about 1,080,000 in 1586. The process of decay was hastened by frequent outbreaks of plague, sometimes followed by famine; a contemporary manuscript estimates that no fewer than 500 persons died daily in Lisbon alone during July, August and September 1569, and in some other years the joint effects of plague and famine were little less disastrous.
While the country was being drained of its best citizens, hordes of slaves were imported to fill the vacancies, especially into the southern provinces. Manual labour was thus discredited; the peasants sold their farms and emigrated or flocked to the towns; and small holdingsThe Slave Trade. were merged into vast estates, unscientifically cultivated by slaves and comparable with the latifundia which caused so many agrarian evils during the last two centuries of the Roman republic. The decadence of agriculture partly explains the prevalence of famine at a time when Portuguese maritime commerce was most prosperous. The Portuguese intermarried freely with their slaves, and this infusion of alien blood profoundly modified the character and physique of the nation. It may be said without exaggeration that the Portuguese of the “age of discoveries” and the Portuguese of the 17th and later centuries were two different races. Albuquerque, foreseeing the dangers that would arise from a shortage of population in his colonies, had encouraged his soldiers to marry captive Brahman and Mahommedan women, and to settle in India as farmers, shopkeepers or artisans. Under his rule the experiment was fairly successful, but the married colonists afterwards became a privileged caste, subsisting upon the labour of their slaves, and often disloyal to their rulers. Intermarriage led to the adoption, even by the rich, and especially by women (see Goa), of Asiatic dress, manners and modes of thought. Thus in the East, as in Europe, slavery reacted upon every class of the Portuguese.
The banishment, or forcible conversion, of the Jews deprived
Portugal of its middle class and of its most scientific traders and
financiers. Though the Jews had always been
compelled to reside in separate quarters called
Juderías, or Jewries, they had been protected byThe Perse-cution of
the Jews. the earlier Portuguese kings. Before 1223 their courts had received autonomy in civil and criminal jurisdiction; their chief rabbi was appointed by the king and entitled to use the royal arms on his seal. Alphonso V. even permitted his Jewish subjects to live outside the Juderías, relieved them from the obligation to wear a distinctive costume (enforced in 1325), and nominated a Jew, Isaac Abrabanel (q.v.), as his minister of finance. In culture the Portuguese Jews surpassed their rulers. Many of them were well versed in Aristotelian and Arabic philosophy, in astronomy, mathematics, and especially in medicine. Three Hebrew printing-presses were established between 1487 and 1495; both John II. and Emanuel I. employed Jewish physicians; it was a Jew—Abraham Zacuto ben Samuel—who supplied Vasco da Gama with nautical instruments; and Jews were employed in the overland journeys by which the Portuguese court first endeavoured to obtain information on Far Eastern affairs. The Jews paid taxes on practically every business transaction, besides a special poll-tax of 30 dinheiros in memory of the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot; and for this reason they were protected by the Crown. For centuries they were also tolerated by the commons; but the other orders-ecclesiastics and nobles-resented their religious exclusiveness or envied their wealth, and gradually fostered the growth of popular prejudice against them. In 1449 the Lisbon Juderías were stormed and sacked, and between 1450 and 1481 the cortes four times petitioned the Crown to enforce the anti-Jewish provisions of the canon law. John II. gave asylum to 90,000 Jewish refugees from Castile, in return for a heavy poll-tax and on condition that they should leave the country within eight months, in ships furnished by himself. These ships were not provided in time, and the Jews who were thus unable to depart were enslaved, while their children were deported to the island of St Thomas, and there left to survive as best they might. In 1496 Emanuel I. desired to wed Isabella, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, but found that he was first required to purify his kingdom of the Jews, who were accordingly commanded to leave Portugal before the end of October 1497. But in order to avoid the economic dangers threatened by such an exodus, every Jew and Jewess between the ages of 4 and 24 was seized and forcibly baptized (19th March): “Christians” were not required to emigrate. In October 20,000 adults were treated in the same Way. These “New Christians” or “Maranos,” as they were called, were forbidden to leave the country between 1498 and 1507. In April 1506 most of those who resided in Lisbon were massacred during a riot, but throughout the rest of Emanuel’s reign they were immune from violence, and were again permitted to emigrate—an opportunity of which the majority took advantage. Large numbers settled in Holland, where their commercial talent afterwards greatly assisted the Dutch in their rivalry with the Portuguese.
The Reformation never reached Portugal, but even here the critical tendencies which elsewhere preceded Reform, were already at work. Their origin is to be sought not so much in the Revival of Learning as in the fact that The Inquisition and the Jesuits. the Portuguese had learned, on their voyages of discovery, to see and think for themselves. The Jesuits true scientific spirit may be traced throughout the Roteiros of D. João de Castro (q.v.) and the Colloquios of Garcia de Orta—men who deserted books for experiment and manifested a new interest in the physical world. But orthodox churchmen feared that even in Portugal this appeal from authority to experience would lead to an attack upon religious doctrines previously regarded as beyond criticism. To check this dangerous movement of ideas, they demanded the introduction of the Inquisition into Portugal. The agents of the “New Christians” in Rome long contrived, by lavish bribery and with the support of many enlightened Portuguese, to delay the preliminary negotiations; but in 1536 the Holy Office was established in Lisbon, where the first auto-da-fé was held in 1540, and in 1560 its operations were extended to India. It seems probable that the influence of the tribunal upon Portuguese life and thought has been exaggerated. Autos-da-fé were rare events; their victims were not as a rule serious thinkers, but persons accused of sorcery or Judaizing, nor were they more numerous than the victims of the English laws relating to witchcraft and heresy. But the worst vices of the Inquisition were the widespread system of delation it encouraged by paying informers out of the property of the condemned, and its action as a trading and landholding association. Quite as serious, in their effects upon national life, were the severe censorship to which all printed matter was liable before publication and the control of education by the Jesuits. Poetry and imaginative literature usually escaped censure; but histories were mutilated and all original scientific and philosophical work was banned. Portuguese education centred in the national university of Coimbra, which had long shown itself ready to assimilate new ideas; between 1537 and 1547 John III. persuaded many eminent foreign teachers—among them the Scottish humanist George Buchanan (q.v.) and the French mathematician Ếlie Vinet—to lecture in its schools. But the discipline of the university needed reform, and the task was entrusted to the Jesuits. By 1555 they had secured control over Coimbra—a control which lasted for two centuries and extended to the whole educational system of the country. The effects of this change upon the national character were serious and permanent. Portugal sank back into the middle ages. The old initiative and self-reliance of the nation, already shaken by years of disaster, were now completely undermined, and the people submitted without show of resistance to a theocracy disguised as absolute monarchy.
Emanuel I. had been a fearless despot, such as Portugal needed if its scattered dependencies were to remain subject to the central government. During his reign (1495–1521) the
Church was never permitted to encroach upon the royal
- In the north, which had been relatively immune from wars agriculture was more prosperous and the peasants more tenacious of their land; hence the continuance of peasant proprietorship and the rarity of African types between the Douro and the Minho.