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Over recent years, the Centre for Overseas History (Centro de História de Além-Mar - CHAM) has pursued research related to the presence of the Portuguese nobility in Asia. The first results led both to the publication of A Nobreza e a Expansão – Estudos Biográficos [The Nobility and the Expansion – Bibliographical Studies] and Descobridores do Brasil – Exploradores do Atlântico e Construtores do Estado da Índia [The Discoverers of Brazil – Explorers of the Atlantic and Constructors of the State of India], co-ordinated by João Paulo Oliveira e Costa, and to seminars on the same themes, all in 2000.

The project The Nobility and the State of India in the 16th century aims to further investigate the results obtained by a line of research that has already been set in motion by the CHAM in association with the Department of Social Sciences of the Institute of Tropical Scientific Investigation, but which requires further development in order to make available research instruments and tools that can help the scientific community to understand the nobility and their role in the construction of the State of India. This study is not only a contribution for the history of the Portuguese Expansion, but also for the development of the knowledge about this social group within Portugal itself, in an age of transition and maturing.

The project The Nobility and the State of India in the 16th century applied for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology in January 2000, and was awarded a classification of «Excellent» in their evaluation report, made by an international group of evaluators, and obtained funding for a three year plan of research, that was initiated at April 2001 until March 2005. This research was developed by Teresa Lacerda. In June 2004 this project applied once more to another funding for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, and was awarded «Very Good» and a new funding was granted for two more years, that has been essential to broaden the chronological scope to include the entire 16th century. This new stage of the project, developed by Silvana Pires, started in January 2006 and it will be concluded en December 2007.

This project is entirely supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, nevertheless, the research team manage to obtain private funding, as well as, funds from the Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian.

Work on this Project has involved creating and developing two different yet complementary tools: the Database of Nobles and Officials in the State of India in the 16th century and the Genealogies of the Viceroys and Governors of the State of India in the 16th century.

Currently, the database contains about 4500 names pertaining to officials and nobles who served in India, as well as the names of some of their relatives or individuals with whom they maintained nepotistic relationships and friendships. This information has been obtained after reading and gathering data from several large documental collections and specialized studies, with an important documental appendix.

The main aim of creating the database was to collect and systemise information on the nobles and officers who set sail for the Orient during the 16th century. The information came from reading and analysing several large document collections and specialized studies. Collecting this information has three objectives: to deepen knowledge of the careers of the individuals that served the Portuguese crown in India, to open new horizons in the sociological study of the Portuguese expansion and Discoveries, and finally to improve knowledge regarding the Portuguese nobility at the dawn of the modern period.

The research and digitalization process for the genealogies of the viceroys and governors of the State of India is being completely funded by the Millenium BCP Foundation. This study will be realised by consulting and comparing various existing nobiliary histories and systematising their contents, thus making them more easily accessible to the scientific community and the merely curious.

The study of Portuguese nobles who left for the Orient is also a historic study of various regions of the country, given that many of the families under study were from specific zones where they perpetuated their power, holding offices such as alcaides, comendas or morgados, which were passed from father to son. The association of some individuals with Military Orders is, at times, an association with a certain territory.

To develop this aspect, we have established contacts with different municipal councils seeking support and ways of divulging the history of district councils, through individuals who were from the area, who crossed the seas to North Africa or India. In this regard and in the course of this project the CHAM has expanded its collaboration with municipalities, such as, the municipal councils of Loulé, Portimão, Bragança, Palmela and Cantanhede.

In addition to the innovative academic contribution, the main advantage of this project is the constantly update of the contents and increase the potential for public access, which guarantees that the information will not be restricted to the academic world.

 

Project: A Nobreza e o Estado da Índia no século XVI
FCT ID: POCTI/36414/HAR/99 & POCI/HAR/55685/2004
Support: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian & Fundação BCP
Centro de História de Além-Mar - FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa e Universidade dos Açores
Departamento de Ciências Humanas - Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical