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

A Timeline of the History of Madeira
By Jorge Barbosa
Apr 29, 2007 - 9:45:41 PM

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The archipelago undertakes its first census. There are more than 5000 inhabitants on the islands.


The city walls, to protect Funchal from Pirate attack, are completed.


Despite the protection of the city walls 1000 (one thousand) French corsairs attack Funchal. They assassinate the governor and plunder the mansions and churches dotted around the successful community. This marks the worst act of aggression ever perpetrated on the island.


Phillip II of Spain assumes the throne in Portugal and Madeira falls under Spanish rule.


The total population of Madeira is now calculated at 28 345 inhabitants. Of these at least 3000 are slaves.


Under the leadership of Dom Jo„o IV (King John IV) Portugal revolts the Spanish rule and recover independence from the Spanish crown. Madeira is Portuguese again.


Catherine of BraganÁa, daughter of Dom Jo„o IV (King John IV), marries Charles II, the king of England. As part of the pre-nuptial agreement English trade and merchants are given privileged access to the Madeiran economy. Over time they gain strong control of the emerging and lucrative Madeira wine industry. Many choose to reside permanently in Madeira.


Slavery is abolished in Portugal.


In one of the worst natural disasters on the island 600 inhabitants drown during some flash floods in Funchal. Preparations are made for the building of high walls on the banks of the three rivers that run down to the harbour in central Funchal.

1807 - 1813

British troops land on the island. Their purpose is to act as a defence against the encroaching and marching forces of Napoleon as his armies conquer most of Europe. Indeed, Madeira is briefly under the dominion of British rule and the Union Jack is hoisted over that of Portugalís flag when Napoleon takes control of the country. Madeira never sees a French soldier close to its shores.


In one of the worst health problems the island has ever suffered more than 7000 inhabitants fall victim to cholera. At the same time a devastating mildew destroys the vines across Madeira and economic hardship is rife. New varietals of grapes are planted and the introduction of banana as an alternative cash crop is promoted.


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