80. Bill of exchange drawn by Diego and Pedro de la Peña for Francisco de Cifuentes to pay Simón Ruiz 597 ducats and 16 sueldos

Archivo Simón Ruiz
ASR, CC, LC 2-7, 290
SENDER: Diego de la Peña; Pedro de la Peña
ADDRESSEE: Francisco de Cifuentes; Simón Ruiz
PLACE OF ARRIVAL: Medina del Campo
GENERAL INFORMATION: Manuscript on paper/bill. Dated 2 January 1582.

Sugar cane, or unrefined mascabado sugar, was a very lucrative product that was exported to northern Europe and shipped to Flanders, where it reached Antwerp via the river Scheldt. While the sugar circuit of Madeira and the Canary Islands was monopolised by the Flemish from the mid to the late sixteenth century, the sugar trade in Brazil was largely controlled by Portuguese New Christians. This was the case of the brothers Fernão Ximenes and Rui Nunes, originally from Madeira, important men in this business, established in Antwerp where they founded a prosperous trading company in 1572 with a branch in Lisbon. The ‘arrested’ sugar mentioned in this bill of exchange must have been the cargo (or part of it) of ships leaving Seville or Lisbon, and then captured by English corsairs either in the English Channel or North Sea, as part of their strategy to support the Flemish rebels. The Ximenes Nunes paid for the ransom for the merchandise and were then reimbursed by means of this bill of exchange.

(Fernando Ramos González)