Twilight of the Pepper Empire

A talk entitled ‘The Twilight of the Pepper Empire’ will be presented by historian Peter Booker on Tuesday, June 25 in Lagoa Library at 6pm and on Friday, June 28 in Tavira Library at 11am.

The Portuguese pepper empire was founded at the time of Vasco da Gama’s epic voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498, and flourished for much of the 16th century. But towards the end of that century, two fundamental difficulties challenged the Royal monopoly. First, the disaster at Alcácer Quibir in 1578 robbed Portugal of its independent status, of much of its nobility and, lastly, of much of its wealth, as the Moroccans exacted gold in return for returning captured nobles. The consequence of the loss of its independent status was that the Dual Monarchy of Spain and Portugal was not able to give the right amount of care and attention to both empires, and Portugal suffered as the junior partner.

The second difficulty, presenting eventually insuperable conditions, was the intervention of Dutch and English competition in eastern waters. How did the Portuguese respond to these challenges? In this lecture, Peter Booker examines the reasons for the decline of the Portuguese Empire.

These lectures are free to attend but voluntary contributions towards organisers Algarve History Association are welcome.

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