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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:European competition and cooperation in pre-modern globalization: 'Portuguese' West and Central Africa, 1500-1600
Author:Ebert, ChristopherISNI
Periodical:African Economic History (ISSN 0145-2258)
Geographic terms:West Africa
Central Africa
mercantile history
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41501702
Abstract:During the 16th century, Portugal claimed exclusive rights in the southern Atlantic sea lanes, and this right had been acknowledged by papal decree. The Portuguese crown attempted to enforce this monopoly as much as possible and restrict interlopers and competitors. Portuguese merchants were well established on the coasts of West and Central Africa, with trading outposts from Arguim to Angola. However, a substantial amount of evidence shows the extent of the failure of the Portuguese to prevent non-licensed traders from penetrating the sea lanes of Africa throughout the century. Scholars have generally failed to explain why the Portuguese were so unsuccessful in maintaining their monopoly. The present author argues that the nature of European competition has frequently been misinterpreted. In fact, Portugal's trade was heavily embedded in a European financial and mercantile system that rose above State affiliation. The Portuguese 'monopoly' was decisively breached in the early 17th century by the arrival of ships from the Dutch Republic. Throughout the period, European ambitions to trade with Africa were never entirely a matter of either cooperation or competition amongst European States; their fulfilment depended foremost on the disposition of African agents to permit such trade. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]