"Vis Unita Maior Nunc et Semper" (Latin)
"Now and Forever, United We are Greater"
O Hino da Carta (1834–1911)
A Portuguesa (1911–2002)
The overseas interests and areas of the world that at one time were territories of the Portuguese Empire.
|-||King (first)||John I|
|-||King (last)||Manuel II|
|-||President (first)||Manuel de Arriaga|
|-||President (last)||Jorge Sampaio|
|-||Conquest of Ceuta||1415|
|-||Sea route to India established||1498|
|-||Discovery of Brazil||1500|
|-||Loss of Indian colonies||1961|
|-||Transfer of sovereignty over Macau (de facto)||1999|
|-||Independence of East Timor (de jure) b||2002|
|a.||^ The capital was de facto located in Rio de Janeiro from 1808 to 1821.|
|b.||^ Although Portugal began the process of decolonizing East Timor in 1975, Macau is generally considered to be Portugal's last colony as the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and resulting occupation were not officially recognized. East Timor's independence in 2002 ended the observed Portuguese sovereignty.|
The Portuguese Empire (Portuguese: Império Português), also known as the Overseas Portugal (Ultramar Português) or the Portuguese Colonial Empire (Império Colonial Português), was the first global empire in history. In addition, it was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999 or the grant of sovereignty to Timor-Leste in 2002. The empire spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now parts of 53 different sovereign states.
Portuguese sailors began exploring the coast of Africa in 1419, using recent developments in navigation, cartography and maritime technology such as the caravel, in order that they might find a sea route to the source of the lucrative spice trade. In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1498, Vasco da Gama reached India. In 1500, either by an accidental landfall or by the crown's secret design, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil on the South American coast. Over the following decades, Portuguese sailors continued to explore the coasts and islands of East Asia, establishing forts and factories as they went. By 1571, a string of outposts connected Lisbon to Nagasaki along the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India, and Asia. This commercial network brought great wealth to Portugal.
When Philip II of Spain inherited the Portuguese crown in 1580, this began a 60 year union between Spain and Portugal that has since been given the historiographic term of the Iberian Union. Though the realms continued to be administered separately, the Council of Portugal ruled the country and its empire from Madrid. As the King of Spain was also King of Portugal, Portuguese colonies became the subject of attacks by three rival European powers hostile to Spain and generally envious of Iberian successes overseas: the Dutch Republic, England, and France. With its smaller population, Portugal was unable to effectively defend its overstretched network of trading posts, and the empire began a long and gradual decline. Eventually, significant losses to the Dutch in Portuguese India and Southeast Asia during the 17th century brought an end to the Portuguese trade monopoly in the Indian Ocean. Brazil became Portugal's most valuable colony until, as part of the wave of independence movements that swept the Americas during the early 19th century, it broke away in 1822. Portugal's Empire was reduced to its colonies on the African coastline (which were expanded inland during the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century), Portuguese Timor, and enclaves in India and Macau.
After World War II, Portugal's leader, António Salazar, attempted to keep what remained of the pluricontinental Empire intact at a time when other European countries were beginning to withdraw from their colonies. In 1961 the handful of Portuguese troops garrisoned in Goa were unable to prevent the numerically superior Indian troops from seizing the territory. Salazar began a long and bloody war to quell anti-colonialist forces in the African colonies. The unpopular war lasted until the overthrow of the regime in 1974. The new government immediately changed policy and recognised the independence of all its colonies, except for Macau, which by agreement with the Chinese government was returned to China in 1999, thereby unofficially marking the end of the Portuguese Empire. Currently, the Azores, Madeira and Savage Islands are the only overseas territories that remain politically linked to Portugal. Presently, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) serves as the cultural and intergovernmental successor of the Empire.
- 1 Origins (1139–1415)
- 2 Age of Discovery (1415–1542)
- 3 Colonization efforts in the Americas
- 4 Iberian Union and rivalry with the Protestant Powers (1580–1663)
- 5 Imperial recovery and decline (1663–1825)
- 6 Consolidation in Africa (1822–1951)
- 7 Turmoil and Decolonization (1951–1999)
- 8 Legacy
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
The origins of the Portuguese Empire, and of Portugal itself, lay in the reconquista: the gradual Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors. After establishing itself as a separate kingdom in 1139, Portugal completed its reconquest of Moorish territory by reaching Algarve in 1249, but its independence continued to be threatened by neighbouring Castile until the signing of the Treaty of Ayllón in 1411.
Free from threats to its existence and unchallenged by the wars fought by other European states, Portuguese attention turned overseas and towards a military expedition to the Muslim lands of North Africa. There were several probable motives for their first attack, on the Marinid Sultanate (in present-day Morocco). It offered the opportunity to continue the Christian crusade against Islam; to the military class, it promised glory on the battlefield and the spoils of war; and finally, it was also a chance to expand Portuguese trade and to address Portugal's economic decline.
In 1415 an attack was made on Ceuta, a strategically located North African Muslim enclave along the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the terminal ports of the trans-Saharan gold and slave trades. The conquest was a military success, and marked one of the first steps in Portuguese expansion beyond the Iberian Peninsula, but it proved costly to defend against the Muslim forces that soon besieged it. The Portuguese were unable to use it as a base for further expansion into the hinterland, and the trans-Saharan caravans merely shifted their routes to bypass Ceuta and/or used alternative Muslim ports.
Age of Discovery (1415–1542)
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Although Ceuta proved to be a disappointment for the Portuguese, the decision was taken to hold it while exploring along the Atlantic African coast. A key supporter of this policy was Infante Dom Henry the Navigator, who had been involved in the capture of Ceuta, and who took the lead role in promoting and financing Portuguese maritime exploration until his death in 1460. At the time, Europeans did not know what lay beyond Cape Bojador on the African coast. Henry wished to know how far the Muslim territories in Africa extended, and whether it was possible to reach Asia by sea, both to reach the source of the lucrative spice trade and perhaps to join forces with the fabled Christian kingdom of Prester John that was rumoured to exist somewhere in the "Indies". Under his sponsorship, soon the Atlantic islands of Madeira (1420) and Azores (1427) were reached and started to be settled producing wheat to export to Portugal.
Fears of what lay beyond Cape Bojador, and whether it was possible to return once it was passed, were assuaged in 1434 when it was rounded by one of Infante Henry's captains, Gil Eanes. Once this psychological barrier had been crossed, it became easier to probe further along the coast. In 1443 Infante Dom Pedro, Henry's brother, granted him the monopoly of navigation, war and trade in the lands south of Cape Bojador. Later this monopoly would be enforced by the Papal bulls Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455), granting Portugal the trade monopoly for the newly discovered lands. A major advance which accelerated this project was the introduction of the caravel in the mid-15th century, a ship that could be sailed closer to the wind than any other in operation in Europe at the time. Using this new maritime technology, Portuguese navigators reached ever more southerly latitudes, advancing at an average rate of one degree a year. Senegal and Cape Verde Peninsula were reached in 1445.
The first feitoria trade post overseas was established in 1445 on the island of Arguin off the coast of Mauritania, to attract Muslim traders and monopolize the business in the routes travelled in North Africa. In 1446, Álvaro Fernandes pushed on almost as far as present-day Sierra Leone and the Gulf of Guinea was reached in the 1460s.
Expansion of sugarcane in Madeira started in 1455, using advisers from Sicily and (largely) Genoese capital to produce the "sweet salt" rare in Europe. Already cultivated in Algarve, the accessibility of Madeira attracted Genoese and Flemish traders keen to bypass Venetian monopolies. Slaves were used, and the proportion of imported slaves in Madeira reached 10% of the total population by the 16th century. "By 1480 Antwerp had some seventy ships engaged in the Madeira sugar trade, with the refining and distribution concentrated in Antwerp. By the 1490s Madeira had overtaken Cyprus as a producer of sugar." The success of sugar merchants such as Bartolomeo Marchionni would propel the investment in future travels.
In 1469, after prince Henry's death and as a result of meagre returns of the African explorations, King Afonso V granted the monopoly of trade in part of the Gulf of Guinea to merchant Fernão Gomes. Gomes, who had to explore 100 miles (160 km) of the coast each year for five years, discovered the islands of the Gulf of Guinea, including São Tomé and Príncipe and found a thriving alluvial gold trade among the natives and visiting Arab and Berber traders at the port then named Mina (the mine), where he established a trading post. Trade between Elmina and Portugal grew throughout a decade. In 1481, the recently crowned João II decided to build São Jorge da Mina in order to ensure the protection of this trade, which was held again as a royal monopoly. The Equator was crossed by navigators sponsored by Fernão Gomes in 1473 and the Congo River by Diogo Cão in 1482. It was during this expedition that the Portuguese first encountered the Kingdom of Kongo, with which it soon developed a rapport. During his 1485-86 expedition, Cão continued to Cape Cross, in present-day Namibia, near the Tropic of Capricorn.
In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, proving false the view that had existed since Ptolemy that the Indian Ocean was land-locked. Simultaneously Pêro da Covilhã, traveling secretly overland, had reached Ethiopia, suggesting that a sea route to the Indies would soon be forthcoming.
As the Portuguese explored the coastlines of Africa, they left behind a series of padrões, stone crosses engraved with the Portuguese coat of arms marking their claims, and built forts and trading posts. From these bases, they engaged profitably in the slave and gold trades. Portugal enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the African seaborne slave trade for over a century, importing around 800 slaves annually. Most were brought to the Portuguese capital Lisbon, where it is estimated black Africans came to constitute 10 per cent of the population.
Tordesilhas division of the world (1494)
In 1492 Christopher Columbus's discovery for Spain of the New World, which he believed to be Asia, led to disputes between the Spanish and Portuguese. These were eventually settled by the Treaty of Tordesilhas in 1494, which divided the world outside of Europe in an exclusive duopoly between the Portuguese and the Spanish along a north-south meridian 370 leagues, or 970 miles (1,560 km), west of the Cape Verde islands. However, as it was not possible at the time to correctly measure longitude, the exact boundary was disputed by the two countries until 1777.
The completion of these negotiations with Spain is one of several reasons proposed by historians for why it took nine years for the Portuguese to follow up on Dias's voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, though it has also been speculated that other voyages were in fact taking place in secret during this time. Whether or not this was the case, the long-standing Portuguese goal of finding a sea route to Asia was finally achieved in a ground-breaking voyage commanded by Vasco da Gama.
Portuguese enter the Indian Ocean (1497–1542)
The squadron of Vasco da Gama left Portugal in 1497, rounded the Cape and continued along the coast of East Africa, where a local pilot was brought on board who guided them across the Indian Ocean, reaching Calicut (the capital of the native kingdom ruled by Zamorins) in south-western India in May 1498. The second voyage to India was dispatched in 1500 under Pedro Álvares Cabral. While following the same south-westerly route as Gama across the Atlantic Ocean, Cabral made landfall on the Brazilian coast. This was probably an accidental discovery, but it has been speculated that the Portuguese secretly knew of Brazil's existence and that it lay on their side of the Tordesillas line. Cabral recommended to the Portuguese King that the land be settled, and two follow up voyages were sent in 1501 and 1503. The land was found to be abundant in pau-brasil, or brazilwood, from which it later inherited its name, but the failure to find gold or silver meant that for the time being Portuguese efforts were concentrated on India.
Profiting from the rivalry between the ruler of Kochi and the Zamorin of Calicut, the Portuguese were well received and seen as allies, getting a permit to build a fort (Fort Manuel) and a trading post that were the first European settlement in India. In 1505 King Manuel I of Portugal appointed Francisco de Almeida first Viceroy of Portuguese India, establishing the Portuguese government in the east. That year the Portuguese conquered Kannur where they founded St. Angelo Fort. Lourenço de Almeida arrived in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), where he discovered the source of cinnamon.
In 1506 a Portuguese fleet under the command of Tristão da Cunha and Afonso de Albuquerque, conquered Socotra at the entrance of the Red Sea and Muscat in 1507, having failed to conquer Ormuz, following a strategy intended to close the entrances to the Indian Ocean. That same year were built fortresses in the Island of Mozambique and Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. Madagascar was partly explored by Tristão da Cunha and in the same year Mauritius was discovered.
In 1509, the Portuguese won the sea Battle of Diu against the combined forces of the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II, Sultan of Gujarat, Mamlûk Sultan of Cairo, Zamorin of Kozhikode, Venetian Republic, and Ragusan Republic (Dubrovnik). The Portuguese victory was critical for its strategy of control of the Indian Sea.
Turks and Egyptians withdrew their navies from India, leaving the seas to the Portuguese, setting its trade dominance for almost a century, and greatly assisting the growth of the Portuguese Empire. It also marked the beginning of the European colonial dominance in Asia. A second Battle of Diu in 1538 finally ended Ottoman ambitions in India and confirmed Portuguese hegemony in the Indian Ocean.
Under the government of Albuquerque, Goa was taken from the Bijapur sultanate in 1510 with the help of Hindu privateer Timoji. Coveted for being the best port in the region, mainly for the commerce of Arabian horses for the Deccan sultanates, it allowed to move on from the guest stay in Kochi.
Despite constant attacks, it became the headquarters of the Portuguese state in India, with its conquest triggering compliance of neighbor kingdoms: Gujarat and Calicut sent embassies, offering alliances and grants to fortify. Albuquerque began that year in Goa the first Portuguese mint in India, taking the opportunity to announce the achievement.
Initially king Manuel I and his council in Lisbon had tried to distribute power in the Indian Ocean, creating three areas of jurisdiction: Albuquerque was sent to the Red Sea, Diogo Lopes de Sequeira to South-east Asia, seeking an agreement with the Sultan of Malacca, and Jorge de Aguiar followed by Duarte de Lemos were sent to the area between the Cape of Good Hope and Gujarat. However, such posts were centralized by Afonso de Albuquerque and remained so in subsequent ruling.
Southeast Asia and the spice trade
The fabled Spice Islands were always on the imagination of Europe since ancient times. Even in the 2nd century AD, Malaya was known, by Ptolemy the Greek geographer, who labelled it 'Aurea Chersonesus' and who said that it was believed the fabled area was rich in an abundance of gold. Indian traders for a long time referred to the region, as "Land of Gold" and made regular visits to Malaya in search of the precious metal, tin and sweet scented jungle woods. The Portuguese Empire opened up the discovery for the West, of the fabled Spice Islands of Malaysia in 1511 at Malacca, Indonesia and the Indies, under the explorations of Antonio de Abreu and Vice-Commander Francisco Serrão.
In 1505, Portuguese traders reached Ceylon; their initial forays were against Kotte, which enjoyed a lucrative monopoly on the spice trade, which was also of interest to the Portuguese. Although Cankili I of Jaffna initially resisted contact with them, the Jaffna kingdom came to the attention of Portuguese officials soon after for their resistance to missionary activities as well as logistical reasons due to its proximity with Trincomalee harbour among other reasons. In April 1511 Albuquerque sailed to Malacca in Malaysia, the most important east point in the trade network where Malay met Gujarati, Chinese, Japanese, Javanese, Bengali, Persian and Arabic traders, among others, described by Tomé Pires as of invaluable richness.
The peninsula of Malacca became then the strategic base for Portuguese trade expansion with China and South-east Asia. To defend the city was erected a strong gate which, called the A Famosa, still remains. Knowing of Siamese ambitions over Malacca, Albuquerque sent immediately Duarte Fernandes on a diplomatic mission to the kingdom of Siam (modern Thailand), where he was the first European to arrive, establishing amicable relations between both kingdoms. Portugal discovered Thailand and establish Western trade with the nation. The Dutch arrived in Thailand in 1607 and the British in 1612 to establish factories and, in 1662 the French arrived in Thailand and with them, the rest of Europe. This era was a culturally exciting time in history, where cultures that had been separated by huge expanses of ocean suddenly had a mechanism of learning about each other.
The Portuguese empire pushed further south, and proceeded to make discovery of Timor and, New Guinea in 1512. This was followed by Jorge de Meneses in 1526, who named New Guinea, the "Island of the Papua".
Departing from Malacca as early as 1513, Jorge de Albuquerque, a Portuguese commanding officer in Malacca, sent his subordinate Jorge Álvares to sail to China on a ship loaded with pepper from Sumatra. After sailing many miles across the sea, Jorge Alvares and his crew dropped anchor in Tamao, an island located at the mouth of the Pearl River. This was to be the first time the Portuguese set foot in China, the mythical "Middle Kingdom" where they erected a stone Padrao. Jorge is the first European to reach Chinese by sea, while the Romans where the first through the overland route via Asia-Minor). and, the first European to discover Hong Kong. In 1514, Afonso de Albuquerque, the Viceroy of the Estado da India dispatched Italian, Rafael Perestrello to sail to China in order to pioneer European trade relations with the nation. Rafael Perestrelo was quoted as saying, "being a very good and honest people, the Chinese hope to make friends with the Portuguese.". In spite of initial harmony and excitement between the two cultures, difficulties began to arise shortly afterwards, including misunderstanding, bigotry, even hostility. Portugal's efforts in establishing ties with China however paid off, and eventually, the Portuguese colonized Macau, and established the first European permanent settlement on Chinese soil, which served as a permanent colonial base, and maintained it for nearly 500 years, ending when Portugal handed over Macau to China (1557-1999).
The Portuguese operations in Asia did not go unnoticed, and it did not take long for Magellan to arrive in the region only several years later and discover the Philippines for Spain, which in turn gave rise to the Papal Treaty of Zaragoza. In 1525, after Fernão de Magalhães's expedition (1519–1522), Spain under Charles V sent an expedition to colonize the Moluccas islands, claiming that they were in his zone of the Treaty of Tordesillas, since there was not a set limit to the east. García Jofre de Loaísa expedition reached the Moluccas, docking at Tidore. The conflict with the Portuguese already established in nearby Ternate was inevitable, starting nearly a decade of skirmishes. An agreement was reached only with the Treaty of Zaragoza, attributing the Moluccas to Portugal and the Philippines to Spain.
The Portuguese empire expanded into the Persian Gulf as Portugal contested control of the spice trade with the Ottoman Empire. In 1515, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered the Huwala state of Hormuz at the head of the Persian Gulf, establishing it as a vassal state. Aden, however, resisted Albuquerque's expedition in that same year, and another attempt by Albuquerque's successor Lopo Soares de Albergaria in 1516, before capturing Bahrain in 1521, when a force led by António Correia defeated the Jabrid King, Muqrin ibn Zamil. In a shifting series of alliances, the Portuguese dominated much of the southern Persian Gulf for the next hundred years. With the regular maritime route linking Lisbon to Goa since 1497, the island of Mozambique became a strategic port, and there was built Fort São Sebastião and an hospital. In the Azores, the Islands Armada protected the ships en route to Lisbon.
In 1534, Gujarat was occupied by the Mughals and the Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat was forced to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese, establishing an alliance to regain the country, giving in exchange Daman, Diu, Mumbai and Bassein. In 1538 the fortress of Diu is again surrounded by Ottoman ships. Another siege failed in 1546 putting an end to the Ottoman ambitions, confirming the Portuguese hegemony in the region. However, the Ottomans held steadfast to the Red Sea and fought off attacks from the Portuguese in the northern region of the Persian Gulf in 1546 and 1552. Both entities ultimately had to respect each others' sphere of influence, albeit unofficially.
In 1542, Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier arrived in Goa at the service of King John III of Portugal, in charge of an Apostolic Nunciature. At the same time Francisco Zeimoto and other traders arrived in Japan for the first time. According to Fernão Mendes Pinto, who claimed to be in this journey, they arrived at Tanegashima, where the locals were impressed by firearms, that would be immediately made by the Japanese on a large scale.
The Portuguese explorer Simão de Andrade started bad relations with China, due to his pirate activities, raiding Chinese shipping, attacking a Chinese official and kidnappings of Chinese. He based himself at Tamao island in a fort. The Chinese claimed that Simão kidnapped Chinese boys and girls to be molested and cannibalized. As a result, the Chinese posted an edict banning men with caucasian features from entering Canton. 
The Chinese responded by killing multiple Portuguese in Canton and drove the Portuguese back to sea. After the Sultan of Bintan detained several Portuguese under Tomás Pires, the Chinese then executed 23 Portuguese and threw the rest into prison where they resided in squalid, sometimes fatal conditions. The Chinese then massacred Portuguese who resided at Ningbo and Fujian trading posts in 1545 and 1549, due to extensive and damaging raids by the Portuguese along the coast, which irritated the Chinese. As Portugal increased its presence along China's coast, they began trading in slaves. Many Chinese slaves were sold to Portugal. Since the 16th century Chinese slaves existed in Portugal, most of them were Chinese children and a large amount were shipped to the Indies.
Chinese prisoners were sent to Portugal, where they were sold as slaves, they were prized and regarded better than moorish and black slaves. The first known visit of a Chinese person to Europe dates to 1540, when a Chinese scholar, enslaved during one of several Portuguese raids somewhere on the southern China coast, was brought to Portugal. Purchased by João de Barros, he worked with the Portuguese historian on translating Chinese texts into Portuguese.
Mocquet noted that a lot of the Chinese in Portuguese India were slaves from Macau, since the Portuguese preferred Chinese as domestic household workers. Goa, Manila, and Malacca received slaves from Macau. Many different peoples were found in Goa, among the slaves, including those from Macau.
Most slaves from Macau sent to Goa or Malacca were children. The King of Portugal in 1624 issued a decree forbidding people to take Chinese as slaves. A 1571 law was passed by Portugal banning people from having Chinese slaves.
The Portuguese viceroy of Goa in 1595 issued a law which punished Portuguese who traded in Chinese slaves by making them pay 1,000 cruzados/ducats if they bought or sold Chinese.
After he issued a decree stating that Chinese were lodging complaints to him about Chinese slaves being traded by many Macau Portuguese either to be sold abroad or to be used domestically as servants. The price for one girl or boy from China was 15 or 20 ducats.
In 1557 the Chinese authorities allowed the Portuguese to settle in Macau through an annual payment, creating a warehouse in the triangular trade between China, Japan and Europe. In 1570 the Portuguese bought a Japanese port where they founded the city of Nagasaki, thus creating a trading center for many years was the port from Japan to the world.
A first expedition, led by Viceroy Dom Constantino de Bragança in 1560, failed to subdue Jaffna, but captured Mannar Island. By June 1619, despite sharp resistance from Cankili II of Jaffna, there were two Portuguese expeditions. The first expedition was a naval expedition that was repulsed by the Malabari corsairs. The second was led by Phillippe de Oliveira and his land army of 5000, which defeated Cankili and conquered Jaffna, strengthening Portuguese control of shipping routes through the Palk Strait.
Portugal established trading ports at far-flung locations like Goa, Ormuz, Malacca, Kochi, the Maluku Islands, Macau, and Nagasaki. Guarding its trade from both European and Asian competitors, Portugal dominated not only the trade between Asia and Europe, but also much of the trade between different regions of Asia, such as India, Indonesia, China, and Japan. Jesuit missionaries, such as the Basque Francis Xavier, followed the Portuguese to spread Roman Catholic Christianity to Asia with mixed success.
Colonization efforts in the Americas
Within a few years after Cabral arrived from Brazil, competition came along by means of France. In 1503 an expedition under the command of Gonçalo Coelho reported French raids on the Brazilian coasts, and explorer Binot Paulmier de Gonneville traded for brazilwood after making contact in southern Brazil a year later. Expeditions sponsored by Francis I along the North American coast was in direct violation of the Treaty of Tordesilhas. By 1531 the French had stationed a trading post off of an island on the Brazilian coast.
The increase in brazilwood smuggling from the French led João III to press an effort to establish effective occupation of the territory. In 1531, a royal expedition led by Martim Afonso de Sousa and his brother Pero Lopes went to patrol the whole Brazilian coast, banish the French and create some of the first colonial towns, among them São Vicente, in 1532. Sousa returned to Lisbon a year later to become governor of India and never returned to Brazil. The French attacks did cease to an extent after a retaliation that led to the Portuguese paying the French to stop attacking Portuguese ships throughout the Atlantic, but would continue to be a problem well into the 1560s.
Upon de Sousa's arrival and success, fifteen latitudinal tracts, theoretically to span from the coast to the Tordesillas limit, were decreed by João III on 28 September 1532. These vast lands were donated in form of hereditary captaincies (Capitanias Hereditárias) to grantees rich enough to support settlement, as had been done successfully in Madeira and Cape Verde islands. Each captain-major was to build settlements, grant allotments and administer justice, being responsible for developing and taking the costs of colonization, although not being the owner: he could transmit it to offspring, but not sell it. Twelve recipients came from Portuguese gentry who become prominent in Africa and India and senior officials of the court, such as João de Barros.
Of the fifteen original captaincies, only two, Pernambuco and São Vicente, prospered. Both dedicated to the crop of sugar cane and the settlers managed to maintain alliances with Native Americans. The rise of the sugar industry came about due to Crown taking the easiest sources of profit (brazilwood, spices, etc.) that led the settlers to create new revenue. The establishment of the sugar cane industry demanded intensive labor which would be met with native American and, later, African slaves. Deeming the capitanias system ineffective, João III decided to centralize the government of the colony, in order to "give help and assistance" to grantees. In 1548 he created the first General Government, sending in Tomé de Sousa as first governor and selecting a capital at the Bay of All Saints, making it at the captaincy of Bahia.
Tomé de Sousa built the capital of Brazil, Salvador at the Bay of All Saints in 1549. Along de Sousa's 1000 man expedition were soldiers, workers, and six Jesuits led by Manuel da Nóbrega. The Jesuits would have an essential role in the colonization of Brazil, including São Vicente, and São Paulo, the latter which Nóbrega co-founded. Along with the Jesuit missions later came disease among the natives, among them plague and smallpox. Subsequently, the French would resettle in Portuguese territory at Guanabara Bay which would be called France Antarctique. While a Portuguese ambassador was sent to Paris to report of the French intrusion, Joao III appointed Mem de Sá as new Brazilian governor general, and Sá leaves for Brazil in 1557. By 1560, Sá and his forces dispel the combined Huguenot, Scottish Calvinist, and slave forces from France Antarctique, but leave survivors after burning their fortifications and villages. These survivors would settle Gloria Bay, Flamengo Beach and Parapapuan, with the assistance of the Tamoio natives.
The Tamoio were allied with the French since the settlement of France Antarctique and despite the French loss in 1560, the Tamoio were still a threat. The Tamoio launched two attacks in 1561 and 1564 (the latter event was assisting the French), and were nearly successful with each. By this time period, Manuel de Nóbrega, along with fellow Jesuit José de Anchieta took part as members of attacks on the Tamoios and as spies for their resources. From 1565 through 1567 Mem de Sá and his forces eventually destroyed France Antarctique at Guanabara Bay. He and his nephew, Estácio de Sá, then established the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1567, after Mem de Sá proclaimed the area "São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro" in 1565. By 1575, the Tamoios had been subdued and essentially were extinct, and by 1580 the government became more of a ouvidor general rather than the ouvidores.
Iberian Union and rivalry with the Protestant Powers (1580–1663)
In 1580, King Philip II of Spain invaded Portugal after a crisis of succession brought about by King Sebastian of Portugal's death during a disastrous Portuguese attack on Alcácer Quibir in Morocco in 1578. At the Cortes of Tomar in 1581, Philip was crowned Philip I of Portugal, uniting the two crowns and overseas empires under Spanish Habsburg rule in a dynastic Iberian Union. At Tomar, Philip promised to keep the empires legally distinct, leaving the administration of the Portuguese Empire to Portuguese nationals, with a Viceroy of Portugal in Lisbon seeing to his interests. Philip even had the capital moved to Lisbon for a two-year period (1581–83) due to it being the most important city in the Iberian peninsula. All the Portuguese colonies accepted the new state of affairs except for the Azores, which held out for António, a Portuguese rival claimant to the throne who had garnered the support of Catherine de Medici of France in exchange for the promise to cede Brazil. Spanish forces eventually captured the islands in 1583.
The union with Spain entailed both benefits and drawbacks as far as the Portuguese Empire was concerned. Spanish imperial trade networks were opened to Portuguese merchants, which was particularly lucrative for Portuguese slave traders who could now sell slaves in Spanish America at a higher price than could be fetched in Brazil. In addition to the access with Spanish asientos, the Portuguese were able to solve their bullion shortage issues with access to silver mining in Peru and Mexico.
The Tordesillas boundary between Spanish and Portuguese control in South America was then increasingly ignored by the Portuguese, who pressed beyond it into the heart of Brazil, allowing to expand the territory to the west. Exploratory missions were carried out both ordered by the government, the "entradas" (entries), and by private initiative, the "bandeiras" (flags), by the "bandeirantes". These expeditions lasted for years venturing into unmapped regions, initially to capture natives and force them into slavery, and later focusing on finding gold, silver and diamond mines.
However, the union meant that Spain dragged Portugal into its conflicts with England, France and the Dutch Republic, countries which were beginning to establish their own overseas empires. The primary threat came from the Dutch, who had been engaged in a struggle for independence against Spain since 1568. In 1581 the Seven Provinces gained independence from the Habsburg rule, leading Philip II to prohibit commerce with Dutch ships, including in Brazil where Dutch had invested large sums in financing sugar production.
In 1592, during the war with Spain, an English fleet captured a large Portuguese carrack off the Azores, the Madre de Deus, which was loaded with 900 tons of merchandise from India and China estimated at half a million pounds (nearly half the size of English Treasury at the time). This foretaste of the riches of the East galvanized English interest in the region. That same year, Cornelis de Houtman was sent by Dutch merchants to Lisbon, to gather as much information as he could about the Spice Islands.
The Dutch eventually realized the importance of Goa in breaking the Portuguese empire in the Asia. In 1595, merchant and explorer Jan Huyghen van Linschoten (1563 – 8 February 1611). The Dutch secretary of the Archbishop left the Netherlands in 1580 and after living in Portugal for some time, and one of his half-brothers got him a position as secretary to the newly appointed Portuguese Archbishop of Goa, Dominican João Vicente da Fonseca. He and the catholic Archbishop left Portugal on April 8, 1583. He spent about five years in Goa as Secretary to the Archbishop, and during that time he avidly collected information, and made copies of many secret maps and roteiros / portolans (navigation charts) and acquired other sensitive commercial information. Learning that the Archbishop had died in 1587, during a journey back to Portugal, he managed to leave Goa late in 1588 on the Santa Cruz. Arriving back home early in September 1592, the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claes first published the Reys-gheschrift, in 1595; the text was then included in the larger volume published in 1596 under the title "Itinerario: voyage, ofte schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien, 1579-1592, Volume 2, Issue 2, by Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Linschoten-Vereeniging (Hague, Netherlands)". In this volume, which was soon translated into a variety of languages, in Europe, Linschoten shared the top-secret information he had access to in Goa, thereby giving Dutch (and other) merchants in Europe information on Portuguese sea-routes to Asia. This included vast directions on how to navigate between Portugal and the East Indies and to Japan. Dutch and English interest fed on new information led to a movement of commercial expansion, and the foundation of the English East India Company, in 1600, and Dutch East India Company (VOC), in 1602, allowing the entry in of chartered companies in the so-called East Indies.
The widely distributed publication, also includes a short description of Korea, the first ever published.
From the design of ships, Dutch navigators took all their means from the Portuguese. Nautical guidebooks and maps the Dutch copied in large-scale, and many Dutch learned and perfected the craft including their techniques of high-seas navigation and naval warfare while they sailed on Portuguese vessels. While on Goa-bound ships, Dutch sailors took the details of the ocean routes, until India was in sight of the Dutch and English. The most famous Dutch treatise on navigation, Simon Stevin's, 'The Havenvinding' (1599) describes the techniques for nearing Portuguese-controlled coasts of America, Africa and Asia. Considerable amounts of Dutch capital (for the building of their overseas empire) originated with the Portuguese or their traditional business partners. In the Indian Ocean, the Dutch copied the Portuguese safe conduct (cartz) system and their construction methods of fortified trading posts. They borrowed more than navigational expertise, accounting practices, naval tactics and commercial strategies, and capital from the Portuguese, they also took from the Portuguese their right to rule.
The Dutch took their fight overseas attacking Spanish and Portuguese colonies, beginning the Dutch Portuguese War which would last for over sixty years (1602–1663), while other European nations such as Protestant England, also assisted the Dutch Empire in the war. The Dutch–Portuguese War began with an attack on São Tomé e Príncipe.
Imperial recovery and decline (1663–1825)
The loss of colonies was one of the reasons that contributed to the end of the personal union with Spain. In 1640 John IV was proclaimed King of Portugal and the Portuguese Restoration War began. In 1661 the Portuguese offered Bombay and Tangier to England as part of a dowry, and over the next hundred years the English gradually became the dominant trader in India, gradually excluding the trade of other powers. In 1668 Spain recognized the end of the Iberian Union and in exchange Portugal ceded Ceuta to the Spanish crown.
At the end of confrontations with the Dutch, Portugal was able to cling onto Goa and several minor bases in India, and managed to regain territories in Brazil and Africa, but lost forever to prominence in Asia as trade was diverted through increasing numbers of English, Dutch and French trading posts. Thus, throughout the century, Brazil gained increasing importance to the empire, which exported Brazilwood and sugar.
From 1693 the focus was in a Brazilian region that become known as Minas Gerais, where gold was discovered. Major discoveries of gold and, later, diamonds in Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso and Goiás led to a "gold rush", with a large influx of migrants. The village founded in 1696, became the new economic center of the empire, with rapid settlement and some conflicts. This gold cycle led to the creation of an internal market and attracted a large number of immigrants. The population grew 750% between 1650 to 1770 and quickly became the largest in Brazil, contributing to the settlement of the interior. 78% of this population being of black people and mestizos, and also New Christians from the north of Portugal and the Azores and Madeira, who settled as important trade agents in the villages around Ouro Preto and Mariana.
The gold rush considerably increased the revenue of the Portuguese crown, who charged a fifth of all the ore mined, or the "fifth". Diversion and smuggling were frequent, so a whole set of bureaucratic controls were instituted. The gold production would have increased from 2 tonnes per year in 1701 to 14 tonnes in the 1750s but then began to decline sharply until exhausting before the end of the century. Gold surpassed the earnings of other products from the colonies and this trade brought prosperity to Rio de Janeiro and the kingdom.
In 1755 Lisbon suffered a catastrophic earthquake, which together with a subsequent tsunami killed between 40,000-60,000 people out of a population of 275,000. This sharply checked Portuguese colonial ambitions in the late 18th century.
Unlike Spain, Portugal did not divide its colonial territory in America. The captaincies created there were subordinated to a centralized administration in Salvador which reported directly to the Crown in Lisbon. The 18th century was marked by increasing centralization of royal power throughout the Portuguese empire, with the power of the Jesuits, protective of the Indians against slavery, brutally suppressed by the Marquis of Pombal, leading to the dissolution of this religious order under ground Portuguese in 1759. In 1774, the two states of Brazil and the Grão-Pará and Maranhão merged into a single administrative entity.
The settlers began to express some dissatisfaction with the authorities in Lisbon as the decline of mining made it difficult to pay the taxes demanded by the Crown. In 1789, when it announced a tax of 20% of the gold removed, revolt broke out in Ouro Preto.
Encouraged by the example of the United States of America, which had won its independence from Britain (1776–1781), the attempt centred in the colonial province of Minas Gerais was made in 1789 to achieve the same objective. However, the Inconfidência Mineira failed, the leaders arrested and, of the participants of the insurrections the one of lowest social position, Tiradentes, was hanged.
In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal, and Dom João, Prince Regent in place of his mother, Dona Maria I, ordered the transfer of the royal court to Brazil. In 1815 Brazil was elevated to the status of Kingdom, the Portuguese state officially becoming the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves), and the capital was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, the only instance of a European country being ruled from one of its colonies. There was also the election of Brazilian representatives to the Cortes Constitucionais Portuguesas (Portuguese Constitutional Courts), the Parliament that assembled in Lisbon in the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1820.
Although the royal family returned to Portugal in 1821, the interlude led to a growing desire for independence amongst Brazilians. In 1822, the son of Dom João VI, then prince-regent Dom Pedro I, proclaimed the independence of Brazil on September 7, 1822, and was crowned Emperor of the new Empire of Brazil. Unlike the Spanish colonies of South America, Brazil's independence was achieved without significant bloodshed.
Consolidation in Africa (1822–1951)
At the height of European colonialism in the 19th century, Portugal had lost its territory in South America and all but a few bases in Asia. During this phase, Portuguese colonialism focused on expanding its outposts in Africa into nation-sized territories to compete with other European powers there. Portugal pressed into the hinterland of Angola and Mozambique, and explorers Serpa Pinto, Hermenegildo Capelo and Roberto Ivens were among the first Europeans to cross Africa west to east.
The project to connect the two colonies, the Pink Map, was the Portuguese main objective in the 1880s. However, the idea was unacceptable to the British, who had their own aspirations of contiguous British territory running from Cairo to Cape Town. The British Ultimatum of 1890 was imposed upon King Carlos I of Portugal and the Pink Map came to an end. The King's reaction to the ultimatum was exploited by republicans. In 1908 King Carlos and Prince Luís Filipe were murdered in Lisbon. Luís Filipe's brother, Manuel, became King Manuel II of Portugal. Two years later Portugal became a republic.
In 1914, the German Empire formulated plans to usurp Angola from Portuguese control. Skirmishes between Portuguese and German soldiers ensued, resulting in reinforcements being sent from the mainland. The main objective of these soldiers was to recapture the Kionga Triangle, the territory having been subjugated by Germany. In 1916, after Portugal interned German ships in Lisbon, Germany declared war on Portugal. Portugal followed suit, thus entering World War I. Early in the war, Portugal was involved mainly in supplying the Allies positioned in France. In 1916, there was only one attack on the Portuguese territory, in Madeira. In 1917, one of the actions taken by Portugal was to assist England in its timber industry, imperative to the war effort. Along with the Canadian Forestry Corps, Portuguese personnel established logging infrastructure in an area now referred to as the "Portuguese Fireplace". Throughout the year, Portugal dispatched contingents of troops to the Allied front in France. Midway in the year, Portugal suffered its first WWI casualty. Meanwhile, in Portuguese Africa, Portugal and the British fought numerous battles against the Germans in both Mozambique and Angola. Later in the year, U-boats entered Portuguese waters again and, once more, attacked Madeira, and sunk multiple Portuguese ships. Through the beginning of 1918, Portugal continued to fight along the Allied front against Germany, including participation in the infamous Battle of La Lys. As autumn approached, Germany found success in both Portuguese Africa, and against Portuguese vessels, sinking multiple ships. The Portuguese contingents grow discernibly weary of battle, and so their involvement becomes limited. Then, after nearly three years of fighting (from a Portuguese perspective), WWI ends, with an armistice being signed by Germany. At the Versailles Conference, Portugal regained control of all its lost territory, however it did not leave uti possidetis. Portuguese gains included Kionga, a port city in modern-day Tanzania.
Turmoil and Decolonization (1951–1999)
In the wake of World War II, decolonization movements began to gain momentum in the empires of the European powers. The ensuing Cold War also created instabilities among Portuguese overseas populations, as the United States and Soviet Union vied to increase their spheres of influence. Following the granting of independence to India by Britain in 1947, and the decision by France to allow its enclaves in India to be incorporated into the newly independent nation, pressure was placed on Portugal to do the same. This was resisted by António de Oliveira Salazar, who had taken power in 1933. Salazar rebuffed a request in 1950 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, to return the enclaves, viewing them as integral parts of Portugal. The following year, the Portuguese constitution was amended to change the status of the colonies to overseas provinces. In 1954, a local uprising resulted in the overthrow of the Portuguese authorities in the Indian enclave of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The existence of the remaining Portuguese colonies in India became increasingly untenable and Nehru enjoyed the support of almost all the Indian domestic political parties as well as the Soviet Union and its allies. In 1961, shortly after an uprising against the Portuguese in Angola, Nehru ordered the Indian Army in to Goa, Daman and Diu, which were quickly captured and formally annexed the following year. Salazar refused to recognize the transfer of sovereignty, believing the territories to be merely occupied. The Province of Goa continued to be represented in the Portuguese National Assembly until 1974.
The outbreak of violence in February 1961 in Angola was the beginning of the end of Portugal's empire in Africa. Portuguese army officers in Angola held the view that it would be incapable of dealing militarily with an outbreak of guerilla warfare and therefore that negotiations should begin with the independence movements. However, Salazar publicly stated his determination to keep the empire intact, and by the end of the year, 50,000 troops had been stationed there. The same year, the tiny Portuguese fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá in Ouidah, a remnant of the West African slave trade, was annexed by the new government of Dahomey (now Benin) that had gained its independence from France. Unrest spread from Angola to Guinea, which rebelled in 1963, and Mozambique in 1964.
The rise of Soviet influence among the Movimento das Forças Armadas's military (MFA) and working class, and the cost and unpopularity of the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974), in which Portugal resisted to the emerging nationalist guerrilla movements in some of its African territories, eventually led to the collapse of the Estado Novo regime in 1974. Known as the "Carnation Revolution", one of the first acts of the MFA-led government which then came into power – the National Salvation Junta (Junta de Salvação Nacional) – was to end the wars and negotiate Portuguese withdrawal from its African colonies. These events prompted a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens from Portugal's African territories (mostly from Angola and Mozambique), creating over a million Portuguese refugees – the retornados. Portugal's new ruling authorities also recognized Goa and other Portuguese India's territories invaded by India's military forces, as Indian territories. Benin's claims over São João Baptista de Ajudá, were also accepted by the Portuguese, and diplomatic relations were restored with both India and Benin.
Civil wars in Angola and Mozambique promptly broke out, with incoming communist governments formed by the former rebels (and backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other communist countries) fighting against insurgent groups supported by nations like Zaire, South Africa, and the United States.
East Timor also declared independence in 1975 by making an exodus of many Portuguese refugees to Portugal, which was also known as retornados. However, East Timor was almost immediately invaded by neighbouring Indonesia, which later occupied up until 1999. A United Nations-sponsored referendum of that year resulted in a majority of East Timorese choosing independence, which was finally achieved in 2002.
The transfer of the sovereignty of Macau to China on December 20, 1999, under the terms of an agreement negotiated between People's Republic of China and Portugal twelve years earlier marked the end of the Portuguese overseas empire. Nevertheless, the Portuguese language remains co-official with Cantonese Chinese in Macau.
Seven of the former colonies of Portugal have Portuguese as their official language. Together with Portugal, they are now members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, which when combined total 10,742,000 km², or 7.2% of the Earth's landmass (148 939 063 km²). Equatorial Guinea, which adopted Portuguese as its third official language in 2007, is currently an associate observer of the CPLP, along with Mauritius and Senegal. Moreover, twelve candidate countries or regions have applied for membership to the CPLP and are awaiting approval.
Today, Portuguese is one of the world's major languages, ranked sixth overall with approximately 240 million speakers around the globe. It is the third most spoken language in the Americas, mainly due to Brazil, although there are also significant communities of lusophones in nations such as Canada, the USA and Venezuela. In addition, there are numerous Portuguese-based creole languages, including the one utilized by the Kristang people in Malacca.
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- Media related to Portuguese Empire at Wikimedia Commons
- Portuguese Empire Timeline
- Dutch Portuguese Colonial History Dutch Portuguese Colonial History: history of the Portuguese and the Dutch in Ceylon, India, Malacca, Bengal, Formosa, Africa, Brazil. Language Heritage, lists of remains, maps.
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