Portugal Europa 2022-Stories and Myths

The Legend of Pêro Botelho’s Caldera
A little moral tale, recounting the punishment for a sulphurous temper. Silence is what Pêro Botelho gets back in return whenever he begs “Get me out of here! Get me out of here!”, from the bottom of the Furnas cave, on the island of São Miguel, where he has been trapped since immemorial time. A man of deplorable character, he had the habit, like the other inhabitants of the region, of boiling wicker and corn in volcanic calderas of boiling water. In one of them, which exudes a strong smell of sulphur, it was more common, however, to use its mud to cure various diseases, such as rheumatism. It is said that, one day, when going there to find the balsamic material, Pêro Botelho lost his footing and fell into the caldera. He attempted an appeal for help, but no one would have heard him. And he was never seen again. The only sign of life would be the cry for a hypothetical rescue.

Legend of the Miracle of Our Lady of Nazaré
Salvation in extremis is what is often dreamt of in times of great distress. Or something to which, under such circumstances, the prayers of the most faithful are addressed. And that’s what helped Dom Fuas Roupinho on a certain foggy day. On 14 September 1182, the Captain-General of the Porto de Mós castle was hunting, when he sighted what appeared to be a deer. Excited at the prospect of good meat, he launched into fiery pursuit. So invested was he in the task that he only realised that he was on top of a cliff when the fall seemed all but inevitable. At the last moment however, his horse stood on its hind legs, which have been engraved there ever since. The image of the prey, which would ultimately turn out to be the devil, had vanished.

Dom Fuas Roupinho was rescued through the instant intervening salvation of Our Lady of Nazaré after having appealed to her in supplication. The image of the saint was hidden a little further down, in a small grotto located on the headland. Relieved by such a provident intervention, the knight dismounted, descended into the sacred hollow, fell to his knees and prayed in gratitude. Shortly afterwards he ordered the construction of a small church at the top of the cliff, the Chapel of the Memory (Ermida da Memória), where he placed this image.

Legend of Machin
There is no historical evidence to prove it, but for a long time the narration of the facts that led to the discovery of the island of Madeira has had a much more poetic version than the usual description of the arrival of Tristão Vaz Teixeira and João Gonçalves Zarco, in 1419. According to the tale, it was the young Englishman Robert Machin, along with his beloved Anne of Arfet and some companions, who were the first to land there, in 1377.

Robert, a man of modest condition, frequented the court of King Edward III (1312-1377). It was there that he met the aristocrat Anne of Arfet, with whom he would fall in love. Their desire for marriage, however, was at odds with that of Anne’s relatives, who considered her only within the reach of a suitor from the nobility. This opposition led Robert Machin to decide to flee with his intended towards France, a country with which England maintained a long military conflict, which would come to be known as the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). The elopement took place on the eve of Anne’s arranged marriage.

On the high seas however, a strong storm blew the couple and the crew off course from their intended destination. After countless days lost at sea, they sighted land with lush vegetation and, once disem- barked, began to explore the island, looking for water and food. However, a new storm approached, forcing them to seek refuge among the roots of a massive tree. When the storm subsided, they real- ised that their boat had not weathered the storm and they had no way of getting out of there. Worse yet, shortly afterwards, weakened by the trip, Anne died. One of them was eventually rescued and his story reached the ears of the Portuguese, who, when they arrived on the island, years later, came across the cross and an inscription telling the couple’s saga. In honour of Machin, they named that region Machico.