Depicts Pedro Álvares Cabral with a 16th-century Portuguese ship in the background, country name above.
Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467 or 1468 – c. 1520) was a Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil. In 1500 Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal.
His fleet of 13 ships sailed far into the western Atlantic Ocean, perhaps intentionally, and made landfall (April 1500) on what he initially assumed to be a large island. As the new land was within the Portuguese sphere according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, Cabral claimed it for the Portuguese Crown. He explored the coast, realizing that the large land mass was probably a continent, and dispatched a ship to notify King Manuel I of the new territory. The continent was South America, and the land he had claimed for Portugal later came to be known as Brazil.
Historians have long argued whether Cabral was Brazil's discoverer, and whether the discovery was accidental or intentional. The first question has been settled by the observation that the few, cursory encounters by explorers before him were barely noticed at the time and contributed nothing to the future development and history of the land which would become Brazil, the sole Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. On the second question, no definite consensus has been formed, and the intentional discovery hypothesis lacks solid proof. Nevertheless, although he was overshadowed by contemporary explorers, historians consider Cabral to be a major figure of the Age of Discovery.