AN EARLY MODERN MYSTERY
In 1601, Pirate Frances Cooke ransacked Fernão Cardim’s ship and stole his writings, which included the "Treatise on the Land and People of Brazil.”
The documents were sold to English travel writer Richard Hackluyt after the pirate's raid.
Years later, Samuel Purchas published the pirated documents in the world-famous Hackluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrimes, without crediting Cardim by name.
Even though Purchas admitted that he found a set of medicinal recipes among Cardim's papers, he never printed the recipes' contents, nor are there any recipes credited to Cardim in the archives.
Dr. Jessica Rutherford visits Brazil, Portugal, Spain and England to find clues to the whereabouts of Cardim's lost recipes, which could provide insight into the centuries-old healing rituals of the Tupi and Tapaua people, whose botanical medicines and natural cures from the Amazon became crucial to the economic, spiritual and physical survival of imperial colonizers and traveling missionaries in the early modern period.