Madre de Deus
Madre de Deus
(Mother of God; also called Mãe de Deus and Madre de
Dios) was a Portuguese ship, renowned for her fabulous cargo, which
stoked the English appetite for trade with the Far East, then a
Portuguese monopoly. She was returning from her second voyage East
under Captain Fernão de Mendonça Furtado when she was captured. Her
fate is unknown, though it can be assumed that after being captured,
she may have been renamed and used as an English warship.
4 See also
7 External links
Built in Lisbon in 1589, she was 165 feet in length, had 47 feet of
beam, measured 1,600 tons burthen, and could carry 900 tons of
cargo. She had seven decks, thirty-two guns in addition to other
arms, 600 to 700 crew members, a gilded superstructure and a hold
filled with treasure.
Main article: Battle of Flores (1592)
In 1592, by virtue of the Iberian Union, the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty
of 1373 was in abeyance, and as the Anglo–Spanish War was still
ongoing, Portuguese shipping was a fair target for the Royal Navy.
On 3 August 1592 (sources vary as to the date) a six-member English
naval squadron fitted out by the Earl of Cumberland and Walter Raleigh
set out to the
Azores to intercept Spanish shipping from the New World
when a Portuguese fleet came their way near Corvo Island. The
English took her after a fierce day-long battle near Flores Island in
which many Portuguese sailors were killed.
Among these riches were chests filled with jewels and pearls, gold and
silver coins, ambergris, rolls of the highest-quality cloth, fine
tapestries, 425 tons of pepper, 45 tons of cloves, 35 tons of
cinnamon, 3 tons of mace and 3 of nutmeg, 2.5 tons of benjamin (a
highly aromatic balsamic resin used for perfumes and medicines), 25
tons of cochineal and 15 tons of ebony.
There was also a document, printed at Macau in 1590, containing
valuable information on the
Japan trade; Hakluyt observes
that it was "enclosed in a case of sweet Cedar wood, and lapped up
almost an hundredfold in fine Calicut-cloth, as though it had been
some incomparable jewel".
The carrack whilst at
Dartmouth, England was subject to theft on an
industrial scale; it attracted all manner of traders, dealers,
cutpurses, and thieves from miles around. By the time Walter Raleigh
had restored order, a cargo estimated at half a million pounds (nearly
half the size of England's treasury and perhaps the second-largest
treasure ever after the Ransom of Atahualpa) had been reduced to
The Armada Service
^ Smith, Roger (1986). "Early Modern Ship-types, 1450-1650". The
Newberry Library. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008.
^ Latham & Youings 1999, p. 78
Gulf Stream and the
Westerlies converge near the Azores, where
ships coming from both areas would pass.
^ An inventory was taken, and the report produced mentions "Gods great
favor towards our nation, who by putting this purchase into our hands
hath manifestly discovered those secret trades & Indian riches,
which hitherto lay strangely hidden, and cunningly concealed from us".
It also speaks of the following goods aboard, besides jewels: "spices,
drugs, silks, calicos, quilts, carpets and colors, &c. The spices
were pepper, cloves, maces, nutmegs, cinnamon, greene, ginger: the
drugs were benjamin, frankincense, galingale, mirabilis, aloes
zocotrina, camphire: the silks, damasks, taffatas, scarceness, alto
bassos, that is, counterfeit, cloth of gold, unwrought
sleeved silk, white twisted silk, curled cypresse. The calicos were
book-calicos, calico-launes, broad white calicos, fine starched
calicoes, course white calicos, brown broad calicos, brown course
calicos. There were also canopies, and course diapertowels, quilts of
course sarcenet and of calico, carpets like those of Turky; whereunto
are to be added the pearl, muske, civet, and amber-griece. The rest of
the wares were many in number, but less in value; as elephants teeth,
porcelain vessels of China, coco-nuts, hides, ebenwood as black as
jet, bested of the same, cloth of the rind’s of trees very strange
for the matter, and artificial in workmanship".
Latham, Agnes; Youings, Joyce (1999). The Letters of Sir Walter
Raleigh. Exeter: University of Exeter Press. p. 78.
Landes, David Saul (1999). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some
Are So Rich and Some So Poor. W. W. Norton & Company.
Rogério Miguel Puga (December 2002). "The Presence of the "Portugals"
in Macau and
Japan in Richard Hakluyt's Navigations" (PDF). Bulletin
of Portuguese/Japanese Studies. 5: 81–116. Archived from the
original (PDF) on February 5,