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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> States >> Portugal

Map of Europe in 1700 showing the kingdom of Portugal published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license
Capital Lisboa (Lisbon)
Language(s) Portuguese
Religion Catholic
Population about 2,000,000
Annual Revenues about £1,300,000 (normalized in British pounds to allow comparison)
Government Kingdom
Dependencies This state had dependencies on several continents:
  • Africa: Captaincy-General of Mozambique and Rivers of Sofala, Monomotapa, Malindi, Cape Verde, Angola, São João de Ajuda (present-day Ouidah) in Guinea
  • Asia: Diu, Goa (the residence of the viceroy of Portuguese India), Macau, Portuguese Timor (since 1702, aka East Timor)
  • Europe: Azores, Madeira
  • South America: Brazil
Rulers Pedro II (1683-1706)

João V (1706-1750)

Army see the article Portuguese Army
Navy see the article Portuguese Navy
Trade Inner commerce was not very developed in Portugal due to a poor network of roads, silted up estuaries, primitive agriculture, large uninhabited areas. It depended on foreign agriculture and industries for its daily subsistance and for clothing.

The main local exports of Portugal were slat and wines.

In 1644, in retaliation to the interdiction of France to import sugar and tobacco from Brazil, Portugal prohibited the importation of French goods. Genoa then became the main provider of silk.

From 1684, Portugal became self sufficient in the production of woollen cloth.

In 1703, a trade agreement was concluded with Great Britain by which Portugal would import woollen cloth and export wines. In this commerce, Portugal had a balance of trade deficit and had to compensate with gold from its Brazilian mines.

Like most colonial power, Portugal had imposed a monopoly of trade to its colonies. Thus:

  • all exportations of gold from Brazil could be done exclusively to Portugal;
  • all importations in the colonies had to come from Portugal and local manufacturing severely limited.

In East Africa, Portugal conducted slave trade from Cape Delgado on the Coast of Mozambique. Portuguese traders bought slaves, ebony, ivory and gold in Mozambique and exchanged them in Goa for wine, oil, silk, plain fabric, cotton cloth, glass and sea-shells. Surplus gold was used to buy Indian goods.

Similarly, in West Africa, Portugal was still conducting slave trade from Congo and from Luanda in Angola.

Each year in February or March, 3 to 4 caraques (large merchant vessels) left Lisbon under an escort of warship and sailed for Goa. They transported mostly silver since India had no need for European goods. They usually returned 18 months later in December of January. Traders could negotiate all kinds of goods to the exception of pepper which was the main export of the Coast of Malabar (west coast of India) and a monopoly of the crown.

At Diu, Portuguese merchants bought indigo, iron, copper, alum, oil, sugar, wax, opium, wheat, silk, and cotton arriving by large convoys from the hinterland.

On the Coast of Coromandel (east coast of India), Portuguese merchants bought opium and painted cloth at São Tomé de Meliapor, reselling them in Pegu (present-day Bago, Burma) and Siam (present-day Thailand). However, the volume of trade on this coast was far less important than on the Coast of Malabar.

In the Island of Ceylon, Portuguese traders bought cinnamon, gemstones, pearls, cotton, silk, tobacco, ivory, saltpetre, sulphur and various metals.

Commerce with China was made from Goa with Macau. Chinese goods (gold, fine woodworks, silk, musk, civet, chinaware, ivory works...) were bought with silver or, on a smaller scale, exchanged for woollen cloth, glass, crystals, watches and wine as well as indian goods.

In Brazil, Portuguese settlers cultivated sugarcane, initially introduced from Madeira and exported sugar (some 32 million pounds around 1700) to Lisbon. Other exports to Portugal included tobacco, cocoa, cotton, indigo, raw hide, and tinctorial woods. Planters relied heavily on slave trade for their manpower. Brazil imported flour, wines, spirits, salt and manufactured goods from Portugal. The Portuguese Crown had granted a monopoly to a company for all trade between Portugal and Brazil. Each year in March, a large fleet sailed from Porto and Lisbon. Typically, 30 vessels were destined to Bahia; 30 to Pernambuco; 20 to Rio de Janeiro; and 7 to Pará. In September of the following year, all these vessels assembled at Bahia to sail for Portugal, escorted by 6 warships.


Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 1, Vienna 1876, p. 93

Anon.: The History of Modern Europe, Part II, London: 1784, pp. 298-300

McEvedy, Colin: The Penguin Atlas of Modern History (to 1815), Harmondsorth: Penguin Books, 1972, pp. 54-61

Scherer, Herman: Histoire du commerce de toutes les nations depuis les temps ancies jusqu'à nos jours, Vol. 2 – Temps Modernes; Paris: Capelle, 1857, pp. 72-73, 126-179