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"As many as my letter of power comes, I know that I send it to Martim Afonso de Souza from my advice as Captain-General of the fleet that I send to the land of Brazil and thus of all the lands he finds and discovers (…) to the captains of the said armada, and nobles, knights, squires, people of arms, pilots, masters, seafarers and all the other people that there is to said Martim Afonso de Souza for captain of the said armada and lands and obey him in everything and for whatever you send them. "
This letter was dispatched by the King of Portugal, Dom João 3o, on November 20, 1530, granting jurisdiction to Martim Afonso de Souza over all members of his armada and all inhabitants of Brazil.
Martim Afonso de Souza belonged to a noble family. Living in court, he was named page of the Duke of Bragança and, later, of the infant Dom João, future king of Portugal. In 1521, he went to Castile, accompanying the court of Dona Leonor, widow of King Dom Manuel.
In Salamanca, Martim Afonso married Dona Ana Pimentel, a noblewoman of Castile.
After Dom João 3rd ascended the throne, Martim Afonso de Souza was commanded by the first colonizing expedition of Brazilian territory. On December 3, 1530, the expedition of Martim Afonso de Souza left for Brazil. A total of 400 men boarded five ships with the mission of promoting the defense, recognition and exploration of the Brazilian coast.
On April 30, 1531, Martim Afonso de Souza, after leaving a few men on the coast of Pernambuco, sailed to Guanabara Bay and headed towards Rio da Prata. He went back up the Brazilian coast and landed in São Vicente.
On January 22, 1532, Saint Vincent officially became the first village founded in the colony. Later, when the Brazilian territory was divided into hereditary captaincies, Martim Afonso de Souza received the captaincy of São Vicente and Rio de Janeiro.
Martim Afonso de Souza returned to Portugal in 1533. The following year, he was appointed chief captain of the Indian Sea to defend the Portuguese factories from private attacks and foreign occupations. He successfully led several military operations, including the expulsion of the Calicute rajah and the occupation of the island of Repelina.
In 1542, Martim Afonso de Souza was appointed Viceroy of the Indies. He probably returned to Portugal in 1545. According to some historians, he took a seat on the Council of State, but, according to others, departed from public life on charges of illicit enrichment.
Martim Afonso de Souza died in Lisbon in 1571 and was buried in the Convent of São Francisco. His son - Pero Lopes de Souza - was designated by inheritance the captaincy of St. Vincent.