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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hermstaedt, Nicholas Piet

< Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography

HERMSTAEDT, Nicholas Piet, Dutch missionary, b. in Haarlem, Holland, in 1521; d. in Para, Brazil, in 1589. He was a Jesuit, went to Brazil in 1545, and prepared himself for missionary work among the Indians, meanwhile teaching in the college in Bahia. He was attached in 1551 to the mission of Pirahguinga, and distinguished himself by his energy and his success with the Indians, who surnamed him Abare bébé (“the flying father”). He organized the Mamaluco half-breeds in a colony, which he named San Antonio, six miles from Pirahguinga, built a college, and trained some Mamalucos as assistants to the missionaries. His popularity with Indians increased as he learned the Tupi, a dialect of the Guarani language, which he spoke afterward more fluently than either Spanish or Dutch. At the invitation of Meen de Saa', governor of Rio de Janeiro, he formed a battalion of Mamalucos, and marched, in 1558, against Ville-gaignon and his French forces, who occupied an island at the entrance of the bay of Rio de Janeiro. But the Tupinambos and Tomayos, allies of the French, invaded the Mamaluco territory, and Hermstaedt, returning for their protection, waged against the hostile Indians a bloody war, which lasted four years, 1558-'62, and was terminated by the treaty of Upabeba, in which the invaders agreed to leave the country. In 1574 Hermstaedt was appointed visitor to the missions between the rivers Plate and Amazon. He built several colleges in Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro, civilized and organized the Aymaros, forming the villages of the Papanaces in the province of Espiritu-Santo, and founded the city of Rerigtibo on the north bank of the Cabapuana. Hermstaedt is the author of “Arte da Grammatica mais usada na Costa do Brasil” (Lisbon, 1611). His “Drama ad extirpanda Brasiliæ vitia,” “Annales ecclesiasti Brasiliæ,” and other works, were published in the “Bibliotheca Scriptorum Societatis Jesu” (Rome, 1677).