Salvador Correa de Sá, o velho

Helena Trindade de Sá, Universidade Federal do Estado de Rio de Janeiro

Date of birth: 1547, Barcelos

Date of death: 1631, Lisbon

Governor of the captaincy of Rio de Janeiro in two stages, from 1568 to 1571 and from 1577 to 1598. He was later appointed governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco between 1601 and 1602.

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When Mém de Sá left Rio de Janeiro to return to Bahia, after the expulsion of the French, he appointed his nephew Salvador Correa de Sá to govern the captaincy with the objective of building it by order of the king, establishing a settlement there, distributing sesmarias and still keeping the land in peace (Belchior, 1965: 429).

Born in 1547, on the family farm in Pena Boa, near Barcelos, in the province of Entre Douro and Minho (Boxer, 1973: 21), he was the son of Gonçalo Correa da Costa and his wife Filipa de Sá. He became a Knight of the Habit of São Tiago and a nobleman of the Royal House. He died in Lisbon, at age 84, in 1631 (Belchior, 1965:434). His first government in the captaincy was exercised from 1568 to 1571. He held the same position again from 1578 to 1598, according to the provision of September 12, 1578, with an income of 100,000 réis per year, in addition to the pluses and minuses to which he was entitled, enjoying powers, jurisdiction and jurisdiction enjoyed by the other captains of the parts of Brazil (Serrão, 2008: 137).

The possession of the office would be conferred by the governor-general as soon as he arrived in the city of Salvador or, in case of direct landing in Rio de Janeiro, by the local judges and aldermen (Serrão, 2008:p. 138). According to the royal charter, the concession of the second term of government was given in respect to the services rendered previously and the good account during the time he served as captain and governor of the captaincy and city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Chancelaria de D. Sebastião e D. Henrique, 1577). In parallel, from 1580 to 1585 (Godoy, 2002:14), he accumulated the function of provedor da Fazenda Real, which allowed him to act also as customs judge.

He granted ample freedom to trade in Rio de Janeiro, encouraging the arrival of Portuguese and Spanish merchants, to whom he offered provisions from his island of Gato, also known as Governor’s Island, as a welcoming gift (Serrão, 2008: 166). During his administration, Rio de Janeiro became a prominent trading point with the northern captaincies, to which salted fish, wood and oil for lighting were sold, as well as to the captaincies of São Vicente and the Platinum America (Serrão, 2008:p.166).

It is estimated, by the content of the correspondence of the Cardinal Infante, viceroy of Portugal, Alberto de Austria, addressed to King Philip II, that Salvador Correa de Sá was the first to open the way to start trade with the city of Buenos Aires (Helmer,1963: 195), stimulating transactions with the porteños businessmen. During his tenure as governor of Rio, he did not stay in the city the whole time, since he led many expeditions to the interior in search of Indians to enslave and also in search of gold and precious stones, presuming that they existed in the mountains covered by forests in the sertão (Boxer, 1973: 21).

When he left the post of governor, in 1578, he exalted his sertanist profile, for, together with his sons Gonçalo de Sá and Martim de Sá, he traveled the hinterlands of the Paraíba river, going beyond the Mantiqueira mountain range up to the Verde river, thus marking the itinerary of the future bandeiras of the 17th century (Norton, 1965: 16). From October 1601 to August 1602, he held the position of major-captain of Pernambuco while the effective governor Manuel Mascarenhas left with his troops to fight the Potiguar Indians in Rio Grande do Norte. At the end of this period, he returned to Lisbon aboard the flagship of a fleet of approximately 42 ships.


Belchior, Elysio de Oliveira (1965). Conquistadores e povoadores do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Brasiliana.

Boxer, C.R (1973). Salvador de Sá e a luta pelo Brasil e Angola. São Paulo: Editora Nacional; Universidade de São Paulo.

Godoy, José Eduardo Pimentel de (2002). Alfândega do Rio de Janeiro. Brasília: ESAF.

Helmer, Marie (1953). Comércio e contrabando entre a Bahia e Potosí no século XVI. Revista de História. São Paulo, 15.

Norton, Luís (1965). A dinastia dos Sás no Brasil. Lisboa: Agência Geral do Ultramar.

Sá, Helena de Cassia Trindade de (2016). A alfândega do Rio de Janeiro: da União Ibérica ao fim da Restauração (ca. 1580-ca.1668). (Dissertação de Mestrado). Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

Serrão, Joaquim Veríssimo (2008). O Rio de Janeiro no século XVI. Rio de Janeiro: Andréa Jakobsson.

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