Diogo Caldeira Rego


Almost nothing can be verified about Diogo Caldeira Rego except that we know he was a scrivener in Macao's Senado (Muncipal Council) in 1623, at the stage when he wrote down some notes concerning the Estado da Cidade do [Santo] Nome de Deus (Conditions of the City of the [Holy] Name of God). This document remained in manuscript form at the time and has only just been recently published. With regard to its contents, one can conclude that it dealt with a kind of carta de serviços (letter of official duties) for the Câmara (Town Council), where the services rendered to the Luso-Spanish Crown by Macao's citizens were set out, with the aim of obtaining some form of compensation from the monarchy.

1 afterwards discovering this harbour of Macao, 2 which they found more appropriate for their dealing and exchange of products. And so gradually a few {i. e., Portuguese}* settled here and then others, building houses, at first with straw and later with adobe. Seemingly unnoticeably, in the space of thirty years {the number of houses} [so] grew that by the end of this time there existed a village which was to become a city. In effect, in 1584, the Viceroy of {the Portuguese State of} India, Dom Francisco de Mascarenhas, 3 Count of Santa Cruz, ordered that the first appointment of juízes (Judges) and vereadores (Council Members) was to be made there {i. e., Macao} and the following year of [15]85 the Viceroy Dom Duarte de Menezes4 conferred it with the status of city and called it do Nome de Deus (of the Name of God), attributing it a coat of arms bearing the cross of the Order of Christ and the same privileges as the city of Evora; all such privileges being ratified by His Majesty Our King Filipe the First, Our Lord. 5

Because the first founders {of the city} traded in such sweet harmony with the Chinese, and the voyages to India, Japan and Siam regularly ensued without fear of enemies, they never envisaged that {trouble} might come about, each built in his own way according to personal fashion and however deemed most suitable without consideration of the {welfare of the} community. Thus the city expanded hazardly, lacking military protection and becoming barely defendable. Built as it was without permission or consent of the king of China it can [only grow] with the complicity of the mandarins who govern it, and thanks to the public revenues of the kingdom {of Portugal} and its inhabitants.

{The mood of the mandarins being} affected by continuous changes which result from their ways of governing, there was no lack of inconsistency for its {i. e., Macao} inhabitants, who, ever giving proof of being Your Majesty's loyal subjects and proud to be risking their belongings, blood and lives, though great dangers and deeds of such extensive navigations, that they have discovered more ports in this part [of the world], founding and building quite a city [here] {in Macao}. They are equally proud of their sons and successors who maintained and expanded it through similar efforts and even greater dangers, without having the Royal Treasury contributed towards its expenditure; in fact, the opposite is true and great profits have been obtained, as the following will explain:

Its prime aim has been established as the spiritual well-being of human souls and the conversion of the gentiles & which has always been the major concern of former kings {of Portugal}& who always endeavoured in this with great zeal, as does the Catholic Majesty Our Lord also much aspire and has fostered this city, knowing that through its commerce and relations with the Japanese and Chinese the diffusion of the Holy Evangile was initiated in these great and densely populated Empires. And in these {territories}, praise the glory of God Our Lord, many Catholic conversions have been made, now soaked with the blood of so many illustrious martyrs, 6 as we see daily joining {the novitiate}, inspired {in the Catholic faith} and supported through continuous hardships by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus: those very same, who a few years ago departed from here to Cochin-China to re-establish missions and churches, where they maintain establishments [to the present] having made and still making many conversions, with the redemption of many souls, [and] with hope of opening new missions in the neighbouring kingdoms along these coastal regions.

And besides the many gentiles who are baptised yearly in this city, be they natives from China or Japanese people from other kingdoms who flock here, the first settlers always sought that there would always be ministers {i. e., Fathers} to preach here in this end corner of the world, confess and administer the sacraments, and all else [necessary] to the spiritual comfort of their souls, and others to teach their children.

With such good zealousness, since its earliest foundation it was sought that Fathers of the Society of Jesus who have traditionally been the first to arrive in these regions would settle here, and in this city they founded a College. Such a religious Order, though without fixed income, is notwithstanding one of the most important religious Orders in this Orient, in edifications, number and quality of Fathers. Acting as basic seminary to numerous missions at times it shelters sixty, seventy and even more subjects, 7 and to the good of the great deeds which they have always favoured and repeatedly perpetrate through the traditional practises of their ministeries, teaching, confessing and preaching, they always succour the well being of this land and its residents with the greatest zealousness on all particular occasions which arise, which results in the enrolment of further Fathers, which assists the Catholic nucleus of these kingdoms.

The city shelters the congregations of St. Augustine, St. Dominic and St. Francis, [has] sound churches and convents, normally residing in each of these seven to eight Brothers, but sometimes more and sometimes less. There is a (See), two parish churches each with many confraternities and convents; and [there are] two hermitages to Our Lady. All these churches are provided with sufficient clergy, having precious ornaments and many silver cult objects for their use, and the masses are celebrated here {i. e., in these churches} with great pomp and devotion. Besides this [the city] has a well provided Misericordy where a great amount of gold is spent yearly on destitute orphans, poor and widows; and on the running of two hospitals in their charge, where there are always many sick people, both Portuguese and local natives and of many other lands, who are generously looked after with much charity. [All this] besides a great number of respectable orphan girls, who the Brothers raise in their residences and support as their own daughters until they marry, liberally providing them with a dowry, according to the merits of each.

All this apparatus of a convent, churches, the Misericordy, hospitals, pious institutions, and members of the clergy edified this city with public and private charities and with some general compulsory taxes which were levied with the consent of the people, without the Royal Treasury having to contribute in the slightest, though this is effected in other lands on top of the normal tax which is paid to the Bishop, and which has been granted by His Majesty. Nonetheless, either by the fault of the ministers {i. e., Fathers} or due to the lack of necessary funds in the {Portuguese} State of India to attend to more pressing necessities it became custumary not to pay it. Thus the burden of the upkeep of the Bishop and his household also falls to the residents of the city, according to procedures followed during the residence of the three previous Bishops in the city. 8

In these few years the temporal growth of this city did not lag behind, because in grandeur [and] in the solemnity of the buildings, [as well as in] the number of residents it is these days one of the most important in the Far East. More than four hundred married Portuguese are living in it, amongst whom are some very honourable noblemen, and most of the others -- if not all -- having been for many years in the high services of His Majesty, either in the armadas or in the works of the Empire. There are besides many married people, native and from elsewhere, and many others from varied nations, who although they live in the city for most of the year also come and go, being involved in the trade of merchandise which is carried out to many destinations in the Orient. This commerce not only maintained but also allowed [the city] to grow in great peace and quietude for all, {the inhabitants} spending much of their wealth annualy in order to achieve influence with the mandarins who rule in China, the lords of Japan, Cochin-China and other places, through embassies, bribes, and presents necessary to effect survival among so many powerful enemies.

The profit of this peace and commerce to many outsiders to the territory has been notorious, and can be attested to by all the Captains of the 'Japan voyages', who started without means, just by providing a ship or a vessel (often not even their own) for the trip, becoming wealthy owners of many thousand cruzados from the ten per cent freight charges which have always been levied on of the numerous and precious goods. Such is general knowledge to all those in the {Portuguese} State of India, and to the customs of Malacca, Cochin and Goa, that the 'China voyages' have always been the source of great riches. This they recognize even better at present, now that they are no longer possible.9 The states of Moluccas and Philippines would not deny that they derived great benefits and advantages from their association with [the city] {of Macao}, and that it will prove difficult for them to survive without. This city was never slow to obey your Majesty's command and welcomed every opportunity to do so, either at the service of the Viceroys of the {Portuguese} State {of India}, under the guidance of the Captain-Majors, or in the armadas -- whether in Malacca or the Moluccas: and with much parsimony and great loyalty {the city} spent large sums of thousands of cruzados on administrative matters, artillery and fortifications, as can be seen in the detailed listing attached. 10

The residents of this city expressed their loyalty and determination in the year of 1620, when warned by its feitor (Administrator), then in Japan, of the Dutch rebels' intentions to attack it and forcefully conquer it with the help of English and Japanese. They took immediate measures to fortify it to best of their abilities, overcoming this apparently unsurmountable lack of consent to do so from the mandarins11 through many bribes, also having overcome much jealousy and fear that they {i. e., the mandarins} had always had had of foreigners. So they started building some bulwarks, reinforcing the weakest points {of the city} and those which being easy of access to enemy incursions were thus the more dangerously exposed. And without looking at costs they stored provisions of gunpowder and ammunitions. They sent a warning ship to Manila dispatching a Father of the Society of Jesus as ambassador to the Governor Don Alonso Fajardo12 who, thanks to swiftness and the prompt attention with which he {i. e., the Governor} and the city [of Manila] welcomed him {i. e., the Father}, was back within forty seven days, having purchased several large cannons and secured the firm promise of assistance by means of ships, people, even himself {i. e., the Governor} and whatever else might be needed, whenever necessary.

This diligence and enterprise was of much importance as, without it, the city would have faced an even greater danger and menace than the one it was confronted with in June of the following year, 1622. On this date, seventeen enemy Dutch sailing vessels entered the harbour {of Macao}, most of then large ships with some pinnaces as well, all soundly equipped with artillery and with the best men they had in these parts {of the globe} assembled on board from scattered armed forces and factories in order to join this enterprise and allured by the famous riches of this {i. e., Macao} land. Knowing that it {i. e., the city} was sparsely populated, without ramparts, artillery or proper administration, they were convinced that {it would fall} without resistance. 13

However, reality did not bear out their plans because, on the eve of the feast of St. John the Baptist, two [Dutch] ships gunned our bulwark of S. Francisco (St. Francis), which though being reconstructed was as yet incomplete but [which] responded better than they expected. And, returning at dawn on the following day with repeat gun and battery charges, they sent ashore at the same time, in another place, 14 eight hundred musketeers in close formation, marching towards the city with such neatness, assertiveness, brio and vitality that it would seem that they already controlled it. Our men {i. e., the Portuguese forces} closely observing their disembarkation, followed them steadily and shot at them sparingly until seemingly randomly assembled group of people on St. Paul's hill {i. e., Mount Fort}, charged onto the {Dutch} troops with great success. Thrown into confusion, they {i. e., the Dutch} started to break formation but still vigorously [they] split into groups assaulting the hill of Our Lady of Guia with the intention of taking possession of it, rejoining forces with two other flag contingents which had split off immediately after disembarkation, having had this manoeuvre in mind {right from the beginning}. And so, behind heavy gunfire, they gradually ascended to the top of the hill where some of our men stood firm, but [seeing this] more people from the city {centre} and the harbour areas rushed to their {i. e., the entrenched inhabitants} aid and with great temerity hit them {i. e., the Dutch} whatever way they could.

Many were killed with gun shot or sword, and the less brave who managed to escape by swimming towards their ships were given no respite. Of more than four hundred {Dutchmen} amongst whom were their Admiral, their Commander and those [who] accompanied them, the field general, eight infantry captains, a few sargeants and officers and other distinguished people, more than two hundred were wounded & of which, it was later known, few survived & and some taken prisoner, including a high ranking captain, who we still hold. Much spoilage, over six hundred muskets, a cannon, many swords, shields, halbards, seven flags, and an equal number of boxes were all kept as testimony and trophies of such a great victory.

The {Dutch} ships who exchanged gunfire with our {i. e., the Portuguese} fortification departed so short of crew and damaged by our artillery that one of them sank there and then and was set on fire. And even if there was a puff of wind they would have not budged from where they stood. This was indeed a remarkable and miraculous victory, no more than five Portuguese being dead, a few slaves and not many wounded, and therefore we celebrate it as being granted by the providence of the glorious [St. John the] Baptist and His day15commemorated by this city with particular devotion. To His perpetual memory, we elected Him as its {the city} patron Saint, so that He may keep it under His protection, maintain its successes, and defend it against these heretics and common enemies. 16 On other occasions [the city] captured a few pinnaces, killed and imprisoned a great number of people and in the year of [1] 618, being aboard the ships going to Japan, our men {i. e., the Portuguese} attacked a large pinnace of theirs [i. e., the Dutch], setting it on fire and sinking it. When this was known by the enemy [i. e., the Dutch] they swore that this had been one of their greatest losses in this Orient both in men and merchandise. 17

The residents of this city proved to be as generous with their goods [as agile] in these armed encounters at Your Majesty's service, not sparing their lives, efforts [or] expense: there were even some who freed their slaves who killed enemies or were valourous in combat, in order to demonstrate their good intentions and virtues while others distributed [gold] pieces to all those who had performed their duties with merit. Therefore, most of these, if not all, deserve good allowances out of the liberal grace of Your Majesty, just as You have already conferred and still confer now to others who met less danger in minor situations. And even more so because rather than being carefree after their victory, they decidedly endeavoured to prepare to better meet {future} greater encounters, in the belief that the enemy would sooner or later return in order to recover its losses, as has been reported from various sources, and not denied by the prisioners.

Having so resolved, a sargento-mor (Sargeant-Major) was elected immediately along with captains, soldiers and a capitão de artilharia (Artillery Commander) with forty bombardiers, all being provided with good stipends and normal salaries. [Besides this] a foundry was created which is now already complete18 intending that a quantity of excellent heavy artillery will be cast. Once again warning was sent to Manila [ via ] a Father of the Society {of Jesus} accompanied by reliable people, and with much diligence the Governor [of the Philippines] sent two infantry regiments with their captains and officers appointing Dom Fernando da Silva, Sargeant Major of that city as their supervisor, 19 everyone with contracts and advance pay at the cost of this city {of Macao} and its residents, who also acquired twelve more cannons, some gunpowder and ammunitions which arrived with the said assistance.

Of greatest significance were the considerable diligences made with the Chinese to gain consent to built the fortifications, and new bribes to entice the mandarins to come and see the enemy's ships and the dead lying in the battlefield. They severed some heads from these and took them to Guangzhou [as] testimony that the ramparts we {i. e., the Portuguese} were trying to erect had no ulterior purpose besides the protection of the city, which is in the lands of the king of China but that unjust enemies wanted to take possession of it. And because generous donations move mountains and lead to happy endings, the greatest difficulties were thus overcome and the works were able to start. The mandarins continued to pretend know nothing of the matter, while more and more labourers were enrolled and the work thus progressed with such haste that in slightly over one year considerable stretches of wall have been concluded, eighteen spans wide and thirty five high, with returns, bastions and crenelations, in such a way that the city is now almost divided from the mainland. Most of your Majesty's domains have fortresses, and this benefit was awarded by the enemy to both the city and Your Majesty, because later it would have been impossible to built fortifications, regardless of the endeavour for such purpose.

In reply to the warning that was also sent to India, the Count of Vidigueira, Viceroy of the {Portuguese} State {of India}, 20 sent a reinforcement of one hundred soldiers headed by Dom Francisco de Mascarenhas, a well travelled nobleman, whom we trust that in due circunstances will give proof of the high caliber that bears his reputation. But as these soldiers also came from the {Portuguese State of} India at the expense of this city {of Macao}, which has been providing for them for over a year, together with those sent from Manila, which we must also provide for while the monsoon {winds} are not favourable for their return, and there are no news of the whereabouts of the enemy in Japan, the expenditures have been increasing in such a way that the debt [of the city] grows daily, and with the loss of some {of its} ships during these last few years, and the arrival of others, and no 'Japan voyage' being effected last [year] due to fears of the ennemy, and the little profit made in the recent past and the many interruptions to trade with China, and much money which was given to them {i. e., the Chinese} by the city residents, they {i. e, the city residents} forfeited so many of their belongings21 that without the powerful and regal grace of Your Majesty to confer on them the benefits anxiously required, it will be impossible to redeem and maintain this city of Yours - that is so utterly important to Your domains and Royal Treasury - as can be clearly seen from the attached annotations. 22

Subscribed by myself, Diogo Caldeira do Rego, alferes (Second-Lieutenant) and escrivão (Scrivener) of the Municipal Council of this City of the {Holy} Name of God in China, on the 27th of November, in the year of [1]623.

Translated from the Portuguese by: Fiona Clark

For the Portuguese translation see:

REGO, Diogo Caldeira, LOUREIRO, Rui Manuel, intro., Relação sobre a fundação e fortifição de Macau, in "Antologia Documental: Visões da China na Literatura Ibérica dos Séculos XVI e XVII", in "Revista de Cultura", Macau, 31 (2) Abril-Junho [April-June] 1997, pp. 154-158. For the Portuguese modernised translation by the author of the Spanish (Castilian) original text, with words or expressions between square brackets added to clarify the meaning.

For the original source of the Portuguese translation, see:

MENDES DA LUZ, Francisco Paulo, O Conselho da Índia, Lisboa, Agência Geral do Ultramar, 1952, pp. 606-616 - Partial transcription.


*Translator's note: Words or expressions between curly brackets occur only in the English translation.

Numeration without punctuation marks follow that in Diogo Caldeira Rego's original text selected in Rui Loureiro's edited text in "Revista de Cultura" (Portuguese edition), Macau, 31 (2) Abril-Junho [April-June] 1997, p. 158.

The spelling of Rui Loureiro's edited text [Port.] is indicated between quotation marks and in italics <" " > - unless the spelling of the original Portuguese text is indicated.

1 This chronology is not confirmed by other sources. The first contacts of the Portuguese with China date from 1513, the year in which Jorge Ávares went to Tunmen · [Port.: Tamão ]· in a Malay junk. Shangchuan Dao · [Port.: Sanchoão ]· started being visited around 1535-1540 and Langbai'ao Dao only became a trading post after 1554.

2 "Amacao"· [original Port.] ("Macao") = Aomen· [Chin.].

3 Dom Francisco de Mascarenhas, Count of Vila da Horta, was the thirteenth Viceroy of the {Portuguese} State of India, 1581-1584.

4 Dom Duarte de Meneses, Count of Tarouca, was the fourteenth Viceroy of the {Portuguese} State of India, 1584-1588.

5 King Felipe II of Spain became King Filipe I of Portugal in 1580.

6 Although Catholicism had thrived in Japan during the second half of the sixteenth century, it was by now already violently persecuted by the Japanese authorities.

7 Every year, during the few months wait in Macao necessary for the arrival of the favourable monsoon winds, the Jesuit College of St. Paul's became the residence of missionaries due to embark for Japan.

8 The first 'Bishops of Macao' were: Dom Melchior Carneiro, Apostolic Vicar, (1568-1581) - who relinquished his position in 1582; Dom Leonardo de Sá, first Tutelary Bishop, (1581-1597) - who died in his post -; and Dom João Pinto da Piedade, first Bishop of Macao, (1608-1626) - who resigned in 1623.

9 In 1623, at the time when this text was being written, the Dutch who were already firmly established in Indonesia increasingly assailing the Portuguese ships in the South China Sea on their way to and from the {Portuguese State of } India.

10 The author's Breve Relação [...] (Short Report [...]) most probably included a lost budget appendix

11 Right from the very start the mandarins [Chinese government officials] were strongly opposed to the erection of fortifications in Macao.

12 Don Alonso Fajardo was Governor of the Philippines, 1618-1624.

13 The author is making reference to the powerful armada of Cornelius Reijersen, assembled by the Dutch in order to consolidate their strategic supremacy in the South China Sea.

14 The Dutch disembarked in the 'Praia de Cacilhas' ('Beach of Cacilhas').

15 St. John the Baptist's day falls on the 24th of June.

16 At that time, north European Protestants were greatly antagonised by the south European Catholics.

17 The victory of the relatively few Macao residents over the well armed and numerous Dutch assailants was a remarkable feat, widely commented on in reports of both parties involved at the time.

18 The author is making reference to the famous foundry of Manuel Tavares Bocarro [active during the second quarter of the seventeenth century].

19 "[...] por cabo [...]" (lit.: ' as corporal'): meaning, 'por comandante' ('as commander' or "[...] as [their] supervisor, [...]").

20 Dom Francisco da Gama, fourth Count of Vidigueira, was the twenty-second Viceroy of the {Portuguese} State of India, 1622-1628.

21 "[...] tão alcançãdos [...]" (lit.: 'so burdened'): meaning, 'tão comprometidos' ('thus engaged' or "[...] forfeited [...]").

22 The author is making reference to the already mentioned budget appendix of his Breve Relação [...] (Short Report [...]. (See: Note 10)

**MS., Macao, 1623.

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