2

THE INITIATIVES

First the Portuguese

“E se mais mundo houvera, là chegara”-and if the earth had been bigger, we would still have gone round it.

In praising Portugal's discoveries, this proud statement expresses well the nature of the voyages of those great explorers who are still glorified today by tradition. On land and on sea, from Vasco da Gama to Serpa Pinto, they went to the furthest limits and to the heart of the planet “bringing civilization”.

In his Chronicle of Guinea, written in the middle of the fifteenth century, Gomes Eanes de Zurara already announced the “five and one reasons” for those expeditions. The Infante Henry, who organized them, “is driven by the service of God”. He thinks that Christians are to be found in those lands. Goods can be brought back from there. And if none are to be found, the extent of the power of the Infidels can be assessed. Perhaps some foreign lord would like to help him in his war against the enemies of the faith, for great is his desire to spread the Holy Faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was King John of Portugal to whom Christopher Columbus appealed, about 1484, for supplies of all that was necessary for him to reach Cipangu (Japan) by way of the west, for indeed it was from Portugal that all the voyages started. The king consulted his cosmographers who advised him against that crazy scheme. As Fernand Braudel puts it, “the Portuguese have always preferred scientific certainties to idle fancies… That was how they lost America. When they discovered Brazil, it was too late.”

As a matter of fact they were the first to go sailing south. They were equipped with all the available technical devices and, in particular, with those nautical maps with compass cards. The map of Pedro Reinel (1485) describes with great precision the coasts of Europe and of Atlantic Africa up to the furthest point reached by Diego Cam beyond the Gulf of Guinea. Following its development by the Italians, cartography became the Portuguese science par excellence, as Viscount Santarem described it. It

-24-

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Colonization: A Global History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Colonization or Imperialism 1
  • 2 - The Initiatives 24
  • 3 - Conflicts for an Empire 52
  • 4 - A New Race of Societies 104
  • 5 - Rose-Coloured Legend and Pitch-Black Legend 163
  • 6 - The Vision of the Vanquished 186
  • 7 - The Movements for Colonist-Independence 211
  • 8 - Leaven and Levers 239
  • 9 - Independence or Revolution 262
  • 10 - Liberation or Decolonization 305
  • 11 - Decolonization Halted 344
  • Chronology 361
  • Filmographic Selection 370
  • Bibliography 376
  • Index 390
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