History 1810E Lecture 9: History – Classes 9-12

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21 Jul 2016
Department
History – Classes 9 to 12 18:20
The Portuguese Abroad
Re-cap:
1487: Dias rounds Africa
1497: de Gama gets to Calicut
de Gama initiated trade right from the first voyage but really didn’t have a clue what he
was doing – same went for Cabral during the second voyage
Plunder was really the only option at the time though because they don’t know
the markets, have nothing the markets wanted, etc
Beginning of Portuguese interest in the church in India
1505: appointment of Almeida as vice-roy
Marks the upping of the standard for the Portuguese; putting a system in place
Didn’t focus enough on trade and was unsuccessful in monopolizing India
1509: Alburquerque succeeds Almeida as governor
Recognized that trade was crucial and needed a land base – focused on Goa to be
the capital
Believed in diversifying a number of places to control the seas and to build the
Portuguese Empire
Recognized that Almeida’s attempt to monopolize the Spice Trade failed so he
moved more to the east and took over Melaka – the Spice Islands (captured in
1511)
How did the Portuguese idea of empire change through the first half of the 16th
century?
Every captain was a crowned employee and paid that way
All the men that ran the factories overseas were crowned employees and were paid
salaries
All the priests were the same way
Everything used (clothing, furniture, food, etc) was paid for by the crown
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All the plunder was controlled by the crown – how much could be kept by captain, how
much was sent back to crown, etc.
Everything had to be accounted for by the vice-roy or governor (not all were
given the title of “vice-roy”)
Plan:
Establish a militarized state, have a professional and government paid army and navy,
commercial monopoly, royal bureaucracy
This was so far ahead of anything that had even been dreamt of at this time – no one
had a professionally militarized state, etc
This just seemed very out of the question
This plan doesn’t actually happen
Plan failed because…
Crown couldn’t afford to pay for these fleets – many were paid for by German or Italian
investors
Portugal was a good place geographically to sell spices from
Most capital resided in the Low Countries – also had the most trade, most success, etc
Portugal wasn’t well equipped to deal with this empire in terms of distribution and
finance
Reality of Empire:
Goa – feudal but luckily it worked
Sofala, Kilwa, Ormuz – puppet states
Left the local rulers and structures but said “you do what we tell you” – didn’t interfere
as long as rulers remained loyal and effective
Melaka – large, bustling, wealthy city
Couldn’t develop feudal relations
Got rid of ruler but kept systems in place that worked for trade
Religion:
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Desire for conversion grew stronger because the religious temper in Europe was rising
Portuguese decided not to push it though but obviously welcomed people that wanted to
convert – didn’t want to push it (like the politics) and raise a mutiny
They said “if you want to ally with us, convert” but it was optional
Reality (cont’d…):
Portuguese people only hired people for the trip, once they got there they were basically
laid off – had to look for jobs in their new environment, etc
This became the unofficial Portuguese empire – this actually expanded faster than the
official Portuguese empire
Alburquerque was a very firm believer in loyalty
Encouraged the men to marry local women – wanted to promote conversion and
local relations
Policy wasn’t really determined in Lisbon or Rome because King had no clue what was
going on
Basic policy driver was costs
Did whatever works and whatever made them money
Needed to make money to cover the costs of the empire:
oFleets
oAdministration – priests, vice-roys, captains, etc
oArmies – not massive armies, theoretically between 3,000 and 5,000 (had
a hard time finding people to serve overseas)
Later on they’d put boys that were 9, 10, 11 years old just to get
the numbers
oThe Church – est. at 10% of overall cost of empire
oSelling the spices
Income:
oRents – from puppet cities to keep local power
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