Primary Source


A stone monument with a cross on top.


In the 1480s, the Portuguese brought pillars (or padraos) with them in their explorations of western and southwestern Africa and placed them at prominent points, claiming these for Portugal. This is a replica of one of them, from what is now called Cape Cross, in Namibia. At the top is a cross and underneath this is the coat of arms of the kings of Portugal. Beneath that is an inscription in Latin, with many abbreviations, which reads: “In the era of 6681 years from the creation of the world, 1482 years since the birth of Our Lord Jesus, the most High and Excellent and Mighty Prince, King D. João II of Portugal, sent Diogo Cão squire of his House to discover this land and place these pillars.” In placing these pillars, Diogo Cão claimed the land for Portugal, but they may have been interpreted very differently by local people. This source is a part of the Christianity and Slavery in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1480s-1520s teaching module.


Photo by Rui Ornelas via Wikimedia Commons

How to Cite This Source

"Padrão," in World History Commons, [accessed June 12, 2024]