Gaspar Corte Real

Gaspar Corte Real
He was an explorer. Little is known of the early years of Corte Real's life, except what has been deduced by historians. According to Henry Harrisse (1892) Gaspar Corte Real was born about the year 1450. He was the youngest of three sons of Joad Vaz Corte Real (who himself may have visited Newfoundland before John Cabot). As a youth he supposedly lived in Lisborn as a servant to the Duke of Beja, who later became King Manuel of Portugal. In 1480 Corte Real moved to the Azores to administer lands given to him by his father.

According to Dr. F.F. Lopes (1957) Corte Real received a charter from King Manuel of Portugal on May 12, 1500 to discover and claim jurisdiction over lands in the New World. That summer he left Lisbon with one ship, possibly picking up another ship at the island of Terceira. Upon reaching North American Shores Corte Real found a land full of large trees and fertile soil. This land he named Greenland or Terra Verte. B.G. Hoffaman(1961) states that "From the description of the "Terra Verte' or Land of Corte Real' to be found in the Cantino and Pasqualigo, as well as in the accounts by Galcano and Goes, and in the 'Iocalize general de todas ilas del mundo,' localized Corte Real's explorations as having taken place in the Newfoundland area."

Local Historians such as W.G. Gosling (1910) and Hatton and Harvey (1883) have further hypothesised that Corte Real named Conception Bay and Portugal Cove, explored Trinity Bay, the Northeast coast of the island and the Strait of Belle Isle, and started the first fishery in Conception Bay. Heavy ice conditions prevented Corte Real's northern advance and he returned to Portugal.

The following year, with three ships, he again set out on an expedition bound for Terra Verte. After travelling along what was probably the coast of Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland the expedition captured perhaps sixty native men and one native woman. The ships separated, probably along the southern part of the island and two ships and seven captives returned to Portugal. Corte Real is said to have headed in a southern direction; it is not known for certain, however, since he was never heard from again. Miguel Corte Real attempted to find his brother but his expedition ended as mysteriously as Gaspar's.

Castle Hill National Historic Park

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