Miguel Corte-Real

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Miguel Corte-Real
Bornc. 1448
OccupationNavigator and explorer
Known forExploring the North American coast.

Miguel Corte-Real (Portuguese pronunciation: [miˈɡɛɫ ˈkoɾtɨ ʁiˈaɫ]; c. 1448 – 1502?) was a Portuguese explorer who charted about 600 miles of the coast of Labrador. In 1502, he disappeared while on an expedition and was believed to be lost at sea.

Early life[edit]

Miguel Corte-Real was a son of João Vaz Corte-Real and a brother of explorer Gaspar Corte-Real, members of the Corte-Real family. Gaspar explored Greenland in 1499. He stayed there for several months with his team before icebergs forced them to return to Portugal.


In 1500, Gaspar set out again with Miguel. The Corte-Real brothers kidnapped and enslaved 57 First Nations people and charted about 600 km of coastline of what is now Labrador. Gaspar sent Miguel with two ships back to Portugal. Following this, Gaspar was never heard from again.

In May 1502, Miguel set out on an expedition to search for his brother, but he, too, disappeared, although two of the three ships returned to Portugal after they were separated. He is thought to have perished in a storm. The sole surviving brother, Vasco Anes Corte-Real, wanted to sail in search of his brothers, but the King of Portugal would not fund such an expedition.

Dighton Rock hypothesis[edit]

In 1912 Edmund B. Delabarre wrote that markings on the Dighton Rock in Massachusetts suggest that Miguel Corte-Real reached New England. Delabarre stated that the markings were abbreviated Latin, and the message, translated into English, read as follows: I, Miguel Cortereal, 1511. In this place, by the will of God, I became a chief of the Indians. Samuel Eliot Morison dismissed this evidence in his 1971 book The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • E. B. Delabarre, Dighton rock (New York, 1928).
  • F. F. Lopes, The brothers Corte Real, tr. F. de Andrade (Lisboa, 1957).
  • G. S. Marques, Pedra de Dighton (New York, 1930).

External links[edit]

  • Vigneras, L.-A. (1979) [1966]. "Corte-Real, Miguel". In Brown, George Williams (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.