terça-feira, 16 de julho de 2019

Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai (4 de 4): o navio

Dom Manuel's prestige and apparent wealth benefitted from the new route to India. It is one representation of that, in its various guises, that will be discussed in this paper. Just as cartographers placed national flags on territories as symbols of discovery, occupation and power, Manuel set out to show the flag — in its more modern and imperial sense, in 1521, when he sent an armada to waft his daughter Beatriz to Villefranche in Savoy. This was by no means the first or last such Portuguese odyssey, but is perhaps the most grandiose and dramatically recorded.

Retrato do rei D. Manuel I, detalhe do vitral do coro da igreja do Mosteiro da Batalha, 1514-1518.
Google Arts & Culture

His intention is clear, especially in Gaspar Correia's account [J.Pereira da Costa, ed, G.Correia, Crónicas de D.Manuel e de D.João III (até 1533), Lisbon 1992; kindly drawn to the writer's attention by João Pedro Vaz]; as in the very considerable expenditure made on the voyage, and in the retinue ordered afloat: the fleet was sent explicitly to impress the cities along the route with his new wealth and maritime power: "And on all these great expenses the King wished, for his [or: her] grandeur to ordain for her going, which had to be by sea, that she should go with all the triumph and power that could be, for which he commanded and made ready in his court the most well-to-do fidalgos and heirs that he could find, so that he would bring about much more to improve the great expenditures that he would make and to set a lustre upon his great desire and will that he had for his daughter to go to her husband, and this so that in the lands through which they would pass, they should see his great grandeur and power" [...]

The fleet

The number of ships assembled varies from one account to another, but was about twenty. That included four great naos belonging to Manuel, probably one Savoyard ship ("the Ambassador's"), four other naos, two galeões, three caravelas, four galleys, up to four smaller oared vessels, store ships, and a store ship belonging to the Archbishop; variously eighteen to twenty-five in total [From the detailed lists of Correia, Góis and Resende. Osório has 22 (but 19 in Gibbs' 1752 translation); an Italian source 25].

Portuguese Carracks off a Rocky Coast, c. 1540.
Royal Museums Greenwich
Two store ships were the Infanta's, and one, interestingly, a ship laden with conserves and fruit from Madeira (Correia). Whether that was primarily a provision for the Royal party, or a reflection of the known value of some citrus fruits as anti-scorbutics (da Gama having sought them out, very clearly, at every port of call on his first voyage, and marmelada being a standard provision - albeit of uncertain value in that sense), is not known. According to Resende, one caravela carried only aves e caça - hunting birds and dogs, and the exotic birds and animals paraded in Nice, rather than provisions.

Resende records that the fleet was issued with 537 additional bronze guns for the voyage: 102 heavy bombards, 35 falcões, 50 lagartixas (a type name otherwise almost unknown) and 350 berços. The last three types were smaller guns, usually mounted on swivels in the castles and on the gunwales of ships. How these were distributed is not known, but if the figure is reliable, it would have required significant alterations to the ships, as they retained all the guns they were wont to carry. If distributed in proportion to tonnage, the Santa Catarina would have received some 20 extra heavy guns, and almost 90 swivel guns. That is in fact not far short of the maximum number discernible in the Greenwich painting. A large caravela might receive four heavy guns, and sixteen others - approximately the maximum number known to have been carried by lateen caravelas at any time. It is however known that from about this time, the new galeões at least were intended to carry much heavier armaments, exceeding the numbers at least of heavy guns supposed for the Santa Catarina, in smaller ships; though whether the guns were normally available in such numbers is another matter.

The flagship

The flagship was the Santa Catarina de Monte Sinai - a name reflecting pre-occupation with Prester John. This was a vessel of 700 or 800 toneís [Góis has 1,000; Correia only 450 toneís, which is small for all the decks described. Osório claims that some of the fleet were the largest ships ever seen in Portugal, not literally true even for the Santa Catarina at 1,000, but two were unusually large], built in Cochim in India from c.1512, but only commissioned in 1517, just in time for the attack on Jeddah - it appears in one of Correia's sketches for Lendas da Índia, notionally, and in that it has four masts and a relatively low forecastle [Felner ed. 1861, Vol.2.2. The text at least was compiled much later - c.1560.]. It had made two voyages to Lisbon by 1521. According to Rodrigues it was the largest and most powerful ship of the Carreira da Índia at that time [Bernardo Rodrigues, Anais de Arzila, ed. D.Lopes, Lisbon 1915, Book 2 Chapter 77 (Vol.I, pp333-4). Though this text was not written until about 1560, Rodrigues was in Arzila about 1521. He records a general state of hunger and plague in both North Africa and "all Spain" that year, so that many of the ships returned from Villefranche, on Manuel's instructions, via Sicily and Puglia, to load wheat for Lisbon]; though commenced before the advent of galeões as explicit fighting units. Certainly the ships depicted in the Greenwich painting are naos from that era, with relatively little heavy artillery, and none below the weather deck.

Retábulo de Santa Auta, painel central, Martírio de Santa Úrsula e das Onze Mil Virgens, c. 1520-1525.

The structural changes made to the ship, only recorded by Correia, included major internal changes to create cabins and wardrobes in the lower decks of the sterncastle, and isolating them for the Ladies, with spiral staircases (caracois) for access. That in turn required the main capstan to be moved, and the construction of a gallery on the side and stern for the seamen to get to the rudder - explicitly worked from outside the ship. A second gallery was provided for additional accommodation. (Galleries are discussed below). The upper deck was given a false and level floor on the tolda, or half-deck, and covered with brocade canopies - conspicuously absent in the Greenwich painting - and gilded within, and the receptions were held there. It also served as the dining room for the Infanta and nobility. This sala was probably no more than about 10 metres long, tapering from 11 to 7 metres broad [Based on 800 toneís, 18 rumo keel, 55 palmos de goa maximum breadth, a transom of 28 palmos, and proportions of the upperworks estimated from the painting. They are indicative dimensions only, probably correct to about a metre, but all very debatable]. The apartments were fitted with lavish hangings and furniture, cited at length by Resende; who also claims that the damask tilt on the sterncastle extended to the water like that of a galley. We might notice that in the Tunis tapestries from the Real Alcazar, Seville, depicting the events of 1535, the Portuguese São João, alone amongst the allied fleet, is depicted with a tented structure in rich fabrics over the half-deck, and another over the poop-deck, whose drapes do indeed extend much further as in the tilt of a galley, though not to the water. The smaller Portuguese ships in the background also have the awnings over the poop-deck, displaying armillary spheres.

Access to the ship from the bulwarks of the Terreiro do Paço was by a wooden bridge built over boats, arcaded, and hung with tapestries, and with staircases up to the ship's rail, and down to the half-deck.

The subsequent history of the ship is controversial. It made one return voyage to India in the fleet of August 1523, as da Gama's flagship, reaching Goa in September 1524. It set out again from Cochim in January 1525, carrying D.Luís de Menezes, and in company with a second ship returning the disgraced D.Duarte de Menezes to Lisbon, and one other. They reached Moçambique, and the brothers probably deliberately delayed to hear news from Lisbon from the 1524 fleet. In the event they wintered there - the Santa Catarina was besides said to be so leaky on arrival that it had to be unloaded for repairs - an indication of how fast a ship could decay, even when built, as this ship presumably was, of teak. When they did sail D.Duarte turned aside to water at Saldanha (itself surprising), the third ship with it; and they were supposed to meet at Santa Helena. There was then a severe storm that nearly drove D.Duarte's ship ashore at Saldanha. No more was ever seen of the Santa Catarina. Rumour (which sparked searches of the East African coast on Manuel's orders, obviously rather belatedly) said that the ship had turned back deliberately because D.Luís did not wish to return to Portugal; even that he had taken up piracy. Some years later a ring was delivered to João III purporting to have been taken from D.Luís by French pirates who had intercepted the weakened and sinking ship off southern Portugal, heading for the Algarve, and the crew had been slaughtered and the ship robbed and sunk. In 1536 a captured French pirate was identified as the brother of the pirate in that incident. Whether true or not, this led to vicious reprisals against those French, and reciprocal atrocities. De la Roncière notes letters of marque generally in the period 1524-1537, but does not record these episodes. A more likely explanation is simply that the ship sank in the Southern Atlantic, probably in the storm experienced by D.Duarte, unable to reach Santa Helena, let alone the Azores, or the Algarve direct [...]

(Presented in May 2002, at the joint XI Reunião Internacional da História da Náutica e da Hidrografia and VIII Jornadas de História Ibero-Americana, in Portimão; published in "translation" by Instituto de Cultura Ibero-Atlântica, in As novidades do mundo; conhecimento e representação na época moderna, Colibri, Lisbon 2003). A "translation" was sent for approval a few weeks before publication, and contained some 250 errors that changed the meaning of the text. The published result was hardly better. The author wishes to dissociate himself from the published version.) (1)

(1) Richard Barker, Showing the flag in 1521: wafting Beatriz to Savoy

Informaçao relacionada:
Richard Barker, Sources for Lusitanian shipbuilding
Ana Isabel Buescu, A infanta beatriz de portugal e o seu casamento na casa de Sabóia (1504-1521)
Royal Museums Greenwich
Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai (military wikia)
Master of Seas

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