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Thread: Cinque Chagas - Warship or merchant?

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  1. #1
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    Shipwrecks

    Cinque Chagas - Warship or merchant?

    I have had someone contact me as to whether the Cinque Chagas was a merchant ship or a warship.
    From what I have read, she was a merchant only with no military presence aboard.
    What say you, O' Learned Ones?

    For those unfamiliar with this wreck, here is a synopsis of her life and loss written by our late, good friend, Gene Birdsong. "The Shipwreck Hunter" in 2013:

    "
    Nau Chagas was sunk on June 13th 1594. The 32 gun Nau Chagas departed from Goa heading for Portugal in 1593, under the command of Francisco de Mello, one of the "greatest naus that ever were in the Carreira, loaded with great wealth, precious stones, and all the best of India". The rest of the fleet consisted of the naus Santo Alberto, and Nossa Senhora da Nazareth. Both the Santo Alberto and Nazareth sprung fatal leaks and were beached in the Penedo das Fontes and in Mozambique's Island. The Chagas took all the cargo in diamonds and other precious gems from the two lost naus as well the 400 passengers and crewmembers, of which 230 were slaves. A total of 3,500,000 cruzadoes, plus an unknown number of chests of diamonds, rubies and pearls was on the now overloaded ship. When they reached the Cape of Good Hope, the nau started to leak and they were forced to send overboard a lot of cargo. Not the diamonds, only the food and victuals. It was this action that, in the end, caused the loss of the Chagas. Since they were not allowed to call either Santa Helena or Brazil, they called Luanda, in Angola, for supplies, where they took more slaves which were, in fact, more mouths to feed. In Angola they faced one of the great perils of the sea: the absence of wind, coupled with scurvy and malaria, from which half of the people were dead and the other half were in poor condition.. Anyhow, some nobles spread the gossip that the supplies would not last until Lisbon. The Captain then took the vote and the majority decided to call on the Azores – an action which was also forbidden, because English pirates were bound to be waiting there, waiting for any East Indiamen. The Captain then forced all crew to take an oath: "if finding the enemy, they would rather go down in flames than surrender the ship". He then prepared the ship for battle. The stern was delivered to Don Rodrigo de Cordova, the bow to Antonio das Povoas and the deck to Braz orreia. On the 22 of June 1594, near Faial Is., the nau sighted 3 English ships with two artillery decks each. The 250 tons Royal Exchange, flagship commanded by Georges Cave, the Mayflower, captain William Anthony, the Sampson, captain Nicholas Downton, and a caravel and a small pinnace. At noon all of the ships exchanged broadsides and musket volleys in a battle that lasted 24 hours. Then, at around noon, the 23rd June, the battle went on – there is an extensive description of it, a very vivid one – with the English trying to board the ship three times. In the end the fire spread to a tarpaulin and then it spread further to the rigging and the masts. The fire could not be put up because sharpshooters onboard the English ships were taking the Portuguese one by one as they tried to man the pumps. So the Portuguese jumped in the water to escape the fire, grabbing any floating devices they could but "the English came on aboard some armed boats and the Portuguese were asking for mercy but they were enraged and they speared them cruelly and like butchers they killed all they could reach". The fire reached the powder magazine and she blew up, sinking in deep waters about 18 miles south of the channel between Pico and Fayal, in the Azores. The riches that sank with her is believed to have been thousands of tons of the richest cargo (including diamonds, rubies, and pearls) ever to leave an Asian port. Reputed value more than 1 Billion US Dollars. The account of the Chagas battle with the British represents probably the most horrible spectacle ever known to the Portuguese.From a printed account of the few survivors: "The sea was purple with blood dripping from the scuppers, the decks cluttered with the dead and the fire raging in some parts of the ships and the air so filled with smoke that not only we could sometimes not see each other but we could not recognize each other, all black and sooty from the fire and gunpowder" ...An original dispatch of Francesco Vendramin, Venetian ambassador to Spain, found in the Italian archives, describes the loss of the "Chagas":...
    "The trouble caused by the English is felt more acutely every day at Lisbon. A ship, the richest that ever sailed from the East Indies was lost the other day... It was the largest of the four or five that were expected from the East India ports, and also the best armed, was laden with a cargo worth upwards of 2 millions in gold, not only in pepper and drugs, but in a large quantity of oriental pearls, jewels and other precious goods... The captain tempted by greed, took on board four hundred blacks whom he intended to sell in Spain. The heat and overcrowding brought on the plague, from which upwards of 500 persons died in 10 days. Besides the blacks there were on board 300 passengers, chiefly Italian and Portuguese merchants. After this terrible mortality, the ship began to draw near the Azores, were she was exposed to the fire of three English corsairs, who followed her up for two whole days with a heavy cannonade. The English drew close and managed to board her with 25 men, but these were all cut to bits. Seeing there was no hope of capturing her, as she was now in sight of the Azores, the English resolved to fire with Greek fire which was applied to many parts of the ship at once and then uniting made a tremendous flame, in the midst of which she went down with crew and cargo, and not a thing fell into the hands of the English. I hear that the loss among only four of the merchants amounts to 600,000 ducats and the total reaches 2,000,000"...
    "Las Cinque Chagas" loss was reported, by the 13 survivors out of over 1.000 passengers and crew, It was said to have been one of the richest-laden ships to leave the East Indies. Aboard the ship, even common Portuguese seamen carried pocketful of jewels. She had left Goa in late 1593 and Mozambique with all her riches bound for the Old Continent... Her wreck is now lying, untouched, in the depth off the Azores waiting for the group who will be clever and lucky enough to locate her remains. Probably one of the richest shipwrecks still waiting to be found in the world."
    AARC and BillA like this.
    Bill Black
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  2. #2
    Charter Member
    us
    Pirate of the Martires

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    32 cannons and not a warship? I doubt it. Wasn't Francisco de Mello a Captain General in the Portuguese Navy?

  3. #3
    br
    Jul 2018
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    Given the owner of the vessel would be considered Sovereign, and as Salvor6 noted, a Carrick carrying 32 guns, commanded by a Capt of the Portuguese Navy, but also carrying dignitaries...

    The vessel was sunk in combat with the British...As far as treasure, it appears that the vessel did not sink for a few days, and the treasure on board was likely transferred to the British vessels.

    I would put my vote on a Sovereign vessel.

    Owner: Dom Constantino of Braganza (1528—1575) was a Portuguese statesman and military commander of the 16th century. He was a member of the Most Serene House of Braganza.

    I suspect that Alexandre will have quite the documentation on this one.
    Last edited by xaos; May 14, 2019 at 07:27 PM.
    I love the taste of water, frozen into squares, and surrounded by rum

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by xaos View Post
    ...As far as treasure, it appears that the vessel did not sink for a few days, and the treasure on board was likely transferred to the British vessels.

    .

    I think you need to sharpen your reading skills! The report says it was in combat for 2 day before the English tried to board her but all were cut down. In frustration the English fire-bombed the ship and she burnt until she sunk.
    BillA likes this.

  5. #5
    pt
    Oct 2009
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    It was a crown owned Eastindiaman "nau".

    Correct name is "Chagas" (not "Las Cinque Chagas", which manages to have three words from Spanish, French and Portuguese on the same name).

    It burned to the water level and sunk in depths of between 1.5 and 2 miles, off Fayal Island.
    AARC and Zach_B like this.

  6. #6
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    ARC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexandre View Post
    It was a crown owned Eastindiaman "nau".

    Correct name is "Chagas" (not "Las Cinque Chagas", which manages to have three words from Spanish, French and Portuguese on the same name).

    It burned to the water level and sunk in depths of between 1.5 and 2 miles, off Fayal Island.
    ? ? ?
    Have permission... Fill holes... Dispose of trash. - The Random Chat Thread - http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/ev...l-welcome.html

  7. #7
    us
    ARC

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    Nao would be correct. Not Nau.

    Which simply means ship.

    And she did not burn to the waterline... she exploded after being on fire overnight... killing most that remained on board... including over 30 English that had boarded her still on board.

    Also... according to eyewitness accounts... "This fight was open off the Sound between Faial and Pico 6 leagues to the Southward" a league being 3 nautical miles (3.45 statute miles), placing the scene of the battle 18 nautical miles (or 20.71 statute miles) from the Sound.
    Last edited by AARC; May 15, 2019 at 06:51 AM.
    BillA likes this.
    Have permission... Fill holes... Dispose of trash. - The Random Chat Thread - http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/ev...l-welcome.html

  8. #8
    pt
    Oct 2009
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    "Nau" is Portuguese. "Nao" is Spanish.

    And no, it does not mean Ship. It means a specific type of ship. A Spanish Nao is different from a Portuguese Nau.

    Look at the 1604 source, which is far better than the English one:


    http://purl.pt/14187/4/res-393-p_PDF...24-C-R0150.pdf



    Quote Originally Posted by AARC View Post
    Nao would be correct. Not Nau.

    Which simply means ship.

    And she did not burn to the waterline... she exploded after being on fire overnight... killing most that remained on board... including over 30 English that had boarded her still on board.

    Also... according to eyewitness accounts... "This fight was open off the Sound between Faial and Pico 6 leagues to the Southward" a league being 3 nautical miles (3.45 statute miles), placing the scene of the battle 18 nautical miles (or 20.71 statute miles) from the Sound.

  9. #9
    us
    ARC

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  10. #10
    us
    ARC

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    nao = vessel

    Pronunciation = nao (nah-oh) feminine noun
    1. (old-fashioned) (nautical)

    a. vessel

    La nao partió desde este puerto hace cien años.The vessel departed from this port a hundred years ago.

    b. ship

    Dicen que la nao se hundió en solo una hora.They say the ship sank in just one hour.

    nao
    Noun
    1. (literary)

    a. vessel

    nao = (Hist) ship
    Have permission... Fill holes... Dispose of trash. - The Random Chat Thread - http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/ev...l-welcome.html

  11. #11
    us
    ARC

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    The ENGLISH definition would be and IS...


    nao noun \ ˈnau̇\

    plural -s

    Definition of nao

    : a medium-sized sailing ship of the late middle ages
    Have permission... Fill holes... Dispose of trash. - The Random Chat Thread - http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/ev...l-welcome.html

  12. #12
    br
    Jul 2018
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    Nau was a type of ship, and a Portuguese India Nau appears to be very specific.


    I think you need to sharpen your reading skills! The report says it was in combat for 2 day before the English tried to board her but all were cut down. In frustration the English fire-bombed the ship and she burnt until she sunk.
    It appears there are many different accounts of the event...
    Last edited by xaos; May 15, 2019 at 01:15 PM.
    Alexandre likes this.
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  13. #13
    pt
    Oct 2009
    Lisbon
    816
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    I don't care what it is in English. It is wrong.

    There's a PhD thesis on a Portuguese Nau (I actually helped to excavate this site), so buy the books:

    https://muse.jhu.edu/book/10802

    https://www.wook.pt/livro/caravelas-...ngues/22556392

    http://www.centrodehistoria-flul.com...mar_oceano.pdf


    read the articles:

    http://nautarch.tamu.edu/shiplab/00-...er%20Wreck.pdf

    Pepper Wreck

    The Museum definition posted above is inaccurate and confusing.

    Here you have a 1616 drawing of an Indian Nau.




    Quote Originally Posted by AARC View Post
    The ENGLISH definition would be and IS...


    nao noun \ ˈnau̇\

    plural -s

    Definition of nao

    : a medium-sized sailing ship of the late middle ages
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Nau.jpg 
Views:	12 
Size:	148.4 KB 
ID:	1712733  

  14. #14
    us
    ARC

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    Um... "Nau" is what the Portuguese called a "carrack"... just to be clear. heh
    Have permission... Fill holes... Dispose of trash. - The Random Chat Thread - http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/ev...l-welcome.html

  15. #15
    pt
    Oct 2009
    Lisbon
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    No. The English called a nau a carrack. They are not the same type of ship. It's like calling a Ferrari a SUV..



    Quote Originally Posted by AARC View Post
    Um... "Nau" is what the Portuguese called a "carrack"... just to be clear. heh

 

 
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