Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde - The history (2)

Henry the Seafarer (1394 – 1460), pioneer of the Portuguese expeditions, was a forerunner here. In 1415 he conquered Ceuta, in 1418 Madeira and in 1431 the Azores. Henry the Seafarer engaged captains of different countries e.g. Spaniards and Italians to help him reach his goal. On the 25th of July in 1456 the Venecian seafarer Aloisio Cadamosto beheld the islands, when he was on a journey to the Gambia-river on behalf of Henry the Seafarer. But as Cadamosto did not fill the criteria of a discovery according to Henry (mapping out, description, leaving behind artefacts, demonstration of the ability to return) the discovery was adscribed to the Genovese António da Noli, who also acted on behalf of Henry, in 1460 per certificate.
After Henry’s death Prince Ferdinand of Portugal coordinated the discovery journeys and sent seafarer Diego Afonso to the Cape Verde Islands. Afonso named the Islands after the Saint of each date of discovery São Nicolau on the 6th of December 1461, Santa Lucia on the 13th of December 1461, Santo António on the 17th of January 1462, São Vicente on the 22nd of  January 1462.
In the year 1461 the first settlement was founded in Santiago – the first European overseas colony in Subsaharian Africa at all. Sometime later the colonization of Maio followed, where shepherds settled, of Fogo, where colonial citizens lived, of Boa Vista where lepers were sent and of Brava.
In Santiago the citizens obtained the right to keep slaves in 1472. Whereas in Santiago the relation of slaves and freepeople was still of 160 settlers to 30 slaves in the year 1510, the relation was of 2,000 freepeople to 14,000 slaves in the year 1580.
From the beginning of the settlement to the year 1974 delinquents, vagabonds and prostitutes were deported to Santiago and in 1949 a concentration camp was built in Tarrafal.

After Portugal had reserved the exclusive right for the slavetrade from Senegambia to Guinea in 1466, Ribeira Grande, later Cidade Velha, became the most important port for slavetrade for one century. They also produced and exported cane sugar and rum respectively, cultivated and manufactured cotton and sold the meat from the cattle in Maio as ship-supplies. Following the discovery of America in 1492 a new territorial dispute originated. The competitors Spain and Portugal agreed on a new borderline in the treaty of Tordesilhas with the mediation of the Pope in 1494: 370 seamiles west of the Cape Verde Islands from the Northpole to the Southpole. The territory east of the line was adscribed to Portugal and the one west of it to Spain.
In 1580 Portugal was occupied by the Spaniards and the Cape Verde Islands were visited by Dutch, French and British buccaneers. The economical situation of the island became worse and worse, also through the wars in Europe which brought along a recession in trade. Because of ever more frequent attacks of pirates and the strategically bad situation of Ribeira Grande the colonial government moved to Praia in 1614. However the economic recession went on in the 18th century, until in 1773 almost half of the island’s population died due to a period of drought which lasted several years and was not to be the last one.

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