Synopses & Reviews
This study of the Portuguese commercial empire in India during the Hapsburg years is the most serious attempt yet made to analyze the old Portuguese pepper trade-from the planting of orchards inthe foothills of Malabar and Kanara to the unloading of spice-laden carracks in Lisbon. Equally significant, it is the first book to explain how and why the Portuguese were not able to modernize their trade system when faced with crisisconditions.
The distress that confronted the Portuguese following the arrival of the Dutch and English, seen here as partly military but fundamentally economic and organizational, reached its decisivestage in the 1620s and early 1630s. The Portuguese attempted to combat the crisis by creating their own India Company. The story of that company and the reasons for its failure are thoroughly investigated as Disney looks at itsantecedents, composition, activities, and weaknesses-The author has unearthed much new statistical material from widely scattered manuscript sources and in doing so sheds new light on related problems and issues, such as institutionalrelations between Spain and Portugal, the careers of individual merchants, and the nature and difficulties of viceregal government in Portuguese India.
The book is both comprehensive and succinct: it is indispensable reading for anyone who wishes to learn more about just how the great estate was created in Latin America.
It is admirably clear, thorough in its use of archival sources (both Parisian and provincial), frank about the limitations of evidence, and relaxed in tone. There is no reason to suppose that we will ever needanother book on the subject.
Table of Contents
1. The Portuguese in Kanara and Malabar
2. Goa and Portuguese Trade
3. The Structure of the Pepper Trade
4. Crisis in the Early Seventeenth Century
5. A Company Conceived
6. The Company Born
7. The Goa-Lisbon Trade under Company Administration
8. Company Shipping
9. Failure and Compromise