quarta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2018

Description of the City of the Name of God in China (1635)

Because some readers of this blog asked me to write something in english about Macau's history in the early days, for this post I choose some excerpts from Descrição da Cidade do Nome de Deos da China included in the book entitled Livro das Plantas de todas as Fortalezas, Cidades e Povoações do Estado da India Oriental... by António Bocarro in 1635. This book has also attached a relevant plan of Macau made by by Pedro Barreto de Resende. (image bellow).
Note: This is a free translation from the ancient portuguese (17th century). It's very interesting the description of Macau fortresse's by that time. Hope you like it!
Description of the City of the Name of God in China (1634)
The city of the Name of God is located twenty two degrees North, at the end of a peninsula on the Chinese coast. It is in the province of Canton, which is one of the fifteen local provinces of China. This piece of land is called Macao by the Portuguese and the locals. The peninsula is one league long and four hundred paces wide. The city is half a league long and in the narrowest and widest areas it is fifty paces and three hundred and fifty paces respectively. It is surrounded by two seas on the Eastern and Western sides. It is one of the most important cities in the East, thanks to its wealth and abundant, precious goods, as well as its inhabitants who are the wealthiest in this State.
In the year fifteen hundred and eighteen the Portuguese reached China for the first time, thanks to an embassy sent by King Manoel. They called at several ports of this kingdom but finally stopped at the port and island of Sancheu. It was in this city that they made the first settlement and it was also here that St. Francisco Xavier, second apostle to India and the city patron, passed away in 1552. In 1555, all transactions moved to the island of Lampacao. In 1557, they moved to this port of Macao where, thanks to trade and commerce, a numerous population developed. In 1585, under the rule of D. Francisco Mascarenhas, Viceroy of India, His Majesty upgraded it to a city with the title of 'Name of God'. His Majesty conferred upon it the colours of the Cross of Christ and other liberties similar to those of the city of Évora. This is the gate through which the apostle St. Thomas entered China, coming from India by sea. It is also through this gate that, brought by the missionaries of the Society of Jesus, the Gospel reached this empire, Japan and Cochin-China.
This city has eight hundred and fifty Portuguese and their children who are stronger and healthier than anybody else in the East. They all own six slaves, of whom the best nationalities are Caffres. The slaves paddle their small boats to the outlying islands to amuse themselves, but their owners have larger ones as well, which can be used for other purposes, such as their protection and for the service of His Majesty.
In addition to these Portuguese people, the city has other inhabitants, locals and Christian Chinese who are called 'Jurubassas' and form the largest community, and people of other nationalities, all of them being Christian. The Portuguese and the others have very good weapons, rifles, spears and so forth. Almost every Portuguese owns racks of six or twelve muskets and flints, and as many spears, which are used to decorate their houses as well because they are made of gold.
This city also has a lot of Portuguese sailors, pilots and boatswains (some married in Portugal, others still single) who sail between Japan, Manila, Solor, Makassar and Cochin-China. Over one hundred and fifty of these men do not want to go to Goa because they are afraid of either being caught for any crime committed, or recruited to work for His Majesty. There are many single and very wealthy merchants who are on the run for the same reasons
This city does have a Captain General who rules the Territory with help from one hundred and fifty soldiers, comprising two infantry captains and two second lieutenants, two sergeants, two corporals and an assistant, one magistrate and one bailiff. The magistrate earns one hundred thousand 'reis' paid in Malacca.
The city had also a bishop who passed away and is yet to be replaced, who earned two thousand 'xerafins' paid in Malacca.
Santiago Fortress
With regard to fortresses, this city features the Santiago Fortress right at the harbour entrance. This fortress is one hundred and fifty paces long and fifty-five wide, forming a beautiful platform five fathoms above sea level, with a wall twenty-eight spans wide. Its height is measured up to the parapet which is only three spans above the platform. Therefore, it is very difficult to protect it from people and artillery fire. In the middle of the square there is a cistern in the rock which can hold three thousand barrels of water. There is enough accommodation for one captain and sixty men, and in the basements there is room for provisions and ammunition. At the entrance on the pagoda side, there is a large and nice house. This square is topped by another one where they keep heavy artillery as well. Facilities for the captain and soldiers are on the top square. This fortress by the shore features a wall along the hill ending in a house which served as sentry post when the Captain General used to live here.
Nossa Senhora do Bom Parto Fortification
This fortification is small and triangular. It is able to house ten or twelve cannons...
Nossa Senhora da Penha de França Fortification
This small fortification is located on a hill and houses two 'sagres' cannons, each of which fires seven-pound iron balls.
S. Francisco Fortification
This fortification is oval-shaped and features six metal cannons [...] Nearby there is a platform with a culverin on it which draws thirty five pound iron cannon-balls. This is the largest cannon in the city.
On Praia Grande there is a platform with a metal cannon which fires eighteen-pound iron bullets.
Nossa Senhora da Guia Fortification
Nossa Senhora da Guia Hill is the highest hill in the city and it features a fortification with five cannons on top... On this hill there are facilities for a company of soldiers and a water cistern. But as it overlooks the S. Paulo Fortress it is better to knock it down and the Chinese have agreed to do it for seven thousand taels.
S. Paulo Fortress
The most important fortress in the city is the S. Paulo Fortress, the residence of all Captain Generals. They also call it Madre de Deus, after the hill which overlooks the city; on its peak there is a wall twenty spans wide on foundations of marble up to six spans above ground level. Then the wall is made of earth and straw beaten by beaters; it is much more resistant than stone because it does not get so damaged (walls made of earth and straw are so hard that all houses in the city are built this way; in order to open windows in them after they have been built, they use iron picks and a lot of hard work is required). The wall gets narrower in proportion to their slope; the fortress is square and features a one hundred-pace square which is surrounded by walls as long as the square sides; in the four corners they form four strongholds like buttresses. Above, in the middle of the square, there are four rows of houses for generals and soldiers, a three storey tower with artillery on each level. Eighteen heavy artillery cannons are distributed among the four strongholds.
Inside the fortress there is a guard corps at the main entrance. One can go up to the hill by either side of the wall; hidden in the wall is ammunition enough to withstand any war (though not a siege of over two years in view of the large quantities of powder this heavy artillery requires, even though the city is able to produce it).
The situation in terms of food is not as good because the city depends on China and if the Chinese have anything against us they cut the supplies and there is nowhere else the Macau citizens can get the food. Supplies could be got in Cochin-China, a hundred leagues southeast of Macau, and also from some neighbouring islands since they only have cattle, pigs, chickens and some birds.
The city walls were nearly completed by D. Francisco Mascarenhas, the first Captain General who ordered the works. But being very suspicious, the Chinese had most of them knocked down, especially those facing China because they believed they had been built against them. Only those walls facing the sea were kept untouched; a palisade was also left on Cacilhas beach where the enemy had attacked the city. These walls are two fathoms high up to a parapet, and eight spans wide. However, as the ground level is different in several sections, the walls have different heights because they were supposed to run at the same level. The walls are made of earth and straw, a mixture which becomes very hard after compaction. The Praia Grande platform features an eighteen pound cannon and two 'sagres' cannons which use seven pound bullets in the S. Pedro stronghold, and an eighteen pound cannon in the S. João stronghold.
This artillery stock features four more twenty-five-pound metal 'trabuco' cannons, three seven-pound iron cannons, five bronze 'falcões' cannons, three bronze 'berços' cannons, two iron 'falcões' and one iron 'trabuco' which can be placed anywhere within the city. All in all, Macau has seventy-three cannons made of iron (not to mention those owned by individuals and His Majesty).
This city has one of the best iron and bronze foundries in the world, thanks to the Viceroy Count of Linhares, and it makes cannons for the state at very reasonable prices. This enables us to clear the Singapore Strait which is full of Dutch during the monsoon season.
The city paid for the above-mentioned artillery, walls and fortresses without any contribution from the Royal Finances. At the time, it owned the Japan route almost entirely, especially the tax which now amounts to eight per cent of all goods sent to Japan; in former times that tax amounted to three or four per cent and the return was also very high.

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