Fiscal System and Private Interests in Portuguese Asia under the Habsburgs, 1580-1640

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Susana Münch Miranda Leiden University

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By examining the main features of the fiscal system of Portuguese Asia and the private interests that clustered around it, this article contributes to the recent historiography on the pluralistic and negotiated dimensions of the colonial government. It argues that, in the context of the European power struggle that opposed the Dutch and the English against the Spanish Habsburgs, the financial needs of the Portuguese crown deepened pre-existing political and social arrangements, with the result that royal officials and colonial elites increasingly gained a role in imperial governance and in preserving the Portuguese empire in Asia. The alignment of interests here can be observed by looking at the extraordinary taxation introduced between 1617 and 1623, which provided added opportunities to co-opt local elites.

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