Engraving of Portuguese poet Luís de Camões.

Luís de Camões

(c. 1525 - 1580)

Born in Lisbon around 1525, Luís de Camões was involved in a fight that was serious enough to warrant a pardon from King John III in 1553, apparently with the implication that the poet would travel to India in his king’s service. Gone seventeen years, historian Diogo do Couto wrote that he found “that great poet and old friend of mine” in present-day Mozambique and gave Camões money to return to Lisbon. Among many unconfirmed reports concerning his life are accounts that the poet was imprisoned in Goa and stranded in Mozambique, lost an eye in battle, and swam from a shipwreck off the Cambodian coast, clinging to a copy of his epic poem, The Lusiads, which celebrates Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India between 1497 and 1499.

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