Family Ferreira da Fonseca, May & August of 1469

May 14, 1469

Ceuta has under gone many changes in the recent years. Our port city went from Muslim rule to Christian rule under the Portuguese. Since then my family and I have been enjoying life and work. Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Christian and Muslim tension, it is rare that my crew and I ever see anyone from the East coming through.[1]

Although there is tension, I have still seen a great deal of work due to the different voyages.  Since many Spanish, Portuguese and other Europeans are limited trade, the fleets of the Portuguese have expanded else- where.[2] The Portuguese seem to have sailed down the western coast of Africa and further west towards the Atlantic. Recently, my crew and I were unloading one of the Portuguese ships and we came across men of African descent. This is where the Portuguese must have been getting their slaves from.

August 2, 1469

Some weeks have gone by and finally a Portuguese fleet has arrived back from the islands in the west. I noticed that the slaves and horses they left with were no longer on the ship, so I assume they were left to work at the previous destination they sailed to. But as I was unloading this ship I noticed something quite different than all the other times, and it seemed that the Portuguese had obtained gold. The people on the coast must have traded our men gold for horses. If the Portuguese continue to expand their commerce, my family and I will be able to live quite well.

André Ferriera da Fonseca


[1] Greene, Molly. The Mediterranean in History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 216-234.

[2] Russell Edward, Peter. Prince Henry ‘The Navigatory’ : A Life (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 4-5.

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