Luís Soares de Oliveira, Embaixador (1)
Quatro perguntas sobre os Descobrimentos feitas pelos Editores Europeus de Anuários e as respostas que lhes foram dadas.
Question: Were The Portuguese maritime discoveries the beginning of the Modern Era ?
Answer: - The knowledge acquired as a result of the maritime discoveries, namely the exact size and shape of our Planet, the distribution of its land masses, the identification of the maritime routes connecting them, the consciousness of the diversity of human races and cultures, of the variety of plants, trees, animals, climates and telluric systems contributed largely to change men’s perception of the world and his place in it. The global view began to take shape. The profitability of intercontinental trade came to the attention of the political economists. Adam Smith, always with a keen eye for wealth creation, wrote: “The discovery of
However, most important still were the defeat of superstition and the triumph of reason. The old myths that cautioned man against adventures into the high seas fell one after the other. Man learnt to follow his own thinking and to question established wisdom. The results thus obtained proved the merit of rationality. Attitudes changed: man realized that his destiny was, to a large extent, in his own hands and that he could modify his own condition. No question, the age of discoveries heralded the beginning of a new era; while sailing the oceans, the Portuguese were opening the door to Modernity.
The Iberian geopolitical fallacy
Answer: - Apparently such theory has geopolitical substance, but the facts do not support it. At the time the Portuguese went to sea (1415), the other Iberian Christian crowns - Castile and Aragon - were still tied down in the war against the Islamic kingdoms (taifas) existing in Southern Spain. It was not until the conquest of
If there was a geopolitical motive driving the Portuguese into the sea, it was not an iberian one. Up to almost the end of the XVI century,
Question: So, if geopolitical motives had no part here, what were the motives that drove the Portuguese into the maritime adventure?
Answer: - Judging from what is known regarding Portuguese behaviour overseas after acquiring control of the Oceans, we have to admit that faith and trade were paramount among their motives. Until mid XVI century, the preoccupation of securing the monopoly of the sea route for the Eastern trade led the Portuguese to gigantic sacrifices, almost unbelievable acts of gallantry and gave coherence to their action overseas. The same was true regarding their proselytizing zeal. In either case, the attitude taken reflects acceptance of the undisputed priority of either of these objectives.
Of course, there were other factors. The Order of Christ, the Portuguese branch and heir of the
The Crown itself had good reasons to adopt an expansionist project. John I, father of Henrique, the navigator, had been chosen heir of the crown by what we can describe as a popular vote. According to the aristocratic laws of royal succession, his legitimacy was doubtful. He had people’s support, but he needed also to gain the respect of the aristocracy. In those times such respect went for the rulers who succeeded in enlarging the territorial dimension of the state. Furthermore, the Portuguese military class was going through a crisis. From the XII to the XIV century, they fought and eventually expulsed the Islamic authorities from Portuguese territory, and then what? They became redundant, condemned to idleness. The conquests did not alter the land tenure regime. Local people, including the Moorish, remained masters of their farms and estates. With one or two exceptions, feudalism was nonexistent in
The Jewish community, another influential sector of Portuguese society in medieval times, also took a keen interest in the discoveries. Jews had been financing commercial voyages ever since biblical times. It was an area of their expertise. They knew better than anybody else how to make this practice secure and profitable. But not only financing. Some of the great Jewish scholars previously residing in
Question: Such class motives and private interests could however exist anywhere. So, why was
Answer: Certainly yes! Unlike
Aqui ao leme sou mais do que eu:
Sou um Povo que quer o mar que é teu 
 An attempt to unify the two crowns through the marriage of the widower Afonso V, King of Portugal and Isabel, the Catholic, failed. Isabel opted for Fernando, King of Aragon, among other reasons because Afonso was too old. Afonso mobilized his troops and sustained in arms his pledge to the hand of Isabel, but was defeated by his rival at the battle of Toro . However, his son João II - who never approved of his father's quixotic adventure - was soon to re-establish good relations with Isabel.
 With time, the Portuguese evaluation of the Iberian union changed, but only after a Hapsburg king, holding both the Portuguese and the Spanish sceptres, attempted to engage Portugal in European continental disputes (XVII century) and showed great neglect for the overseas possessions. Such attitude went against national sensibility. Then, and only then, the Portuguese began to realize the colossal value of the empire as a safeguard against the continental centripetal pull. Two centuries before, at the outset of the discoveries, such understanding would have been an incredible long shot.
 Free translation: “Here, at the helm, I am bigger than myself; I am the people who wants the sea that now belongs to you”.