As Madagascar was known in the West at least since the 12th century, the Portuguese were presumably aware of its existence. At any rate the first Portuguese ship to sight it was apparently one of the fleet of Pedro Álvares Cabral - probably on 10th August 1500, whence the name of Isle of Saint Lawrence as the island is referred to in Portuguese sources. Madagascar was met with a second time by Afonso de Albuquerque, who in February 1504 navigated the coast of the island from Cape Amber to Cape Saint Andrew. Knowledge of Madagascar improved during the year 1506: in February Fernão Soares sailed along the whole East shore; and in October two ships of the fleet of Afonso de Albuquerque sighted again the island. Albuquerque and Tristão da Cunha explored the coast between Capes St Andrew and Amber; one of their ships was able to explore the East coast up to Matatana, where it was well received - a fact that gave the Portuguese King the idea of using it as a port of call. The news that reached the Portuguese court exaggerated the riches of the island, and accredited the belief that the source of cloves and nutmeg lay nearby. This led King Emmanuel to report the good news to the Pope. In 1508, he sent an expedition to explore Madagascar, which caused the myth of the "New India" or "Taprobana Major" to collapse.
|Translated title of the contribution||The discovery of Madagascar by the Portuguese in the 16th century|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|