We decided to do some research on the story world where our story happens.
We did a superficial research on some topics related to Madeira, then if need as our story develops we may need to research further on some and leave the others as it is.
Over the next topics, there’s a list of events, curiosities, or just something that we found that could be inspiring to our story.
There are also images for reference and for inspiration.
Madeira in XVIII / XIX
Around this time Madeira had a very busy harbor with ships from the: Mediterranean; English; American; Denmark; Swedish; Russian
It was famous for it’s Sugar initially but after the discovery of Brasil the sugar cane production transferred there, and Madeira was now more focused on the Madeira wine production.
In 1803 a big storm hit Madeira – “Aluviao” it rained 2 days without stopping; 600 dead people; 200 missing people; The city had to be partially rebuilt – Brigadeiro Reinaldo Oudinot. (There are streets and places with this name)
In 1807 Madeira was occupied by the English – Locations: Colegio dos Jesuitas; Convento da Encarnacao (?)
Due to its weather Madeira as seen as healing place for pulmonary diseases: “Natural Sanatorium”; Lots of famous people (Imperatriz; Princesses) from Europe would come to rest.
Napoleon Bonaparte passed by Madeira taking Madeira wine with him.
Nature of Madeira
The island become an exotic destination for the Europeans to analyze the endemic species of plants and birds – it was like a big exotic garden. Plants had an economic, medicinal and ornamental value.
1804 – The garden of Quinta Palheiro Ferreiro started to be built – There was a variety of Trees and Plants.
Ricardo Tomás Lowe (1826-1852) came to Madeira with his sick mother and stared studying the Madeira Flora and Fauna. Gather a significant amount of works on this. Lots of Herbariums
Joao Maria Moniz was a local who also studied plants although his work was never published. He lend his book of research to Lowe and the book was lost on the boat crash were Lowe also died.
Charles Darwin also mentions Flora/Fauna Madeira in the book The origin of species.
The locals would be seen farming while the english would go exploring Madeira’s hidden places.
All this scientific interest in Madeira fauna and flora created a vast number of documents, paintings that are of a very important historical value.
On the other side, a lot of trees were cut, to open space for agriculture, to sell wood and also to make charcoal. Moreover, the soils were becoming barren.
There’s a contrast between the south and the north. In the north the forest remains more preserved. There are some reports of some plant species being in danger.
Some say that the big storm was a sign from nature “being tired”.
In Madeira there where also find a variety of plants from outside. Cotton from india and New Orleans: peanuts, mandioca, pineapple, orange trees, ….
People in Madeira use plants with a medicinal purpose. There is documentation on which plants can be used for medicine, moreover the sugar cane honey also has medicinal properties.
Madeira – the “Island of Wine”
Sugar wasn’t anymore the main exportation product of Madeira, Brasil was now a better place for this. Although there was still production of sugar in Madeira.
Madeira Wine became Madeira’s main source of income. It was discovered that the wine is even better after long journeys, so ships would stop in Madeira before going to their destinations.
The wine business brought agitation not only to the harbour but also to the countryside. Farmers and merchant would both be involved in the business.
The secret of the wine is also in the barrel; Its very important! All the barrels where hand made in Madeira.
The wine became well established in the American market. Many famous people appreciated this ( American Presidents)
It was famous in England as well; Shakespeare also mentions Madeira Wine in his works.
The wine at the time was believed to have therapeutical properties: in the treatment of fevers and also as antidote to diseases like “Escorbuto”, a very common disease among sailors.
In XVIII the Madeira wine exportations were related to a Lady called: Dona Guiomar, she was responsible for 3/4 of the Madeira Wine exportations, she also owned a lot of buildings in Madeira
In Quinta da Vigia ( how is the official house of the president of Madeira and back then it served as a Point of reference in the harbor entry) she build a “Mirante” so that she could watch her works in the harbor
D. Guiomar had a brother who was a musician who composed one of the first music pieces where in Madeira at the Sé Cathedral.
Old house of commerce own by Dona Guiomar (1770). It was tare down in XIX in the revamp constructions around Sé ; After it was a prison and now the only thing that remains is a “brasao de armas”that is in Museu Quinta das Cruzes