Brandão, Ambrósio Fernandes

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BRANDÃO, AMBRÓSIO FERNANDES (c. 1560–c. 1630), Portuguese author and soldier. Brandão distinguished himself as an officer in the Portuguese campaigns against the French and Indians in northern Brazil. In 1583 he lived in Pernambuco (Recife) where, like many other New Christians of the region, he practiced Judaism in secret. For attending services at a clandestine synagogue Brandão was denounced to the Inquisition in Bahia in October 1591. His name was again mentioned during the trial of another Judaizer, Bento *Teixeira Pinto, in January 1594 and he was once more denounced to the Holy Office in Lisbon in 1606. Brandão nevertheless managed to retain his freedom and eventually settled in Paraíba, where he owned sugar mills during the years 1613 to 1627. There he died prior to the Dutch invasion. Brandão is the reputed author of the Diálogos das Grandezas do Brasil (1618), one of the two outstanding works on the history of Brazil composed in the 17th century. In the Diálogos, which reflect local conditions in about 1618, conversations are conducted between Brandosio (i.e., Brandão himself) and Alviano (Nuño Alvares, a colleague who was also a New Christian and was similarly denounced to the Holy Office). Brandão claimed that the Brazilian Indians are descended from children of Israel who reached the Americas during the reign of Solomon, but Alviano disagreed with this view. The work contains a number of other references to the Jews.


A. Wiznitzer, Jews in Colonial Brazil (1960), 19, 26–8, 32.