quinta-feira, maio 10, 2007

Introdução ao Império Português... para Azzim

Portuguese empire, as well as the Spanish empire, is truly one of the most important achievements in mankind. One minor country with an abysmal lack of population attains to become a major empire all over the world, responsible by a giant territory like Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. This feat is far more brilliant when it’s accomplished by an archaic kingdom with a recent political and cultural identity and several financial problems due to its latest independency, and its obsolete economy.

Francisco López de Gómara, Spanish chronicler remarked in the mid XVI that the Iberian discoveries were “the greatest event since the creation of the world, apart from the incarnation and death of Him who created it. “ Like C.R. Boxer noted in his major work The Portuguese seaborne empire1 this Iberian mission made the world smaller by reaching inhabited zones or getting in touch with different cultures, and may be seen as the genesis of a global world.

It’s impossible not to recognize the magnitude of an event like the Tordesilhas Treaty, in 1494, in which Portugal and Spain divided the entire world according with their own ambitions, attesting the difference with former major empires like Mogul, or Aztecs.

The modern historiography, mainly the one that focuses on imperial dynamics, made several contributions about the Portuguese empire but wasn’t able yet to answer the key question: What was the main reason for the Portuguese seaborne experience?

Primarily we must be aware that several answers exist, and not only one. This means that are reasons in the political field, as the necessity to emphasize the recent independency (1143) internal and internationally, as well as rewarding the nobility that was by the king side during the reconquista cristã. Geographically a small country with an enormous coast allows it to consider the shipbuilding, the fishing and ship discoveries as potential breakthrough, using a know-how acquired by the natives well before the descobrimentos. There’s also an explanation correlated with the Portuguese cultural history, Portugal was a recent Christian kingdom approved by the Pope, and needed to reaffirm its Christianity fighting overseas against the infidels.

As we’ll try to demonstrate Portugal in the early XV was a traditional country, with the classical structure of society, where the nobility and clergy were a minority, but still, much more powerful than the people. This large majority of peasants in the interior and fishers in the littoral, made the people the larger stratus in society, but the inexistence of an entrepreneur bourgeois was the essential key to understand this period, and more important to comprehend the lack of an strategy in the portuguese empire therefore. The policy and approach chosen by the Portuguese politics for Brazil, India, Africa and Macau illustrate exactly this unplanned empire, and how its guiding principle was distorted by the course of action.

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