In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Azores served as a stage for storing extremely valuable treasures, carried by lush Spanish galleons. Therefore, it is not surprising that, in that time, there were several attacks of pirates and corsairs that plagued the archipelago.
Legend has it that one of these treasures still lies on São Miguel island, specifically in the land of stories, the Parish of Maia.
By the end of the first quarter of the sixteenth century, an invaluable treasure of pure African gold
bars, confined in an old trunk, had been delivered to Inês Maia, founder of the Land of Stories, to be
Sir George Clifford, English privateer in the service of the Queen of England, Isabel I,
perpetrated several attacks on Azorean soil, searching for treasure. Informed that the greatest of all
was buried in the land of stories, he decided to invade the parish of Maia, shortly after its settlement.
Inês Maia, being aware of Sir Clifford’s intention, by a fugitive slave from the galleon “Hispaniola”,
wisely, took the reins of the situation and instructed three horsemen of his bodyguard, accompanied by nine
peasants to carry and hide all the gold bars in a site of remote access: the place of Pedra Queimada / Lajinha.
Other 3 riders were instructed to take the empty ark to the fishing port - Calhau D’Areia and to simulate a robbery in that place. Thus, all boats of Inês Maia’s fleet were destroyed.
After the galleon being moored, Sir. Clifford was received by the wise Inês Maia and 3 more weeping maids, which, in desperation, asked to speak to the commander of that crew. They said that days before, the Parish of Maia had been invaded by pirates who had taken all the treasure. After destroying, slaughtering and raped her maids, they left without mercy. Hopeless and without knowing what to do, Inês Maia sent a letter to the Kings of Portugal, requesting them military assistance, which was already under way.
Fearing being caught, Sir Clifford gave immediate orders to withdraw his crew, leaving the Land of Stories safe and sound from his wickedness.
To the Spaniards that left the treasure to the guard of Inês Maia, the wise lady told them that the
English privateers, led by Sir Clifford, were responsible for the treasury theft.
Inês da Maia’s plan was a huge success, so the wise lady decreed that the treasure should be kept
forever as a symbol of the strength, persistence, boldness and wisdom of the local inhabitants.