The discovery of the Azores archipelago, like Madeira, is one of the most controversial issues in the history of the Discoveries. Among the various theories about this fact, some are based on the inheritance of various Genoese maps produced since 1351, which lead historians to state that those islands were already known when the expeditions to the Canary Islands returned from around 1351, nº 345-1 reign of Afonso IV of Portugal. Others state that the discovery of the first islands (São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira) was by sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique, although there is no written document that confirms and proves this fact. Supporting this version is only a body of later writings, based on oral tradition, which was created in the first half of the 15th century. Some more daring theses consider, however, that the discovery of the first islands already took place at the time of Afonso IV of Portugal and that the trips made in the time of Infante D. Henrique were nothing more than mere reconnaissance. Additionally, allegedly, recently discovered rock-cut temples dating from the 4th century BC, of ​​possible[3] Carthaginian authorship. These alleged findings are being disputed by experts.

What is concretely known is that Gonçalo Velho arrived on the island of Santa Maria in 1431, and in the following years the (re)discovery – or recognition – of the remaining islands of the Azores archipelago took place, in the sense of progression from east to west. A letter from Infante D. Henrique, dated 2 July 1439 and addressed to his brother D. Pedro, is the first reliable reference to the exploration of the archipelago. At that time, the islands of Flores and Corvo had not yet been discovered, which would only happen around 1450, thanks to Diogo de Teive. Meanwhile, Infante D. Henrique, with the support of his sister D. Isabel of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy, had the island of Santa Maria populated.

The Portuguese chose to populate the islands around 1432, coming mainly from the Algarve, Alentejo, Estremadura and Minho, with the arrival of Flemings, Bretons and other Europeans and North Africans afterwards.