Madeira as described in Historic Encyclopedias



Brockhaus 1809-1811, Brockhaus 1834-1838, Brockhaus 1837-1841, Pierer 1857-1865, Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Meyer 1902-1909





Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon 1809-1811, Article : Madera
Madera (literally : timber, because of the numerous forests which originally were found here), a West African island, was discovered by the Portuguese in 1419, the most important African colony of which it is. It is rich in grain, sugar, honey, excellent wine, and among others is home to a tree called Vigniatico, the timber of which has a lot of similarity with mahogany, and is processed by the British into Madera-Mahogany. The inhabitants are of blackish colour; in 1768 there were 69,313 of them.
source in German, posted by Zeno


Brockhaus Damen-Conversations-Lexikon 1834-1838, Article : Madeira
Madeira, an island west of Africa with 25 square miles and 105,000 inhabitants, since 1419 Portuguese possession, the homeland of the famous Madeira wine, of which 300,000 pipes annually are produced. In addition to all kinds of tropical fruit here grows European fruit of excellent quality. The capital Funchal has 20,000 inhabitants and a beautiful location. Her shiny white houses with flat roofs give it oriental appearance; only he houses of the wealthy have glass windows. The inhabitants consist of Portuguese, mulatoes and negroes. The nuns of monasteries here have the rare privilege to get married. he island's considerable trade mostly is in the hands of the British.
source in German, posted by Zeno


Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon 1837-1841, Article : Madera
Madera or Madeira, an African island belonging to the Portuguese, to the west of Morocco, located between the Canary Islands and the Açores, has an area of 16 1/2 miles and 100,000 inhabitants, mostly of Portuguese descent, mulattos and negroes.
The island shows clear indicators of volcanic origin, is very mountainous, has many sharp basalt rocks, the highest peaks of which are the Pico Ruivo 5788 feet and the Cima de Toriegas 8454 feet. Deep gorges stretch from them toward the coast, of which one of the most important, the Coral, is one hour long and half as wide, limited by rock walls several 1000 feet high. he climate is extraordinarily mild and healthy, this is why persons suffering from diseases affecting the chest come here. Many clear creeks facilitate the irrigation of the valleys and coastal stretches suited for culivation, and excellent citrus fruit, wine, rosewood, coffee, tobacco, chestnuts, the primary food of the poorer classes thrive here, because grain is not grown in sufficient quanity and has to be imported. An important product of the counry is also the orseille or Urzela, a moss used to dye items in scarlet colour, which is collected between the rocks often by endangering the life of the collector. Pernicious animals and predatory animals are lacking almost entirely. The many lizards found here at best suck out grapes; rabbits and hogs are the only quadrupedal wild animals. A few cattle and horses are kept; onlt mules serve s beasts of burden. Madeira and the adjacent island of Porto Santo, which is rich in wild fowl and has 1200 inhabitants most of whom cultivate wine, as well as the islands Las Desertas and Salvages, the latter uninhabited, together form the group of Madeira, and already in antiquity were known as Purple Islands. But this knowledge was lost and they were rediscovered in 1419 by the Portuguese and in 1431 taken in possession. Previously uninhabited and completely covered by forest, they were called Madeira (i.e. timber), but his was burnt down so that land for cultivation could be generated. It was burnt to such an extent that not a tree was left. In the beginning, mainly sugar cane was cultivated, but now wine and citrus fruit are the main products, and of the former 30,000 barrels at two oxhoft each, at 240 bottles each, are produced annually, and half of it is exported. he vinyards are rented out for half a year in such a way that tenant and landowner each get four tenth, the king and the clergy a tenth each of the harvest. The best Madeira wine grows on the southern coast, is called Madeira Malvasier, and is preferred even over the Dry Madeira, which derives its name because it is made from the juice of the ripest grapes which ran of before keltering. It used to be called Tri Madeira, as it had passed the equator three times, because long journeys improve the quality of the wine, and it was assumed that ships bound for the East Indies transported it there and back, to sell it at a higher price, so that it had passed the equator twice. The island's trade mostly is in the hands of the British, despite the great fertility there is little prosperity. The Portuguese government derives considerable revenues from Madeira, which is administrated by a special governor, who resides in the capital Funchal (20,000 inhabitants). It is located on the island's southern coast on a bay protected by rocks surrounding it, on a slope, is neither beautiful nor well-built, and only cleaner than other Portuguese cities, because rain and a creek passing through the city wash the dirt down the steep roads into the sea. It is seat of a bishop and has several monasteries, where a room ornated with the skulls and bones of 3000 holy men, who died on the island, can be seen. Also here is found the only Trappist monastery for nuns. he city is defended by four forts, and has a good roadsted, which is frequently visited by ships sailing to the East Indies and to the Cape, to take in refreshments. Madeira remained always in the possession of the Portuguese and was only temporarily occupied by the British in 1801 and 1807, to defend it against the French. During the late struggles for succession in Portugal, in 1828 it came under the control of Don Miguel, and only after the fall of Lisbon (July 1833) to Don Pedro it returned under the rule of Queen Maria da Gloria.

source in German, posted by Zeno


Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Madeira
Madeira (Northern Canary Islands), group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, located north of the Canary Islands and south of the Açores, belong to Portugal, include he islands Porto Santo, Falcon-Bajo, the three Desertas and the Salvages, 25 square miles with 117,000 inhabitants.
The largest and most southwesterly of this group of islands, 16.5 square miles, population 114,000, has rocky coasts, high mountains of the Serra d'Agoa (Pic Ruivo 5916 feet), has volcanic soil, mild climate (snow on the mountain peaks), produces wine, citrus fruit, sugar cane, coffee, pineapples, dragon trees, palms, goats, pigs, eels, moraines, honey and others. The inhabitants are whites (of Portuguese descent), negroes, mulattos, all brown. Trade exports wine, timber. mastix, dragon blood and imports British goods and grain. Madeira has a captain general; Portugal collects the wine tithe and trade fees, it also keeps on Madeira a garrison of 500 men, further all men can be called to arms. The island is divided into Capitania Funchal with the capital Funchal, the Machico with the town by that name. Mannert believes the Autolala of old to be identical with Madeira; certain references to Madeira from Antiquity do not exist. According to legend, in 1344 Robert Machim and Auna d'Arfel, a loving couple from England fleeing the fury of their parents, intending to go to France, were driven here by storm, to the island then uninhabited and unknown. Both died soon, and the ship sailed on. The proper discovery was by the Portuguese Zargo and Teixerira in 1419, and because it was covered by forest, it was called Madeira (i.e. forest); it remained, an older period of Spanish possession and a younger period of British possession disregarded, remained under Portuguese rule. Porto Santo was discovered in 1415 by Zargo, father-in-law of Christopher Columbus.
See : E. Bodwich, Excursions in Madeira, London 1825, Harcourt, A sketch of Madeira, London 1850, White, Madeira, its climate and scenery, London 1851, Schacht, Madeira und Tenerifa mit ihrer Vegetation, Berlin 1859

source in German, posted by Zeno


Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Article : Madeira (1886)
Madeira, island in the Atlantic Ocean, belongs to Portugal, located west of Portugal between 32 degrees 49 minutes 44 seconds and 32 degrees 37 minutes 18 seconds northern latitude and 16 degrees 39 minutes 30 seconds and 17 degrees 16 minutes 38 seconds western longitude. The length of the island is 57 km, from Ponta di Pargo in the west to Ponta Furada in the east, the width of the island is 22 km from Ponta de S. Jorge in the north to Ponta de S. Cruz in the south. To Madeira belong the islands Porto Santo in the northeast (c. 1,800 inhabitants) and in the southeast Chao, Grande Deserta, Bugio and others, which are all uninhabited. The land area of the entire island group is calculated as 815 square km. An enormous mountain chain, which stretches from west to east, and extends in all directions over the island, covers it both with barren and dark, as well as with green, forested peaks. The entire ridge is crowned by high-risen peaks such as Pico Ruivo (1,913 m), Pico Grande (1,643 m), Pico de Encumida (1,620) and others. For he larger part the coastal land is located high above the sea an seep cliffs. Only at a few locations does it decline gradually and forms a long and wide mountain slope. From he heights innumerable creeks flow down, as well as a few rivers, of which the most important is Rio Soccoridos. The mountain roads are interrupted by uncountable ravines and valleys, such as the marvellous Curral de Freiras in the heart of the island, and he romantic Ribeira de Janella in the west and the Ribeira de Machico in the east. As nearby islands, Madeira is of volcanic origin. Indications of it are found everywhere, for instance three well-preserves craters, especially Lagoa near San Antonio da Serra in the east, as well as several lava flows on top of each other, consisting in part of basic basalt, in part of feldspar-like trachyte. At some places tuff is found, resting on top of Tertiary chalk. All lower tracts along the coast are covered by real basalt. Over the highest mountain peaks, which in the winter are usually snow-covered, almost always thick mist is hovering. But a few hundred feet below, on he large green mountain plateaus and further down toward the sea in the fertile valleys it is always summer. The changes in the seasons would be hardly noticable, if it were not for a few months (October to January) of heavy rainfall, which results in the air cooling down somewhat. This change in air temperature is more noticable in the northern parts which are ften exposed to severe storms. On the southern coast the average temperature for 1873-1883 for December, January and February was calculated at 16.07 degrees Celsius, for March, April and May 17 degrees, for June, July and August 21,84 degrees, for September, October and November 20.5 degrees. The difference between the average temperature of the various seasons was only 5.55 degrees, and the average annual temperature 18.7 degrees. The soil is extraordinarily fertile. The large forests which used to cover the island (after which it was named; the Portuguese word Madeira means tree) have disappeared, but not few areas are again grown over by forests of coniferous trees, oak, chestnut, laurel and others, of which some are indigenous trees, for example the famous dragon blood tree. On the northern side of the island grow most European fruit trees, toward the south many different types of tropical trees and bushes, such as date palms, bananas, oranges and others. Agriculture is made difficult by the mountainous, uneven terrain and by the lack of water in the dry seasons. This lack is countered somewhat by artificial irrigation by canals from the mountains (the so-called levadas). The various grains (barley, wheat and maize) do not suffice to cover the island's demand. Sugar cane is no longer as profitable as it once was, when it formed the island's main export article. Instead more and more wine is grown (see Madeira Wine), as well as tobacco, coffee, tea and excellent citrus fruits. Livestock keeping deals mainly with sheep and hogs, also oxen, cows and goats. On the island there are no beasts of prey. ...
The population in 1883 was 134,000, almost exclusively Roman Catholics. The inhabitants of he island are of Portuguese descent, and speak a language which shows negligible differences compared to the mother language. The men are in general tall, strong and well-shaped; the women are almost without exception beautiful. The people are honest and sober, but poor and uneducated. In 1873-1882 6,079 persons emigrated. The industry mainly consists of cotton weaving, embroidery, flowers, basketwares, wood carving etc. All cities, of which Calheta, Moniz, Machico, Santa Cruz and others have to be listed, are located on the coast. In he south is located the capital Funchal, which is connected by telegraph wih Lisbon and Brazil. For more than a hundred years the city is known as a refuge for those who suffer brest illnesses. The number of sick who visit the city every year is calculated at 600 to 700 persons. For the poor there is a special institution, Hospicio da Princesa Dona Maria Amelia, founded by the Empress widow Amalia of Brazil, and since her death has been organized by her sister, Queen widow Josefina of Sweden and Norway.
The island has only one roadsted for larger vessels, Funchal roadsted. The difference between ebb and tide is 2 m. In 1883 764 vessels anchored on Funchal roadsted. he export in that year is valued at about 4.1 million Krone, import at about 3.8 million Krone.
Administratively, Madeira with Porto Santo and nearby islands forms an administrative district which is administrated by a civil governor. In ecclesiastical respect, since 1539 the island forms a diocesis. Madeira sends represenatives to the Cortes in Lisbon.
The first certain reference to Madeira belongs to the voyage of discovery of Portuguese Joao Gonçalves Zagro in 1419. Then the island was uninhabited and covered with forest. Zagro sailed along the coast and gave names to several places, which have proved lasting. In the following year Tristao Vas Texeira sailed here and took possession of the island in the name of the King of Portugal. He divided the land among his followers and founded its first city Funchal in the south and its second city Machico in the east. From 1580 to 1640, the island, with Portugal, came under Spanish rule. The British occupied the island in 1801 and again in 1807, but since 1814 it is uninterrupted in the possession of Potugal, by which it has been given the beautiful byname "Queen of the Atlantic".
See : K. Mittermaier, Madeira und seine Bedeutung als Heilungsort (1855), F.A. Barral, Le climat de Madere et son influence therapeutique sur le phtisie pulmonaire, trsl. by P. Garnier (1858), A.G. Ramos, Ilha de Madeira (1882), P. Langerhans, Handbuch für Madeira (1885)

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg


Meyers Grosses Conversations-Lexikon 1902-1909, Article : Madeira
Madeira, island in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal, 32 degrees 38 minutes northern Latitude and 16 degrees 54 minutes western Longitude, 700 km distant from the coast of Morocco, 443 km north of Teneriffa, togther with the island of Porto Santo located 55 km to the northeast, the uninhabited Desiertas in the southeast and the uninhabited Salvados rocks forms the Portuguese district of Funchal (815 square km). Madeira is 55 km long, 24 km wide and is traversed in her entire length by a mountain chain (average elevation 811 m). In the eastern part, where the mountains rise above 1200 m a plateau with a circumference of 15 km surrounded by steep rocks is found, Paul da Serra, with swampy areas. To the west of it rises the highest mountain of the island, Pico Ruivo (1846 m), on the edge of the 500 m deep Curral das Freiras, a large, circle-shaped basin, perhaps the old crater. Extraordinarily wild is the northeastern coast near Sao Louremnço peninsula (off it the island of Fora with lighthouse). Madeira and the adjacent islands were created by volcanoes which were active during the Miocene and which are all extinct. In the layers of tuff, which alternate with streams of basalt, slack and masses of ash, still at an altitude of 370 m remnants of Miocene clams are found. According to Unger the remnants of plants indicate a flora, which during the Tertiary covered a large mainland extending between Iceland and the Cape Verde Islands, and which probably also connected Europe with America. Iceland, Madeira, the Açores, the Canary and Cape Verde Islands form the remnants of it. The basis of Madeira is formed by older eruptive rock, Diabas, which is almost completely covered by younger Tertiary formations. The climate is of a marvellous mildness and uniformity. The average annual temperature is 18.6 degrees Celsius, February (coolest month) 15.4 degrees, August (hottest) 22.6 degrees. The most extreme temperatures which occurred in the last 25 years were 32.7 degrees and 6.5 degrees; in summer nights the temperature hardly sinks below 24 degrees. Precipitation in Funchal 68.3 cm on 79 days of rain; the most humid months are November to March. A hot and dry desert wind, "Leste", occasionally blows from southeast to northeast, in winter, spring or fall, rarely in the summer, and carries red dust. Then relative humidity sinks below 20 %. In the winter snow falls above an altitude of 800 m. Average cloud cover 46 %. Madeira's vegetation resembles closest that of the Canary islands. In the south remnants of the forest remain, which once covered the entire island, and which got it the name Isola di Legname (timber island) on the Mediceic port map of 1351; also Madeira in Portuguese means timber. These forests were burnt down by the carelessness of discoverer and colonizer Gonçalves Zarco. In addition to southern European, here also most tropical cultivated plants thrive, such as sugar cane and Pisang, also other ropical fruit trees are frequently found. Palm trees are lacking. Characteristic for Madeira is the dragon tree (Dracaena Draco, also appearing on the Canaries) in the evergreen region of the laurel trees (Laurus Canariensis), and in which Clethra Arborea, and the Sapotacea Sideroxylon are typical for Madeira. Where the laurel forest ends (above 1600 m), the region of the maquis begins. Here the mass of the vegetation consists of the tree heather Erica Arborea, with trees of a height of 12 to 13 m, and of the endemic Vaccinium Maderense. The fauna of Madeira belongs to the Mediterranean subregion of the Paleoarctic region; the mammals living on he island have been imported. Among the birds Madeira has a large number of species in common with the Açores, some are endemic, others European. Only a few species of reptiles are represented, insects on the other hand numerous (over 700 species of beetles). A large number of these Madeira has in common with the Açores, a smaller number is European, many are endemic. Remarkable the large number of wingless insects. Madeira has a large number of endemic land snails.
The population is concentrated on the southern rim, while the interior is devoid of inhabitants. The population for the most part is of Portuguese descent; the lower classes have Moors, negroes introduced as slaves, Italians and Jews among their ancestors. Despite infant mortality and disease the population increases, but as the island provides little sustinence, is forced to emigrate, to British Guyana, the Cape Colony, Brazil, Hawaii. The population of Madeira was in 1768 64,000, in 1825 10,000, 1885-1890 134,000, 1900 150,500 (185 per square km). Now many foreigners, namely Englishmen have chosen the island as residence, because its climate which is beneficial for persons suffering from a disease affecting the lungs. Schooling is mandatory, there are a number of elementary schools, a lyceum in Funchal and a seminary. Religion is Roman Catholicism (bishop in Funchal). Agriculture in the rough terrain is very difficult, the creation of terrasses and irrigation canals, often via tunnels through the mountains, admirable. The land belongs to a few estate owners which rent out the land to tenants in return for a quarter to half of the harvest. Cultivated are sugar cane (introduced in 1452), much of which is processed into rum, wheat, maize, barley, but not sufficient to answer local demand, excellent bananas, pineapple, early vegetables (much for export), tobacco, genuine chestnuts, oranges, lemons etc. But the island's most important product is wine. The industry is limited to the production of sugar, tobacco, manual stitching, woodwork, wickerwork, which is sold abroad. Trade, mainly in the hands of Europeans, stagnates, shipping on the other hand, because of intensified competition among the Europeans for West Africa is constantly increasing, as Funchal is a depot for coal (English coal). Trade and shipping are exclusively conducted through Funchal. Common means of transportation, because of the steep roads, are sledges pulled by oxen, riding horses, hammocks. On the island of Porto Santo, located 46 km to the northeast, 12 km long and 5.5 km wide, up to 490 m high, with bare thin soil, 1750 inhabitants, a little barley is grown. he main place is Vilha, seat of a lieutenant governor. The three desiertas lying off it are inhabited by a few hundred fishermen and shepherds who grow a litle grain. They are home to many goats and rabbits, and also to orseille plant.
Madeira forms a district of Portugal which is represented in the Lisbon Cortes. At the head of the government is a governor. The capital Funchal has 20,850 inhabitants (1900). Here, at an altitude of 300 m, is found a sanatorium established by Germans, Santa Anna, which plans to establish altitude stations up to 1600 m.
Madeira is said o have been discovered by the Phoenicians; in any way it was known to the Portuguese early on, who undertook expeditions here under Genoese captains. On a Florentine map of 1351 the island appears as Isola di Legname (timber island). A storm in 1419 brought here two Portuguese, Joao Gonçalvez and Martin Vaz, and in gratitude they called the island Porto Santo; in the next year Portugal took possession of the uninhabited island group and sent colonists. At that time it was believed that the Atlantis of old had been rediscovered. With Portugal, also Madeira 1580 to 1640 was under Spanish rule. In 1801 and in 1807-1814 it was under British occupation.
See : Hochstetter, Madeira, Wien 1861, Hartung, Geologische Beschreibung der Insel Madeira und Porto Santo, Leipzig 1864, R. Schultze, Die Insel Madeira, Aufenthalt der Kranken und Heilung der Tuberkulose, Stuttgart 1864, Mittermaier and Goldschmidt, Madeira und seine Bedeutung als Heilungsort, 2nd ed. Leipzig 1885, Johnson, Madeira, its climate and scenery, 3rd ed. London 1885, Brown, Madeira and the Canary Islands, tour guide, 7th ed., London 1903, Langerhans, Handbuch für Madeira, Berlin 1884, Zimmermann, Die europäischen Kolonien, vol.1, Berlin 1899, Biddle, Madeira islands, 2nd ed. London 1900, 2 vols., Vahl, Madeiras vegetation, Copenhagen 1904

source in German, posted by Zeno





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First posted on April 14th 2009

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