canaries

The Portuguese presence in the Canaries occurred preferentially through Madeira, by the fact that it was the first area of Portuguese occupation, as well as one of the main axes of the expanding movement of people, products, and techniques in the Atlantic. Portuguese assumed there a prominent place, standing among the main workers of the economical valorization of the islands as farmers, fishermen, bricklayers, shoemakers, marines, and artisans. Because they integrated since the beginning in a pacific way, they left indelible marks of Portugality in the Canarian society.

The real discovery of the islands was the work of English, Germans, and French. In the second half of the 18th century, Madeira and the Canaries assumed a new role for the Europeans. Tourism developed in both archipelagos alongside the search for solutions for curing tuberculosis and the studies and sampling of living indigenous species in natural environments, in agreement with the exigencies of Science and European Institutions. This proximity between Madeira and the Canaries was maintained through time. To the impact of the Portuguese presence, we must add the connections that were consolidated due to the routes of maritime and aerial navigation. Moreover, the entrance into the European Economic Community, namely within the framework of the so called ultra-peripheral regions group, favored this relationship, particularly through the scientific and institutional exchange.

History revealed that the complementarity of these insular spaces is not eternal and depends almost always of conjunctural reasons. Since the 19th century, the paths of the two archipelagos stopped crossing and the complementarity stopped being present. This gave place to the competition between both spaces for the control of the Atlantic space navigation and for European tourism. This seems to have been an inglorious battle for the Madeiran. The Canaries won it because they knew how to built oceanic ports and create fiscal conditions for attracting maritime navigation through the creation of the port and the free zone, advancing also in a fast way the investment in aerial navigation as an encouragement for the growth of the tourist market.

During the 20th century, several cultural exchanges happened, namely with Tenerife island, with the presence of the Madeira Artistic Philharmonic (1909), Funchal Artist Band (1913), Passos Freitas musical group (1914 and 1922), Madeira Trio (1931) and Madeira Choral Society (1966 and 1971). In the opposite direction, in 1888 a theater company travelled to Funchal, and in 1955 a folklore group participated in the Wine Harvest Festival. From the 60’s, the Canaries acquired a prominent role as a summer resort and preferred destination for the graduation trip of Madeiran students. The discovery of Madeira as a tourist destination for the population of the neighboring archipelago gained importance in the 90’s. Alongside, contacts were strengthened in terms of politics and businesses through various summits; the establishment of common routes for insular tourism was sought; paths were opened for a cultural and scientific exchange; and the establishment of a route for commercial exchange between the two archipelagos was intended. But almost all of these proposals were delayed or remained unfulfilled because of political and community constraints.

The Atlantic insular world, consolidated by the diverse archipelagos, is a reality since the 15th century, and results from the partition done by the peninsular kingdoms, legitimized in the treaties established for the control of oceanic space. The underlying political conjuncture at the initial stage of the Atlantic space occupation, together with the way the relationships were between the peninsular crowns, were important in the way how the Canary-Madeira connections were established and maintained. In the 15th century, the link of Madeira to Lanzarote stemmed from the famous dispute between the peninsular crowns for the possession of the Canaries. Already at the end of the following century, the reaffirmation and widening of the contacts with the whole Canarian archipelago resulted from the occupation of the island of Madeira in 1852 by Don Agustin Herrera, fact that materialized the union of the peninsular crowns and strengthened even more the bonds between the communities of the islands of Madeira and Lanzarote. Family bonds were established between Madeiran families and some of the soldiers from the forces that accompanied him, who ended up marrying in the island.

Two moments shaped the way the two archipelagos relate. The first moment allowed the Madeiran consolidation in Lanzarote, while the second, other than strengthening the Canary-Madeira bonds, conditioned the Canarian presence in Funchal that was never very significant. If the merit of opening and incentivizing the human connections should be given to the political component, the mission of reinforcing and consolidating this relationship should be attributed to the economical factor. This exchange only reached its plenitude during the 16th and 17th centuries, mainly due to the grain trade with the markets of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote, because Madeira had in these islands its main grain barn. During the following centuries this movement continued, though without the same impulse and dimension of this first moment. Little by little each of the archipelagos traced different directions that instead of propitiating their complementarity, led to the confrontation and competition of products and services.

The role of Madeira in this interrelational system and the importance of the Madeiran community in this archipelago have been highlighted by all the authors that have devoted to this subject; the innumerable studies conducted in the last years agree with this valorization. It is true that we face a diverse Portuguese presence coming from all the regions of the country, but this Canary-Madeira familiarity was dominant in the relationship framework, playing the island a key role.

As mentioned above, the Madeiran intervention in the Canary enterprise led to a closer approximation between the two archipelagos, influencing at the same time the plan for contact and commerce lines between them. Through Madeira was at first, the easy drawing of slave labor for the sugar harvest, and then the resource to grain and meat, necessary for the Madeiran diet. In turn, the Canaries were asylum for some of the first conquerors. In 1476 with the conquest carried out by Diego de Herrera, many European colonists left Lanzarote for Madeira or Castile. Bear in mind that for many Madeirans, the Canaries were, from the beginning, an escaping space.

This happened in the 16th century with many Jews, but also with other situations, as was the case of António Gonçalves da Câmara from Ribeira Brava that, fugitive, took refuge in this archipelago. Later, in the 18th and 20th centuries, this proximity was used again as trampoline for the escape of masons persecuted by the Inquisition, or for prisoners of political causes, as happened for example in 1919 with a group of monarchists from the Revolt of Monsanto incarcerated in Lazareto de Gonçalo Aires that, with the help of fishermen, took refuge in Tenerife.

The migratory movement from the Canaries to Madeira, that resulted from the discontentment generated by the conquest process and occupation of the archipelago, had already started in the middle of the 15th century being herald Maciott de Bettencourt that, bitter with the evolution of the process and in litigation with the interests of the Seville bourgeoisie, yielded in 1448 the right of lordship of Lanzarote to Henrique of Portugal, in exchange of a bulging sum of money, farms, and perks in Madeira. The nephew of Lanzarote’s conqueror preferred the quietness of the villa of Funchal to the government of his island. This was the first step towards the growth of this Norman family in the Atlantic. Maciott de Bettencourt went to the exile accompanied by his daughter Maria and two of his nephews, Henrique and Gaspar, all of which attained prestigious positions and large properties consequence of their marriages with the principal families of Madeira. Maria de Bettencourt for example, married Rui Gonçalves da Câmara, second son of the captain-donee of Funchal. A new life thus started for this Norman family that, from the Canaries, went to Madeira and the Azores, relating there with the principal nobility of the land and earning them an eminent position in the Madeiran and San Miguel societies of the 16th century. The sons of Maciott de Bettencourt, Henrique and João, distinguished themselves at the time by the services provided to the crown, receiving in return many benefits. Henrique de Bettencourt preferred the quietness of the Band’Além lands in Riveira Brava where he lived in wealthy quarters; he instituted a primogeniture and had an active intervention in the municipal life and in the military campaigns in Africa. His descendants stood out in the local life and in diverse military campaigns in Africa, India and Brazil.

If the first migratory wave traced the course and destiny of Madeira, the pacifying expedition of Agustin Herrera, count of Lanzarote in 1582, settled and strengthened the contacts between Madeira and the Canaries, especially with the Island of Lanzarote. The count of Lanzarote himself during his short stay in the island was one of the heralds of this relationship since he related to the Acciaioli, an important house of Florentine merchants and landowners, settled in the island since 1515. The hosts followed his example having many of the 300 men from the prison formed family in the island. Between 1580 and 1600, the Spaniards appear in the first place of the Madeiran immigration. The end of the peninsular unity and of the siege in 1640 brought baleful consequences for such relationships; the Madeiran residents in Lanzarote were target of retaliation and for example the goods of the son of Simão Acciaioli, who married the daughter of the Count of Lanzarote, were confiscated.

Since very early the Lusitanian presence in the Canary Islands has been recorded in La Palma, Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria, being Madeira one of the main axes of this movement. The Portuguese assumed a relevant place, being among the main labor force in the economical valorization of the islands. The bellicose and adventurous tradition of some Madeirans took them to actively participate in the conquest campaigns of Tenerife, receiving in reward innumerous donations of lands. This resulted in a strong Lusitanian presence in this island where, in some localities like Icode and Daute, emerge as the majority. As a matter of fact, Granadilla was founded by Gonzalo Gonzalez Zarco son of João Gonçalves Zarco captain-donee of Funchal.

The most evident proof of the importance of the Lusitanian presence in the island is documented in Acuerdos del cabildo de Tenerife, existing since 1947, where the references of Portuguese with a relevant place in the society are constant, being always referenced secondarily. The same could be said about the island of La Palma where the Portuguese marked a very strong presence as evidenced by the existence of some parish records written in Portuguese. According to a list from 1626, most of these Portuguese, not included in this list the islands of Fuerteventura, La Gomera and El Hierro, resided in Tenerife Island and were mostly from São Miguel in the Azores. The information that attests a different incidence of this group of islanders is recurrent, especially those highlighting a higher occurrence of Madeiran in the islands of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.

Multiple testimonies attest the importance of the Portuguese community in the different islands. Gaspar Frutuoso himself, that wrote at the end of the 16th century, draws attention to this fact highlighting the importance of this community in Icod de Los Vinos in Tenerife, as well as in Garafia, Santa Cruz, Tazacorte, San Andrés, and Los Sauces in the island of La Palma. This island was one of the islands that received the highest number of Jews escaping the persecution of the Portuguese Inquisition. This particular aspect of the presence of the Portuguese Jew community in all the Canary Islands constitutes in fact, one of the most highlighted aspects by the Canary Inquisition which emphasizes the importance of this community. Madeira worked thus as a trampoline for the escape of the Portuguese Jews that went to the neighboring Canaries, as well as other spaces in the Atlantic such as Brazil.

The changes operated in the political conjuncture starting with the events of the year 1640 conditioned the presence of the Madeirans that, before that enjoyed a preferential status in the society and economy in Lanzarote, for example making them disappear progressively from its action stage. We do not know if this was meaningful, but the truth is that after that, the few Madeirans that could be tracked in the documentation tried to ignore or erase their origin, appearing simply as neighbors without any further reference. This situation coincides with the end of the commercial trade focusing on the Canarian grain, since starting in 1641, it stopped appearing in Funchal having being replaced by the Azores or by the one coming from new markets such as the Berber Coast and North America. It is not evident if this absence of Canarian grain resulted from the crisis in cereal cultivation or stemmed from the ambience of mutual peninsular retaliation.

Conflicts between Portugal and Spain extended for some time, but with the signing of peace in Madrid in the year of 1668, the way for the reestablishment of the inter-archipelago contacts was open. In the meanwhile, Portugal had already signed some agreements with the allies, namely England in 1661, that established a different way of control and domain of the Atlantic space, thus consolidating the increasing hegemony of the English. From the moment the ports of the archipelagos opened to a mutual trade free of obstacles and embargoes, the conditions for the mobility of people and products among the archipelagos were created. History documents this continuity but not with the same strength as in previous moments.

Madeira enjoyed prosperity conditions with the preferential situation of its wine exportation to the British colonial market, and the Madeirans did not see the Canaries as promising anymore since the doors for the market in the other side of the Atlantic were open, without the need of the Canary Islands. Even so, the movement was resumed both ways. Thus, it can be mentioned for the 18th century the cases of Manuel Alvarez Pereira, important merchant from Lanzarote committed to the exchange of grain for soda ashes, as well as Alvarez Rixo between 1812 and 1814.

The presence and influence of the Portuguese in the Canaries were registered at several levels in this archipelago’s society and economy. The continuous movement of Portuguese people brought associated ways of speaking, habits, and customs, but also techniques and products of which they ended up being promoters, because they emerged from the quality of specialized farmers and workers dedicated to the diverse tasks of product transformation. It is evident the association of the Madeirans with the dissemination of the culture of woad (Isatis tinctoria, plant used for blue dye), grape, and sugarcane. The assortment of activities to which the Portuguese dedicated is varied, ranging from commerce, to activities related to productivity in the agriculture sector, to different craftsmanships.

The sugar cane, due to its high economical value in the European-Mediterranean market, was one of the first and main products that Europe bequeathed and defined for the new areas of the Atlantic occupation. The route started in Madeira, expanding later to the remaining islands, and towards the American continent. In the first experience outside Europe, the sugarcane evidenced growing possibilities outside the Mediterranean habitat. Such evidence catalyzed the interests of national and foreign capital that invested in the growth of culture and commerce. In 1483 when the governor Pedro de Vera wanted to turn the conquered land of the Canaries productive, Madeira provided the cane cuttings so that the cane fields and the first mill could emerge there in 1484. Still, the most significant was the strong Portuguese presence in the process of conquest and adaptation of the new Canarian space to the market economy. The Portuguese, especially Madeirans, emerge frequently in the islands connected to the land cleaning processes, as settlers that receive lands in exchange of skilled work, or as skilled workers that built mills and put them in motion. Some are seasonal workers that search these islands in periods of more agricultural activity. In 1624, Miguel Rodrigues from Estreito da Calheta died in a shipwreck when returning from one of those travels to Lanzarote.

In the case of La Palma, Leonel Rodrigues is referred as mill master, who won this status after 12 years of work in Madeira. In the list of Madeirans referenced in the tribunal of the Inquisition of Las Palmas, we have others related with the sugarcane cultivation and harvest. It should be also mentioned the identical role played by the Canaries in the cultural projection towards the Castilian colonies in the new world.

The Canaries are pointed out as one of the competitor areas of Madeira, being the most significant fact that were the Madeirans themselves that promoted it, being the affirmation undeniably linked to its presence. The incentives for the production of sugarcane fields in the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife allowed many Madeirans to abandon Madeira and establish there. It was during the sugar crisis in Madeira that the Madeirans’ presence there was most evident, which proves the emigration oriented towards the technicians connected to culture. The cane cuttings arrived at the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, and La Gomera, not reaching the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and El Hierro because of its sterility and fundamentally, the lack of water.

In Tenerife, the presence in the books of land gifts of a very significant group of Portuguese, most of them certainly from the island, is related with this situation. The crisis in Madeiran production during the first decades of the 16th century reflected in the property system, having allowed a strengthening of the large landowners in detriment of the others that abandoned the lands, certainly in their way to the Canaries.

The increment in the sugarcane culture in Madeiran soil forced significant technological advances that, starting in the final decades of the 15th century, could only be concretized through the availability of more lands per mill owner, which would not be possible in Madeira where there were no more lands to distribute. Thus a new possibility opened in the Canaries in a way that those that mounted a mill had the right to an undetermined number of fanegadas (old unit of measurement equivalent to four bushels) of land and water, precisely in order to monetize the new technological project of sugar manufacture that here had full concretization.

A summary analysis of the tax burden that levied Madeiran farmers during the first years of occupation evidences its excessive weight on the agricultural products, as happened with the sugar; the manorial rights burdened the sugar in about 25% that, in the Canaries, did not surpassed the 5,5% at the beginning. In Gran Canaria, the taxes consisted of 2,5% of the diezmo (tithe) plus 3% ad valorem (a tax according to the value of the product) in the customs, which kept increasing until it reached 6% in the year of 1528. In the islands of La Palma and Tenerife, the regime of custom tax exemption was maintained until 1522. The finding of the weight of these obligations, over the same culture and the same product in the neighboring archipelago, must have influenced the strong outbreak of Madeiran emigration towards the new space, where the fiscal burdens were lower and the possibilities of exploitation profit were higher, contributing to the strong Madeiran presence in these islands, connected with the agriculture activity.

The unequal situation of the tax burdens and subsequently of the agricultural exploitation profits, reflected also in the evolution of the economical exploitation system of the culture, placing Madeira in an unequal position regarding the market competition. Here started the economical competition process between both archipelagos, which will clearly mark its existence starting in the mid 19th century. There is no documentary data that corroborates the going of Madeiran strains to the Canaries, but it is very natural that it happened so. The linguistic and ethnographic testimonies attest various similarities in some technical designations that should be related to this influence of Madeiran colonists. Notice that at the end of the 18th century, the Madeiran contribution to the winemaking process in Tenerife was relevant. Funchal consul Francisco Chacon remitted in October 20, 1786, a detailed report about the winemaking process of Madeiran wine. With probable date of 1784, there is another document, referred by Guimerá Ravina and found in the Archivo Brier Ponte Ximénez that likewise describes the process of Madeiran winemaking, however it is not signed. Both documents revealed the interest of the neighboring archipelago in adequating the winemaking processes in order to be able to equally compete at the same markets than the Madeira.

The most evident aspect that unites both archipelagos around the culture relates to the dispute for the market and the preferential position that Madeira assumed in the British colonial market, enforced by the Luso-British treaties, giving rise to the following situations. Already in the 15th century, the Canarian wine competed in a direct way with the one from Madeira in the British market as evidenced by Shakespeare references; the Azores wine only started to compete since the 17th century. The struggle was always between the Madeiran Malvasia and the caldos (local name for wine) from Tenerife. The dispute over the European market went to the colonial.

The 17th century was the turning point of the Atlantic wine market, Madeira attaining the preference of the North American market and its colonies in the Antilles. Madeiran wine was fashionable. The winegrowers and merchants from Tenerife, in order to survive, had to subject to the fabrication of a wine similar to the Madeira, or to the transshipment with the one from Tenerife in order to, later, sell it with the label of Madeira. The 18th century was therefore, the affirmation period of the false and true Madeira. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Canarian Malvasia is spoken of in the London market in a competitive position with that from Madeira, but only since the mid century the wine acquired a relevant dimension in the exportations. It is known that, even until the 30’s, Tenerife needed to import wine, defining limitative measures for its importation since the middle of the century. This way, the Canaries, following the example from Madeira, distribute wine between the old Europe and the new occupation spaces at the other side of the Atlantic, such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

From the middle of the 17th century, the Canaries compete directly with Madeira for the domain of the British wine market. The peninsular union would not have been favorable to the Madeira wine, since it opened the colonial market doors to the Canarian wine. The economical conjuncture announced in 1640 opened new perspectives to the Madeiran Malvasia, with the return of the privileged position within the Portuguese and British worlds. Its direct competitor was only the Azores wine, produced in the islands of Graciosa and Pico.

The friendship pacts between the Portuguese and English crowns settled the commercial relations, favoring the offer of the Madeiran and Azores wine in the British colonies in Central and North America as determined by the laws of navigation approved in 1641 by Charles II. The privileged situation granted to the wine from the Portuguese archipelagos had a negative repercussion in the Canarian economy, being an impediment to the development of the wine economy starting at the end of the 17th century. The marriage of Charles II of England to Catherine of Braganza was the prelude of the favorable conjuncture to the Madeiran wine, being referred by Viera y Clavijo as a “strike so happy for the island of Madeira as unlucky for the Canaries” (LORENZO-CÁCERES, 1941, 19). Cromwell’s war against Spain led to the closure of the London market to the Canarian wine during the period from 1655 to 1660, and to the establishment of preferential measures to the wine from the Portuguese islands.

With the end of the borders’ war between Portugal and Spain and the peace signature in Madrid in February 5th, 1668, confirmed in February 13 in Lisbon, the contacts between the archipelagos were reestablished. The reinforcement of the relationships is evidenced by the presence of Bento de Figueiredo in Funchal as Castilian consul. The difficulties did not end here, since only with the Peace of Ultrecht in 1713, new business perspectives were opened in a time when the Madeiran and Azores wines had already conquered a solid position within the colonial and British markets. The situation persisted during the course of the 18th century and, thwarted the diplomatic initiatives, it was necessary to wait until 1778 when a new era for the Madeiran wine was announced with the open commerce to the Indies and the opening of the North American market, as a consequence of the independence proclaimed in 1776. The situation reflects in a positive way in the exportations between 1790 and 1814. From the Canaries part, it should be referred the contribution of the cochineal, brought in 1837 by Miguel Camacho Almeida.

The commerce between the islands of the three Atlantic archipelagos resulted not only from the economical complementarity, defined by the asymmetries propitiated by the orography and climate, but also from the proximity and assiduity of contacts. The exchange of people, products, and techniques dominated the contact system between the archipelagos. The commercial relations added to the presence of Madeirans at the service of Henrique from Portugal in the dispute for the possession of the archipelago, and to the attraction that the islands of Lanzarote and Tenerife exercised on the Madeirans. Funchal was for a long time a support port for the contacts between the Canaries and the old continent. If it is true that the majority of the contacts with the archipelagos come from the privileged position of Madeira between the Canaries and Europe, then it is also true that the commercial pact resulted from the necessities and internal solicitations that impelled for an approximation. It is also the need to resort to a new source of grain provision, considering the refusal of the Azoreans to provide it, that we could even associate the requests of the Portuguese community resident in the Canaries, of which a numerous group of Madeirans were part of, that longed to establish contracts with the locals of origin.

Wheat was, without a doubt, the main Canary-Madeiran commerce incentive. Cereals appear as the main activators and supports of the barter system between Madeira and the Canaries. According to Giulio Landi “the island would produce in more quantity if sowed. But the greed for riches make the habitants, neglecting the sowing of wheat, dedicate only to the sugar manufacture, since they take higher profits from it, which explains why wheat is not harvested in the island for more than six months. This is why there is a lack of wheat because it is abundantly imported from the neighboring islands” (VIEIRA, 1987, 104). Madeira arises since the end of the 15th century as an area lacking grain, needing to import more than half of what it required for its consumption. The assurance of the internal grain supply, which constituted a watchword at the beginning of Madeira’s population, did not resist the assault of the European cultures for exportation that, in a short period of time, invaded almost all the arable land.

Madeira archipelago, composed only by two islands, being one of them of weak resources, had necessarily to secure the exterior supply with the assistance of the neighboring islands. In 1546, from the 12.000 moios (old measurement equivalent to 60 bushels) consumed, only 1/3 was produced locally, being the remaining imported from the nearby islands or from Europe. In the 16th century, the grain offer from the Canaries and the Azores represented near half of the income. In the Azores case, almost all came from São Miguel and Faial, while in the Canaries came mostly from the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Tenerife. The grain supply route, defined at the beginning of the 16th century, remained with all its strength until the middle of the next century. The first references of the shipping of wheat from the Canaries to Madeira appear in 1504 for the wheat destined to La Palma and in 1506 to Tenerife.

The grain commerce from the Canaries consolidated through the regularity of the contacts with Madeira, being only prejudiced by the temporary embargoes, while the one from the Azores was imposed by the crown, since the Azorean bourgeoisie and aristocracy namely that of São Miguel, did not show any interest in maintaining this path. The cabildo (group of priests responsible for a church) of Gran Canaria’s cathedral complaint of not receiving its share of the tithes, which ran off to Madeira, having ordered its embargo in 1532.

The Canarian route is imposed by the dominance of the assiduous contacts between the two archipelagos, not impeded by the production crises, or by the limitations imposed by the cabildo (city hall) of Tenerife. The grain was the main product and the justification for the permanence of this link, traced at the beginning of the 15th century by the native Norman community.

The permanence of this route implied widening the commercial trades between the archipelagos, once that to the grain commerce, other products were associated as a countermeasure favorable to trade. The Madeiran offer widened to include green fruit, wicker liaça (basket-like object used to prevent fragile things from breaking), and sumac, and burlap, woolen or patchwork clothes. In these relations with the Canary Islands wine emerges frequently, allied to other products, as trading currency for grain. This way, in 1521 Juan Pomar, neighboring merchant from Madeira, sent Juan Garcia de Lós, neighboring merchant from Gran Canaria, some wine casks. And in 1525, he sent a cask and ¼ of wine and ¼ of vinegar. Meanwhile in 1523, from Funchal sailed the vessel of Lourenço Morais with twenty casks of wine for the same destination; and finally in 1563 the merchant João Nunes sent his brother in law, resident in the Canaries, three casks of wine so he will send him wheat. This commerce between Madeira and the Canaries goes back to the middle of the 15th century, time when Madeira started to receive Canarian slaves, meet, cheese and tallow, deal not to the liking of Ferdinand of Portugal, island landlord, since he refused the native’s request for the exemption of the tithe of the products that came from there, saying that “so well I treat my Azores islands and such good returns they produce and better than those from the Canaries if in it they want to enter” (VIEIRA, 1987, 144), despite the insistence of Funchal’s neighbors to maintain their contacts with the Canaries. In 1477, Madeiran merchant Nuno Cavado, engaged for more than fifteen years in that commerce, received a safe-conduct from the Catholic Monarchs to trade in those islands. And, in 1513 being seized in Gran Canaria a Portuguese caravel carrying a malefactor, the local regent feared retaliations from the Madeirans.

One of the most important products provided by the Madeiran market and that sold very well in the Canaries was the sumac that contributed to the development of tanneries in Gran Canaria. To a first shipment requested in 1569 followed, starting in 1570, the intervention of the merchant class in this trade. For example in 1571, Anton Solis and Juan de Cabrejas, neighboring merchants from Gran Canaria, created a company for commercializing Madeiran sumac. And still in this decade, other companies emerged with the same finality, which confirms the importance of this product in the commerce with Gran Canaria. The documentation continues to be incomplete in attesting this commercial relationship. Even so, for the first half of the 17th century, there are references of the departure of vessels from Funchal with destination to Lanzarote transporting wine, sumac, honey, fabrics, nuts, sugar, preserves, and marmalade.

The Canaries offered Madeira the food products it lacked, receiving in return, in addition to wine and sumac, a variety of artifacts of local production or imported. Madeira had in this neighboring archipelago, not only its barn, but also its butchery, its supply of cattle and its derivates such as meat, tallow, and cheese. In 1527, Joana Falcão declared at the town council that her husband Joam Novo, who had the exclusive meat sale in the municipal butchery, was absent in the Canary Islands, where he went looking for meat, as usual. That cattle and that meat were usually acquired in the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

The Canarian archipelago became, since the beginning of the 16th century, a new Atlantic barn, providing the necessary surplus for the supply of the African coast, the peninsular coast, and the island of Madeira. From the wheat that left the island of Tenerife in the 16th century, about 53% was intended to Portugal and Madeira, the remaining to the Canarian insular market and the Castilian market. The peninsular market totaled 69% of that wheat, leaving only the excess for the islands. The grain exported to the peninsular coast oriented towards the main shopping plazas: Lisbon, Seville, and Cadis. In the case of Castile, the cities in Cadiz were the main consumers of the Canarian grain destined to Spain. Regarding the barley trade, the higher number of moios (old measurement equivalent to 60 bushels) was channeled to Portugal, namely to the Lisbon port, being worthy of mention a single shipment of 66,5 moios of barley to the Azores archipelago in 1511.

The year of 1640 is highlighted as the end of the human and commercial relationships between the two Portuguese archipelagos and the Canaries, as a consequence or reprisal of the end of the Philippine dynasty over the Lusitanian Empire. It is true that the political-institutional conjuncture was unfavorable to the relationships between the archipelagos while the conflict lasted, breaking the contacts among these neighboring islands due to mutual revenge. Still, when the tension started to clear out and the embargoes were gradually removed, the movement of ships, people, and goods was resumed, though never with the previous strength.

Madeira had in the meanwhile assumed a different role in the Atlantic economy that propitiated the access to other grain-producing markets, which complimented the Azorean in its supply. The favorable conditions for the commerce with the North American colonies provided a new market access to grain in exchange of wine. This did not mean the cut of the commercial relations with the Canaries, or that Madeira had definitively dispensed the grain from this archipelago, because as diplomatic relations between the two peninsular crowns normalized, the commercial contacts were also reestablished.

The slaves were one more product in the barter system between Madeira and the neighboring archipelago of the Canaries with special emphasis on the island of Lanzarote. In the period from 1619 to 1643, documents show the barter for slaves by cereal. Such use of human merchandise in the transactions with Lanzarote resulted not only from its availability in the Madeiran market and its lack in the Lanzarote society, but, above all, from the need to ensure an advantageous counterpart to the grain trade route with the island of Madeira. In the period from 1619 and 1643, 44 slaves were shipped from Funchal to the Canaries, being almost all destined to Lanzarote, since only one was sold to a neighbor from Gran Canaria. The slaves were mostly (73%) of African origin.

For the period from 1695 to 1714, the information recorded in the commercial letters of Diogo Fernandes Branco reports the movement of 11 ships native to the Canaries against 12 from Madeira, while in the period of 1695 to 1700, the letters of William Bolton give account of the arrival of two ships from the Canaries and the departure of eight, being seven for Las Palmas.

The 18th century was still a period marked by assiduous contacts between the two archipelagos, the Canarian barn maintaining its supplier function, many times as barter for re-exported manufactures, namely fabrics coming from London.

For the period from 1731 until 1810, several vessels from the Canaries to Madeira are identified, 127 of them with grain, highlighting a greater interaction in the two last decades of the 18th century. It should be noted the merchandise movement coming from the Canaries and the Berber Coast in this period from 1727 to 1810, in which the grain presence is reemphasized. However, the most important element to highlight is the fact that a significant group of vessels, 28 %, came without any associated movement of merchandise, which should be demonstrative that the commercial relations between the two archipelagos stopped being complementary and important. The presence of grain, even though at this point is still significant in the movement between the two archipelagos, since it represents 27% of the vessels in motion, represents almost nothing of the total amount of vessels with grain that berthed at Funchal, since it is only around 2%.

At this point, the largest market that supplies the island is definitively North America, representing 62% of the vessels arriving with grain and flours, leaving the Azores Islands with only 15%. The North American route from the Madeiran wine market opened new possibilities for supplying cereal and flours, forcing alterations in the relations between the islands. Even though the Canarian market competition was already felt in the 18th century, enforced by the wine smuggling, motive of friction that extended to the first half of the next century, the main factor of confrontation for both archipelagos will be the dispute for the navigation market of European tourism.

Madeira is an Atlantic space that always presented its own identity but that never freed from the competence with other neighboring spaces such as the Canaries. In truth, its position in the Atlantic Ocean always led to the establishment of a dispute for a better position in securing support for the navigation. This was not so understood by the metropolis and the fiscal policies from the different agendas, and the public works did not take into consideration this specific dispute situation. The oceanic port, the free zone, the tourism, and the future possibilities were lost. The main infrastructures that opened the doors for this progress took long to arrive and when they did, the Canaries had already consolidated its position as an Atlantic emporium for the maritime navigation and tourism.

The possibility of bringing part of the oceanic navigation to Madeira, as a way to increase the commercial port’s movement, needed measures that would favor this preference, compared to the conditions offered by other ports like the Canaries. The establishment of more favorable conditions for the arrival and departures at Funchal port was urgent, through the construction of infrastructures and the creation of tax measures that would not be penalizing, namely for the import and export of coal.

Funchal port lost importance and commercial movement. The situation, though considered as a result of the better conditions offered by the Canarian ports, did not dissuaded the Portuguese authorities to the construction of a new port, the establishment of favorable conditions capable of attracting navigation, the creation of a Freeport, or the alteration of the customs’ tax over coal. The Madeiran merchants and politicians were not able to vindicate the Freeport policy as means for the economical recovery of the archipelago. In the last decades of the 19th century the issue was still present in the parliamentary debates, as well as the claim by the Madeirans, becoming increasingly more pertinent.

In 1921 the baleful effects of the leveler tax policy were evident in Madeira. The decree n.º 7822 from November 22, established a navigation trade tax that included an entrance fee for tourists, with the special tax of 20% over the value of the tickets, and the payment of duties in pounds. However, the taxa de farolagem (Light Dues) was suspended in Madeira and the laws from April 23, 1880 and from May 21, 1896 defined special advantages for the steamboats that made a stopover in Funchal.

Finally, the mobility of people between the archipelagos propitiated multiple influences in the everyday life that can be witnessed in various ways, namely through place names and language. In almost every island but especially in La Palma, the portuguesismos (word, phrase, etc. borrowed from Portuguese) are evident in the nomenclature used for crafts, utensils, and products in which the Portuguese were involved: sugar, wine, fishing, civil construction, and shoe making. Many of the techniques associated to these activities are inseparably linked to the Madeiran, and show in most cases, that they have a Portuguese provenance almost always passing through Madeira. For the sugarcane it was the irrigation techniques as well as the mills, while for the vineyard were the La Palma latticework and the press typologies. It should be noted in this context that Madeira supplied arches and wood for the barrels.

One of the most relevant aspects of the presence of the Portuguese community in the Canaries was its ability for integrating in the local community without losing some of their cultural values. This situation is emphasized by many scholars and is almost always highlighted as the factor for the success of the Portuguese presence and survival in the History and Culture of the Canaries. It is meaningful that this situation led to cases of bilingualism, since in some communities both languages were spoken and understood by both parts, existing even cases of parish registries written in Portuguese in some Tenerife parishes, since in truth, many clergymen were Portuguese. The bilingual situation in this period also happened in the peninsula, with paradigmatic cases in the Portuguese literature such as Gil Vicente, Camões, André and García de Resende, and João de Barros. On the other hand, there were cases of successful Portuguese in the different islands, either in the exploitation of land, whether in the commerce. This integration of the Portuguese community is the prelude of an intercultural dialogue that has as stage the islands and that goes beyond all adversities and conflicts materialized by the crowns.

Bibliog.: ALVAREZ DELGADO, Juan, 1961, “Juan Machin, vizcaino del siglo XV, Gran figura historica de Madera y Canarias”, Anuario de Estudios Atlanticos, n.º 7, pp. 133-213; ANAYA HERNÁNDEZ, Luís Alberto e FAJARDO ESPÍNDOLA, Francisco, “Una Comunidad Judeoconversa de Orígen Portugués a Comienzos del Siglo XVI, en la Isla de La Palma”, in Actas do II Colóquio Internacional de História da Madeira, Funchal, Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, 1990, pp. 685-700; id., “Relaciones de los Archipiélagos de Azores y Madera según las fuentes inquisitoriales”, in Actas do II Colóquio Internacional de História da Madeira, Funchal, Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, 1990, pp. 846-877; BONNET Y SUAREZ, S. F., “La expedición del Marqués de Lanzarote a la Isla de Madera”, El Museo Canario, n.os 31-32, jul.-dez. 1949, pp. 59-68; Id., “Sobre la expedición del primer marqués de Lanzarote a la isla de Madera”, Revista de Historia (Canária), tomo 22, n.º 115-116, 1956, pp. 33-44; Id., “Familias Portugesas de La Laguna”, Revista de Historia (La Laguna), tomo 17, n.º 93-94, 1951, pp. 111-118; CADENAS, Carlos Teixidor, “Historia de la fotografia en Canárias y Madeira”, Gaceta de Canárias, ano III, n.os 9-10, pp. 128-131; CASTELO-BRANCO, Fernando, “Pirataria nas águas das Canárias-Madeira nos inícios do século XIX”, in VIII Coloquio de Historia Canario-Americana, vol. II, Las Palmas, s.n., 1991, pp. 83-95; CORREIA, Luísa, “Estruturas escavadas na rocha na ilha da Madeira. Algumas hipóteses de relacionamento com o começo do povoamento”, Islenha, 23, 1998, pp. 79-88; DELGADO, Juan Alvarez, “El episodio de Juan Machin en la Madera” Das Artes e da História da Madeira, vol. VI, n.º 31, 1961, pp. 41-62; Fotografia e Fotógrafos Insulares. Açores, Canárias e Madeira, Catálogo da exposição realizada no Museo Canario em Outubro de 1990; GUIMERÁ RAVINA, Agustin, “Las Islas del Vino (Madeira, Azores y Canarias)”, Actas do I Colóquio Internacional de História da Madeira, Funchal, 1989, pp. 900-934; Lizardo, João e GUERRA, Luísa, “Estruturas Escavadas na Rocha na Ilha da Madeira”, Islenha, n.º 23, jul-dez 1998, pp. 79-88; LOBO CABRERA. Manuel, “El Comércio entre Canárias y Madeira en el siglo XVI”, in Actas do III Colóquio Internacional de História da Madeira, Funchal, CEHA, 1993, pp. 623-634; id., “Canarias, Madeira y el zumaque”, Islenha, n.º 1, 1987, pp. 13-18; LUXAN MELENDEZ, Santiago de, “Los soldados del presidio de La Madera que fueron ‘Desechados’ a Lanzarote en 1641: contribución al estudio de la coyuntura restauracionista portuguesa”, in IV Jornadas de Historia de Lanzarote e Fuerteventura, vol. I, 1989, pp. 93-109; PÉREZ VIDAL, José, “Aportación Portuguesa a la Población de Canárias”, Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos, n.º 14, 1968, pp. 41-106; RUMEU DE ARMAS, António: “El Conde de Lanzarote, Capitán General de la Isla de la Madera (1582-1583)” in Anuario de Estudios Atlanticos, n.º 30, 1984, pp. 404-406; SARMENTO, Alberto Artur, Fasquias e Ripas da Madeira, Funchal, 1931; id., Fasquias da Madeira, Funchal, Tip. do Diário de Noticias, 1935; SERRA RÁFOLS, Elias, Los Portugueses en Canarias. Discurso Inaugural del Año Académico 1941-42, La Laguna, Universidad de La Laguna, 1941; SIEMENS HERNANDEZ, Lothar e BARRETO, Liliana, “Los esclavos aborigenes canarios en la isla de la Madera (1455-1505)”, Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos, n.º 20, 1974, pp. 111-143; id., “La expedicion a la Madera del Conde de Lanzarote desde la perspectiva de las fuentes madeirenses”, Anuario de Estudios Atlanticos, n.º 25, 1979, pp. 289-305; id., “Descubrimiento de una Reserva de Cabras Canarias Prehispanicas”, Aguayro, n.º 87, 1979, pp.7-9; id., “La expedición a la Madera del Conde de Lanzarote desde la perspectiva de las fuentes madeirenses”, Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos, n.º 25, 1979, pp. 289-306; VERLINDEN, Charles, “La Découverte Portugaise des Canaries”, Revue Belge de Philosophie et Histoire, vol. 36, 1958, pp. 1173-1209; id., “Le Rôle des Portugais dans l´Economie Canarienne au début du XVI e siècle”, Homenaje a Elias Serra Rafols, vol. 3, La Laguna, s.n., 1970, pp. 411-423; id., “Henri le navigateur songea-t-il a créer un ‘état’ insulaire? », in Revista Portuguesa de História, XII, 1989, pp. 281-292; VIEIRA, Alberto, O Comércio Inter-Insular nos Séculos XV e XVI. Madeira, Açores e Canárias (Alguns Elementos para o seu Estudo), Funchal, CEHA, 1987.

Alberto Vieira 

(updated 19.04.2016)