Era of 'White Gold'

In the fifteenth century, Madeira starts planting sugar cane imported from Sicily by Dom Henrique. With the rapid expansion of the sugar cane industry, Funchal becomes a commercial center of excellence, attended by traders of various nationalities, which changes its insular financial dimension.
In 1472, the Madeira sugar starts being directly exported to Flanders, which became its main redistribution center. Madeira assumes particular importance in the axis of these relations between Flanders and Portugal.

With the production of sugar cane, Madeira attracted adventurers and traders from the most remote origins, this exploration was considered at the time as the main engine of Madeira's economy. Many foreigners traveled to the region for the sugar business, especially Italians, Basques, Catalans and Flemish people.

The marketing of sugar in Madeira reached its peak in the 1520s which coincided with the timing of most Flemish works of art to the island, in a notorious commercial environment of prosperity. Works of gigantic proportions were imported, mostly paintings, ostentatious mixed altarpieces or triptychs, as well as major images from Bruges, Antwerp and Malines. Silver and copper objects, and gravestones with metal inlays were imported from Flanders and Hainaut, such as those in the Funchal Cathedral and in Museums such as the one of Sacred Art.

Until the first half of the sixteenth century, Madeira was one of the major sugar markets of the Atlantic. However, there were several reasons for the decline of this culture and gave way to other markets.
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