Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rafael Perestrello

Rafael Perestrello was a explorer and a cousin of Filipa Moniz Perestrello, the wife of the famed explorer Christopher Columbus. He is best known for having been the first to land on the southern shores of mainland China in 1516 and 1517 to trade in Guangzhou,

Family background

Filippo Perestrello , son of Gabriele Palastrelli and wife ''Madama'' Bertolina, was a nobleman from the Italian city of Piacenza who moved with his wife Catarina Sforza to Portugal in 1385, living in Porto and then in Lisbon to conduct trade. Filippo and Catarina had four children: Richarte , Isabel , Branca and , the latter of whom would become the father-in-law to Christopher Columbus when Christopher married his daughter Filipa. bringing back profitable trade items and glowing reports about China's commercial potential. In fact, his report on China was one of the main reasons why Fern?o Pires de Andrade decided to carry out his mission in going to China instead of Bengal in 1517.

Rafael Perestrello's mission was followed up in 1517 by the Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires and pharmacist, merchant, and diplomat Fern?o Pires de Andrade, in a diplomatic mission to Ming China commissioned by Manuel I of Portugal . Initial trade and diplomatic missions were temporarily ruined once wild rumors of Portuguese cannibalizing Chinese children was coupled with real events of Portuguese settlers breaking Chinese laws, pillaging Chinese villages, and taking off with female captives; the Chinese responded by burning and capturing Portuguese ships, detaining Portuguese prisoners, and executing some who were captured. The ex-sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca had also sent diplomatic envoys to Ming Dynasty China to seek aid in expelling the Portuguese from Malacca; although this was never carried out, the sultan's mission did succeed in convincing the Ming court in rejecting the Portuguese embassy of Andrade and Pires after the death of the Zhengde Emperor in 1521.

Despite these initial hostilities, a Portuguese settlement was already reestablished at Macau by 1537 and granted consent by the Chinese government in 1557,

A captain in Sumatra

Rafael served as a captain under Jorge de Albuquerque, the younger cousin of Afonso, when the former was governor of Malacca and battled against the Kingdom of Pacem in Sumatra in 1514 in order to install a ruler there that was friendly to Portuguese interests. While Rafael Perestrello's crew was aiding Jorge de Albuquerque's siege on a fort and large stockade defended by these Sumatran "Moors", a of Rafael's troops named Marquez was—according to the historian Jo?o de Barros—the first man to scale the heights of the stockade during the fight. The battle against the well-defended fort and ruler of Pacem was a success; Albuquerque saw to the installment of the next ruler and favorable trade demands of low prices for Southeast Asian sold to the Portuguese. During Jorge de Albuquerque's second tour of duty, he defeated Mahmud Shah of Malacca at Bintan in 1524, forcing the latter to flee once again, this time to the Malay Peninsula.

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