What was the name of the famous 15th Century Portuguese explorer? His name I believe ended in " ---RAL." 
Thank you. 
Norman Kenney

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Dear Mr. Kinney,
The following are the names of two Portuguese explorers of the 15th century: Pedro Alvares Cabral and Gonçalo Velho Cabral. The book, The Portuguese Making of America lists these and many others as well as a summary of the History of Portugal. You may purchase it through amazon.com or direct from the Foundation.
Thank you
Susan Deetz,
Executive Secretary

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Greetings, The Forgotten Portuguese: The Melungeons And Other Groups; The Portuguese Making of America, by Manuel Mira is, quite simply, remarkable,

As a student of history with a strong interest in Portuguese/Spanish/African and Mexican genealogy, I was both delighted and awed to find the Mr. Mira's book contributed to this field; indeed this book was more than thorough in examining and investigating the Melungeons presence in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and various other places in America, and even examined the etymology of the word Melungeon, considering African, Greek and Turkish origins. I am somewhat envious.

I understand and identify with Mr. Mira's passion in investigating the origins of the Melungeons, as I have a passion for examining, from all angles, the origins of the Almada family; so far as the Melungeons are concerned, I too believe that they are descendants from a Portuguese root, multifarious branches of a much larger tree. I studied with great interest the Appendix lists, which gave the full names and/or surnames of Portuguese Navigators, Explores and Missionaries, the record of weddings between Portuguese men and native women, the Caravel list with its Captains and especially the record of Common Melungeon and Portuguese surnames.

The Appendix C list mentioned three Almeidas, and as the P.A.H.R.F knows Almeida is a town in northern Portugal and is a name common among Sephardic Jews; I have long suspected a correlation between Almeida and Almada, a town in central Portugal, but in my ongoing research I have yet to find any connection. Nevertheless, I found the record of the Common Surnames most illuminating, for indeed Mr. Mira placed the English/Melungeon surname of Amadas next to the Portuguese surnames Amada...and Almada.

While I accept that this may just be a coincidence, nonetheless I read in the paragraph above the list that Mr. Mira compiled the surnames from Santa Elena settlers, scholarly research and personal interviews. The possible Almada-Melungeon connection was, for me, one of the guilty pleasures of the book, and I say guilty only because I perused Mr. Mira's work hunting for any morsel of information on the Almadas. As the P.A.H.R.F already knows, Almada is a town in central Portugal across the Tejo (tagus) from Lisbon; however I am not Portuguese, and an about three cultures, and three languages, removed from it (American, Mexican and Spanish).

According to my research in public and university libraries and on the internet, the Almadas were a Portuguese clan of noble lineage, whose finder was "Liberache", an English Knight who along with other English and Norman soldiers accepted land from King Alfonso Henriques if they would remain in Portugal and fight in the Reconquista against the Moors. From that time forward, the Almadas were primarily a Portuguese family; when or why the migrated into Spain I am not certain, but I do know that the Almadas in Mexico had as their founder Antonio Almada, a mining engineer from Spain.

When or why the Mexican Almadas migrated into America I am not certain; nor do I know with certainty that I am related to them or the Spanish/Portuguese Almadas. If all this reads as self-important narcissism or hubris I apologize; surely there were and are families with far more illustrious histories, however I was long ago compelled to flesh out a family history of the Almadas, and hope to one day do so in book form. My father was Mexican American, my mother African America, but sadly, in my genealogical research I have uncovered much material and paternal sides of my father’s family but very little of my mother’s; for this reason I was quite pleased that Mr. Mira, rather than avoid Portugal’s active participation in and explanation of the African slave trade tackled it head on in the section "Brief History of Slavery". 

I understand that Mr. Mira invites corrections, omissions, or suggestions to go into the next edition of Forgotten Portuguese, and the topics I would like to suggest for the updated version concern esoteric points of Portuguese history. Admittedly, they intertwine with my research on the Almada family, and unfortunately, I cannot link them with the history of the Melungeons; however I believe the esoteric historical points could be added to an updated Portuguese Historical Chronology.

*Into the second edition of the Forgotten Portuguese, would it be possible for the author to elaborate on the Doze de la Inglatera, the Twelve of England? My survey on the Portuguese Almadas revealed that an Alvaro Vaz do Almada was a member of the Twelve. *In the second edition, I would like to see displayed other Coats-of-Arms of prominent and little known Portuguese/Melugeon families; indeed the Gois Family crest and that of Magellan were reprinted in the Forgotten Portuguese, and I understand the Almadas had their own as well. There seems to be a small, minute similarity between the Gois family mentioned in the Forgotten Portuguese and the Almadas; the former, as Mr. Mira elaborated, were a family of Portuguese nobles and one of them, Goncalo Gois, was a Knight who fought for the Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques. Liberche, the founder of the Portuguese Almadas, was a Knight, albeit an English one, who also found for the Portuguese sovereign in the 12th century. (1147 according to my research)

Did Goncalo and Liberche ever meet? A question to consider in further research for any student of medieval Portuguese history, not just Mr. Mira or myself.

Finally there can be no doubt that the Forgotten Portuguese is an important work and that the Melungeons are fascinating people; I wholeheartedly encourage the P.A.H.R.F to publish more books on the subject.
Sincerely and cordially.
Peter E. Almada, California, USA.

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The Distinguished Portuguese of the 20th Century: This is a very impressive list that you have compiled, that will undoubtedly continue to expand.
Signed Zezeze77

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  • Updated:
    November 18, 2011