Pedro Fernandes de Queirós bigraphy, stories - Portuguese explorer

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós : biography

1565 - 1614

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós (), (1565–1614) was a Portuguese navigator best known for his involvement with Spanish voyages of discovery in the Pacific Ocean, in particular the 1595-1596 voyage of Alvaro de Mendaña de Neira, and for leading a 1605-1606 expedition which crossed the Pacific in search of Terra Australis.

Early life

Queirós was born in Évora, Portugal in 1565. As a young man he entered Spanish service and became an experienced seaman and navigator. In April 1595 he joined Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira on his voyage to colonise the Solomon Islands, serving as pilot. After Mendaña’s death in October 1595 he is credited with taking command and saving the only remaining ship of the expedition, arriving in the Philippines in February 1596.

Queirós in modern literature

Building on this tradition, the Australian poet James McAuley (1917–76) wrote an epic called Captain Quiros (1964), in which he depicted Queirós as a martyr for the cause of Catholic Christian civilisation (although he did not repeat the claim that Queirós had discovered Australia). The heavily political overtones of the poem caused it to be coldly received at a time when much politics in Australia was still coloured by Catholic-Protestant sectarianism.

"Bitter indeed the chalice that he drank For no man's pride accepts to cheap a rate As not to call on Heaven to vindicate His worth together with the cause he served."

(James McAuley, Captain Quiros)

The Australian writer John Toohey published a novel, Quiros, in 2002.Quiros, Toohey, J. (2002) Duffy & Snellgrove; Potts Point, N.S.W, ISBN 1-876631-24-4

The Search for Terra Australis

In 1598 Queirós returned to Spain and petitioned King Philip III to support another voyage into the Pacific. A devout Catholic, Queirós also visited Rome in 1600, where he obtained the support of the Pope, Clement VIII, for further explorations. He greatly impressed the Spanish Ambassador in Rome, the Duke of Sesa, who described him as a “man of good judgement, experienced in his profession, hard working, quiet and disinterested.” While in Rome Queirós also first wrote his Treatise on Navigation as a letter to the king, further reinforcing his reputation as a navigator. In March 1603 Queirós was finally authorized to return to Peru to establish another expedition, with the intention of finding Terra Australis, the mythical "great south land," and claiming it for Spain and the Church. Queirós's party of 160 men on three ships, San Pedro y San Pablo (150 tons), San Pedro (120 tons) and the tender (or launch) Los Tres Reyes left Callao on 21 December 1605.Estensen, M. (2006) Terra Australia Incognita; The Spanish Quest for the Great South Land p.111-113. Allen & Unwin, Australia ISBN 978-1-74175-054-6

In January 1606 the expedition discovered Henderson Island and Ducie Island. It discovered the Buen Viaje Islands (Butaritari and Makin). In May 1606 the expedition reached the islands later called the New Hebrides and now the independent nation of Vanuatu. Queirós landed on a large island which he took to be part of the southern continent, and named it Australia del Espiritu Santo.Sir Clements Markham (ed.), The Voyages of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, 1595 1606, Hakluyt Society, 1904, Vol.1, pp.251, 478; Brendan Whyte, “Australia or Austrialia? A Correction”, The Globe, no.69, 2011, p.51. In some his later memorials, notably the Eighth, this was altered to Austrialia del Espiritu Santo (The Austrian Land of the Holy Spirit) to flatter King Philip III, who was of the House of Austria. A. Lodewyckx, "The Name of Australia: Its Origins and Early Use", The Victorian Historical Magazine, vol.13, no.3, June 1929, pp.99-115. The island is still called Espiritu Santo. Here he stated his intention to establish a colony, to be called Nova Jerusalem.

Queirós's religious fervour found expression with the founding of a new Order of Chivalry, the Knights of the Holy Ghost. The Order’s purpose was to protect the new colony. However, within weeks the idea of a colony was abandoned due to the hostility of the Ni-Vanuatu and to disagreements among the crew.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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