Recapture of Bahia

The recapture of Bahia (Spanish: Jornada del Brasil; Portuguese: Jornada dos Vassalos) was a Spanish-Portuguese military expedition in 1625 to retake the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil from the forces of the Dutch West India Company (WIC).

In May 1624, Dutch WIC forces under Jacob Willekens captured Salvador Bahia from the Portuguese. Philip IV, king of Spain and Portugal, ordered the assembly of a Spanish-Portuguese fleet with the objective of recovering the city. Sailing from the port of Lisbon, under the command of Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza, who was appointed Captain General of the Army of Brazil, the fleet crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived at Salvador on April 1 of 1625.[9] The town was besieged for several weeks, after which it was recaptured. This resulted in the expulsion of the Dutch from the city and the nearby areas. The city was a strategically important Portuguese base in the struggle against the Dutch for the control of Brazil.


On December 22, 1623, a Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Jacob Willekens and Vice Admiral Pieter Heyn consisting of 35 ships,[10] of which 13 were owned by the United Provinces, while the rest belonged to the WIC, sailed from Texel carrying 6,500 men en route to Cape Verde,[11] where they arrived after being scattered by a storm. There Willekens was revealed that his objective was the capture of the city of Salvador da Bahia, on the coast of Brazil, in order to use its port as a commercial base to ensure the Dutch trade with the East Indies.[12] In addition they would control much of the sugar production in the region, as Salvador was a major center of its production in the area.[13] These intentions to invade Brazil were soon reported to the court of Madrid by the Spanish spies in the Netherlands, but Count-Duke of Olivares did not give them credit.[14]


Dutch capture

Dutch Squadron attacking Spanish fortress
A Dutch Squadron attacking a Portuguese Fortress in the Far East or Brazil. Oil on panel by Adam Willaerts.

On May 8 the Dutch fleet appeared off Salvador. The Portuguese governor of Salvador, Diogo de Mendonça Furtado, tried to organized the defense of the town with 3,000 men hastily recruited,[15] mostly Portuguese militia of peasant levees and black slaves, all of them resentful to Spanish rule.[12] The port was protected by sea by two forts: Fort Santo António from the east and Fort São Filipe from the west. Additionally a six-gun battery was erected on the beach and the streets were barricaded.

The Dutch fleet entered the bay divided into two squadrons. One sailed towards the beach of Santo António and disembarked the soldiers commanded by Colonel Johan van Dorth. The other anchored off the town and opened fire over the coastal defenses, which were quickly neutralized. At dawn the city was surrounded by more than 1,000 Dutch soldiers with 2 pieces of artillery.[12] Intimidated, the Portuguese militia threw their weapons and fled, leaving Mendonça with 60 loyal soldiers.[12] Salvador had been captured at a cost of 50 casualties among the attackers.[12]

Willekens and Heyn installed a garrison under the command of Dorth before departing on new missions, according to the orders they had received. Four ships were sent to Holland carrying booty and news back,[12] and also instructions to call for reinforcements to secure Salvador.[16] The defenses of the city were reinforced and expanded with moats and ramparts and the garrison was soon increased to up 2,500 men with numerous Portuguese slaves seduced by promises of freedom and land.[12]

However, the Dutch garrison soon began to be harassed by the local guerrilla organized by Bishop Dom Marcos Teixeira, who had escaped inland. He managed to assemble a force of 1,400 Portuguese and 250 Indians auxiliaries,[17][18] who built fortifications and organized ambushes against the Dutch acting under woodland. In an attempt to drive off the attackers from the outskirts, Dorth himself was killed, and morale sagged. He was replaced by Albert Schoutens, who also perished in another ambush, being replaced by his brother Willem.

Iberian Expedition

Benedictus Mealius Lusitanus Salvador Bahia 1625
Engraving by Benedictus Mealius Lusitanus, in Jornada dos Vassalos da Coroa de Portugal, Lisbon, 1625.

When news of the loss of Salvador arrived to Spain in August 1624, Philip IV ordered to assemble a joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet under Admiral Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza with the mission to retake the city. On November 22, the Portuguese fleet under Manuel de Menezes, with Francisco de Almeida as second in command, left Lisbon. It was composed by 22 ships and about 4,000 men.[1] The Spanish fleet left the port of Cadiz on January 14 after the delay caused by bad weather. It was composed by 38 ships belonging to the armadas of Castile, Biscay, Gibraltar and Cuatro Villas,[1] among them 21 galleons. It had 8,000 sailors and soldiers on board, being those latter divided in three Tercios, of whom one was Italian and the other two Spanish. Its commanding officers were the maestros de campo Pedro Osorio, Juan de Orellana and Carlos Carraciolo, Marquis of Torrecuso. The commander-in-chief of the joint army was Pedro Rodríguez de Sebastián, seconded by Sargento Mayor Diego Ruiz.[19]

After passing through the Canary Islands on January 28, the Spanish fleet arrived at Cape Verde on February 6, where it joined the Portuguese fleet. This one had lost a ship and 140 men drowned in the shoals of the Isle of Maio.[20] Five days later, after holding a council of war, the joint fleet sailed to Brazil. After waiting for some Portuguese ships delayed by rough seas and 7 caravels under the command of Francisco de Moura sent from Pernambuco, the fleet entered the Bay of Todos os Santos on March 29.


Planta da Restituição da BAHIA, por João Teixeira Albernaz, capitania de Portugal
Detail of a map showing the joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet recapturing Salvador, Bahia in 1625, Atlas of Brazil by João Teixeira Albernaz I (1631)

Toledo anchored his fleet forming a huge crescent to prevent the escape of the Dutch ships in the bay. At dawn of the following day 4,000 soldiers landed at Santo António beach with food and supplies for four days.[6] They joined up with the Portuguese guerrilla and occupied the field above Salvador. The Dutch were forced back within their walls, warping their 18 ships beneath the protection of their batteries. Their strength at that time amounted to 2,000 Dutch, English, French and German soldiers and about 800 black auxiliaries.[21]

The quarters of Carmen and San Benito, located both outside the walls, were occupied by the Tercios, and a new one, named Las Palmas, was built. Siege warfare ensued, with the artillery firing over the Dutch fortifications from these positions and the pioneers driving saplines toward the Dutch ramparts. The defenders launched several sporadic attacks to obstruct the siege works. During one of these sallies, maestro de campo Pedro Osorio and 71 Spanish officers and soldiers were killed and another 64 wounded.[7] Nevertheless, the siege continued.

Two days later, the Dutch attempted to break the blockade sending two fire ships against the anchored Spanish-Portuguese fleet, but they didn’t cause any damage.[7] Some mutinies emerged among the defenders following this failure, and Willem Schoutens was deposed and replaced by Hans Kyff. He was forced to capitulate few weeks later, when the siege lines finally reached Salvador’s moats. 1,912 Dutch, English, French and German soldiers surrendered, and 18 flags, 260 guns, 6 ships, 500 black slaves and considerable amount of gunpowder, money and merchandise were captured.[7]


Several days after the Dutch surrender, a relief fleet of 33 ships under Admiral Boudewijn Hendricksz, seconded by Vice Admiral Andries Veron, bearded down upon the bay divided in two columns.[7] Toledo, who was warned about its arrival, disposed 6 galleons to lure them to a murderous crossfire. However, seeing the large Spanish-Portuguese fleet anchored inside, Hendricksz decided to withdraw to open sea. Spanish warships attempted to pursue him but a galleon ran aground and the chase was abandoned.[7] Hendricksz divided his fleet in three groups. One of them returned to Holland with the supplies and ammunition for the garrison of Salvador; the other two attacked respectively the Spanish Caribbean colonial town of San Juan de Puerto Rico and the Portuguese African trading post of the Castle of Elmina but were both decisively defeated.

Francisco de Moura Rollim, appointed governor of Salvador by Fadrique de Toledo, remained in the town with a garrison of 1,000 Portuguese soldiers. During the journey back to Spain, 3 Spanish ships and 9 Portuguese ships sank in storms.[14] Maestro de Campo Juan de Orellana was among the drowned men.[10] The Dutch prisoners were returned to the Low Countries aboard five German store ships, being the officers judged on their arrival by the loss of the city.[14] The Dutch did not return to Brazil until 1630, when they conquered Pernambuco from the Portuguese.


  1. ^ a b c d Duro p.49
  2. ^ a b Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza, Admiral of the Spanish fleet and Captain-General of the Army of Brazil. Letter from Don Fadrique to Philip IV.
  3. ^ Boxer, Charles Ralph (1952). Salvador de Sá and the Struggle for Brazil and Angola, 1602-1686. University of London. p. 61.
  4. ^ Fausto p.41
  5. ^ James p.91
  6. ^ a b c Duro p.52
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Marley p.110
  8. ^ Duro p.53
  9. ^ David Marley (2008). Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the Western Hemisphere, 1492 to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-59884-100-8. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Duro p.57
  11. ^ Pérez p.233
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Marley p.108
  13. ^ Fernández p.512
  14. ^ a b c Southey p.148
  15. ^ Duro p.47
  16. ^ Duro p.48
  17. ^ Calvo p.45
  18. ^ Solano p.245
  19. ^ Céspedes p.508
  20. ^ Duro p.50
  21. ^ Avedaño p.2


  • Fernández Duro, Cesáreo (1898). Armada española desde la Unión de los Reinos de Castilla y de León. Madrid: Est. tipográfico "Sucesores de Rivadeneyra".
  • Fausto, Boris (1999). A concise history of Brazil. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-56526-4
  • James, Herman G. (2007). Brazil After a Century of Independence. READ BOOKS. ISBN 978-1-4067-5586-2
  • Marley, David (1998). Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-87436-837-6
  • Santos Pérez, José Manuel; Cabral de Souza, George F. (2006). El desafío holandés al dominio ibérico en Brasil en el siglo XVII. Universidad de Salamanca. ISBN 978-84-7800-467-6
  • Southey, Robert; Pinheiro, Fernandes (1862). Historia do Brazil, Volumen 2. Rio de Janeiro: B. L. Garnier.
  • Calvo, Carlos (1862). Colección histórica completa de los tratados: convenciones, capitulaciones, armisticios, cuestiones de límites y otros actos diplomáticos de todos los estados, comprendidos entre el golfo de Méjico y el cabo de Hornos : desde el año de 1493 hasta nuestros dias. Paris: A. Durand.
  • Solano Constancio, Francisco (1839). Historia do Brasil, desde o seu descobrimento por Pedro Alvares Cabral até a abdicação do imperador Pedro i. Paris: J.P. Aillaud.
  • Céspedes y Meneses, Gonzalo de (1631). Primera parte de la historia de D. Felippe el IIII., rey de las Espanas. Lisboa: Con licencia la imprimio Pedro Craesbeeck.
  • Avendaño y Vilela, Francisco de (1625). Relación del viaje y suceso de la armada en Brasil. Sevilla.

Coordinates: 12°58′S 38°30′W / 12.967°S 38.500°W

April 1

April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 274 days remain until the end of the year.

It is not only the first day of the second quarter of the year, but it is also the midway point of the first half of the year.

Captaincy of Bahia

The Captaincy of Bahia, fully the Captaincy of the Bay of All Saints (Modern Portuguese: Capitania da Baía de Todos os Santos), was a captaincy of Portuguese Brazil.

Church and Convent of Our Lady of the Palm

The Church and Convent of Our Lady of the Palm (Portuguese: Igreja e Convento de Nossa Senhora da Palma, or more simply, Igreja da Palma) is a 17th-century Roman Catholic church in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Palm and belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia. The church was established in 1830, and expanded to house members of the Order of Discalced Augustinians in Salvador and their missionaries from other Portuguese colonies. The church has a simple façade and a single bell tower. In contrast, the church has a richly decorated interior, with paintings, images, furniture, and religious implements from the 16th and 17th century. The Church and Convent of Our Lady of the Palm was listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1938.

Dutch West India Company

Dutch West India Company (Dutch: Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie, Dutch pronunciation: [ɣəʔɔktroːˈjeːrdə ʋɛstˈɪndisə kɔmpɑˈɲi] or Dutch: WIC; English: Chartered West India Company) was a chartered company (known as the "WIC") of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx (1567–1647). On June 3, 1621, it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope) and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea. The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas (including New Netherland) in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the WIC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.After several reversals, WIC reorganized and a new charter was granted in 1675, largely on the strength in the Atlantic slave trade. This "New" version lasted for more than a century, until after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, during which it lost most its assets.

João Teixeira Albernaz I

João Teixeira Albernaz I also referred to as João Teixeira Albernaz, the Elder

(Lisbon, late 16th century – c. 1662), to distinguish him from his grandson, was the most prolific Portuguese cartographer of the seventeenth century. His works include nineteen atlases, a total of two hundred and fifteen maps. He stands out for the variety of themes, which record the progress of maritime and land exploration, particularly in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. João Teixeira Albernaz belonged to a prominent family of cartographers whose work extended from mid-sixteenth century until the late eighteenth century, including his father Luís Teixeira, uncle Domingos Teixeira, brother Pedro Teixeira Albernaz and grandson João Teixeira Albernaz, the younger, as well as Estevão Teixeira.

Juan Bautista Maíno

Friar Juan Bautista Maíno (1581 – 1 April 1649) was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period.

List of sieges

A siege is a prolonged military assault and blockade on a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition. A chronological list of sieges follows.

List of wars involving Spain

This is a list of wars fought by the Kingdom of Spain or on Spanish territory.

Reconquista (disambiguation)

The Reconquista was the gradual military retaking ("reconquering") of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors.

Reconquest or Reconquista may also refer to:

Bloodless reconquest, the restoration of colonial government in Spanish New Mexico following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680

Reconquista (Spanish America), restoration of Spanish colonial possession in the New World, typically control of colonial governments loyal to Ferdinand VII of Spain following the Peninsular War in Europe

Reconquest (Chile), restoration of Spanish colonial possession of Chile during the War of Independence

Reconquista (Colombia), restoration of Spanish colonial possession following a rebellion in what is now Colombia

Santo Domingo / Dominican Republic:

Reconquista (Santo Domingo), restoration of Spanish colonial possession of Santo Domingo following a period of French occupation

Spanish occupation of the Dominican Republic, retaking of the former colony by Spain 17 years after it gained independence

Reconquista, restoration of Portuguese colonial possession (or joint Portuguese and Spanish rule) following periods of Dutch occupation

Reconquest of Angola

Recapture of Bahia

Recapture of Recife

Reconquista (Mexico), a modern irredentist movement advocating the restoration of Mexican control over territory now part of the United States

Operación Reconquista de España, the 1944 invasion of the Aran Valley by the Spanish Maquis

Timeline of Salvador, Bahia

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Salvador, Bahia state, Brazil.

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