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A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire
From Beginnings to 1807

Volume 2. The Portuguese Empire


  • Date Published: June 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521738224

£ 24.99

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About the Authors
  • The Kingdom of Portugal was created as a by-product of the Christian Reconquest of Hispania. With no geographical raison d'être and no obvious roots in its Roman, Germanic, or Islamic pasts, it for long remained a small, struggling realm on Europe's outer fringe. Then, in the early fifteenth century, this unlikely springboard for Western expansion suddenly began to accumulate an empire of its own, eventually extending more than halfway around the globe. A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, drawing particularly on historical scholarship postdating the 1974 Portuguese Revolution, offers readers a comprehensive overview and reinterpretation of how all this happened - the first such account to appear in English for more than a generation. Volume 1 concerns the history of Portugal itself from pre-Roman times to the climactic French invasion of 1807, whilst this volume traces the history of the Portuguese overseas empire.

    • Unusual in covering both Portugal and the empire in twin volumes
    • The first in-depth history of Portugal and its empire before the 19th century published in English since 1972 and the first such fully-documented history in English
    • Unusual in including the empire in the late 17th and 18th centuries
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This trenchant second volume sets a new standard for reflecting on the Portuguese world empire during the early modern period. Covering the Lusitanian presence on five continents, it pays attention simultaneously to political decisions of opposing court factions in Portugal, to the leading role of noble captains and agents working inside and outside formal colonial institutions, and to their involvement in a variety of local cultures. As a result, Anthony Disney is able to emphasize the centrality of Portuguese colonial situations as cultural hybrids.' Diogo Ramada Curto, European University Institute, Florence and Universidade Nova de Lisboa

    'Anthony Disney has provided in this impressive two-volume survey of the history of Portugal and its overseas empire to the beginning of the nineteenth century a work of synthesis that has long been needed. Up-to-date in its scholarship, lucid and coherent in its exposition, his account, skillfully blending narrative and analysis, will immediately take its place as the essential starting-point for all those interested in the origins and character of the first truly global empire in world history.' Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford

    'The history of the Portuguese world is barnacled with accretions: traditional errors, apparently ineradicable myths, partisan controversies, irrational passions. Anthony Disney has scraped the bottom and set the ship to rights. His book is sober but engaging, meticulous but well paced, comprehensive but concise: a monument of scholarship and discernment, which everyone interested in the subject will want to hand.' Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Tufts University

    'This book provides a comprehensive and stimulating view of the history of the early modern Portuguese Empire. Without losing sight of chronology and geography, political projects and economic trends, Disney skillfully elaborates on key issues of the social history of Overseas Portugal, such as the nature of colonial societies or the relevance of informal settlements. The author masters an impressive range of primary sources and secondary materials and builds on them to offer a refreshing global history of the Portuguese Empire that will undoubtedly stand as reference in the field for many years to come.' Jorge Flores, Brown University

    'Disney's volume provides a full economic and political outline of a truly global maritime enterprise. It is the most accessible and up to date history of the Portuguese Empire available in English.' Stuart Schwartz, Yale University

    'This long-awaited volume by Anthony Disney possesses all the qualities we have come to expect of his scholarship. It is balanced, sober and written with clarity of vision and purpose. Four decades after Charles Boxer's classic work on the Portuguese seaborne empire, we at last have another elegant synthesis that takes on the whole of the Portuguese overseas enterprise from 1400 to 1800 armed with the fruits of the latest research. Imperial historians of a comparative bent will be obliged to read this work, and students of European expansion and the Iberian world will certainly find it on their reading lists. It is unlikely to be replaced for another generation.' Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Professor of History, UCLA

    'A remarkable achievement, combining rigour with lucidity and offering expert guidance across a complex and varied historical terrain.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521738224
    • length: 482 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 155 x 36 mm
    • weight: 0.74kg
    • contains: 19 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. North Africa
    2. Exploring the coasts of Atlantic Africa
    3. Engaging with Atlantic Africa
    4. The Atlantic islands and fisheries
    5. Breakthrough to maritime Asia
    6. Empire in the East
    7. Informal presence in the East
    8. Brazil: seizing and keeping possession
    9. Formation of colonial Brazil
    10. Late colonial Brazil
    11. Holding on in India: the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
    12. Eastern empire in the late colonial era: peripheries.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Colonizal Brazilian History
    • Comparative Empires: Spain and Portugal
    • Euopean Expansion Overseas
    • History of Spain and Portugal
    • New Worlds: The Age of European Discovery and Its Consequences
    • Portugese History and Culture
    • Western Civilization / World History
  • Author

    A. R. Disney, La Trobe University, Victoria
    A. R. Disney was educated at the University of Oxford and Harvard University and has taught history at Melbourne and La Trobe Universities. His publications include Twilight of the Pepper Empire (1978) and numerous articles, papers, and essays, published variously in the Economic History Review, Studia, Indica, Mare Liberum, Anais de Historia de Alem-mar, and other journals and proceedings.

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