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Martim Afonso de Sousa
Martin Afonso de Souza.jpg
Painting of Martim Afonso de Sousa by Benedito Calixto
Governor of Portuguese India
In office
Monarch John III of Portugal
Preceded by Estêvão da Gama
Succeeded by João de Castro
1st Captain-major of the Captaincy of São Vicente
In office
Monarch John III of Portugal
Sebastian of Portugal
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Pero Lopes de Sousa
Personal details
Born c. 1500
Vila Viçosa, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 21 July 1564(1564-07-21) (aged 63–64)
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Spouse(s) Ana Pimentel
Children Pero Lopes de Sousa
Lopo Rodrigues de Sousa
Rodrigo Afonso de Sousa
Gonçalo Rodrigues de Sousa
Inês Pimentel
Brites Pimentel
b. Tristão de Sousa
b. Isabel Lopes de Sousa
Military service
Allegiance Portuguese Empire
Battles/wars Ottoman–Portuguese conflicts (1538–1557)

Martim Afonso de Sousa (c. 1500 – 21 July 1564) was a Portuguese fidalgo, explorer and colonial administrator.


Born in Vila Viçosa, he was commander of the first official Portuguese expedition into mainland of the colony of Brazil. Threatened by the presence of French ships along the coast of Brazil, the Portuguese crown in December 1530 sent a fleet with 400 people led by Martim Afonso de Sousa to establish control and explore. His mission was to place Portuguese markers as far south as the River Plate estuary, but he was shipwrecked there.

Upon return to São Vicente and Santos, in 1532 he led troops guided by the native inhabitants and by earlier Portuguese settlers such as João Ramalho up the Serra do Mar mountains to the area near the future village of São Paulo. On the high plateau, he founded the town of Santo André. He also established a sugar mill near the coast at São Vicente, with sugarcane brought from the Portuguese Cape Verde islands. In both activities, Afonso de Sousa established a pattern followed by Portuguese colonizers and Brazilians for long afterward: the "entradas" and "bandeiras" – or explorations and raids into the interior – and the production of sugar along the coast for export.

Sousa was the first Royal Governor of Brazil. He settled in the north-east region of the modern country.

Afonso de Sousa also helped decisively in the acquisition of Diu, in India for Portugal in 1535. From 1542 to 1545 he was governor of Portuguese India. His mandate was especially controversial.

A personal friend of King John III of Portugal, ever since his childhood because he was raised in the King´s household, Martim Afonso de Sousa claimed the concession of an earl title, after his government of India. He failed in this but he became a close advisor of Catherine of Austria, widow of John III of Portugal, when she ruled the Realm between 1557 and 1562. He died in Lisbon in 1564.

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