AFFAITATI, João Francisco (?-1529)
This Italian merchant was born in Cremona, and was also known as João Francisco Lafetá or Lafetat. A brother of the older Count Ludovico Affaitati (a resident of Madrid), he was a respected and wealthy merchant as of the end of the 15th century.
He had five children from two relationships. His oldest son, Agostinho Lafetá, resulted from his relationship with Dona Guiomar Freire. The other four: Cosme, Ignês, Magdalena, and Lucrezia were born from his relationship with Maria Gonçalves de Carvalhães (or Carvalhosa).
His early activities were tied to the commercialization of Madeiran sugar. In partnership with another merchant, Girolamo Sernigi, he established a contract in 1502 with the Portuguese Crown for the purchase of eighteen thousand arrobas of sugar from Madeira, which earned him a large sum of money. In 1504 he entered into a new contract for the purchase of thirty five thousand arrobas, this time for the sum of 1,001,000 reis. In the period that followed the establishment of the Route to India, the negotiations with the Orient became part of the Affaitatis´ activities. According to Richard Ehrenberg, João Francisco was the first foreign merchant to try to enter directly into Asiatic commerce, but without success due to the Royal monopoly of Asian trade. However, he was the first to contract with the Portuguese monarch, which assured him a profitable monopoly of the resale of spices. He maintained close relationships with the official representatives of the Republic of Venice in the Spanish Court, to whom he revealed details about the quality and quantity of merchandise obtained in India as well as about the Portuguese conquests and their economic development. The evidence supporting the participation of the Count of Cremona, João Francisco Affaitati, in Portugal´s economy was an acquittance dated 22 October, 1520, which stated that in the period between 1508 and 1514 he had received a total amount of 117,004,880 reis. The name ?João Francisco? appeared in the list of contracts of Casa da India, in regards to malagueta, clover, and pepper contracts. Nonetheless, a reference to the Count also appeared in connection with business related to the commercialization of slaves. In 1523, one of his ships, which was carrying sugar to the Mediterranean (he had not abandoned the commerce of sugar), was taken by French corsairs. In a letter from Carlo Strozzi dated 20 May, 1525, the Count of Cremona was hired to recover Piero Strozzi´s inheritance, which was distributed between Portugal and India and was comprised almost entirely of spices and precious stones. On 10 October, 1527, he signed a procuration designating Luca Giraldi his agent; the document was undersigned on 18 March, 1529, and required the purchase of the entire Royal return of sugar for the year corresponding to 1527, excluding the amounts needed for the houses of the King, Queen, and princes, as well as for charity. After João Francisco´s death, on 29 April, 1529, the aforementioned contract remained valid, by declaration of King Dom João III to the Count´s descendants.
ALESSANDRINI, Nunziatella, Os italianos na Lisboa de 1500 a 1680: das hegemonias florentinas às genovesas (tese de doutoramento), Lisboa, Universidade Aberta, 2009.
Author: Alexandra Pelúcia
Translated by: Maria João Pimentel