Azores, an archipelago consisting of nine islands (Flores, Corvo, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Fayal, Graciosa, São Miguel, and Santa María) and several islets in the North Atlantic, 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. First mentioned by the Arab geographer, Edisi in the twelfth century, the Azores were discovered by the Portuguese in 1427 during their voyages of discovery. These expeditions were financed by the military order of Christ, which was headed by Prince Henry the Navigator. Initially the explorers visited the central islands and, to the east, Santa María and São Miguel. Twenty-five years later the western Azores were discovered by Diogo de Teive, a Madeiran sugar merchant and navigator.
The Azores played an important role in the exploration of and, later, the trade with the New World. Columbus's ship, the Niña, visited Santa María in 1493 on its return from his first voyage to America. His crew was briefly detained by the islanders until Columbus could negotiate their release. Later, the Azores served as a post between Europe and the Americas where Portuguese ships would stop in order to pick up fresh food and water before continuing their journey across the Atlantic.
Woad, a dyestuff planted by the Flemish, who had established settlements there in the fifteenth century, was an important export until it was replaced by indigo from Brazil.
T. Bentley Duncan, Atlantic Islands (1972).
Brown, A. Samler. Guía de Madeira, las Canarias y las Azores. Gran Canaria: Departamento de Ediciones, 1999.
Moniz, Miguel. Azores: World Bibliographical Series. Santa Barbara, CA., 1999.
Symington, Martin. Portugal with Madeira and the Azores. New York: D.K. Pub., 1997.
Sheila L. Hooker
AZORES , archipelago in the N. Atlantic; Portuguese possession. *New Christians from Portugal presumably settled in the Azores in the 16th and 17th centuries, but there is no consistent record of them. The first known settlement of Jews in the islands began in 1818 with the arrival of five merchants from Morocco. By 1848 the Jews in the Azores numbered 250; several small communities had been established, the most important being in Ponta Delgada (founded in 1836) where there were 150 Jews. Among the founders were several members of the *Bensaude family, whose descendants became influential in international commerce, banking, and philanthropy. The number of Jews in the islands has dwindled steadily in recent years.
Amzalak, in: Revista de Estudios Hebraícos, 1 (1928), 239–40. add. bibliography: I. Da R. Pereira, in: Arquipélago 1 (1979), 181–201; 2 (1980), 143–87; 3 (1981), 167–85; A.M. Mendes, in: Boletim (Instituto Histórico da Ilha Terceira), 40 (1982), 673–92.