Miguel Corte-Real was a son of João Vaz Corte-Real and a brother of explorer Gaspar Corte-Real, members of the Corte-Real family. Gaspar explored Greenland in 1499. He stayed there for several months with his team before icebergs forced them to return to Portugal.
In 1500, Gaspar set out again with Miguel. The Corte-Real brothers kidnapped and enslaved 57 First Nations people and charted about 600 km of coastline of what is now Labrador. Gaspar sent Miguel with two ships back to Portugal. Following this, Gaspar was never heard from again.
In May 1502, Miguel set out on an expedition to search for his brother, but he, too, disappeared, although two of the three ships returned to Portugal after they were separated. He is thought to have perished in a storm.
In 1912 Edmund B. Delabarre wrote that markings on the Dighton Rock in Massachusetts suggest that Miguel Corte-Real reached New England.