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Ramalho, João (c. 1490–c. 1580)

Ramalho, João (c. 1490–c. 1580)

João Ramalho (b. c. 1490; d. c. 1580), earliest permanent Portuguese resident of southern Brazil. Born in Vouzela, Portugal, Ramalho was stranded on the coast near São Vicente around 1513 and lived for many years among the Tupinikin, marrying Chief Tibiriçá's daughter Bartira. Wielding extraordinary influence among the Indians, Ramalho "could assemble five thousand warriors in a single day," according to contemporary traveler Ulrich Schmidl. With these attributes of an Indian headman, Ramalho played a central role in guaranteeing the European occupation of São Vicente, as he persuaded his indigenous relatives to form an alliance with the Portuguese against their mortal enemies, the Tupinambá (Tamoio). Ramalho's village on the interior plateau was one of the nuclei that later formed São Paulo, where he died.

See alsoBrazil: The Colonial Era, 1500–1808; Indigenous Peoples; São Vicente.


The role of Portuguese castaways in early relations with the Indians is discussed summarily in Alexander Marchant, From Barter to Slavery (1942), and in James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America (1983), chap. 6. On the early formation of São Paulo, Richard Morse, From Community to Metropolis (1958), provides an excellent starting point.

Additional Bibliography

Dos Santos, Vasco. João Ramalho: Memórias dum povoador. Lisboa, Portugal: Universitária Editora, 2001.

                                    John M. Monteiro

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