When you think Bettencourt, do you think French royal blood? Conquers? How about worldly explores and possible founders of the Canary Islands?? It may be the case for all of the above.
In researching our family name of Bettencourt I have come across several different version with similar story lines containing all of the above. I'm going to spare you the monotonous details of our rich and interesting family linage and highlight for you (with references) some of the published information that I have found through my research. This essay will attempt to give you an outline of how the Bettencourts migrated from France to the Azores Islands.
The first version is that from a web site simply called, "Bettencourts 1200-1900". Its focus is a Genealogical overview of our family name from the earliest record kept. It starts in 1200 France with Jean De Bethencourt, a quote from the passage (click on blue link to read complete generational page throughout essay), " The Bettencourts of noble Norman origin took their name from the Castle of B�thencourt in Normandy, came to Portugal to the island of Madeira, and from there scattered to the A�ores Islands and on to mainland Portugal and Brazil.
The first known Bettencourt is generally considered to be the Lord of Buttecourt, Buthencourt, or Bethencourt who accompanied William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in the invasion of England in 1066. He was killed in the Battle of Hastings and buried in Battle Abbey, Battle, Kent, England".
I'm skipping ahead to 1402 when Jean de Bethencourt (fourth generation) set sails on an expedition that would lead them to the Canary Islands. A passage, "He developed the desire to explore the Canary Islands. In Dec 1401 he sold his house in Paris, valued at 200 gold francs, and some other small pieces of property to obtain the necessary financing for his expedition to the Canary Islands. Since the amount realized was insufficient, his uncle, Robert de Braquemont, loaned him 5,000 pounds (to which he later added another 2,000), Jean to all intents mortgaging to him the fiefs of B�thencourt and Grainville. Having conceived the project of conquering the Canaries, which were then only frequented by merchants or Spanish pirates, he assembled a body of adventurers, among whom was a knight named Gadifer de La Salle, who joined him at La Rochelle, France.
Although some sources indicate that Bethencourt discovered the Canary Islands, it would be more appropriate to say that he conquered and settled them as well as converting the inhabitants to Catholicism. The museum of the church of Santa Maria de Betancuria in Bethencuria, Fuerteventura, contains a replica of the banner carried by Bethencourt when he seized Fuerteventura".
Now turned our focus to Henri and Matciot De Bethencourt, nephews to Jean who ultimately carved their road to the Azores. Here is a passage regarding Matciot, "On 9 May 1405 Maciot traveled to the Canary Islands with his Uncle Jean. He was ruler of the Canary Islands after his uncle left the islands between Dec 1405 and 1447. Maciot attempted, with the assistance of some Castilians, to subdue the island of Gomeira, Isles Canaries, but without success. In 1414 the exactions and tyranny of Maciot de Bethencourt had caused Queen Catherine of Castile to send out three war caravels under the command of Pedro Barba de Campos, Lord of Castro Forte, to control him. Maciot, although only regent, since Jean de Bethencourt was still alive, ceded the islands to Barba and then sailed to Madeira, where he sold to Prince Henry of Portugal, surnamed the Navigator, these very islands which he had just ceded to another, together with those which still remained to be conquered"
"He, acting as representative of Jean de Bethencourt, granted the lordship of the Canary Islands to D. Henrique de Guzm�n, Conde de Niebla on 15 Nov 1418 in Seville. In 1447 Maciot was taken prisoner on Lanzarote and imprisoned on the island of Ferro. He later fled with his wife to Portugal. He sold Lanzarote to Prince Henry the Navigator for the soap trade and other income from Madeira on 9 May 1448. He moved with his two daughters and two of his brother's sons to Madeira"
Passage regarding Henri's role; "He was also known as Henri de B�thencourt. He was also known as Henrique de Bettencourt. On 9 May 1405 he left with his kinsman Jean de Bethencourt for the Canary Islands. After 1406 Henri de Bettencourt was Lord of the Isles Canaries. Henri was in control of the family business in �vila, Castile while Maciot was in charge of the Canary Islands. He was ultimately the ancestor of the �vila Bettencourt family of the A�ores. In 1448 he moved to Madeira".
The connection to the Azores, this is made by Gaspard De Bettencourt, son of Henri. Passages outlining his journeys; "Gaspard de9 BETTENCOURT (I) o Franc�s (Henri8, Regnault7Bethencourt, Jean6, Jean5, Jean4, Regnault3, Philippe2, Jean1)969,970 was born circa 1430 in France.971 He was born circa 1450.He married Dona Guiomar de S�, daughter of Jo�o Rodrigues de S�, in Lisboa, Portugal, . they were married in house of Dona Violanta, Guiomar's first cousin, wife of the Count of Castanheira. Fructuoso, in his Saudades da Terra, relates an entertaining story concerning the couple. Guiomar de S� was walking in the Court, making a certain devotion to Saint John, or another saint, expecting that, on the last day, the first man she heard named by the same name would be the husband she would marry, whether he were Portuguese or not. As is the custom of women, or the superstitious, or the intemperate, very desirous of knowing what will happen to them, the devil responds as successor, God permitting that they be deceived by him, or sometimes upheld. It followed on the day and time that Gaspard de Bettencourt was to kiss the king's hand, dressed in green, and on the day before he saw him, Guiomar de S� heard, a sound coming to her ears, that the man she would marry would be French, and the first time she saw him, he would be dressed in green, as he was.
He immigrated in 1448 to Madeira with his uncle. Gaspard de Bettencourt (I) o Franc�s and Dona Guiomar de S� founded a chapel in the S� of Lisboa or Basilica of Santa Maria Maior in which they placed a full-size image of Our Lady of Bettencourt. Much later, the stone image was clothed and crowned; He and Dona Guiomar de S� were the ancestors of the Bettencourt e S�a line of the A�ores (S�o Miguel) in Nueva Granada. He and Dona Maria de Bethencourt were the first Bettencourts to reach the A�ores, whose settlement, begun in 1444, was not far advanced. He and Dona Guiomar de S� had seven children. He and Maria Dias were in a relationship that produced a son, Gaspar Perdomo. He inherited the rights to the soap trade of Madeira from his aunt and uncle. Gaspard de Bettencourt (I) o Franc�s was first heir and administrator of the entail of Agua de Mel, Madeira. On 1 Apr 1505 Gaspard (I) obtained confirmation from King D. Manuel I of the Bettencourt blazon of amrs. He went in his aunt's company to the island of S�o Miguel. In 1513 he formed part of the force which, under the command of D. Jaime, Duke of Bragan�a, conquered Azemmour, Morocco".
I have some more work to do here, I lost the trail from San Miguel to the A�ores.
I do know that; The son of Georges de Bethancourt and Elvira de Avila, Juan Sanches de Bitancor, Married Maria Vaz de Padilla. Their oldest son, Sanches de Bitancor, succeeded them as lord of Avila, Castille. Two sons, Anton and Juan de Avila Bitancor, emigrated to the Azores Island, first to Terceira, then to San Jorge.
Also, Descendants of Macoit's brother, Henri, entered the A�ores as the Avila Bettencourt Family. The Avila Bettencourt's sometimes used the full name, sometimes shorten it to Avila, and other times used Bettencourt in the manner of the Madeira branch. All Azorean families named Avila and Bettencourt, weather arriving from Madeira or Castille, trace their origins to Maciot and Henri, the two brothers who, by mere chance, escaped massacre in the great battle of Agincourt! (fyi, the middle finger and the term Pluck You! supposedly came from this battle)
These above passages came out of a book called; "the Azores Islands, A history" it was written by James and Manuela Guill and can be purchased through, Golden Shield Publications, PO BOX 1860, Tulare, Ca. 93275.
I will post updates as soon as I can figure out the missing links. :) GB