São João Baptista (1530)

São João Baptista (left foreground) during the Battle of Tunis in 1535. Painting by Frans Hogenberg, based on an earlier work by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen. Both in the public domain.

Ship Class
Ship Type

São João Baptista was an early Portuguese galleon, launched in 1530. Reportedly, she displaced 1,000 tons and mounted a large number of cannons. Estimates range from 80 to 200, but some sources claim up to 366 cannon (highly unlikely). This high count earned her the nickname Botafogo (Spitfire or Kindler). She was considered the most powerful warship in the world at the time, according to the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italians, and led the attack on Tunis in 1535, breaking the chain blocking the harbor with her spur ram. She was used extensively in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, but was sent to Brazil in 1550. Upon arrival, São João Baptista was disassembled, and her components and armament used to fortify the Pernambuco region.