During an age when Atlantic shipping was beset by many hazards, the voyage of de Hoope, which left Amsterdam in September 1616 to trade in Portugal and Brazil, appears to have been particularly unlucky. The ship lay in Porto in April 1617, where its captain, Engel Habet, and his brother had sold their cargo of salted perch and cod. The presence of these two Dutchmen in a Portuguese harbour at this time would have been quite normal. The long-distance trade in bulk commodities — carried out between the Iberian peninsula and the North and Baltic Seas and dominated by Dutch ships — accounted for an enormous volume of shipping. However, at this point the owners of the roughly two-hundred-ton ship perpetrated a fraud as they prepared to sail to Rio de Janeiro. Originally considered a ‘free’ trade (at least for the...

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