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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Introduction,   pp. 1-7 ff.

Page 1

I   Nwcrix

The account of Sierra Leone and the Northern rivers and coasts by Father
Alvares is the last of the Portuguese texts on Guinea which in 1969 I was
invited by the late Avelino Teixeira da Mota to have translated into English.<1>
Like the text by Donelha which was published in 1977, the first publication
in a
projected series, the text by Alvares had remained in manuscript since the
seventeenth century and had never been consulted by scholars.<2> The
case for
publishing it early in the series was therefore strong, but the text is very
long - the longest of all the texts in the project - and my English translation
was only completed shortly before Teixeira da Mota 's death in 1982. In the
intervening years I have issued the translations of the other Guinea texts
Faro (1982), Almada (1984), Coelho (1985) and Jesuit documents (1989) - sane
with scholarly apparatus, sane without. Now it is the turn of Alvares.
But this translation is issued in a very crude, and inadequate, and inelegant,
and therefore tentative   form.   There are occasional gaps and queries in
translation, and apart from this introduction there is almost no scholarly
apparatus. Other carnnitments, measured against increasing years, have prevented
me from tidying up the translation, which no doubt also contains errors.
over a long period by various typists the typed form is not always consistent,
and each chapter is separately paginated. Faults in the the photocopying
make-up of volumes are mea culpa, since, with the exception of welcane wifely
help in collating around the dining-room table and other furniture, I did
Some years ago I promised never to publish translations of previously
unpublished material without supplying a copy of the original document, if
necessary in microfiche.<3> I have not done this here, for a reason.
I think it unwise to leave material that might be useful to others too long
in a
single copy   in my desk drawer, I feel less guilty in allowing a few scholarly
colleagues to see this work in such a raw form, because it now seems possible
that the Portuguese text, together with English and French translations,
scholarly apparatus, will be published, in due course.  This possibility
arises as a result of a discussion in Lisbon to which I was kindly invited,
July 1990, by the present and past Directors of the Centro de Estudos de
Hist6ria e Cartografia Antiga, Dr Emilia Madeira Santos and Professor Luis
Albuquerque. It would be very appropriate if the project which Teixeira da
began when Director of the Agrupamento de Estudos de Cartografia Antiga was
resumed and completed by its successor institute. But this is D.V. and finances
permitting - the latter proviso one which presently limits scholarly activity
much in Britain as in Portugal.
Father Manuel Alvares
Not a lot is known about the author of this text, Father Manuel Alvares,
(1573-?1617).<4> He joined the Jesuit mission 'of Cape Verde' in 1607;
visited Bissao and Santa Cruz (Guinala, in the Rio Balola); reached Sierra
Leone, still in 1607, to join the veteran missionary, Father Baltasar Barreira;
then apart from a brief visit by another Jesuit colleague in 1609 and a brief
visit by either one or two rival Augustinian missionaries in 1613 and/or
worked alone from 1608 up to his death in   1617  (or perhaps  1616).<5>
circumstances of his death appear not to be known, and his place of burial
uncertain.<6> What we do know about him canes from his writings. On
his way to
Sierra Leone he wrote a letter which has been published by Brdsio, and a
which was included in the contemporary published edition of Jesuit reports


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