Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

The Viceroy of the Estado da Índia ignored the insistent requests of the Macau merchants for the legalization of trade with Manila. He argued that this would go against the king’s orders. 

The rejection, however, would be of no use as business between Macanese and Filipinos increased, while defensive cooperation between the men-at-arms of the City of God’s Name and those of the São Lázaro archipelago was reinforced. 

The historian José Manuel Garcia tells us that “the Luso-Spanish relationship and rapprochement in East Asia was so notorious that in 1625, for example, Macau was able to pay off a large part of its debts due to the 40,000 xeraphins that it had yielded to it the trip to Manila. The presence of Macao ships continued to be registered in this city, namely five in 1627 and two in 1628.” 

Faced with this torrent of trafficking, Dom Miguel de Noronha, Count of Linhares, the then viceroy, put up a public auction for “three-year trips from Macau to Manila.” They were, however, too expensive for most merchants, and so Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho, perhaps the greatest Portuguese capitalist in Asia, captain of Macau during the Dutch onslaught, would take over. 

Master of such a desirable monopoly, Carvalho undertook “to send to each of the places indicated three ships a year or, in any case, nine during the term of the contract.” Unhappy with the deal, the Senate of Macau managed to make the said trips unfeasible, which ended up being carried out by people from Macau. 

José Manuel Garcia informs that “Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho’s three trips to Manila were made between 1632 and 1634 under the direction of his brother-in-law and associate António Fialho Ferreira, following the appeal he had to make for the intervention of the viceroy, who then appointed Manuel da Câmara de Noronha as captain-general of Macau. This reality reveals the environment that lived in this city between rival economic groups.”