Portugal and Her Empire

By Hills, C. A. R. | Contemporary Review, July 1997 | Go to article overview

Portugal and Her Empire


Hills, C. A. R., Contemporary Review


There exists a ranking-list of the sovereigns of Europe, drawn up in 1504 by the Pope, which was to serve as a guide to the importance of the various states until the Congress of Vienna in 1815 put matters of diplomatic precedence on a more rational basis. As might be expected, the Pope in 1504 considered that the Holy Roman Emperor ranked first, and he placed the Duke of Ferrara last. The King of England (Henry VII at the time) came seventh, but one place ahead, at sixth, was King Manuel I of Portugal, 'the Fortunate'.

At this juncture, England and Portugal were linked by an alliance, which formally went back a little over a century, but in real terms had existed for more than three centuries. The two Atlantic nations had much in common. Both had a high degree of unity by contemporary standards, and were making strides in royal absolutism; both had small populations compared with other states, most of their land still lying waste; they were rather rough culturally, and cut off from the main European centres, although they were starting to have their humanists and learned court ladies; both had their particular, indeed unique, variant on the late Gothic style common to Europe (Perpendicular in England, Manueline in Portugal).

What set them apart most fundamentally at this date was that Portugal was already having a powerful impact on, or encounter with (it is now difficult to use the term 'discovery' without inverted commas), the continents of America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. It was surely for this reason that the Pope considered that the Portuguese monarch ranked above the English one. Had not his predecessor, ten years before, in the treaty of Tordesillas (Tordesillas in Portuguese), divided the new European 'discoveries' exclusively between the Portuguese and Spanish thrones, and were not successive Popes engaged in confirming and refining the arrangement in a series of papal bulls?

Portugal's part in this process, although probably more fundamental (certainly begun earlier) than that of Spain, does not quite have a focal date to match that of 1492 - when 'Columbus sailed the ocean blue'. It was a slow progress around the African coast for much of the fifteenth century, followed by a successful bid for domination of the Indian Ocean at the start of the sixteenth. Perhaps there is a focal figure - that of Prince Henry the Navigator (simply Dom Henrique in Portuguese), a figure at least as much of symbolic as actual importance. But if there is one date which marks the climacteric, then it is July 8th 1497, when the four rather small ships of the petty nobleman Vasco da Gama, carrying perhaps around one hundred and seventy men, set off from the Tagus Estuary near Lisbon on the journey that was to lead to India. Vasco da Gama's voyage lies at the heart of the national poem of Portugal - Os Lusiadas of Luis de Camnoes, who was himself related to the family of the admiral.

The second most famous of Portugal's navigators, known in English as Magellan, although his earlier military career was in the service of his native country, finally made his circumnavigation under the flag of Spain. Portugal's pioneering effort bore within itself, for reasons that will always perhaps be slightly mysterious, the fruits of almost immediate decline. Within two centuries, it was to become England's client and 'oldest ally', while still, however, maintaining a considerable presence in the world.

The British went on to develop a world empire which, in terms of scope, variety, impact and economic importance, has never been equalled; they pioneered the Industrial Revolution; their culture and language gained unique prestige. Portugal's eventual balance of achievement was of a lesser kind. But it is not by any means nothing in comparison, as the traditional, rather strange, neglect of things Lusophone would lead one to believe.

The achievement has four main aspects. The first one is that Portuguese exploration predates that of all other European nations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Portugal and Her Empire
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.