Settlers and Settlement
At some point, following the discovery of Santa Maria, sheep were let loose on the island before settlement actually took place. This was done to supply the future settlers with food because there were no animals on the island. Settlement didn't take place right away, however. There was not much interest among the Portuguese people in an isolated island world hundreds of miles from civilization. But patiently Cabral gathered resources and settlers for the next three years (1433-1436) and sailed to establish colonies on Santa Maria first and then later on Sao Miguel. Brush had to be cleared and rocks removed for the planting of crops. Grain, grape vines, sugar cane, and other plants suitable for settler use and of commercial value, were planted. Domesticated animals were brought, such as, cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. Houses were built and villages established. The first settlers were a mixed group of people from the Portuguese provinces of Algarve and Minho. Also, Madeirans, Moorish prisoners, black slaves, French, Italians, Scots, English, and Flemings were among the early settlers. There were petty criminals, Spanish clergy, Jews, soldiers, government officials, European merchants and sugar cane growers. The purpose of the Azorean colony was to service the mother country with commodities and tribute. It was to be a station for Portuguese ships to be resupplied and repaired. The islands too were to produce crops for trade. In its peak trade years, there would be more than one hundred ships anchored at the Bay of Angra. Slaves had to be removed from the islands and sent to Brazil and the Caribbean because there was concern about a slave insurrection.The islands were colonized under the Holy Order of Christ, and the settlers were to be Christians. There were many languages, but after awhile Portuguese became the standard language of communication. Because of the isolated nature of the islands, and the harshness of the land, and at times, climate, all settlers, regardless of their background, had to work together to survive. This gave the people a sense of equality and togetherness. As a consequence, more settlers were given the right to purchase land. There were some slaves on the islands, and there were lingering concerns about a slave revolt which no settler wanted. Soon the slaves were sent to Brazil and to the Caribbean. The FlemingsPeople from Flanders settled in the Azores beginning in 1450. These Flemish settlers played an important role in the creation of the Azorean culture. By 1490, there were 2,000 Flemings living in the islands of Terceira, Pico, Faial, Sao Jorge, and Flores. Because there was such a large Flemish settlement, the Azores became known as the Flemish Islands or the Isles of Flanders. Henry was responsible for this settlement. His sister, Isabel, was married to Duke Philip of Burgundy of which Flanders was a part. There was a revolt against Philip's rule and disease and hunger became rampant. Isabel appealed to Henry to allow some of the unruly Flemings to settle in the Azores. He granted this and supplied them with the necessary transportation and goods.Flag Flanders BelgiumFirst group of Flemings was led by Willem van de Hagen, later known by his Portuguese name of Guilherme da Silveira. They settled in Terceira, and the Flemish nobleman, Jacome de Bruges, was placed in charge. The next contingents went to the islands of Faial, Flores, Sao Jorge, and Pico. Joos van Huerter founded the city of Horta on Faial where evidence of the Flemish people and culture still exists today. Faial was in fact called the Flemish Island and the valley behind the city still has the name, the Valley of the Flemings or O Valle dos Flamengo. But the Flemish language disappeared before long, and the Flemish settlers changed their names to Portuguese forms. For example, van der Hagen became Silveira, and Huerter became Dutra or Utra. Flemish physical traits of light hair, light complexion, and blue eyes can still be seen in the features of many Azoreans. Flemish oxcarts and windmills are still seen on the islands. The Flemish beghards and beguines (lay-religious group) brought the Festival of the Holy Spirit and their distinctive cloaks and hoods to the islands. There are many religious statuary, paintings, and furniture found in Azorean churches and museums which show the Flemish influence.An interesting sidelight is the speculation that some Flemish people may have reached the North Carolina coast inadvertently during this migratory activity. In North Carolina, there was a group of people, calling themselves the Melungeons, who had light colored skin and identified themselves as Portuguese. These were not Native Americans. It is thought, that maybe one of the ships bound for the Azores, coming from Flanders, may have overshot the islands and found its way to the Carolina coast, but evidence is lacking.