Hermenegildo Capelo


Hermenegildo Capelo : biography

1841 – 1917


Between 1884 and 1885, Capelo and Ivens explored between the coastline of Angola and the Huila plain and later through the interior of Quelimane in Mozambique. As they continued their hydrographic studies and observations of river flow and drainage patterns, but also taking notes on the ethnographic and the linguistic characters of the people they encountered, they established a long-sought-after route via land between the coasts of Angola and Mozambique, exploring the vast regions of the interior located between these two territories. Their achievements were recorded in a two-volume book titled: De Angola à Contra-Costa (From Angola to the Other Coast).

Capelo and Ivens began this expedition on January 6, 1884, and returned to Lisbon on September 20, 1886, where they were triumphantly received by King Luís I of Portugal.

Later career

Capelo became aide-de-camp to King Luis I and King Carlos I of Portugal and chief of the military house of King Manuel II, Plenipotentiary Minister of Portugal with the Sultan of Zanzibar and created a geographical map of the province of Angola.

Capelo was promoted to rear-admiral on May 17, 1902, and to vice-admiral on January 18, 1906. Dedicated to King Manuel II, Capelo accompanied His Majesty until he was exiled on October 5, 1910. On the 24th of the same month, Capelo was dismissed and his military career ended.

Early life

Hermenegildo de Brito Capelo was born in Palmela, Portugal, a town about south of Lisbon. He was one of six brothers and his father was Major Félix António Gomes Capelo.

In 1860, Capelo sailed to Angola, in southwest Africa, and served on board the D Estefânia, which was commanded by Prince Luís, staying for three years at a naval station before returning to Lisbon in 1863. He sailed to Africa again in 1866, visiting Angola, where he remained until 1869.

Before returning to Lisbon in 1876, his travels took him to Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea and Qing Dynasty China.