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fortificações brasileiras

A Região da Cisplatina







World Heritage of Portuguese Origin





 Arguin Fort after 1633, sea side.

Situated on the Arguin island (today Mauritania), this was the first fort the Portuguese built in Africa.

The Arguin area was explored by the Portuguese around the years 1442-1444 by  Gonalo de Sintra (1442), Dinis Dias (1442), Nuno Tristo (1443) and Lanarote (1444), according to Valentim Fernandes, Arguin island was discovered by  Gonalo de Sintra in 1445.

Arguin is described as a very popolated island, in front to the African mainland "hua legoa em largo e duas em longo e quatro em redondo" (Valentim Fernandes), where the water originate from the sands (Diogo Gomes), around the island there are the dangerous "Baixas de Arguin" (sand banks of Arguin) and the access to it was possible only on day time and with high tide.

Around 1445 (or according to some authors as Diogo Gomes in 1445 was built the fort, but this first structure was probably just a factory) the Portuguese built a "feitoria" (trading factory) for trade in slaves, gold, fishes and arabic resin. Later in 1461, Soeiro Mendes built the fort: "E em de 1461 (el Rey d Afonso) mandou Soeiro Mendez fidalgo de sua casa fazer o castello Darguim a que deu alcaydaria" (Barros). Mendes was later named captain of the castle of Arguin. The castle was, according with some sources, a small structure "Arguim foi sempre cousa pouca" but Valentim Fernandes give us a different information: "em huum penedo muy alto tem el rey de Portugal ha fortaleza muy forte e fremosa". Sadly no plan of the fort during the Portuguese period are arrived to this days, the earlyer (undated) detailed image is that of the Vingboon's atlas that perhaps represents the fort at the beginning of the Dutch rule (1633), but when the fort, probably, was still as the Portuguese left it. In this image the fort had a quadrangular shape with a bastion on each angle (North and South) of the land side of the fort, the gate is near the Southern bastion and is protected by a quadrangular structure.

The trade of Arguin was under crown control and also the captains were appointed, usually every three years, by the king. The captain of the castle had the right over 1/4 of the trading goods, the "feitor" (fattore) received 1/8 of every transaction, the "escriuam" (clerck) for his service received 20000 "Reis" and a slave. The Arguin area was inhabitated by Moors  and Blacks (Maures). The importance of Arguin was due to the great fishing area, with the castle, the Portuguese could control the fishing trade of this zone that still today is one of the most rich fishing Bancs. In Arguin the Portuguese exchanged clothes, silver, pepper, flax, honey etc. for slaves, gold, Arabic rubber, camels etc.

In 1487 a "feitoria" (trading factory) was founded inland in Ouadane (Ouadan, Uadem, Audem or Wadan). Probably, according to Diogo Gomes, another temporary Portuguese settlement was built near the river St. Jean in Mauritania "in fluvio de S. Johannis que est circa Cofia et Anteroti". In 1488 or 1490, the Portuguese did also an attempt to built a fort at the mouth of the Senegal River, this attempt ended in a failure.

In the years 1505-1508 the garrison of the castle was composed by 41 peoples between which 18 soldiers, 5 sailors etc.  Around the end of 1555 or at the beginning of the year 1556 Arguin was attacked by the Portuguese pirate Brs Loureno. In 1569 there were about 30 people in the fort garrison.

The trade declined in the following years and the Portuguese crown thought to abandon Arguin. A consequence of this was that in 1592 the castle of Arguin and the right on the fishing area was donated by the King of Portugal to the Conde (Count) de Atouguia. The fort at that time had a garrison of 12 soldiers and 4 gunners, in the fort there were 4 "colubrine medie" and 2 "sacres", inside the fort there was a church. In 1595 the fort was sacked by a French expedition from La Rochelle en route to Salvador. It seems that at the beginning of the 17th century, at the time of the captain Rodrigo Freire, the Maures also occupied for a short time the castle. Near the castle was a Maures village with 200 inhabitants. The Conde (Count) de Atouguia remain the donatarie of the castle until the Dutch conquest in 1633. On 29 January 1633 three Dutch ships of the WIC (West-Indische Compagnie) arrived near Arguin, luckyly the Duch took a Maure ship which crew showed them the route for the fort and its situation, after the desembark, the Dutch put under siege the fort. On 5 February 1633 the Portuguese garrison surrendered and the fort was occupied by the Dutch.


Soeiro Mendes 1464-
Afonso de Moura (capito, alcaide-mor, feitor) 1492-1495
Ferno Soares (capito, feitor) 1499-1501
Gonalo de Fonseca (capito) 1505-1508
Francisco de Almada (capito) 1508-1511
Pero Vaz de Almeida (capito) 1514
Estevo da Gama (capito) 1515
Antonio Porto Carreiro (capito) 1518
Gonalo da Fonseca (capito) ?-1522
Joo Gomes o Souro (Osouro) (capito) 1543
Gil Sardinha (capito) before 1549
Cristovo de Rosales (capito) 1549
Lionis da Gama (capito) 1569
Joo Leite Pereira (capito) 1575
Rodrigo Freire (capito)  
Amador Louzado  (capito) 1623-1624
Francisco Cordovil  (capito) 1624 ?






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