Tomé de Sousa

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Tomé de Sousa
1st Governor-General of Brazil
In office
Monarch John III of Portugal
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Duarte da Costa
Personal details
Born 1503
Rates, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 1579 (aged 75–76)
Kingdom of Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Spouse(s) Maria da Costa
Children Helena de Sousa
Francisco de Sousa
Garcia de Sousa
Iria de Sousa
Ana de Sousa
Military service
Allegiance Portuguese Empire

Tomé de Sousa (1503-1579) was the first governor-general of the Portuguese colony of Brazil from 1549 until 1553. He was a nobleman and soldier born in Rates, Póvoa de Varzim. Sousa was born a noble and participated in military expeditions in Africa, fought the Moors and commanded the nau Conceição to Portuguese India, part of the armada of Fernão de Andrade.

Sousa in Brazil[edit]

Sousa was the agent in charge of restoring the king's authority in Colonial Brazil. Up until this point, Brazil had been neglected by Portugal, which was putting all of its resources into the spice trade in India. There was a decline in the spice trade and increasing threats around Brazil's borders by the surrounding Spanish colonies, which prompted Portugal to intervene, as part of this mission, Sousa had established his capital city of Salvador at Bahia on the Atlantic coast between São Paulo and Pernambuco. The new capital was supposed to bring together the twelve pre-existing settlements, though Sousa traversed the bordering areas in an effort to promote his idea of justice and to diminish what the Portuguese saw as the lawlessness and chaos of the region, he planned on making the colony a strong military base to protect the Portuguese settlers from Indian or other outside forces. He brought 1,000 colonists and soldiers with him on an expedition to Brazil, including four hundred degredados - "men banished from Portugal for some minor criminal activity."[1] Among the colonists were six Jesuits, the first in Brazil, whom he assisted in the christianization of the natives and helped to reaffirm the King's rule over the colonies, he was successful in decreasing the hostilities waged against the colonists by native people, in part through diplomatic avenues but primarily through his use of cruel and often extreme punishment.

Return to Portugal[edit]

In 1552, Sousa suggested that Rio de Janeiro might be a potential area for settlement and in 1553 he returned to Portugal to work with the King, acting as his adviser on Brazilian affairs. Sousa also helped to attract settlers to Brazil by installing municipal organizations, similar to the ones in Portugal, into the cities, he also managed to appoint local officials over the captaincies and strengthened tactical areas around the coast that would be beneficial to the safety of the citizens.

Further reading[edit]

Crow, John A. The Epic of Latin America, Fourth Edition. University of California Press. 1992


  1. ^ Crow, John A. The Epic of Latin America Page 225

External links[edit]