Hans Staden: The True History of His Captivity, 1557
German soldier Hans Staden sailed to Brazil on a couple of occasions and spent some years there working until his capture by a (now extinct) Tupinamba cannibal tribe from the south east of the country. He was held for a few months during which time his Spanish shipmates were executed, but he managed to escape. He published Hans Staden: The True History of His Captivity to great success in 1557.
Hans Staden’s account of the Tupinamba people of South America, along with similar contemporary accounts of the Tupinamba by the Frenchmen Jean de Lery and André Thevet, were widely read in Europe at the time and informed Michel Montaigne’s seminal essay “Of Cannibals.” These accounts helped advance the association of cannibalism with indigenous people of the New World while at the same time fomenting the myth of what would later be termed the “noble savage”. The Tupinamba lived in the area in and around the short-lived French colony of France Antarctique, near present-day Rio de Janeiro. The image above, showing a group of naked indigenous people roasting a dismembered human being, illustrates the Tupinamba’s alleged practice of cannibalism.