europeans.
Early and middle ages (IX-XVI centuries) are the ages of decline of the science and authority of religious thoughts. But, in spite of it, geographical discoveries continued to be made. At the result of efforts of travelers and scientists, geographical descriptions, schemas and maps of discovered lands were prepared. Development of new firm vessels, preparation of sea maps and invention of navigation devices (globe, astrolabe, compass etc.) allowed seamen organize travels to more distant territories. The Greek scientist Claudius Ptolemaeus (II century BC) had stimulated development of the science. He had noted fields of the geography, explained ways of preparation of maps, descry-bed cartographic projections in his work “Geography” consisting of 8 books and emphasized that the geography consisted of two parts – cartography and regional ethnography. He had fixed coordinates of about 8 thousand settlements and territories in other books. One of them is the map of all known territories. Larger territories of Africa and Asia have been described and coasts have been drawn more precisely on the map of Ptolemaeus than the map of Eratosthenes. Curvature of the Earth has been considered and degrees have been fixed on Ptolemaeus’s map.
The geography was developing in Arabian countries as well and broad information was collected about different countries at the result of travels. Travels were carried out by Ubeyd Ibn Shargiyya lived in VII century, Ibn Ruslan, Al-Masudi lived in IX-X centuries and Ibn Battuta lived in the middle of XIV century. The Arabian traveler Al-Masudi had written a book about the nature, history and nations of Front Asia, Central Asia, Caucasus, East Africa, Indonesia and Chine in XX century. He believed that, there was relation between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Ibn Battuta from Morocco had passed the Sahara Desert twice, had reached to eastern coasts of Africa and sailed to Bulgaria along the Volga. He had been in Front Asia, Central Asia, India, Hind-Chine and Chine. In 1498, when Vasco da Gama visited these territories, Arabians had broad trade relations with Hind-Chine and Chine.
Thus, according to historical sources, in the Middle Ages Europeans were sure that, there wasn’t a long distance between Europe and India, that’s why travelling through the Atlantic Ocean is real.
Renaissance began in Europe in XV century. It became necessary to discover and learn new lands and to collect wealth. But travelling to those countries on land would take a lot of time and ways were dangerous. European countries developed speedily and main purpose was to open seaways.
The first travel of Ch. Columbus stimulated next events and Portuguese started travels towards Brazilian coasts. The Portugal king decided to send secret expedition after Columbus’s travel.
Europe was sure that there was large land area – islands in the west of the Atlantic Ocean. But the distance between that land area and Europe was unknown. Portuguese had organized travels towards the west from Madeira Islands, Azores and Green Cape Islands in the middle of XV century.
The author has written that, the reason of the failure of van Olmen and other Portuguese seamen might be as following: they had started their travel in inconvenient period of the year, hadn’t prepared well and hadn’t used Passats properly unlike Columbus.
The Portuguese seaman Vasco da Gama passed south of Africa and discovered seaway to India in 1498. Form and area of Africa was determined during the travel.
R. Daniz has written that, the history of geographical discoveries had met with new venture at the end of XV century. The expedition saw the coast of Brazil under the leadership of Pedro Alvaresh Cabral on April 22, 1500 and thus, Brazil was discovered officially. But that discovery remained in the history as “the discovery made by accident”.
According to the writer and researcher Ramiz Daniz, large land area discovered by Cabral in the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean wasn’t discovered by accident and it was the greatest lie of the Portugal kingdom told in XV century. It was impossible to lose way in the ocean, to sail thousands of kilometers blindfold with that expedition’s staff, experienced navigators and captains.
The author has noted that, even the most famous scientists of history accepted important geographical discoveries without investigating some events concerning concrete discovery and such discoveries went down in history as “casual discoveries”. “Casual” discovery of Brazil is obvious case of it.
According to results achieved by Ramiz Daniz, Cabral’s expedition fulfilled the secret task of the king Manuel I. The staff of the expedition had to prove existence of lands, which located on western coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, were known by Portuguese and was secret for the world community.
According to historical sources, participant of Cabral’s expedition – Duarte Pereira had been in lands located on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Pereira reached Brazilian coasts in 1494 for the first time in accordance with the secret task. Author’s investigations also proved it. Thus, Pereira could reach Brazilian coasts six years before Cabral and knew the way to that territory.
D. Pereira drew outlines of the coast line and determined its coordinates when reached Brazilian coasts. But as the seaman hurried to fulfill the king’s task, he couldn’t check the coast line and thought that the territory he discovered is an island, but not a continent. P. Cabral repeated that mistake after six years. Though Portuguese achieved their goals, they couldn’t even imagine that, the territory they had discovered was a continent.
Portuguese, who had enough necessary information, demanded to move the demarcation line towards 500 west longitude in order to ensure fair division as if they didn’t know anything about existence of Brazil. Representatives of Spaniards were sure that, Portuguese, who weren’t aware of existence of western lands, wanted to own some additional water basin in the ocean. They didn’t object to compromising useless ocean waters to Portuguese in order to avoid superfluous conflict. Portuguese had the luck and Columbus’s first travel was helpful for them. Only ocean waters had been drawn at 650-700 west longitude in his report.
According to the treaty of Tordesillas concluded in 1494, the demarcation line was moved for 370 liq – 460 30/ towards the west from Azores and Brazil became property of Portugal. Thus, Portuguese swindled Spaniards by means of the Pope Alexander Borgia VI and appropriated Brazil.
The author has noted that, such unjust division disclaimed efforts of Spaniards. Nevertheless Spaniards should be known as authors of the mentioned discovery as Brazilian coasts were visited by Spanish sea travelers Vicente Pinson and Diego Lepe for the first time (January and February of 1500).
Illustrations (pictures, map-schemas, demarcation line on the map, images of ancient and new maps and globes) are also one of positive features of the work. Those illustrations attract attention of readers and are very interesting.
The writer and researcher Ramiz Daniz has analyzed the history of geographical discoveries, knowledge got at the result of sea travels, activities of remarkable sea travelers and development of the science and cartography. The author has noted that, America had been described on the globe made by Martin Behaim (1492) and he has included the globe’s image in the book.
The Florentine scientist Paolo Toscanelli gained great fame in Europe for his well-known world map made in 1474. Toscanelli had told the Portugal king Alfonso V that, the Earth was spherical and it was possible to sail to India through the west. Ramiz Daniz has written following thought at the result of his investigations: Columbus had prepared his transatlantic project by means of the astronomic catalogue “Zij-i-Ilkhani” prepared by Nasiraddin Tusi, but not in accordance with the map made by P. Toscanelli.
Because of the struggle existing in the second half of XV century between Spain and Portugal for division of the world, most expeditions of that time fulfilled secret tasks. That’s why names of authors of some important discoveries kept secret. So the book “Enigmatic discovery of Brazil” is very significant for answering the question “Who has discovered Brazil”.
Ramiz Daniz has tried to elucidate obscurities of the complicated history and contradictious events of XV century. He has achieved this goal after learning historical sources and chronology. The author has described new thoughts and results after analyzing the chronology of the age of great geographical discoveries. He has decidedly investigated very complicated and interesting period of the history. There are too many information (historical personalities, events, well-known scientists, discoveries, new continents and territories, division of the world, development of navigation, geography and cartography, contradictory hypothesizes of scientists) concerning that period. The research work has been written by using interesting and rich historical and geographical information.
To our mind, “Enigmatic discovery of Brazil” written by the writer and researcher Ramiz Daniz is a successful work, which will rouse great interest in readers. We wish greater successes to the author!
Corresponding member of ANAS,
Academician Ramiz Mammadov
Candidate of geographical sciences