João de Barros


João de Barros

Infobox Writer
name = João de Barros
birthdate = 1496
birthplace = Portugal
deathdate = October 20, death year and age|1570|1496|mf=y
deathplace = Portugal
occupation = historian
genre =
movement =
notableworks = Décadas da Ásia
influences =
influenced =

João de Barros (pronounced|ʒuˈɐ̃w̃ dɨ ˈbaʁuʃ) (1496–October 20, 1570), called the "Portuguese Livy", is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his "Décadas da Ásia" ("Decades of Asia"), a history of the Portuguese in India and Asia.

Early years

Educated in the palace of Manuel I of Portugal, he composed, at the age of twenty, a romance of chivalry, the "Chronicle of the Emperor Clarimundo", in which he is said to have had the assistance of Prince John (afterwards King John III). Upon ascending the throne, he awarded Barros the captaincy of the fortress of St George of Elmina, to which he proceeded in 1522. In 1525, he obtained the post of treasurer of the India House, which he held until 1528.

The pestilence of 1530 drove him from Lisbon to his country house near Pombal, and there he finished a moral dialogue, "Rho pica Pneuma", which met with the applause of the Juan Luís Vives. On his return to Lisbon in 1532 the king appointed Barros factor of the India and Mina House—positions of great responsibility and importance at a time when Lisbon was the European center for the trade of the East. Barros proved a good administrator, displaying great industry and a disinterestedness rare in that age, with the result that he made but little money where his predecessors had amassed fortunes. At this time, John III, wishing to attract settlers to Brazil, divided it up into captaincies and gave that of Maranhão to Barros, who, with two partners, prepared an armada of ten vessels, carrying nine hundred men each, which set sail in 1539. Owing to the ignorance of the pilots, the whole fleet was shipwrecked, which entailed serious financial loss to Barros. As a gesture of goodwill, Barros subsequently paid the debts of those who had perished in the expedition.During these years he had continued his studies in his leisure hours, and shortly after the Brazilian disaster he offered to write a history of the Portuguese in India, the "Décadas da Ásia", which the king accepted. He began work forthwith, but, before printing the first part, he published a Portuguese grammar (1539) [In full, "Grammatica da lingua portuguesa cem os mandamentos da santa mádre igréja" ("Grammar of the Portuguese language with the commandments of Holy Mother Church")] and some further moral Dialogues.

"Decades of Asia"

The first of the "Décadas da Ásia" ("Decades of Asia") appeared in 1552, and its reception was such that the king straightway charged Barros to write a chronicle of King Manuel. His many occupations, however, prevented him from undertaking this book, which was finally composed by Damião de Góis. The second "Decade" came out in 1553 and the third in 1563, but the fourth and final one was not published until 1615, long after the author’s death.

His "Decades" contain the early history of the Portuguese in India and Asia and reveal careful study of Eastern historians and geographers, as well as of the records of his own country. They are distinguished by clearness of exposition and orderly arrangement. They are also lively accounts, for example describing the king of Viantana's killing of the Portuguese ambassadors to Malacca with boiling water and then throwing their bodies to the dogs.

Diogo de Couto continued the "Décadas", adding nine more, and a modern edition of the whole appeared in Lisbon in 14 vols. in 1778—1788 as "Da Asia de João de Barros, dos feitos que os Portuguezes fizeram no descubrimento e conquista dos mares e terras do Oriente". The edition is accompanied by a volume containing a life of Barros by the historian Manoel Severim de Faria and a copious index of all the "Decades".

Later years

In January 1568 Barros retired from his remunerative appointment at the India House, receiving the rank of Fidalgo together with a pension and other pecuniary emoluments from King Sebastian, and died on 20 October 1570.

References

*

External links

* [http://joaodebarros.tripod.com Portuguese Site about João de Barros containing information about his life and work - "by BrunoF"]

Persondata
NAME= Barros, João de
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= De Barros, João; Barros, Juan de; Barros, Joam de
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Portuguese historian
DATE OF BIRTH= 1496
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH= October 20, 1570
PLACE OF DEATH=


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