MMW 13 Lecture 11: The Portuguese Intrusion

5 Pages

Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 13
Edmond Yi- Teh Chang

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MMW 13 – Lecture 11 – The Portuguese Intrusion Contingent Global Factors Behind Portuguese Expansion • Power vacuum in Indian Ocean network o No dominant power in the region ▪ 1435 last Ming expedition and sudden withdrawal • Vasco da Gama would sail 1498, Chinese were well gone by then • Chinese presence was very different in character than what we would see from the Portuguese o Chinese vs. Portuguese ‘networks’ ▪ ‘Web-weavers’ vs. ‘empire-builders’ • Chinese more interested in creating trade networks • Chinese were not there to expand their empire ▪ Assumptions of expansionist and proselytizing upstart power like Portugal • Establishing colonies through force • Creating some kind of monopoly over trade through extortion • Religious conversion o Backing of the Church since they promised to spread Christianity all over the world ▪ Chinese assumptions • Cultural assimilation • Religious indifference • Imperial self-satisfaction o Being content to just be great, and not really caring for material interest beyond that ▪ Hey look at us, we can sail so far with such a huge fleet o Area that spans over 10,000 miles ▪ Spice Islands to the Eastern Coast of Africa o Network made up of small, independent mercantile states ▪ More interested in trade than hegemony ▪ Limited military resources • There was no reason to have a huge navy/army when there was this niche trade that was doing pretty well • The lure of Africa o Gold trade along the West African coastline o Potential for pepper cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa ▪ Pepper came from the Spice Islands • Too far ▪ What if they could establish some pepper plantations in Africa? • Didn’t work o Climate? o Knew how wealthy some of these African kingdoms were • Ottoman hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean o Ottoman conquests by mid-15 century o Ottoman-Safavid conflict o Eastern Mediterranean became closed off to trade ▪ Trade used to entire Europe through the Eastern Mediterranean ▪ Ottomans made trade much tougher under their control Rogue Intervention at the ‘Crossroads of the World’? • Crossroads of the world = Indian Ocean crucial intersection of global trade o Swahili Coast with all of its precious resources o Strait of Hormuz that allowed you to tap into Persian Gulf and Red Sea o Spice Islands ▪ Demand for spices o India ▪ Center of textile production o Link to the Far East ▪ Silk, porcelain, tea from China o Most important economic crossroads of the world at the time ▪ Any mercantile power wanted to tap into that • Why Portugal? th o Marginal status of the 15 century Portugal ▪ Relatively poor state • One of the poorest states in Europe ▪ Largely agricultural ▪ Fishing economy ▪ Population of less than a million people ▪ Completely cut off from the rest of Europe by Spain • Isolation would become an advantage o Only prospect for wealth is the ocean o First to really learn about the winds and the currents and how they worked ▪ Point of no return o Role of Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) ▪ Sovereign of Portugal ▪ Supported the study of geography and navigation • Put a lot of Portugal’s resources in these studies ▪ Funded expeditions down the African coast • Vasco da Gama 1498 o Ominous beginnings ▪ Vasco da Gama came in fighting and firing his guns ▪ Mozambique 3 hour artillery battle ▪ Mombasa shootout ▪ Malindi took hostage unarmed merchant ship • Held the ambassador captive that came to negotiate peace • If you want the ambassador back, give me a pilot that will show me the best way to sail to India o How he got to Calicut ▪ Was there for 3 months ▪ Intimidation and manipulation ▪ Huge cargo load of nutmeg and pepper o Created an atmosphere of mutual animosity and suspicion ▪ Set the atmosphere of future arrivals o Rounds the Cape of Good Hope and sails up the Swahili Coast ▪ First time Europeans had ventured this far to these areas by sailing ▪ First European contact with this Indian Ocean network th • Portuguese ambition of a trade monopoly in the early 16 century o New generation of colonial-soldier administrators like Don Francisco D’Almeida ▪ Able, but ruthless ▪ Don Francisco: able to analyze structure of the network; not satisfied with just trading, wanted to control and monopolize the whole network • How would two dozen warships control a region of 10,000 miles? o Control of choke-points/key transfer points of this network
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