Fighting the Dutch
Relations between Portugal and the Low Countries had begun in the Middle Ages and were maintained throughout the period of discovery and colonization of Brazil. The Dutch and Flemish would travel to Lisbon to buy silks and exotic goods along the piers and waterfront. They marketed them to their vast clientele in northern and western Europe. This spared the Portuguese extra work and guaranteed them immediate profits. In addition to foreign exchange, the Portuguese obtained grains, salt fish, metal objects, nautical instruments, and fine cloth from their faithful customers.
This situation, which had been advantageous for both sides, was changed when the Spanish Monarchy laid claim to the entire peninsula, and Castile's enemies became enemies of Portugal. In 1585 Philip II ordered all Dutch vessels anchored in his ports to be confiscated and their crews to be imprisoned. He did the same in the years 1590, 1595, and 1599-
It would be hard to imagine a worse blow for a nation such as Holland, whose overseas trade supplied most of its wealth and whose independence had been paid for in blood. After all its heroic acts, would it have to bow to the lords of southern Europe? The Dutch devised the wildest of schemes to avoid these straits. They tried searching for another route to China and India in the northern seas. They tried transferring their commercial activity to the Mediterranean. They tried to take the Strait of Magellan. It all came to naught. They considered going around the Cape of Good Hope and getting their Oriental goods at the place of origin.