BARROS, João de. Vila Verde, Viseu (?), Portugal 1496? — Ribeira de Litém near Pombal 20.10.1570. Portuguese Humanist, Civil Servant, and Contemporary Historian of Early Colonial India. Illegitimate son of nobleman Lopo de Barros from Northern Portugal. Attracted attention of the court with his literary products. In 1522 he was sent to Guinea by João III, then treasurer of Casa da India 1525-28. In charge of Casa da India e Mina in Lisbon in 1533-39 and with intervals until 1567. Nominated to head the captaincy of Maranhão 1535, Brazil, suffered a shipwreck and had to return, began then to write his great history with royal approval. Although he himself never went beyond Guinea, he had good sources and wrote one of the best accounts of his time of the Portuguese colonial empire from its beginnings to the year 1539. He also collected Oriental manuscripts and let them be translated by native scholars. Thus he was able to include much important information also for earlier times. Volume IV. was published posthumously, and vol. V. is just a draft. The work was then continued by —> Diogo do Couto. After his death his other papers were lost.
Publications: Crónica do Imperador Clarimundo. Coimbra 1520 (a romance).
– Several moral, pedagogic, and grammatical works; his elementary ABC-primer with catechismus (1539) became the model of numerous similar works.
– Décadas da Ásia. I. Lisbon 1552; II. 1505–15. L. 1553; III. 1516–25. L. 1563; IV. 1526–38. L. 1615; V. Madrid 1615, new ed. by A. A. & G. A. Grillo, 1886, 6th ed. by H. Cidade and M. Múrias. 1-4. 1945-46.
– The History of Ceylon, from the Earliest Times to 1600 A.D., as related by João de Barros and Diogo de Couto. Transl. and edited by D. Ferguson. 445 p. JRAS-CBr 20:60. Colombo 1908.
Sources: Encyclopædia Britannica; *Ch.R. Boxer, JdeB – Portuguese Humanist and Historian of Asia. N.D. 1981; M.L. Pires, Literature of Travel and Explor. 1, 2003, 74f.; Wikipedia with portrait.
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