Photo: Duncan Rawlinson (fotopedia)
Before the year 1500, Brazil had not been visited by a single European explorer. Then, Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, a Spanish conquistador, sailed to the South American coast and became the first to set foot on Brazilian soil. Pinzón had made a prior expedition to the New World in 1492, as captain of La Niña. On this second trip, he made an unprecedented discovery: Pinzón sighted an estuary of the Amazon River and named it the Río Santa María de la Mar Dulce.
Another early European explorer, Bartholomeu Diaz de Narvaez sailed near South America’s coast on his way to Africa. In the distance, the Portuguese explorer spotted what he thought to be an island and called it the “Land of the True Cross.” What de Narvaez saw is now a state of southeastern Brazil called Espírito Santo. The expedition turned out to be de Narvaez’s last. He was lost at sea in 1500 near the Cape of Good Hope.
Back in Europe, French and Aragonese forces were carving up the continent in 1500. Amid the Second Italian War, (1499-1501) Louis XII of France offered an appealing alliance to Ferdinand II of Aragon. The Treaty of Granada (1500) entailed a division of Naples. Aragon promised peace in exchange for the acquisition of new territories. But only shortly thereafter, France and Aragon once again squabbled over the spoils of war. After defeats at Cerignola and Garigliano, Louis lost his claim over Naples and was forced back to Lombardy.
In Flanders, Charles V, future Holy Roman Emperor, was born in 1500. Charles’s childhood and education in the Low Countries was, in some ways, highly beneficial. He traveled frequently to Paris and immersed himself in the regional vernacular, gaining fluency in French and Flemish. He then learned Spanish before becoming the first ruler of Castile-León and Aragon.
During Charles V’s infancy, French composer Ninot le Petit flourished. Later in 1517, Pierre Moulu listed Le Petit in his motet Mater floreat florescat as one of the leading composers of his day. The style of his secular music featured relatively thin contrapuntal textures and less imitation than in his sacred works. Le Petit helped establish a musical precedent: his style persisted in French chansons of the later 16th century.
Music heard in this time capsule: