Pedro Alvares Cabral was born around 1467 A.D. to the nobles Fernao Alvares Cabral and Isabel Gouveia in Belmonte, Portugal. His family sent him to study in the court of the Portuguese king Afonso V around 1479. Cabral was appointed the commander of a fleet bound for India in 1500, subsequently discovering Brazil en route. After his return in 1501, he lost favor with the monarch Manual I and lived a life of seclusion, dying around 1520.
Pedro Alvares Cabral's best-known achievement as the first European explorer to sight and land on the northeast coast of South America came after a month of sailing the Atlantic Ocean. His fleet, consisting of two divisions that totalled 13 ships, left Lisbon on March 9, 1500, following a public celebration.
After sailors spotted seaweed on April 21, indicative of nearby shallows, Cabral's fleet anchored by Monte Pascoal the following day. One of his lieutenants, Nicolau Coelho, made contact with the indigenous people, the Tupinquim tribe, that lived near the coast. The tribe directed the fleet to sail 40 miles to a natural harbor, Porto Seguro, where Cabral engaged in trade and reprovisioning over the next month. As the land lay east of the line demarcated by the Treaty of Tordesillas, Cabral claimed it in the name of Portugal, dispatching a ship on May 2 to inform the king.