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Updated: Nov 16, 2021

22.10.2021 at 15h (CET) | Lecture 'The Portuguese Trading Post in Bruges and Anvers' by prof. Georges Martin at the Library of Ghent University (Rozier 44, Ghent) and Online

Since the 13th century, a "nation" of Portuguese merchants has been active in Bruges. At the time of Isabel of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy, the Portuguese group in the Netherlands expanded considerably. The Duke of Burgundy grants them various privileges, both tax and jurisdictional. For more than three centuries, the princes of the Netherlands continued to confirm them. At the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese nation, like all other trading nations, left Bruges to settle in Antwerp. The Portuguese continue to enjoy their privileges and the jurisdiction of the consuls is explicitly recognized by the existing custom. The city made available a house for the Portuguese, but the nation also rented other large buildings. Both trade issues (especially maritime insurance problems) and civil disputes are decided by consuls. Until the mid-16th century, there was also a "feitor" ("factor"), which formally represented the Portuguese king and defended his commercial rights. Portuguese merchants hold an annual general meeting in their "Casa de Portugal", where they choose their consuls, that is, their "presidents" and judges. But, they are also actively involved in the public and religious life of the city. The archives of the Portuguese nation in Bruges and Antwerp, which are now in Lisbon (Torre do Tombo), were studied only in pieces. The richness of these archives allows us, however, to outline in some general features the composition of the group of Portuguese immigrants (and their descendants), their elected consuls, their secretaries and treasurers, their traditions, their quarrels, their commercial work.

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