Jácome de Bruges, (born Jacob van Brugge in 1415 Flanders) was the son of a wealthy merchant family in Bruges. He became a servant of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal (the son of king John I), who initiated the so-called Portuguese Age of Discovery in the 15th century.
As a native of a city belonging to the Hanseatic league, Jácome de Bruges had been exposed to well-ordered mercantilism, and he understood the value of international trade as a driver of national prosperity. Consequently, he was a logical candidate to enter into the service of the like-minded Prince Henry in Portugal.
Jácome, arrived on the Iberian peninsula, with many of his compatriots on business, and lived in the northern city of Porto for at least ten years. The perceived notion that de Bruges was recommended by Joos van Moerkerke (a Flemish nobleman in the service of Isabella of Burgundy, sister of Duarte I of Portugal) was dismissed, with the Silves document between de Burges and Henry. It was seigniorial contract between the two men; in the 2 March 1450 contract, de Bruges received the first license from Prince Henry to lead a contingent of settlers to the island of Terceira, the 'third' island of the Azorean archipelago. The document did not stipulate the nationality, and along with seventeen Flemish families, de Bruges settled on Terceira. Yet, even with his efforts, and ten years, Jácome de Bruges was unable to fulfill his contract, which was confirmed by the donation letter of the islands of Terceira and Graciosa, made by Prince Henry to his nephew, the Infante D. Fernando. The Infante Fernando then changed the colonial settlement strategy, sending people of confidence to the islands (ultimately the contract between Bruges and Henry expired and he returned to the continent).
But, by the end of the 16th century, de Bruges returned to Terceira; he was one of two captains who were sent to the island: Jácome de Bruges installed his administration in the region of Praia, while Álvaro Martins Homem settled in Angra. Both captains commanded two distinct groups of colonists, all Portuguese and no Flems.
Jácome de Bruges descendent, his daughter, eventually married Duarte Paim, founding the Paim de Bruges noble family.
Ultimately more than two thousand Flems settled in the Azores during the fifteenth century. Although these Flemish immigrants quickly adapted to Portuguese manners, habits, and culture, their legacy — in the form of windmills, clothing, and some lingering physical traits (blond hair and blue eyes) — have persisted until the present day on some Azorean islands to remind visitors of a Flemish heritage. Because of the presence of Flemish farmers, the Azores were known, until quite recently, as the Islas de Flamengos (Flemish Isles).