Sir Godfrey Fisher, K.C.M.G
How soon the English merchants actually began to reside in Lisbon is not very clear. Although their trading privileges go back to the fourteenth century in 1454 they were still pleading unfamiliarity with the language as a reason for the appointment of a special Portuguese official to help with the collection of their debts. By the end of the fifteenth century there was evidently something more than the nucleus of a factory with a considerable number of resident factors, or agents of English merchants, and a chapel in which the King of Portugal in 1471 ordered the display of one of his decrees. In those times a chapel or church might serve as a communal centre for foreign merchants who lived in their own houses in the town. It seems to have been a normal practice for foreign factories to develop out of a church which served as the first meeting-place for the merchants while a chapel or consecrated portion was reserved for the celebration of divine service. Here, too, sanctuary could be claimed - and indeed we read of one English merchant finding safety from the clutches of the Inquisition in the Church of St. George at San Lucar for a period of six months - while some provision was probably also made for the accommodation of visiting merchants and display of their wares.
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