Hans Staden

Birth: 1520


Hans Staden (stah'-den) was a German traveller, b. in Hesse-Homburg in 1520; d. there about 1565. He had received a good education and was in moderate circumstances, when desire for travel led him to enlist in 1547 on a ship that was bound for Brazil. He returned, 8 Oct., 1548, and, going to Seville, enlisted as a volunteer in an expedition for La Plata river, which sailed in March, 1549.

On reaching the mouth of the river two ships sank in a storm, and, after vainly trying to build a bark, part of the shipwrecked crew set out overland for Asuncion, while the other sailed upon the third vessel for the island of São Vicente, but were also wrecked, and Staden, with a few survivors, passed to the continent and established themselves at São Marco in 1552.

A few weeks later Staden, while engaged in a hunting expedition, was captured by a party of Tupinamba Indians, who carried him to their village, where he was to be devoured at the next festivity, but he won the friendship of a powerful chief, whom he cured of a disease, and his life was spared. The Portuguese tried several times to negotiate for Staden's ransom, but the Indians declined all overtures.

At last he made his escape on a French ship, and on 22 Feb., 1555, arrived at Honfleur, in Normandy, and thence went immediately to his native city, which he never left afterward. His interesting narrative "Geschichte eines Landes, gelegen in der Neuen Welt, America genannt, von Hans Staden aus Homburg in Hessen" (Marburg, 1557), which contains also a summary of the manners of Tupinamba Indians and a description of their villages, has been translated into French and reprinted in the collection of Henry Ternaux-Compans.


Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1900)

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