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About Madeira : History Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM

The legend of "Machim"
By Jorge Barbosa
Mar 2, 2000 - 10:07:21 PM

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The legacy left behind.

The legend goes further to say that this party of men that found themselves helplessly lost out at sea would eventually find themselves washed ashore on the African coast of the moors.

There they were captured by Moorish pirates along the coast and enslaved, but not without their adventurous story and discovery of a green jeweled isle made heard public. First to their Moorish overlords, and then to representatives of the Portuguese court who rescued them from the moors in a battle.

Meanwhile the couple who were left stranded on the island lost hope of being rescued and the now melancholic and sad Ana de Arfet sank into deep despair. The grief of which she would not recover. Robert watched in deep sorrow as his beloved Ana waned away. Under unendurable pain at the loss of the fair Ana to the grave he still manged to carve a cross out made in cider wood upon her grave. He too died soon afterwards. The other surviving members of the stranded group on the island racked a cross out of cider wood and placed it upon the sepulture of the deceased Robert. Upon this cross they inscribed the word "MACHIM" and invoked the future reader to submit to consideration the building of a chapel or a church in the name of the lovers on the spot where they were laid to rest.

The remaining survivors of the island managed to built a raft from the excellent wood available on the island and set route out to the east and around the island. They eventually managed, very much like their colleagues before them, to arrive on African shores. Soon after being enslaved by their Moorish captors. While in capture the surviving group of sailors repeated their story to countless others, including a Spanish scribe who would escape back to Castille and reorate and publish the story of the mysterious and magnificent isle that lay westward to the Moorish coast. Thus the legend passed down through the realms of Spain and Portugal, eventually kindling enough interest for the Portuguese sailors and men to set sail and make discovery of the high seas and its mysteries.

Machico as it is today
When Gonšalves Zarco the Portuguese envoy on the discovery of the south seas along the African coast in the early 1400's found the island he was to eventually set foot at the very bay where the unfortunate lovers were to find their resting places. Upon finding their graves Zarco noticed the rough inscription of "Machi...". Zarco, by authority of the Portuguese court declared the bay the name as he saw it from the inscription in the cedar wood: Machico.

And such is the legend that lent the name of its principal protagonist to the now bustling small city of Machico in the south east of the island. Although the verdejante nature of Machico today is not as robust as the legend has claimed it still is blessed with an impressive flora population and plant diversity.


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