A History of Spain and Portugal
Vol. 2
Stanley G. Payne

Chapter 18
Portugal in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

[390] The early seventeenth century was a time of recuperation for Portugal. Union of the Hispanic crowns provided greater security and eased the financial strain, while offering Portuguese merchants major commercial opportunities in Spanish America that they were not slow to take advantage of. The Moroccan crusade was definitively abandoned, and Atlantic commerce increased considerably, particularly with Brazil, which emerged as the most important and lucrative of Portugal's overseas possessions. The hypertrophy of Lisbon was reversed, at least during the years 1580-1620, when lower taxes encouraged expanded use of the smaller ports, particularly Porto and Viana. The narrow oligarchy of the sixteenth century no longer dominated trade to the extent it had, and the restrictive effects of commercial monopoly were lessened, enabling the mercantile middle class to increase slightly over a period of several generations. Terms of peasant agriculture did not change, but rural depopulation was halted and domestic production began to expand once more.

The first half of the seventeenth century was, however, a time of severe stress and decline for Portugal's eastern thalassocracy. Clear-minded advisers had long recommended against trying to maintain so far-flung a network. As early as 1520, an elderly Vasco da Gama had urged contraction and reconcentration of the Portuguese position in the East. The Portuguese had never had a strong base in the Moluccas, [391] the most important source of spices, and the loss of Ternate in 1576 further weakened their position. Henceforth, operations in the Moluccas were carried out on a strictly commercial basis, on the sufferance of or in alliance with native rulers, of whom Portuguese traders were respectful. Though the spice trade continued a slow increase, the margin of profit steadily decreased. The balance was restored in part by the expansion of far eastern (Chinese and Japanese) trade, but profit from the thalassocracy tended more and more to remain among the Portuguese in Asia as a result of their intra-Asian activities. Even during the late sixteenth century, however, Portuguese expansion did not completely cease. Control of Ceylon was won mostly after 1597, though it would last less than half a century.

Throughout the sixteenth century, the eastern empire had managed to weather heavy assaults from Asian powers, particularly in India and the Persian Gulf, and to survive largely intact. The great losses of the seventeenth century were suffered not at the hands of Asians but at those of Portugal's aggressive and dynamic western rival Holland. The initial hostilities with Holland were brought on by the policies of the Spanish Habsburg crown, starting with the decision of Felipe II in 1594 to crack down on Dutch commerce, leading to the seizure of some fifty Dutch ships in Lisbon harbor. It is unlikely that armed conflict with Holland could have been avoided for long, however, for the Portuguese thalassocracy lay directly in the path of Dutch overseas expansion. Holland's superiority came from the great increase in her naval strength. The Portuguese fleet did not decline greatly--it was only slightly smaller and weaker in 1600 than in 1500--but it fell behind technologically and could in no way equal the pace of Dutch expansion. The Dutch were able to draw on naval resources and seamen from northern Germany and Scandinavia, while the Portuguese position was further weakened by attempts of English expeditions to build positions of their own in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Portuguese naval construction at home concentrated on unwieldy carracks and galleons, and was slow to adapt to the new heavily armed yet swift and maneuverable frigate of the Dutch or English type. In Asia, on the other hand, the Portuguese made the mistake of overadapting to local conditions of sailing and fighting. They relied to a great extent on small, maneuverable, lightly gunned, oar-driven fustas and fragatas, effective enough against Asian foes but hopelessly outclassed by the more powerful Dutch and English vessels. Thus to a certain degree, their two rivals enjoyed some of the same maritime and military advantages against the Portuguese that the Portuguese had held a century earlier against the Asians.

[392] According to a tabulation of 1627, there were about 5,000 Portuguese fighting men in Asia, some 3,500 of whom were stationed in the fleets of the west Indian coast. Only 300 manned the Persian Gulf fleet and only 200 the Malaccan. Most local stations had to depend on their own militia of settlers, half-castes, and armed slaves. There were permanent garrisons of troops only in Ceylon (800 men), Malacca (100) and Moçambique (100) on the east African coast, with presumably some sort of unspecified force at Macau. At the same time there were large numbers of Portuguese deserters acting independently for their own profit. According to one estimate, these freebooters numbered 3,000 in Bengal (western India), 1,500 in Siam, and 500 at Macassar in the Celebes. Portuguese mercenaries also turned up in China and were employed by the emperor to help resist the Manchus. The numerical weakness of Portuguese military units was compounded by their general disorganization and indiscipline. The Portuguese had never developed the systematic professional organization achieved by the Spanish tercios.

Though the ten-year truce between the Dutch and the Habsburg crown never applied to Asian waters, the principal phase of struggle with the Dutch did not begin until the truce ended in 1619. Development of the main Dutch base at Djakarta on Java threatened the key Portuguese position of Malacca (near Singapore), and Portuguese operations in the Moluccas were eliminated almost altogether. Simultaneously, Dutch incursions greatly reduced the trade with China and Japan, though a Dutch attempt to seize Macau in 1622 was dealt a crushing defeat. That same year, however, an Anglo-Persian alliance resulted in the capture of Ormuz, the Portuguese base in the Persian Gulf. Between 1629 and 1636, nearly one hundred and fifty ships were lost to the Dutch in Asian waters alone, and this was far more than the Portuguese capacity to replace. The trough of Portugal's eastern trade occurred between 1625 and 1640; in only one of those years were more than three ships dispatched to India. Goa was under Dutch blockade from 1637 to 1644, and the Dutch conquest of Ceylon began in 1638. All Portuguese traders and missionaries were expelled from Japan in 1639, bringing the once highly profitable Japanese trade to a complete end, and Malacca was finally lost to the Dutch in 1641.

It was already abundantly clear that the future of overseas commerce and expansion for Portugal lay in Brazil, not in Asia, but the struggle to maintain the eastern empire diverted vital supplies and manpower from Portuguese America. A crucial thirty-year struggle for control of Brazil and Angola was waged with Holland from 1624 to 1654. The ultimate defeat of the Dutch in those two regions was due more to the determination and resilience of Portuguese colonial [393] society than to assistance from the homeland. The Spanish government of Felipe IV took the initiative in organizing several relief expeditions to Brazil, yet did not succeed in getting wealthy and influential Portuguese to cooperate fully in the expedition of 1630 to rescue Pernambuco. By the 1630s, the Portuguese elite was disillusioned by association with the Spanish Habsburg crown and resisted participation in Spanish-led projects.

Portuguese Independence Restored

The Spanish crown did not completely fulfill its pledge of 1581 to respect the integrity of Portuguese institutions, but the essentials of the agreement were honored. Though a few small Spanish garrisons were established in Portugal, there was never any general military occupation. After leaving Lisbon in 1583, Felipe II never returned to Portugal, and Felipe III visited the kingdom only on one brief occasion during a reign of twenty-three years. Portuguese interests were less respected during the latter reign, especially during the domination of the Duke of Lerma, and there was a tendency to name more and more Spanish officials to offices in Portugal.

In general, however, the benefits of the union of crowns at first considerably outweighed the disadvantages. The Portuguese were never required to contribute to the Spanish treasury, while the Spanish crown helped to bolster Portugal's Atlantic defenses. Little could be done to halt the decline of Portuguese Asia, but the Portuguese themselves recognized that that was neither the responsibility of the Spanish crown nor within the scope of its resources, while the Atlantic route to Brazil had become much more valuable. Access to the Spanish American economy alone was worth a great deal to enterprising Portuguese. Wealthy cristão-novo financiers found a major new field for activity in the Spanish money market, and many of them gravitated to Madrid. (1) Positive aspects of Habsburg rule included a new compilation of Portuguese law, the Ordenaçoes Filipinas, completed in 1602, and a number of efforts to stimulate agriculture. Several decrees were issued to limit hunting and certain abuses of senhorio, to encourage local officials to distribute idle land for cultivation, to protect peasants in debt, and to give greater legal power to village councils.

Discontent with Habsburg government became severe only after the reign of Felipe IV was well under way, and stemmed from three [394] sources: losses from the Dutch invasion of Brazil, efforts to exclude Portuguese from the Spanish-American economy, and attempts by the crown to levy new taxes for imperial defense. The Spanish crown tried to give the defense of Brazil priority equal to that of its own territories, but after the main Dutch invasion of Pernambuco began in 1630, lacked the resources to drive them out. A large joint Spanish-Portuguese expedition under a Portuguese commander was defeated by a much smaller Dutch force off the Brazilian coast in January 1640. Retention and development of Brazil was now much more important than what remained of Portuguese Asia, and it became increasingly clear that the Spanish crown would be hard put to defend Portuguese America.

The Spanish imperial economy, which had absorbed many Portuguese immigrants, went into a phase of seemingly irreversible decline after the 1620s, and by the end of that decade the Spanish government had begun to take measures to exclude Portuguese from Spanish America. Thus a major source of opportunity was closing. The Portuguese peasantry and lower classes had never felt enthusiasm for the Habsburg dynasty. A new pro-Habsburg upper aristocracy had been created by the awarding of a whole group of new titles since 1580, but the lesser nobility became increasingly disillusioned. Under the Habsburgs, they were becoming a parochial rural class, living beside the peasants on small estates, lacking major imperial posts, yet still fed on a culture of chivalry and adventure in which they could no longer participate.

During the 1620s, the crown raised a number of forced loans in Lisbon, provoking discontent among the economic elite. Olivares subsequently endeavored to make the Portuguese pay increased taxes for their own defense. In 1637 agricultural prices took a downturn throughout Portugal and the peasantry faced a new crisis. When further excises were levied, a popular revolt broke out at Evora that spread through most of the Alemtejo and the Algarve, with repercussions in the northwest. The tax revolt did not lead to widespread violence and was soon put down by Castilian troops, but it was an indication of popular feeling. At that time the leading descendant of the Portuguese royal family, D. João, eighth duke of Bragança, was acclaimed as a national leader, raising the possibility of a revolt for independence. This was encouraged by messages from the French crown in 1638 promising strong French military assistance.

The moment of decision came two years later, in 1640, when Olivares applied heavy pressure for Portuguese assistance in putting down the revolt that had broken out at the opposite corner of the peninsula, in Catalonia. Some 6,000 troops had already been impressed from Portugal, and D. João of Bragança, as leading aristocrat [395] of the kingdom and nominal commander of Portuguese military forces, was ordered to Spain with a new levy of Portuguese troops. A conspiracy to revolt was already under way among a group of lesser nobles and some state officials, encouraged in part by fear that if the upper classes did not act, popular discontent would get out of hand. Grandson of a daughter of João III, and the greatest landholder in Portugal, with 80,000 peasants on his Alemtejo estates, João of Bragança was the natural leader of Portuguese society. Fearing that Olivares's summons was merely a means to gain control of him, the conspirators acclaimed D. João king of Portugal on December 1, 1640. The revolt was justified as a return to established law, contravened by the centralizing measures of the reign of Felipe IV. The moment was propitious: not only were Spanish land forces tied down in Catalonia, but Spanish naval strength had been disastrously weakened by defeats at the hands of the Dutch in 1639-1640.

Dom João had shown considerable caution, and even reluctance, in the development of the conspiracy, but his prudence and calculation served him well in the difficult years ahead, The restored monarchy made no effort to change anything in the structure of Portuguese government and society, ratifying the position of all officials willing to serve the independent Portuguese crown. The traditional Cortes was summoned in 1641 to recognize the king as João IV and provide financial support for the struggle. The restoration was popular with all social classes and was strongly supported by the most influential of the clergy, the Jesuits, who were of prime importance in winning support for the independence movement in Portuguese Brazil. There was, however, a significant pro-Spanish faction among the upper aristocracy, church hierarchy, and coastal bourgeoisie.

One hope in the minds of the Portuguese rebels was that a break with the Spanish crown would make it possible to achieve peace with Holland, and even to restore many of the losses overseas. The Dutch refused to return any conquests in the East, but a ten-year truce was concluded in 1641, restoring Dutch trading privileges in Portugal and taking effect in Asian territory one year later. The Dutch also obtained a virtual monopoly of foreign shipping to Portugal and Brazil.

After independence, the French provided very little of the help they had led the Portuguese conspirators to expect. Moreover, it proved impossible to establish friendly relations with the papacy, which was strongly under Spanish influence. Though most sees in Portugal were or became vacant during the next quarter-century, the papacy did not officially receive a Portuguese ambassador until 1669.

During the first years, independence was maintained more through Spanish weakness than Portuguese strength. Until 1652 the Habsburg crown had to concentrate on the Catalan revolt and engaged in no [396] more than border harassment on the Portuguese frontier. It relied primarily on internal subversion in Portugal, which first took form in a pro-Habsburg conspiracy of 1641 among aristocrats and upper clergy (as well as some merchants and financiers whose main business lay with the Spanish empire). This was crushed, but several years later there was a revival of activity by the Portuguese Inquisition, very possibly due to Spanish encouragement, against the wealthy cristãonovo merchants and financiers whose economic assistance was vital to the Portuguese resistance. The only direct attempt at invasion, however, a comparatively small Spanish expedition of 1644, was beaten back.

João IV proved a capable and prudent king. He maintained an active diplomacy, making the most of Spain's hostile relations with the other powers of western Europe. His government husbanded Portugal's limited resources and built a modest military strength, while it conciliated all sectors of Portuguese society through a balanced domestic policy. João IV called five Cortes assemblies during his sixteen-year reign (1640-1656), and never tried to raise new moneys without the approval of the third estate. He was not a bold and inspiring king, but as one English visitor put it, "an honest plain man faring as homely as any Farmer." (2) Though at one point he considered abdication in favor of his son, his shrewdness and persistence were essential to the new Portuguese state. His personal qualities were not unlike those of the founder of the second (Aviz) dynasty, João I.

The success of the Portuguese restoration may be contrasted with the failure of the Catalan revolt of 1640-1652. The Catalans had about as much sense of uniqueness and "nationality" as the Portuguese. and differed even more from Castile in their values, social structure, and psychology. A crucial difference lay in economic base--Portugal could rely to some extent on Brazilian resources, but Catalonia had no empire or overseas resources and was not economically self-sufficient. Another advantage for Portugal was that it had a traditional independent political structure and an acknowledged leadership, for only sixty years had passed since the loss of independence. Moreover, the Catalans were handicapped by the fact that their society was more European, political, and constitutionally minded than that of either Castile or Portugal. Under their restored system of semi-absolute monarchy, the Portuguese had no equivalent of the elaborate constitutional system of Catalonia, making it easier to channel civic concerns and direct government. Geography also aided Portugal. The Castilian crown could not afford an independent Catalonia under French protection and concentrated on the conquest of [397] that principality. Nor did the French in the long run stiffen Catalan resistance, for their intervention ultimately had a divisive and weakening effect on Catalan society. Portugal was better situated to go its own way, bolstered by its tradition of independent monarchy and isolated by Castile from direct French assistance but also from the negative effects of French intervention. The Catalan resistance became revolutionary and could not hope for a general rising of all the lands of the traditional crown of Aragón, while the Portuguese restoration rested upon a completely traditional system. Finally, the very cost of the long struggle to subdue Catalonia nearly exhausted the already deteriorating resources of the Spanish crown, leaving little with which to conquer Portugal.

During the second half of the reign of João IV, the Portuguese seized the initiative against the Dutch who still held territory in Brazil and Angola. The struggle was begun by Portuguese Brazilians who rebelled against Dutch control of Pernambuco in 1645, when Holland and Portugal were nominally at peace. Three years later, the Portuguese managed to regain Luanda, the focus of the Angolan slave trade, which had been seized by the Dutch in 1641. Resources were then concentrated on the struggle in Brazil, whence the Dutch were finally expelled in 1654.

Thus despite renewed Dutch naval assaults, the Portuguese position in the Atlantic held fast, but further severe losses were suffered in the Indian Ocean. Throughout this period, Portuguese bases in the East were intermittently attacked or harassed by a wide variety of native Asian and east African foes, and the Dutch proved relentless. They gained full control of Ceylon in 1655 and during the next eight years took over most Portuguese positions on the Malabar coast of India. The new Arab state of Oman seized Muscat, the last important Portuguese possession in the Persian Gulf, in 1650, and raided other Portuguese strongholds in the west Indian Ocean. The main pressure was ended when peace was finally made with Holland in 1663. Dutch recognition of Portugal's full possession of Brazil was gained after paying an indemnity, but at the same time the Portuguese crown had to acknowledge loss of nearly all its Asian possessions. There remained only Macau and Goa -- the latter but a shadow of its former self -- together with Timor and a few smaller stations. Even so, Portuguese traders in Asia had in the few decades before managed to expand their commercial position in Siam, Indo-China, and the Celebes.

The bases of what was to become the historic Anglo-Portuguese alliance were laid by the commercial treaty of 1654 and the dynastic alliance between Portugal and England negotiated in 1661. The latter provided for the marriage of D. Catarina, daughter of the late João IV, to the newly crowned Charles II of England, together with the [398] payment of a sizable dowry and the cession to England of the Portuguese coastal enclaves of Tangier and Bombay. In return, the Bragana dynasty gained the prestige of arranging an interdynastic match of the first order, and more important, the two crowns signed a mutual defense pact providing Portugal with a formal ally in the still undecided struggle with Spain. The Anglo-Portuguese association remained a perpetual alliance ever after that date, giving Britain useful commercial opportunities and strategic bases, while providing Portugal and its empire with the shelter of what was soon to become the strongest fleet in the world. This became a significant factor in sustaining Portuguese independence.

Pressure from the Habsburg crown had increased after the end of the campaign in Catalonia (1652) and the signing of the peace with France (1659). A minor invasion attempt was thrown back in 1653, as was a slightly stronger one five years later. The most serious effort was made by a Spanish invading force of more than 10,000 men, under D. Juan José, that captured Evora in 1663. Assisted by foreign experts, the Portuguese crown had built a home army of 15,000, including 1,500 elite English regulars and 5,000 cavalry, 20 percent of which were British or other foreign forces. These troops defeated the Spanish in several pitched battles between 1663 and 1665, with the English brigade winning special distinction. By this time, the Spanish forces were made up of German and Italian mercenaries or local militia and were nothing like the conquering elite of a century earlier. After the defeat of a final Spanish invasion attempt in 1665 and the death of Felipe IV that same year, peace was eventually signed in 1668. The Habsburg crown recognized the full independence of Portugal and in the following year the papacy also resumed official relations. Carlos II continued to call himself king of Spain even after Portuguese independence, so the Portuguese in turn began to drop the traditional custom of calling themselves, along with the other inhabitants of the peninsula, Spanish. As late as 1712, however, in negotiations for the Treaty of Utrecht, Portuguese representatives insisted that the monarchy in Madrid be referred to simply as Castile and not as Spain.

The Reigns of Afonso VI (1656-1667) and Pedro II (1667-1706)

The eldest surviving son of the first Bragança was a mentally deficient youth named Afonso, the nature of whose malady was uncertain. For [399] six years after the death of João IV the kingdom was governed by a regency under Afonso's mother, the queen-widow Luisa de Guzmán, daughter of the powerful Spanish noble the duke of Medina-Sidonia. Afonso's only interests were in the brawls provoked by his personal gang of ruffians in the streets of Lisbon. When his favorite was arrested by the regency in 1662, however, one of his courtiers, the young Conde de Castelo Melhor, encouraged D. Afonso to seize the powers of government directly. Since Afonso VI could not rule, the Portuguese state was dominated for the next five years by Castelo Melhor. Ironically, it was during these years that the crown's military leaders won the decisive battles in the long struggle with Castile, bringing the mentally incompetent king the nickname Afonso the Victorious. The downfall of Castelo Melhor and his sovereign occurred in 1667, when the favorite negotiated a marriage for Afonso with a French princess, Marie Françoise of Savoy. D. Afonso was sexually impotent, and the ambitious Marie Françoise, once installed as queen, soon took direction of government. Together with Afonso's younger brother Pedro she forced the dismissal of Castelo Melhor and the personal retirement of Afonso. Pedro took power as regent and heir to the throne; in the following year the marriage to Afonso was annulled and Pedro and Marie Françoise were wed. Afonso lived the remaining fifteen years of his life in confinement.

In 1668, a convocation of Cortes recognized D. Pedro as regent and heir to the throne. Pedro II signed the final peace with Spain, governed for fifteen years as regent, and after the death of Afonso for twenty-three years in his own right. His long reign was a time of modest economic expansion and of recuperation from the restoration struggle. It also saw the rise of the Brazilian economy to a place of overwhelming importance in Portuguese commerce and taxation. The crown was still quite poor when Pedro inherited it, but receipts increased by the middle of his reign. After 1680, he ceased altogether to summon the Portuguese Cortes, save for a perfunctory assembly in 1697 to recognize the next heir to the throne. That meeting agreed that the crown could make whatever laws it desired to legitimize the succession, and the traditional Portuguese Cortes was never called again. The eighteenth-century system of authoritarian monarchy had taken form. Henceforth the only contact that the Portuguese state of the Old Regime had with representative assemblies were its relations with the guild representatives in the municipal councils of the larger towns, themselves in large measure controlled or manipulated by royal administrators.

[400] The Portuguese Economy in the Seventeenth Century

The recuperation of Portuguese society and economy in the early seventeenth century was attested by steady growth of the population, which reached 1,800,000 by the time of the restoration in 1640, and grew to more than 2,100,000 by 1730 and nearly 3,000,000 by 1800. All the while there was a small but steady emigration to Brazil, which had a European population of approximately 30,000 in 1600, and contingents were still sent to man the praças (strongholds) remaining on the Asian coast.

In economic perspective, it was the upswing of Portugal's Atlantic commerce during the 1620's and l630s, at the very time that the major Spanish decline had set in, that helped to pull Portuguese interests apart from those of Spain and provide an economic base for the restoration. The cyclical phases of overseas commerce moved approximately as follows:
1570-1600 expansion
1600-1620 depression
1620-1640 expansion
1640-1670 depression
1690-1760 expansion
1760-1780 depression
1780-1805 expansion


All in all, the century from 1570 to 1670 was a time of relative commerical strength for Portugal, more stable than most of the sixteenth century had been. Domestic exports were still primarily the traditional items: salt from Setúbal, wine, oil, and fruit. Lisbon remained the chief port, and after 1620 once more began to grow at the expense of some of the smaller port cities. Its major trade, however, was in sugar and tobacco (and to a much lesser degree wood), re-exported from Brazil and Madeira. The production of sugar and tobacco in Spanish, French, and English America cut heavily into the Luso-Brazilian market from about 1670 and forced prices downward.

The commercial depression of the 1670s led to the first serious government attempt in Portuguese history to develop domestic manufactures. Heretofore the state and the upper level of the economy had lived largely off overseas trade. There had been scarcely any per capita growth in domestic artisan manufactures for two hundred years. The modest expansion of the country's agriculture in the seventeenth century scarcely kept up with the population growth, and Portugal normally had to import 15 percent or more of its grain. In [401] general, the domestic economy was nearly static, a part of the backward agrarian belt of southern and eastern Europe.

Since the early part of the century, there had been growing discussion among critics and economic writers--the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish arbitristas, or reform writers--about the need to concentrate on the development of the domestic economy. They advocated a policy of fixaçao (concentrating at home) rather than transporte (overseas commerce). Various plans were formulated for supporting agriculture, setting up peasant colonies, and stimulating manufactures. The Conde de Ericeira was made supervisor of finance in 1675 and dominated economic policy for the next fifteen years. It was clear that the kingdom could no longer pay for the volume of imports to which it had grown accustomed in recent decades. Under the stimulus of Ericeira-"the Portuguese Colbert"--a series of decrees tried to control imports and nonproductive spending. Measures were taken to stimulate silk, woolen, and other cloth manufacture, and there was some effort at tariff protection. The achievements were limited, and after 1690, when profits from overseas commerce began to rise once more, the attempt to stimulate domestic manufactures for the most part lapsed.

The main factor in the transformation of the commercial economy at the end of the seventeenth century was the development of Brazilian gold production. The arrival of gold in Lisbon reached the following annual levels:
1699 725kgs.
1701 1,785
1714 9,000
1720 25,000
1725 20,000
The early eighteenth century Portuguese economy was thus keyed to the balance of trade provided by Brazilian gold. It was this reliance on transporte, rather than the supposed domination of Portuguese commerce by Britain, that guaranteed the protracted anemia of domestic production. With the peasant economy completely undeveloped and the upper classes relying upon imports paid for by the profits of the colonial economy, manufactures were persistently ignored.

Commercial ties with England became particularly close after the treaty of 1654 that placed a tariff maximum of 23 percent on all English exports to Portugal and gave the English merchant colony in Portugal extraterritorial religious rights, though neither provision was fully honored by the Portuguese. After 1670, England increasingly [402] dominated the Portuguese market, and in turn, the export of Douro wines, which had increased since the early seventeenth century, rose erratically but significantly. The nominal landmark of Anglo-Portuguese commercial relations, the famous Methuen treaty of 1703, provided for a preferential duty protecting Portuguese wine from foreign competition in the English market, in return for a Portuguese guarantee of removal of all restrictions on the importation of English textiles. Eleven percent of England's exports already went to Portugal, and the Methuen treaty had no revolutionary consequences, merely ratifying officially a well-established trend. French and Dutch textiles were normally admitted to Portugal on terms equal to those of Britain, and British dominance was due mainly to superior quality, volume, and financing.

State income in Portugal came primarily from the levies on colonial trade, and agrarian exports continued to be quite low during the seventeenth century. During the commercial depression of the 1670s and 1680s, the crown's receipts were sometimes 50 percent lower than those of the early years of the century. Brazilian gold created a marked upswing after 1700; by 1715, state income was nearly twice the level of 1680. This revolutionized the finances of the crown. The restored monarchy had been a poor regime, barely able to keep its head above water; for a few short years in the early eighteenth century the crown enjoyed a comfortable surplus, leading to great sumptuary spending but also to the rehabilitation of public institutions.

As in the sixteenth century, the expanded overseas activity and increased income of the state and upper classes in the early eighteenth century had little effect on the condition of the lower classes. The rural standard of living was scarcely above subsistence level, little changed from the late Middle Ages. Though seigneurial domain was extended in Portugal as in Spain during the early modern period, this had less effect on the terms of agriculture in Portugal. The long-term family rental and share-crop farm were still characteristic of most of the country and provided rural stability, even though it was one of stagnation and grinding poverty. Portuguese society remained surprisingly cohesive during the seventeenth century; indeed, Portugal was perhaps the only country in Europe not to undergo at least a few notable social revolts or internal upheavals. The traditional, paternalistic society showed little uneasiness, only quiescent and accepted misery. Even in Castile there were occasional bread riots, while in Catalonia for some time there was widespread banditry. The only Portuguese equivalent was an increase in the number of town beggars.

[403] Remnants of the Thalassocracy

Portuguese power in southern Asia and southeast Africa continued to decline in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The chief pressure came, not from European competitors, but from the resurgence of native Muslim states. The foothold in the Celebes was lost in 1667. The island fortress of Moçambique, with its profitable trade in slaves and ivory, was retained, but the other east African stronghold of Mombaça was finally lost to the Arabs in 1698 and was regained only briefly in 1728-1729. Portuguese commercial influence on the west coast of India, vastly diminished in the seventeenth century, declined further. Some territory surrounding Goa was acquired between 1763 and 1783, but nearly all the remaining outlying ports were lost. Commercial competition from the French and English grew more severe as the latter commenced their domination of the subcontinent. The trading stations and fortresses on the Angolan coast of west Africa became increasingly valuable, however, as the volume of the slave trade to Brazil mounted.

The Reign of João V (1706-1750)

The reign of João V bears modest comparison with that of Manuel I at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Whereas Manuel the Fortunate reaped all the advantages of the establishment of the eastern thalassocracy, João V ruled during the heyday of the Atlantic Brazilian economy and its gold production. Unlike his father, Pedro II, and his grandfather, João IV, João V was not severely limited by fiscal restraints. He was one of the best-educated princes of his time, devoted to pomp and luxury but also generous in charities.

When his reign began, Portugal was already deeply involved in the Spanish Succession War. This was the only major entanglement of the kingdom between the restoration and the Napoleonic struggles, and was the result of British influence and the offer of two small slices of Spanish territory in return for support of the pro-Habsburg, anti-Bourbon forces (see chapter sixteen above). With British assistance, Portugal withstood a limited Bourbon offensive in 1704, then participated modestly in successful campaigns by the allies in Spain between 1705 and 1707. After that the Portuguese front in western Spain lapsed into stalemate. Portugal's anti-Bourbon allies failed to provide all the assistance promised, and peace was made on the basis of the status quo ante in 1713. During this conflict the Portuguese army of some 20,000 was transformed from the old proto-Spanish tercio organization of the seventeenth century into the more modern French [404] regimental system, but altogether it was a very costly war from which Portugal derived little or no benefit.

For the remainder of the century the Portuguese crown carefully stayed out of continental conflicts. During 1716-1717 the revitalized Portuguese navy answered a call from the papacy to defend the Adriatic, and defeated a Turkish fleet. The only other military engagement of João V's reign was the colonial struggle with Spain over Uruguay in 1735-1737. Portugal's distant but axial geographic position, together with its alliance with Europe's premier maritime power, enabled it to avoid major involvement.

João V spent enormous sums on construction, the chief example of which was the luxurious palace, monastery, and library of Mafra, north of Lisbon. This pinnacle of Portuguese baroque architecture was constructed at great cost between 1715 and 1735. The crown also spent sums to beautify Lisbon, built a new library for Coimbra, founded a Royal Academy of History and an Academy of Portugal for artists. Hospitals and medical studies were supported and encouraged, and Lisbon enjoyed the finest opera in Europe outside Italy. The reign brought the flowering of the Portuguese baroque, but the emphasis of the time was on foreign, especially Italian, art and led to few striking achievements in Portuguese arts and letters. Its style of splendor was in imitation of the forms of the French monarchy, common to many European dynasties of that period.

This reign coincided with half a century of relative prosperity for the economy as a whole. Some decline in Brazilian gold production was balanced by the export of diamonds after 1728. The rate of emigration to Portuguese America increased. Between 1720 and 1740 there was a rise in domestic manufactures, stimulated by royal support for textiles, paper, and weapons and by the military and commercial uncertainties of the period.

In administration and government, the crown continued the centralizing policy of the Portuguese state. In Portugal, as in Spain, the district military commands set up during the Succession War were made the framework of regional administration. During the middle years of the reign an effort was made to reform and improve some of the central organs of government. In the 1740s, however, the declining vigor of João V led to a relaxation of governmental activity and the Portuguese state system began to atrophy. The corporative, aristocratic institutions of local government, little altered for two or three centuries, were unequal to the tasks of a larger, more complex society. At the top, the centralized monarchist administration was overloaded with tasks and lacked the imagination, flexibility, and leadership to face new problems.

[405] Pombal

João V was succeeded in 1750 by his son José 1 (1750-1777), an indolent prince already of middle age who had had no experience in government and lacked talent or energy for it. The Portuguese state was facing crisis arising from the paralysis of government in the last decade of D. João's reign, coupled with a decline in trade revenues. As a consequence the new king appointed several new ministers whose only common denominator was their dissatisfaction with the breakdown of the state machinery and their determination to institute administrative and economic reforms. Chief of these was a fifty-one-year-old sometime diplomat of petty fidalgo background, Sebastiao José de Carvalho e Melo, later created Marques de Pombal in 1770. He soon became the strong man of D. José's reign, relieving a disconcerted king of the main responsibilites of government. Becoming the secretary of state, he firmly took control of affairs at the time of the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and with royal assent served as minister-dictator for the balance of the reign. He became far and away the dominant figure in eighteenth-century Portuguese history.

Pombal's ideas and goals were formed largely from observation of contemporary west and central European policies of enlightened despotism and mercantilism, and from some of the values and laic, anticlerical attitudes of the west European enlightenment. There has been much debate over the relative "enlightenment" of Pombal's government, but of its despotism there was never any doubt. It was more authoritarian than any of its contemporaries in western and central Europe, not excluding the Prussia of Frederick the Great. The Cortes had made no decisions of consequence since 1668 and was never summoned during the eighteenth century. Juridically, there were few checks to royal authority as exercised by Pombal.

Pombal's regime may be divided into four phases: 1)1750-1760, devoted to government and mercantile reforms; 2)1760-1763, dealing primarily with the military challenge of the last phase of the Seven Years' War and the colonial struggle with Spain; 3)1764-1770, facing a commercial and fiscal crisis, devoted to mercantile and tax reforms; and 4)1770-1777, concerned mainly with educational reform and the stimulation of domestic manufactures.

Under Pombal the government moved to reform administration, tighten the legal system, and make tax collection more efficient. Strong measures were taken to cut down on contraband, particularly in gold, which had swollen to great proportions in the 1740s. The production of Brazilian gold was declining, and it was all the more important to see that the full royal share was received. Private export of gold was forbidden. Direct steps were taken to reduce the powers [406] of influential church institutions and the most privileged groups of nobility. In 1751, the scope of the Inquisition was drastically curbed, and six years later the jurisdiction of the Jesuits in Brazil and their influence at court were both eliminated. The prerogatives of influential aristocratic families, such as the Aveiro and Tavora, who were realizing great profits from their connections with foreign trade, were sharply reduced.

Pombal took charge of the reconstruction of Lisbon after the great earthquake of 1755, which claimed more than 5,000 lives and shook the optimism of rationalist thought in France and England. From his efforts emerged a spacious, elegant, modern district in the center of the Portuguese capital.

Pombal installed a concentrated state mercantile policy designed to squeeze out or control less effective small merchants. It established a series of monopolistic trading associations for both colonial and domestic exports. Between 1753 and 1759, three new trading associations were formed for sections of the Brazilian trade, one for Asia, one for whaling, and another to monopolize the export of Douro wines. Wine prices had been falling as a result of overproduction in Portugal and superior organization among British traders. The aim of the new mercantile companies was to regulate and make more profitable the sale of wine, tobacco, and diamonds. In 1756, the government established an official Junta do Comércio.

Pombal fully recognized the importance of Brazil, which benefited from his rule. Trade restrictions were relaxed somewhat and colonial production, notably shipbuilding, was encouraged. Emigration to Brazil, on the increase since the turn of the century, rose more rapidly and averaged nearly 1,000 per year, mostly from the poor, already overpopulated Azores.

Pombal's policies eventually elicited a strong reaction. In 1757, there was a five-day riot in Porto against the new wine company monopoly. Important local merchants and officials were involved in exciting the disorders, which were firmly suppressed with nine executions and seventy-eight penal deportations. The following year, 1758, resentment among elements of the nobility connected with the colonial trade, whose privileges had been sharply reduced, led to a confusing attempt on the life of the king, which in turn brought the prosecution of several of their number and execution of a leading aristocrat. The crackdown on opposition was climaxed by the decree of 1759 dissolving the Jesuit order in Portugal and expelling its members.

Pombal pursued a foreign policy of general neutrality, but identified Portugal closely with British commercial interests. After the signing of the third Family Compact bringing the Spanish Bourbon [407] crown in on the French side of the Seven Years' War in 1762, Portugal found itself involved on the side of the British, anti-Bourbon alliance in defense of its territorial aims on the Brazilian frontier. Pombal detested war, considered the military wasteful, and had neglected the armed forces during the previous decade. Weakened military resources led to several anxious moments before the crown was extricated by the general peace of 1763.

After the close of the war, Portugal was faced with the most severe colonial commercial slump of the century. Brazilian exports declined 40 percent during the decade 1760-1770. Suffering from foreign competition, sugar sales dropped by the same percentage between 1760 and 1776. Brazilian gold production decreased steadily during the second half of the century. Royal gold revenues declined from an annual average of 125.4 arrobas (an arroba equals 33 lbs.) in 1736-1751, to an average of 86.1 in 1752-1787, and then to 44.3 in 1788-1801. (The actual ratio of decline was proportionately greater, since Pombal made collection of the royal shares more efficient.) During the decade of the 1760s, imports from Britain, Portugal's main trading partner, dropped 50 percent. By 1770, ship movements in Lisbon had diminished by one-third from the level of 1750. In the general depression, the Portuguese African slave trade also dwindled. The trough in the decline of state revenues occurred between 1768 and 1771. and the government's response was a series of moves to improve tax collection and reorganize and stimulate the most lucrative exports. Parallel to this, a central tax and treasury system had finally been established in 1766.

By 1769, the commercial depression was so severe that it led to the only major attempt by the Portuguese government during the eighteenth century to develop domestic manufactures. What no longer could be imported would have to be produced at home. Between 1769 and 1778, the Junta do Comércio set up seventy-one manufacturing establishments (60 percent of them in Lisbon and Porto) to make such products as textiles, ceramics, clothing, paper, and glass, and to refine sugar.

The economic policies of the Pombal regime achieved no more than a temporary and limited success. They were often poorly conceived and uncoordinated, and tended toward overregulation. Most of the commercial companies fared badly, but some increase was made in domestic production. The greatest increase came in textiles such as cottons and silks, enabling Portugal very briefly to become self-sufficient in clothing and a few other goods that had been imported.

With this came such positive accomplishments as the weakening of the color bar in the colonies during these years. Pombal abolished [408] slavery in metropolitan Portugal in 1773, ending the import of slaves for household service and the cultivation of estates. Equally notable were the educational reforms of the l770s. In 1772, the curriculum and organization of the University of Coimbra was modernized for the first time in two and a half centuries, introducing more study of the natural and physical sciences. A series of new schools for the upper and middle classes were established, with greater emphasis on education in the vernacular. During the second half of the century there was an increase in middle-class literacy and in the production of trained clerical and administrative personnel, but the peasantry and urban lower classes remained almost completely untouched, and had if anything an even lower literacy level than in Spain. Moreover, Pombal suppressed discussion of the liberal political ideas of the English and French enlightenment and established a government censorship board in 1768.

In 1774 Pombal reached the age of seventy-five, but had no thought of relinquishing power and even planned to remain in control after the death of José I, whose health was much more delicate than his. He had grown increasingly arbitrary and did not blanch at the arrest and torture of innocent suspects. He had become the most hated figure in Portuguese government since Leonor Teles four centuries earlier--indeed, perhaps the most hated in Portuguese history. Despite widespread opposition among all social classes, he remained omnipotent under the Portuguese system of authoritarian monarchy so long as he enjoyed royal favor. When José I died in 1777 and was succeeded by his daughter Maria I, there occurred the viradeira (upset). The new queen accepted Pombal's resignation and released 800 political prisoners from jail. The seventy-eight-year old despot was then arrested, brought to public trial, and finally allowed to live out his few remaining years in disgrace on a rural estate.

The government of Pombal has provoked much controversy in both historiography and political polemics. His rule cannot, on balance, be termed a success even with respect to his own chosen goals. He did shake up and reform the government and made it more efficient, as well as reforming elite education and to some extent stimulating economic activity. Yet it is doubtful that the slender margin of accomplishment was sufficient to justify the harshness of his rule. Portuguese society was affected little by it all; only administrative efficiency showed a significant improvement. But by 1777, the state treasury was disastrously in debt and the navy in decay.


The religious orthodoxy of Portuguese Catholic society and its general influence over Portuguese culture were scarcely changed from the [409] fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Church-state relations, however, had become much more strained. After the restoration in 1640, much of the Portuguese Catholic hierarchy remained pro-Habsburg. The papacy did not officially recognize the new dynasty until 1669 and did not grant its blessing to the filling of many new vacancies in the Portuguese episcopate until then. Aside from several prelates who participated in anti-Bragança conspiracies, the sharpest antagonism within the Portuguese church came from the administrators of the Inquisition, who renewed an all-out campaign against wealthy cristão-novo merchants. Since the latter's mercantile and financial resources were indispensable for Portuguese commerce and military strength, the crown exempted the wealth of cristãos-novos from confiscation. Hostility remained intense between João IV and the inquisitors, who posthumously excommunicated him after his death in 1656. Persecution of the cristãos-novos was then resumed, and continued intermittently for more than a century.

By the eighteenth century the landed wealth of the Portuguese church was apparently proportionately greater than that of the Spanish church, amounting to nearly one-third of the cultivated soil in the kingdom. There was one cleric for every thirty-six inhabitants--the highest ratio in Europe. The number of monastic establishments continued to increase, mounting from 396 in 1600 to approximately 450 in 1650 to 477 by 1739. In general, this reflected the same swelling of clerical ranks and increase in endowments that Spain had seen during the seventeenth-century, but in Portugal the process began earlier and did not start to reverse as early during the eighteenth century. Moreover, though the church was responsible for nearly all the charity in the kingdom, it did not use its resources for educational and cultural work to the same extent as in Spain.

The splendid and wasteful João V was very generous with church endowments, but eager to increase royal control over the church and hopeful of establishing a sort of Portuguese Gallicanism modelled on the royal domination of the church in France. This led to a major quarrel with the papacy in 1728-1730 that was finally settled by a new concordat in 1737. Thanks in part to the crown's generous contributions, the papacy recognized the right of royal padroado, or investiture, to all Portuguese sees; the nuncio to the crown as well as the patriarch of Lisbon were both raised to the rank of cardinal. During the late 1740's, as his health declined, João V became increasingly pious, and in the last years of the reign virtually turned the government over to clerics. His efforts toward caesaropapism thus ended in virtual, if temporary, theocracy.

The work of Portuguese missions in colonial areas continued fairly steadily, though no spectacular new triumphs were achieved. The [410] crown, however, preserved the right of padroado only in Brazil, losing it to the papacy in the Portuguese dioceses of Asia and Africa. The Jesuits remained the most active Portuguese missionaries, and suppression of the order by Pombal in 1759 was a serious blow to evangelism overseas. During the reign of Maria I in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, a sustained effort was made by the crown and church to expand once more the work of colonial missions.

If there was never any religious competition for Portuguese Catholicism, and the great mass of the population remained totally orthodox and devout (and highly superstitious), the eighteenth century was a time of growing latitude in practice for the upper classes. Indifference to religious norms was increasingly common among aristocracy and intellectuals. During his pleasure-centered earlier years, João V took at least one nun for a mistress. Since the seventeenth century the notion of seducing a nun had particularly inflamed the erotic imagination of the Portuguese (and to some extent, the Spanish) aristocracy. During the 1730s there were flagrant violations of discipline in some convents and monasteries, though conduct was tightened up somewhat after signing of the concordat of 1737.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, a mood of anticlericalism (though never of anti-Catholicism) had become widespread among politically reformist elements, and anticlericalism became official policy throughout the long dictatorship of Pombal, climaxed by the suppression of the Jesuit order in 1759. The Jesuits were particularly hated by anticlerical reformers for their widespread influence in education, missions, and among the upper classes and the Catholic courts of Europe. Pombal's act was subsequently emulated by the crowns of Spain and France, and during the commercial and fiscal crisis of the 1760s the Jesuits were made scapegoats for the problems of the kingdom. Their properties were confiscated and their remaining members in Portugal severely persecuted. In 1760, the papal nuncio was expelled from Lisbon, and relations were not satisfactorily reestablished for ten years. Pombal also restored the right of beneplácito regio by which the crown could censor church decisions and proclamations. Pombal had his own brother made a cardinal and turned the Inquisition into a mere royal tribunal. One of his great achievements was to put a final end to the persecution of cristãos-novos. He ordered all lists of cristãos-novos destroyed and, in 1773, abolished the statutes of limpeza de sangue, "purity of blood." This also reflected and encouraged a social change that was occurring in the eighteenth century: the influence of the nobility was declining while the independent strength of the upper middle class was slowly increasing.

[411] The Enlightenment in Portugal

The culture and ideas of the west European enlightenment first began to enter Portugal during the reign of Pedro II, and slowly gained influence until a measurable impact was achieved under Pombal. The third Conde de Ericeira, "the Portuguese Colbert," introduced an active mercantile policy, though subsequently largely ignored until Pombal, and his son led in introducing the norms of French artistic neoclassicism at the very end of the seventeenth century. During the eighteenth century, the trend in Portuguese art and literature was away from the baroque and toward French neoclassic standards. The reign of João V brought the founding of the academies of history and art and greater attention to the sciences. The strongly Castilian orientation of a century earlier was replaced by a mood of ever more intense cultural hostility toward Spain. Castilian-language culture came to be associated with all the retrograde aspects of Portuguese life and was considered an obstacle to modernization.

Concentration on foreign culture and ideas led toward estrangeiramento (foreignization), combatted, as in Spain, by the castiço supporters of native traditionalism. The greatest of estrangeirados was, of course, Pombal. Married to an Austrian wife, he derived many of his ideas from observations as ambassador in London and Vienna. Anticlericalism, along with the criticism of tradition, Aristotelianism, and superstitious practices gained the day among the cultural and political elite. The educational reforms of the 1770's and the founding of the Academy of Sciences in 1779 formed the apex of the Portuguese enlightenment. The vogue of French literature reached its height in the last decades of the century. Yet the influence of the west European enlightenment reached only a tiny few of the aristocracy and middle classes and was not diffused through society.


There were no major changes in the social and economic structure of Portuguese peasant agriculture during the eighteenth century, but it was a time of modest expansion and fairly steady price increases and also, to some extent, of improved conditions for the peasants. Terms of land tenure had changed comparatively little over three centuries. In the heavily populated northwest, most land was held under seigneuries by the nobility and the church. Despite the prevalence of seigneurial domain, peasant society remained quite stable because most land was worked under long-term emphyteutic arrangements. The Pombaline reforms were directed almost exclusively toward com-[412] merce and manufacture, largely ignoring agriculture. Nonetheless, several measures were taken by the crown in the second half of the century to encourage emphyteusis and protect renters.

The difference between the south and north--between the Minho at one extreme and the Alemtejo at the other--was altered little. In the south most of the land was held in large domains, especially by the church and the orders, but there were also significant tracts of town lands dating from the medieval concelhos. Large-scale cultivation was uncommon. Most of the large domains were rented to lavradores rendeiros, renter proprietors, who worked the smaller estates themselves or let plots to sharecroppers (seareiros). Approximately 75 percent of the peasants in the Alemtejo were day laborers, but emigration and the end of slavery in 1773 left a constant shortage of farm labor. Consequently agrarian laborers' wages were sometimes twice as high in the south as in the north, and despite their low status the rural proletariat of southern Portugal were not a rebellious class. They may have been relatively more prosperous in the late eighteenth century than a hundred years later.

In general, the process under way in the countryside of southern Portugal was the same as that of southern Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. Common lands were being divided up into private holdings by the more prosperous lavradores who dominated municipal government and subrented smaller estates (equivalent to the Andalusian cortijos) from large church or aristocratic domains. As in Spain, there occurred the modest beginning of an agrarian prereform in which small amounts of land were withdrawn from church jurisdiction, returned to royal domain, and sold or rented out to lavradores or peasants. The size of cultivation units was growing somewhat larger, and as had been true frequently since the thirteenth century, there was a tendency to revert from agriculture to cattle-raising. In a few parts of the south, such as the Beja district, there was a considerable degree of emphyteusis, however. In general, it was a time of relative prosperity, and food prices rose particularly after 1785.

Last Phase of the Old Regime in Portugal:  The Reign of Maria I (1777-1799/1816)

The heiress and successor of José I had even less experience than her father when she ascended the throne, but for the next two decades presided over the happiest and most prosperous period the Bragança dynasty had seen since the palmy early years of João V. Donha Maria was of a kindly, melancholy nature, and extremely devout. [413] Though not graced with special administrative talent or acute insight, she had several basic goals: to make amends for Pombal's offenses to the church, right the wrongs of the Pombaline dictatorship, make government more honest, and encourage the development of the kingdom. Many of Pombal's foes were judicially rehabilitated, and though the Jesuit order was not reestablished, all extremes of regalism were dropped and clerical influence became much stronger. Yet Maria's religious and cultural policy was not reactionary, for educational reforms were continued and during her reign the modest Portuguese enlightenment reached its height. The movement toward juridical centralization and regularization was carried further. A decree of 1790 theoretically abolished separate seigneurial justice throughout Portugal, incorporating all such functions under standard royal jurisdiction, though it was not enforced in many parts of the countryside.

In foreign affairs, Portugal was the only state that ranged itself on the British side in the North American war of independence, though the crown soon established a position of technical neutrality. Renewed conflict with Spain over the borders of Brazil was finally settled by negotiation in 1778.

Maria's government was generally benevolent and did not expel all of Pombal's administrative and juridical appointees, but most of the special economic projects of the reign of José I were either cut back or abolished. There was somewhat less concern to foster manufactures, because the l780s and l790s were a time of greatly increased commercial prosperity. Cotton had become a major new export from Brazil, while wine exports to Britain almost doubled. For the first time since 1740, the balance of trade with Britain began to run in Portugal's favor, with credits in 1790-1792 and 1794-1795. The period 1775-1805 was also the last era of prosperity in the Portuguese eastern trade. Between 1600 and 1775, there had been an annual average of scarcely more than two ships trading between Lisbon and Asia. From 1775 to 1805, the average ranged between ten and twenty, particularly after the French revolutionary wars of the 1790s restricted Dutch-Asian commerce. During this time, there was no similar increase in Portuguese manufactures. The first mechanical equipment for Portuguese textile production was imported from Britain in the 1780s, but on a very small scale. Portuguese capital remained geared almost exclusively to commerce, and British industrial exports nearly ruined the tiny Portuguese iron industry as well as several branches of the textile industry.

The main significance of the second half of the eighteenth century for Portuguese social structure was the development for the first time of a relatively strong, wealthy, and independent mercantile upper middle class not tied to the aristocracy. By 1800, the merchant class [414] numbered only 80,000 in a kingdom of 3,000,000 (together with 130,000 from the professional classes), but certain individual merchants had achieved great wealth and a degree of social prestige that they had never known before. Most Portuguese merchants were, of course, small traders and shopkeepers of very modest resources, but they benefited from the opening up of commercial opportunities and the end of the Pombaline monopolist companies. The cultural level of the Portuguese middle classes was quite low compared with their proportionately more numerous counterparts in France and England. Their level of religiosity was higher than that of the French bourgeoisie. Though the truly wealthy among them were few in number, they were beginning to establish a place of influence and independence in Portuguese society.

By contrast, the eighteenth century was a time of relative decline for the aristocracy. The wealth of João V had made possible the granting of special honors and emoluments to the nobility, as well as the expansion in the number of offices held by the aristocracy, until about 1740. Pombal, however, had eliminated much of the influence of the powerful "ultramarine" aristrocracy (holding offices overseas) and had reduced the juridical powers of the provincial landholding nobility. The economic changes of the second half of the century were inimical to aristocratic wealth and influence. Nobles were less involved in overseas commerce than in earlier centuries and had difficulty adapting to the changes. The number of aristocratic titles nearly doubled in the early nineteenth century, but this was because they had depreciated in value and were awarded for all manner of services or gifts, often to commoners. The aristocracy was declining in number in proportion to the population as a whole.

In later years Maria I began to suffer from mental abberations, and her son D. João took over affairs of state in 1792. He was officially proclaimed regent seven years later in 1799. During the decade of the French Revolution, no country in western Europe felt as little pressure against its old regime as Portugal. Several factors stood out: the stability of peasant society, the relative prosperity of middle class commerce, the lack of a direct challenge to the aristocracy, the nominal strength of Catholicism, the weak development of a critical intelligentsia, and the comparatively benevolent government of the crown. Though a new mercantile middle class was evolving and would begin to come into its own in 1820, it did not yet have either the strength or inclination to seek fundamental change. In Portugal, as in Spain, the old regime still revealed a high degree of cohesiveness and general acceptance by the population at the end of the eighteenth century. It would be overthrown not from within but from without.

Bibliography for Chapter 18

[703] The classic near-contemporary history of the Portuguese restoration, Conde de Ericeira, Portugal restaurado, 1 vols. (Lisbon, 1679-1698), is still of some use. There is no satisfactory biography of João IV; on his queen, see Hipólito Raposo, Luisa de Gusmao (Lisbon, 1947). The principal historian of the period of João V is Eduardo Brazao; see especially his Relaçoes externas: Reinado de João V (Porto, 1938) and D. João V (Barcelos, 1945). There is no definitive treatment of Pombal. Marcus Cheke, Dictator of Portugal (London, 1938) gives an introduction in English. The classic account is still S. J. da Luz Soriano, História do Reinado de El-Rei D. José I e da administraçao do Marquez de Pombal, 1 vols. (Lisbon, 1867). On the penultimate ruler of the old regime, see Caetano Beirao, D. Maria I (Lisbon, 1944).

The best general survey of the empire in this period, as for the earlier epoch, is C. R. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire (New York, 1969). For Brazil and its relations with Portugal, see Boxer's Salvador de Sá and the Struggle for Angola and Brazil (London, 1952) and his The Golden Age of Brazil (Berkeley, 1962); and Visconde de Carnaxide, D. João V e o Brazil (Lisbon, 1952). David Lopes treats an important aspect of Portuguese influence overseas in A expansao da lingua portuguesa no Oriente nos séculos XVI, XVII e XVIII (Barcelos, 1936).

There are two excellent French studies of aspects of the Portuguese economy in this period: Frédéric Mauro, Le Portugal et l'Atlantique au XVIIe siècle (1570-1670) (Paris, 1960), deals with seventeenth-century commerce, and Albert Silbert, Le Portugal méditerranéen à la fin de l'ancien régime, 2 vols. (Paris, 1967), provides an exhaustive treatment of agriculture in south-central Portugal. A. D. Francis, The Methuens and Portugal, 1691-1708 (Cambridge, 1966), and H. E. S. Fisher, The Portugal Trade (London, 1971), explain the trade with England. Three other important economic studies are V. Magalhaes Godinho, Prix et monnaies au Portugal 1750-1850 (Paris, [704] 1955), and Jorge B. de Macedo's A situaçao económica no tempo de Pombal (Lisbon, 1951) and Problemas da história da indústria portuguesa no século XVIII (Lisbon, 1963). Descriptions of the Lisbon earthquake and daily life are given by Sir T. D. Kendrick, The Lisbon Earthquake (Lisbon, 1956), and Suzanne Chantal, La Vie quotidienne après le tremblement de terre de Lisbonne de 1755 (Paris, 1962).

The Portuguese enlightenment may be approached through four works: Hernani Cidade, Ensaio sobre a crise mental do século XVIII (Coimbra, 1929); J. S. da Silva Dias, Portugal e a cultura europeia (Coimbra, 1953); L. Cabral de Moncada, Mística e racionalismo em Portugal no século XVIII (Lisbon, 1952); and José Tengarrinha, História da imprensa periódica portuguesa (Lisbon, 1965).

Notes for Chapter 18
1. Within Portugal, however, certain legal concessions purchased by cristãos novos were cancelled in 1610, and the activities of the Inquisition were revived.

2. Quoted in an unpublished study of seventeenth-century Anglo-Portuguese relations by Bentley Duncan.