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October 6, 2021

Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

There would be new prohibitions on the sale of travel from Manila (14 March and 20 December 1632) at a time when Philip III of Portugal requested the support of the Count of Linhares from the governor of Manila in order to expel the Dutch from Ilha Formosa, insisting at the same time “in the total cut off of communication and trade between China and Manila, in order to avoid the great inconveniences that resulted in the States of the East and West Indies.” 

The viceroy immediately communicated to the king the impossibility of carrying out such orders, as the Chinese had to sell their silk, whatever the means used. Also the Castilians, “when they saw that they were starting to run out of silk, they sent boats to fetch it under the pretext of obtaining provisions.” 

In fact, there was no way to prevent this trade, and it was convenient and fair that the king should profit from it, if only for the maintenance of Macao. As for the decided ban on the Macanese-Philippine trade, a middle way was found to be remedied, ordering that “in the pataxo for Manila there should be no more silks or spices than those necessary for local spending.” 

On September 12, 1633, Manuel da Câmara de Noronha, the captain-general of Macau, sent the viceroy Count of Linhares a letter “informing him of the relations maintained there with Manila, informing him in particular of the ships that they had previously left Goa for Macau, explaining why the Castilians favored the Castilians in loading the ships to Manila, letting them embark their goods first, which had annoyed Captain António Fialho Ferreira.” 

In that letter he also mentioned the enormous risk that Portugal’s trade with Japan was at that time, “because of the pressure that the Dutch made in those parts, paying higher percentages and offering the rich governors present to win their sympathy, explaining that the residents of Macau owed money to the Japanese and that if commerce stopped, all the people of the city would perish, since they had nowhere else to support themselves. The captain also reported that he had heard that many Macau merchants, fearing this prohibition, had started to trade with Manila, sailing for this purpose in small boats and that he was unable to arrest or punish them, as he found himself without a prison and the Chinese give protection, so the king ended up getting worse served and risking the life of a city and its vassals, being able to extract large profits from it.”