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Portuguese Diplomacy in Asia in the Sixteenth Century: A Preliminary Overview*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 June 2011

Extract

Scattered as it was over thousands of miles of African and Asian coastline, the Portuguese empire in the East had a peculiar shape when compared to the Spanish one in the New World. As one author of the early seventeenth century put it, ‘the king our lord does not have more than twenty leagues of land in all Asia, from Macao to the Cape of Good Hope’. Portugal was a small country with a population of one and a half million people, and it is no surprise that the Portuguese presence in Asia - a ‘network’ rather than an ‘empire’, as some authors claim - had to rely heavily on diplomacy. The wholesale ‘conquest’ (conquista) of the East was perceived as a theoretical right of the Portuguese crown, but in practice most relations with Eastern polities rested on a complex set of negotiated links of ‘friendship’ (amizade) or indirect submission (uassalagem).

Type
Conference Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Research Institute for History, Leiden University 2005

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References

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