The First Portuguese Colonial Empire

By Malyn Newitt | Go to book overview

The Estado da India in Southeast Asia

JOHN VILLIERS


The Organisation of the Estado da India

Before any real understanding can be gained of the administrative and judicial systems and practices adopted by the Portuguese at different times in their Asian empire, some definition needs to be attempted of the term Estado da India or State of India, which the Portuguese used as a collective name for all their possessions in Asia from the Persian Gulf to the sea of Japan. However, it is difficult to give such a definition, because at no time in its history was a unified mode of government or system of law and administration established for all the Estado da India's constituent parts. Nor was any authoritative formulation ever issued of a political or moral order which could have provided a conceptual basis and theoretical justification for the Estado da India's claims to sovereignty or hegemony over the different oceans, territories and peoples of which it was formed. At no time was any single guiding principle laid down either in a papal bull from Rome, a royal decree from Lisbon, or a viceregal edict from Goa, which could in some manner be applied to all the different forms of political relationship that the crown of Portugal, through its servants, established with local rulers during the course of the Portuguese imperial adventure in Asia. The gradations of vassalage and suzerainty, the obligations incurred by treaty, the degrees of legitimacy claimed or established by military conquest, the commercial agreements and defensive alliances are as bewildering in their variety as the enormous geographical extent and diversity of the Estado da India itself.

The jurisdiction of the Estado da India extended at one time or another from Sofala and Hormuz in the west to Ternate and Macao in the east. But within this vast maritime area it never succeeded in acquiring any political homogeneity, and it remained

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The First Portuguese Colonial Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Introduction 1
  • Prince Henry and the Origins of Portuguese Expansion 9
  • The Estado Da India in Southeast Asia 37
  • Trade in the Indian Ocean and the Portuguese System of Cartazes 69
  • Goa in the Seventeenth Century 85
  • Bibliographical Notes 99
  • Biographical Notes 103
  • Exeter Studies in History 105
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