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Renascent Empire?

Renascent Empire?: The House of Braganza and the Quest for Stability in Portuguese Monsoon Asia, ca. 1640-1683

Glenn J. Ames
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Renascent Empire?
    Book Description:

    Based on extensive archival research in Portugal, India, England, and France, this work provides the first monographic study of a crucial, yet hitherto ignored period in the history of Portugal's Asian empire: the years ca. 1640-1683. Ames' revisionist work demonstrates that, contrary to the tradition-al view of the inevitable decline and stagnation of the Estado da India after ca. 1640, these were years of innovative and dynamic reform which brought about the geo-political and economic stabilization of Portuguese Asia by 1683. The book details this fundamental shift in Crown policy toward Asia as initiated by Prince Regent Pedro of Braganza (1668-1702) and carried out most effectively by Viceroy Luis de MedonHa Furtado e Albuquerque. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0358-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-16)

    The rzth century decline of Portugal’s Asian empire orEstado da Indiais generally considered to be one of the great historical “facts” of the early modern period. Erected over the course of the late rsrh and early reth centuries by soldier-adventurers like Vasco da Gama and Afonso de Albuquerque, theEstadowas based on a series of fortified trading cities along the rim of the Indian Ocean basin and the South China Sea. By 1580, these strategic[ortalezasof the “State of India” included Mozambique, Mombassa, Maskar (Muscat), Hurmuz (Ormuz), Diu, Goa, Cochin, CeyIon, Melaka (Malacca), Timer, and Macau,...

  5. I Priorities in the Reino, c. 1640-1683
    (pp. 17-38)

    The two decades beginning in r660 were crucial to Portuguese history. Above all, this period witnessed a gradual stabilizarion of the kingdom following the ravages of the preceding two decades. The consolidation of what might be described as Braganzan absolutism also took place during these years. These developments, like most crucial events affecting Crown fortunes in theReino,in Europe, and theimperiowere tied to perhaps the seminal event in seventeenth-century Portuguese history: the revolution of r640 against the Spanish Habsburgs and the subsequent twenty-eight year Restoration struggle. It is therefore difficult to understand the reforms of the years...

  6. II Politics and Policies: Viceroys and Governors, c. 1661-1681
    (pp. 39-58)

    At the pinnacle of the administrative hierarchy charged with governing the extensive imperial holdings of Portugal in Asia was the office of Viceroy. This post had first been created for the king’s chief representative in Asia by Manoel I in 1505, and bestowed in that year upon Francisco de Almeida. The likely precedent for this highest administrative title probably came from the Mediterranean, and particularly the empire of Aragon, since in Columbus’s originalcapitulacionfrom Isabella and Ferdinand we find the title“Viceroy”of the Indies. Although the office of Viceroy and that of Governor later came to have virtually...

  7. III Christians: Saints and Sinners, c. 1640-1683
    (pp. 59-92)

    When Vasco da Gama and his crew reached the tropical shores of the Malabar coast of India on their epic voyage around the Cape of Good Hope, they were almost immediately confronted by two Spanish speaking Muslims from Tunis who demanded to know why they had come. The answer to this rather predictable question was:“uirnos buscar cbristaos e especiaria:”“We come in search of Christians and spices.” From that time on, the twin motivation of economic gain and the desire to spread Christianity to the “infidels” and“gentios”of Asia had been at the very heart of the Portuguese...

  8. IV Spices: The Carreira da India, c. 1640-1683
    (pp. 93-114)

    The economic history of Portugal’s Asian empire has attracted a good deal of scholarly attention over the past century. The works of Godinho, Boxer, Sreensgaard, De Souza, Pearson, Disney, and Boyajian have all done much to advance our knowledge of the economic structures of the PortugueseEstado da Indiaduring the early modern period.’ As with the general historiography onIndia Portuguesa,however, much of this work has concentrated on two periods in the long history of that imperial edifice. First, the glorious years of the early rerh century, when Portugal constructed a geo-political and commercial empire in Asia which...

  9. V Administration: European Hierarchies and the Resiliency of Indigenons Structures, 1640-1683
    (pp. 115-148)

    In September r652, when D. Vasco Mascarenhas, count of Obidos, assumed the Viceregal post in Goa, theregimentoconfirming his position still listed 20 major fortresses that the Crown possessed in Asia. In addition, Obidos found that some eighty ships were at his disposal in theEstadoto help implement royal policy.’ In December r662, when Antonio de Mello de Casrro took office at the chapel of Reis Magos, hisregimentocould list only IQ such fortresses that the Crown possessed.’ The disastrous intervening decade, in the midst of the continuing war at home and in the empire, had witnessed...

  10. VI Foreign Policy: Diplomatic Relations with the Reis Vizinhos and European Rivals, 1640-1683
    (pp. 149-182)

    By the year 1662, the Portuguese Crown and its servants had maintained diplomatic relations with various indigenous kingdoms in Asia for more than 150 years. During that time, the nature of these relationships had varied widely depending on time and place: open and aggressive bellicisrn, mutual peaceful respect, and diplomatic fawning in the quest for favorable trading concessions. Relations with European rivals in the Indian Ocean dated in earnest only to the initial decade of the 17th century when the agents of the Ele and vac had arrived in search of their own share of the spices and riches of...

  11. VII An African Eldorado: The Quest for Wealth in Mozambique and the RiDs de Cuama, c. 1640-1683
    (pp. 183-204)

    For the Portuguese Crown, the strategic Zambezi River basin orRIOS de Cuamaregion as it was known, had long served as the focus of wishful speculation regarding the rich mineral deposits located there. During the early years of the empire, such beliefs had allowed Lisbon to hope for quantities of gold and silver which might equal the riches that the Spanish had found in Mexico and Peru with an accompanying economic boon. In later years, especially in the period under consideration here, these supposed riches were viewed as a mechanism which might help reesrablish the golden years of the...

  12. Conclusion Portuguese Asia, c. 1683
    (pp. 205-214)

    As this study has attempted to demonstrate, the twenty or so years beginning in 1660 were crucial in the long history of the PortugueseEstado da India. The mixed legacy of the Habsburg era, almost endemic warfare with both indigenous powers and European rivals, and the very real constraints of limited demographic and financial resources at home, had confronted the Portuguese Crown with the very real possibility of losing their erstwhile Asian empirein totoduring the early Braganza period. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the historiography on Portuguese Asia has largely ignored this critical period. The very scant literature...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-226)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 227-258)
  15. Index
    (pp. 259-262)