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Bocarro's Account of Goa-based Trade in the Early 17th Century

Bocarro's Account of Goa-based Trade in the Early 17th Century

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The Portuguese Chronicler António Bocarro has left a fairly detailed account of the Portuguese fortified settlements in India in the early 17th century, including their trade and human resources.
The Portuguese Chronicler António Bocarro has left a fairly detailed account of the Portuguese fortified settlements in India in the early 17th century, including their trade and human resources.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Teotonio R. de Souza on Mar 19, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/10/2015

 
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}.:Iciber-Dccember 1975
Vol. Xlf No. 4
The Indiar
Economic
and
Social
Histpty
Review
 
Goa-based Portuguese Seaborne Tradein the Early Seventeenth Century*
T. R. de SOUZA
Is it true that scholars who wish to investigate into the economic aspect of 
Indian history during the period of the European colonial rule find littleassistance in Portuguese archival source material? 'I here is nothing, it is
true, that
can
be cs...;siparcd to
the
 English Factories in
frirNis
1618-1684(17 vols.,
Oxford, 1906-55) or
to the
 Dagh-Register gehottien in't Carted Batavia 1624-
82
(23 vols., Batavia, 1887-1932 from the Portuguese side. But this does not
enable us to
fall
in line with the distinguished British historian, W.. H. More-
land, who was a
dedicated
student
of the economic history of this
country.Referring to the scarcity
of relevant
Portuguese source
material, he
wrote
in
his
From Akbar to Attrangzeb:
'It is impossible to speak with prerision of the
details of the Lisbon-trade, because its secrets were jealously guarded and
I
was not able to find any
official
statistics of the quantity of the goods imported
or of their
distrihntinn
among
the
various
consurning
in4rkets'.1
The modest itintOf 
this 'article
is
to point
out some
sources
from
where statis-
tics can be satisfactorily gathered by a research scholar who wishes to recons-
truct the story of the Portuguese invoivement in the .,.-katic trade durin
g
the
seventeenth century. Those same sources may also he utilized by those
who
wish
to check
the
evidence contained
in
the English
and 
the Dutch records,
or even to supplement the deficiency of those records. The sources
winch
wehave chosen to point out are those which we have pen onally consulted in the
course of gathering material for a Ph.D. dissertation on
Goa in the 17th
_Century
: Same Aspect.; of its
 ,
Ecartotnic History.
This article also includes a concrete
demonstration
o
our
claim :
We present to the readers a brief description Of 
the interlocking commercial system of the Portuguese in Asia
c.
1635. It is
contained in an encyck,paedie work left by Antonio Bocarro, who served in
Goa, little over
ten years as Keeper of Archis-es arid as State Chronicler.
s
 Abtar:iali
g
ns used is
 the
 franks
are:
Historical Archives, Lisbon.
HAG=--ffniorieal Archives of Goa.
TdT=.National
Archives
of Lisbon.
W. H.
Moreland,
 Frvin
 Alflar 
 
 Atiranvfb,Ncw
Dahl', 1972, p, 92„
 
4-`14
T. R.
DE SOUZA
I. PORTUGUESE ARCHIVAL SOURCE MATERIAL FOR THE STUDY OF
TR.A.DE HISTORY
One place where documentation bearing on Lisbon-Goa trade was likely to
be stored was the India House where the ships of the Carreira da
 India
!
 
loaded
and unloaded their precious cargoes and where Custom duties were. collected.
Unfortunately all the records of the
India
House were lost when Lisbon wasrocked by an earthquake in 1735. This loss will never be compensated. How-
ever, copies of some of the records whose originals were preserved in the Ar-
chives of the India House have been corning to light. A cod= with copies of 
the c.orrespendence between the India House at Lisbon and the
Vidor Gera) da
Fazer 
 p
da
or the Chief Revenue Comptroller in India regarding the commer-
cial transac
- tions between Portugal and Goa during the period
1666-77 
and
1703-34 was recently discovered in the Archives of the Department of Cus-
toms at Lisbon.. It has been edited by Dr A. da Silva Rego
in Doeumentacao
Uitramarina Poriuguesa,
IV (Lisbon 1966), 3-407. This correspondence
gives
us details about the ships that plied between Portug-al and India during that
period and the cargoes aboard those ships. The last letter for the seventeenth
century written from India is dated 29 January 1677. The
Fedor confirms
the safe arrival in India of three ships from Portitg,al, and then describes
the arrangements made for the .sailing
of 
the carrac.k .Bont
 Jesus de S. Domingos
'whose departure for Portugal was imminent. After reporting the number andsalaries of the crew, he supplies the statistics about the cargo_ The ship was
loaded nith 697 quintals, 3
carobas
(arroba.=quarter of a quintal----32 lbs.),
and 2 arratels of pepper (quirital,--128 arratels or ths.),
3
intending 262.5
quintals of pepper from Mirjan, which was regarded as su
pe
rior to that
of Tanur (city 22 miles south of Calient), In addition to pepper, the shipalso carried pulleys which were used for the ropes which controlled the
sails.
The total vahte of the cargo was 21„139 aF0Trafis and three tang-as
crerafim
or
ashrafi was silver currency of 
'
Goa equivalent to the value of almost half an
ounce or good silver during most of the seventeenth century. It may be more
realistic to assess its value
in
teems of its buyin
g
capacity. The prices which
We
have gathered from the household accounts of the Religious Convents in
Goa during the seventeenth century for the essential commodities show that
the prices of whit were mercurial and the average-price of a khandi during
C.
R. Boxer,
The Portuguese &dome Empire, 1115-1825,
Pelican Books, Middlesex;
1973, pp. 207-22. The Gv-reirc do
lotho
was
de
round. voyage Portugal and India.
3
0
 
Ferrand,
 Les Poids, Mesreres et Mammies der 
Mtn
da
Sad sax X Yl
e
 
et
 XVII 
.,
 
Siecles
Offprint of 
 j'euniai Asiorigue,
Paris, juiy December 1920, 219, n. I; j. Wick', 'Lista de rnocclas,e erobarcacoes do etricnte, compostx por NieoLau Pereira S. J. por 1582' in
Sr UDIA,
re.
33, Lisboa, Deceniber 1971,
144.

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