Portuguese in South-East Africa, 1600-1700

By Eric Axelson | Go to book overview

9
SOUTH-EAST AFRICA, 1652-1671

In 1652 the ten years' truce between Portugal and the Netherlands expired, and fighting at once flared up in Ceylon. In the same year the Netherlands East India Company established a refreshment station at Table Bay, which ended Portugal's territorial monopoly of European settlement in southern Africa which she had enjoyed for nearly one hundred and fifty years. These events seemed at first to increase the threat to the Portuguese in south-east Africa. But hostilities did not become general, and came to an official end in 1669.1 The establishment of the station at Table Bay was an admission by the Netherlanders that they had abandoned their earlier designs to occupy Moçambique. In fact, 1652 became a year of promise to the Portuguese in the captaincy of Moçambique: an honest and zealous captain was appointed to that post, while in the Rivers the baptism of a young and pliant Monomotapa brought new hope for the development of Christianity and trade.

Francisco de Lima2 found S. Sebastião in its usual miserable state. The bastion that was being rebuilt was only half raised, and presented a breach to any enemy. He persuaded the overseer to continue his labours, and most of the essential works were soon completed. The garrison presented more of a problem. When he took over he found the soldiers mutinous -- only shortly before they had stabbed an officer to death. There was an almost complete lack of gunners, and there were few regular soldiers; he was forced to make do with substitutes.3

Francisco de Lima served well;4 his successors were of indifferent

____________________
1
C. R. Boxer, Portuguese and Dutch colonial rivalry, 1641- 1661, pp. 32-42.
2
Governors, regimentoto Fran. de Lima, 6?/1/1652, AHEI 1422, Reg. e Instr. No. 5, 1647-57, fol. 49-50v. Numbers of pages in this volume, as in so many volumes of the AHEI, were "preserved" in the last century by having rice-paper pasted over them; the paper or the paste has lost its transparency, and now the writing is almost illegible.
3
Francisco de Lima to Governors, 2/4/1652, from Moçambique, AHEI 30, LM 22B, fol. 383, 386. Lima, 'Lembrança . . . das cousas que são necessarias pera esta fortaleza', 2/4/ 1652, ibid. fol. 384; necessary were carriages and balls for pieces of 10, 16, 18, 20 and 24 lb. calibre, 1,000 casks of powder, 2,000 fardos of rice, 12 stone-masons instead of the existing 4, 6 quarry- men, 6 tilers, etc.; Lima to Governors, 24/8/1652, AHEI 29, LM 22A, fol. 23-4; V. Conde de Óbidos to Rei, 8/1/1653, AHEI 29, fol. 18; Rei to V., 9/12/ 1653, AHEI 30, fol. 83 (56), AHU Cod. 208, fol. 230v., RSEA IV, p. 329; V. Bras de Castro to Rei, 1/2/ 1655, AHEI 30, fol. 84 (57); V. to Rei, 2/2/ 1655, ibid. fol. 81 (59).
4
V. Melo de Castro to Rei, 24/8/1658, AHEI 35, LM 26A, fol. 121. V. Mendoça Furtado, however, had him arrested; he escaped, and enquiry was ordered ( Rainha to V., 7/4/ 1662, AHU Cod. 208, fol. 291v.; V. to Rei, 29/1/ 1664, AHEI 39, LM 29/30, fol. 141-v.; Lima, petition 28/12/ 1664, AHEI 40, LM 31, fol. 219.

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