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Antonio Raposo Tavares "o Velho" (portuguese: ''the old one'') (born in S. Miguel do Pinheiro, São Miguel de Beja, Alentejo, Portugal, 1598 - died in São Paulo, Brazil, 1658) was a colonial bandeirante who explored mainland eastern South America and claimed it for Portugal, extending the territory of the colony beyond the limits imposed by the treaty of Tordesillas.

He was of Iberian Jewish ancestry. link

Tavares sailed for South America in 1618 with his father Fernão Vieira Tavares.

In 1622, after his father died, he settled around São Paulo; six years later, in 1628, he left the village with the first ''bandeira'' composed of 900 portuguese brazilians and 2000 Tupi warriors. This voyage was started to hunt the heretics down and to capture more indigenous slaves (mostly Tupi, Tememinos and Carijós). The bandeirantes first attacked some Guarani villages in the upper Parana valley, which were protected by the Spanish Jesuits and brutally killed many people, capturing 2500 indios. This journey allowed the annexation of a portion of the land east of the Uruguay River (current states of Paraná and Santa Catarina) to the portuguese colony. Raposo went back to São Paulo in 1633 and he became a judge. Three years later he left again for a new journey, this time to destroy the Spanish Jesuit settlements established southeast of the Uruguay River (current Rio Grande do Sul). From 1639 to 1642, Tavares fought along with the military which was engaged in war against the Dutch, who had conquered the settlements in the north-eastern coast (Bahia and Pernambuco).

He embarked on his last journey with a bandeira in 1648, searching for gold, precious minerals and slaves in the unexplored mainland. He was joined by 200 white mercenaries from São Paulo and over a thousand indios. The bandeirantes travelled for over 10.000 kilometers following the the courses of the rivers, mostly the Paraguay River, the Grande River, the Mamoré River, the Madeira River and the Amazon River. Only Tavares, 59 whites and some Indios reached Belém at the mouth of the Amazon River. After that, the survivors returned back to São Paulo, where Raposo Tavares died shortly after.

Antonio Raposo Tavares, Encyclopedia Britannica online

Antonio Raposo Tavares, netsaber.com.br (in portuguese)

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