terça-feira, 2 de junho de 2009

Macau no século XVIII

Macao was really troubled during the eighteenth century. After the Dutch attack in June 1622, fought-off with heavy losses to the invader, everything indicated a new time of prosperity. However, the Dutch competitiveness in Japan gave a new shape to those hopes. The general persecution, proclaimed in 1614, was only towards the Christans. Year by year, the Dutch trade in Japan was increasing. In 1639, however, Japan decided to reject Portuguese trade. The death of the Macanese Ambassadors sent to Japan in 1640 showed the true extent of the crisis. In fact the trade between Macao and Japan was finished.
On the 10th of September 1640, before the National Revolution of that year, the Macanese decided to send a ship to Lisbon to alert the Motherland to the difficulty of the situation. The communication between Malacca and Macao was also seriously threatened and the Dutch were already the unquestionable 'Lords of the Straits of Singapore'.
From this situation it can be concluded that: "[...] não poder conservar-se esta Cidade, sem ter viagens, e Portos aonde levar as fazendas que se comprarão aos Chinas, e como não se comprando as ditas fazendas de Cantão, logo hè força que os mercadores naturaes as levão a vender ao inimigo da Europa, com o qual ficara o dito rebelde entroduzido neste comercio da China e Japão [...]." ("[...] this City could not go on without trips and harbours where they could take the merchandise used to be brought to China, and if the merchandise was not bought in Guangzhou, the native tradesmen had to take it to the enemy from Europe, [i.e., the Dutch], who were already established in the trade of China and Japan [...]."). It would be the ruin of Macao.
There was a fierce wind blowing over Macao. In 1641 Malacca was occupied by the Dutch, and because of that, the communication between Macao and Goa became difficult. After the Revolution in 1640, Manila's port, which had been friendly before, became the enemy. In 1688, the Chinese tightened the economic activity of Macao, and established in Macao the Hopu (Chinese Customs). The Embassy sent to China, led by Manuel Saldanha (1667-1670) exerted a strong influence on the communication between China and Portugal. The Mandarins of Guangzhou saw, with surprise, that Beijing received the Portuguese Ambassador very well, as a representative of a friendly Country, and not as a tributary, as they generally used to consider the foreign Nations.
The Political and Administrative Government of Macao was in the hands of the Senate; the Military Government being in the hands of the Captain-Major. However, as time went by, the Captain-Majors increasingly claimed more responsibility and power in local Government. The Senate, without control of any material strength, fought back to maintain its legal Rights and Privileges.
According to the Efemérides da História de Macau, by Luís Gonzaga Gomes the eighteenth century started badly. In 1700 the Governor and Captain-Major Diogo de Melo Sampaio (1700-1720 simply annulled the Senate elections. In 1710, there was a great scandal, provoked by the Captain-Major Diogo de Pinho Teixeira, whose government had started in 1706 and ended that same year. His successor was Francisco de Melo e Castro, to whom Dom Rodrigo da Costa gave the advice not to interfere in the decisions of the Senate.
In spite of all these convulsions the short-lived government of António de Albuquerque Coelho (1718-1719) pleased the Macanese in general. Althought of a lesser scale than the 1710 Pinto Teixeira scandal, another major incident of this period occured in 1709 when the Ouvidor (Magistrate) ordered the inprisonment of the Senate's Procurator, setting a precedent hitherto unknown in the history of Macao.
Throughout the century numerous conflicts occurred among the Members of the Senate, the Captain-Majors and the Magistrates. The first, being the representative of the people and elected by them, defended permanent interests. The second being elected by Goa, frequently experienced difficulties in understanding the particular circumstances of local life and ‘pressures'.
However, it cannot be concluded that the Senate did not make any mistakes. Macao being a tiny place, was natural that gossip, intrigue and lust for power were rife among local society. An example of irregularities transpires from a contestation letter dated 18th of May 1721, from the Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, Dom Francisco José de Sampaio e Castro (1720-1723), expressing surprise by a decision of the Senate forbiding the sailing of the inhabitants' chalupas (shallops), giving authorization only for bigger ships. The Viceroy protested against this decision claiming it to be "[...] não só injusta, mas prejudicial ao comum desta cidade [...] porque o commercio he permittido igoalmente a grandes e piquenos [...]." ("[...] not only unfair but also prejudicial for the good of the city [...] because trading is equally permitted to big and small [i.e.: rich and poor men] alike [...].").
Anyway, the complaints against the behaviour of the Senate caused an echo not only in Goa but also in Lisbon. The complaint was against the institution itself and not limited to the people who, in certain circumstances, occupied the place of Members of the Senate.
The main indictment was the subservience of the Senate to the Mandarins, indeed an easy accusation from those who did not have the heavy burden of the Senate's responsibilities.
By 1783, a number of accusations against the Macao Senate finally reached Lisbon. The govemment of King Dom José I, and of his almost omnipotent and valued Marquês de Pombal, had finished. Martinho de Melo e Castro, who was Navy and Overseas Minister, considered carefully the problem of Macao. He read all the documents that he could get and he talked to the people aware of the situation. In the Apontamentos, e notícias para a instrução, que se deve formar em Goa, ao bispo de Pekin, sobre os negôcios relativos ao domínio de Macao (Notes and instructions sent to Goa, to the Bishop of Beijing, about the deals related to the Domain of Macao) we read:
"O Dominio que a Coroa de Portugal tem sobre o importante Estabelecimento de Macao, não lhe provem de alguma Graça, ou Cessão, que os Imperadores da China fizessem dele a esta Coroa; mas provem do Direito da Conquista, que as Armas Portuguezas fizeram daquela Colónia." ("The domain that the Portuguese Crown has over the important Establishment of Macao is not a present given by the Emperors of China, on the contrary, it was a Right obtained by the Portuguese Military when they conquered Macao.").
The words above are the first words of the Apontamentos [...].
According to this mentality it is not surprising that this conscientious Minister attacked the Macao Senate directly. In another document, entitled Instrução para Dom Federico Guilherme de Souza, governador e capitão geral da India (Instructions to Dom Federico Guilherme de Souza, governor and general captain of India), he gave his opinion on the Macanese Senate:
"O Senado da Camera daquele importante dominio, composto na mayor parte de Degradados, que ali se refugiaram, ou de outros similhantes a eles, todos ignorantissimos em materias de Governo, e sem outras vistas mais, que as de procurarem a sua fortunapor meyo da Navegação e do Commercio, só cuidam em fazer menos cruel a tirania dos Mandarins, com humiliaçoens serviz, com dadivas, que constantemente lhes oferecem talvez extorquidas da Real Fazenda; e submetendo-se a quanto eles querem, sem lhes importar couza alguma, que diga respeito ao decoro da Nação Portugueza, nem ao inconstestaval D ir eito de Soberania, que a Coroa de Portugal tem naquelle Dominio [...]." ("The Senate of that important domain is composed mainly of politically ignorant refugees, whose aim is only to make their fortunes. They humiliate themselves before the Mandarins giving them presents, donations, perhaps stolen from the Royal Treasury, in order to minimize the Mandarins' cruelty so that they can sail and trade without any problems.
They do not care about the Portuguese Nation, nor about the Right of Sovereignty that the Portuguese Crown has over that Dominion [...].").
This is one of the most violent and authorized accusations against the Leal Senado of Macao. "Leal" ("Loyal") declared by King Dom João VI years later, in 1810. It was, without any doubt, a violent and authorized testimony that could only be explained by Martinho de Melo e Castro's ignorance about the facts.
The Macao Senate was guilty of everything bad that happened in the Colony. According to the opinion of Martinho e Castro it was necessary to reduce the jurisdiction of the Senate to a merely local Administration, reserving to the Captain-Major not only the Military policy but also the affairs with the Chinese and the Financial Administration.
According to Martinho de Melo e Castro another abuse was the lack of a proper Magistrate. The one in charge was a layman. Therefore, the Senate was responsible for the loss of all "the privileges, exemptions and liberties", conceded by the Chinese Emperors.
Concerning the Financial Administration, the same Minister had completely offensive ideas against the Senate, arguing that the present situation of the Public Treasury was due to pure negligence of the Senate. One important step to follow would be the establishment of a Customs House in Macao that should adhere to all the specific and technical rules observed in other Colonies.
In brief, there were six providências (Measures) to be taken concerning the matters of Macao:
1.The Governor should be carefully chosen. When he did not perform his duties he could be replaced. After three years, he could be re-elected for another three years in case of good Administration.
2. More Authority should be given to the Governor and in order to be respected he should have a bigger Military force.
3. The Governor should be the one who would deal with the Chinese and not the Senate.
4. Establishment of the Royal Customs House in Macao.
5. Nomination of the Portuguese Bishops to China.
6. Macao Council should render account of the Royal Treasury / Finances income.
Martinho de Melo e Castro argued that the Mandarins, who were the oppressors of Macao behaving against Imperial Orders, would be put in their place every time it was noticed that they indulged in irregular procedures. Thus, he ignored the real situation in Macao.
According to these arguments he secretly and efficiently ordered to reduce the Senate's Authority and consequently to increase the authority of the Captain-Major. On board the war ship that would take the Bishop of Beijing to Macao, there would also be a company of sipoys, a detachment of artillery, two Judges, and two Officials of the Treasury who were in charge of carrying out a scrupulous examination of the Senate's accounts. At the same time they would look for the letters conceming Chinese Privileges.
The Govemor and other Officers would proceed with the installment of the Customs House although they would face some resistance from the Senate. Those who opposed such measures would be arrested and sent to Goa, on board the same ship, with the respective processes. The only excuse for this strictness was the ignorance of reality or lack of information.
Macao depended on maritime trade. Its tradesmen used to buy Chinese products and then they took them to different harbours, where the goods were sold.
Until 1639, the main voyage was to Japan. But the problem was that of Dutch competition. There fore, Macao lost what had been almost a monopoly trade and so a period of great prosperity came to an end for the time being.
In spite of all these problems, the Macanese reacted as best they could. The City life depended on economic interests. The Records of Macao Council were always conceming the same subjects: Communication with the Chinese; Orders from the neighbouring Mandarins; difficulties regarding voyages to Manila, Siam, Madras, Cochin-China, Java, Bombay, Surat and Goa.
The tradesmen, usually the owners of boats, were not completely free to sail around. There was the so called pauta de viagens (schedule of the voyage), proposed by Macao and submitted to Goa for approval many years before. This schedule could be changed if something serious happened. If there was any ship that was not able to make the voyage, a substitute would be proposed to Goa.
One of the most profitable voyages, after the loss of the trade with Japan, was the one to Timor, because of sandalwood. However, this voyage depended on the security of conditions found in the Islands of Solor and Timor. It must be remembered that only in 1665 a Representative of the Central Power was appointed, with the Portuguese Establishment in Lifau, Portuguese Capital until 1769, the date on which it was changed to Dili. It can also be said that, during the eighteenth century, the situation of Indonesia always offered some instability, which did not favoured the normal trade with Macao.
The voyages to India could not be carried out without an Authorization from Goa. Macao therefore sent only the number of ships previ ously fixed and no more than that. To Cochin China and other destinations there were the same limits. The Macanese obeyed to the principle prescribed to India and to Macao.
The eighteenth century was marked by continuous decay. The missionaries, banishment from China and the affluence awarded Guangzhou by foreign ships deeply affected Macanese prosperity.
In 1726 Dr. João Marques Bacalhau e Pedro Vicente Velho were named, in Lisbon, Procura-tors of Macao. From the letters between these two men and the Senate, of 1736-1737 we know that Batavia's port was closed by the Dutch and also that Surat could not be visited by Macanese ships. In Lisbon, in 1741, the Companhia Real das Sedas (Royal Company of Silk), in order to develop its commerce, had the idea of creating a branch in Macao, or rather an allied Company. It was to last for sixteen years and was led by Directors and Administrators. The Company accepted shareholders. The Company of Lisbon could send to China, every year, as many ships as the Company wished, these ships having the same prerrogatives to the ones from the Portuguese State of India. However, the Company was not allowed to trade with Brazil. One of the most important concessões (Grants) was: "[...] the Company can carry in its vessels all the silver necessary to the negotiations, although it can not be in coins of this Kingdom".
During the reign of King Dom José I the situation was the same. In 1753 the Companhia do Comércio Oriental (Company of Eastern Commerce) was established. Two years after, in Lisbon, the Company of Grão Pará and Maranhão was established and in 1759 the Company of Pernambuco and Paraíba. This meant that Macao had just suffered the competition from other enterprises. It must be remembered that the ship from the Company of Eastern Commerce was allowed to trade with India.
The Macanese saw the ports of Malabar, Goa and Surat almost lost. The nau (ship) from India was much bigger and could transport the load of two small ships. On the 5(th) of November 1755, the Leal Senado recalled that in 1726, at the time of Alexandre Metelo de Sousa e Menezes Embassy, there were in Macao more than twenty vessels, but in contrast, in 1755, "[...]there are only seven ships and shallops, and three of them will disappear during this monsoon." [And it was added that...] the Royal Treasury did not spend anything with Macao; its inhabitants, who lived only from trade, paid the maintenance of the Bishop, Legislative Court, prison, Govemor and so on. The decay was such that there were only six inhabitants who could live abundantly." On the streets there were lots of women begging and there were no munitions in the fortresses. The convents did not receive any rents. The Army was insufficient. The Bp. Dom Frei Hilário de Santa Rosa decided to go to Lisbon in order to show to the Court what was really happening. The Senate proposed the exemption of several expenses, the suppression of some posts, including the one of the surgeon. On the other hand, it was necessary to take into account a Royal Ruling, from June 1755, that opened the commerce of Mozambique to all the inhabitants of Portuguese Asia, including Macao.
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