Bringers of War, The Portuguese in Africa during the Age of Gunpowder and Sail from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century

B1915

The author paints a compelling picture and tells a story that has previously avoided an audience. The scale and challenges of Portuguese colonial development is just as important and interesting as the Spanish activities in the Americas and the later expansion of empire by the British. What is most useful is a tabular chronology at the beginning of the book.

A highly recommended book.

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NAME: Bringers of War, The Portuguese in Africa during the Age of Gunpowder and Sail from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century

CATEGORY: Book Reviews

DATE: 161213

FILE: R1915

AUTHOR: John Laband

PUBLISHER: Frontline, Pen & Sword

BINDING: hard back

PAGES: 262

PRICE: £25.00

GENRE: Non Fiction

SUBJECT: Africa, colonial expansion, Portugal, navigation, forts, ports, slave trade, exploration

ISBN: 1-84832-658-1

IMAGE: B1915.jpg

BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ogskac6

LINKS:

DESCRIPTION: This is a gripping story that is well told and supported by plate sections, one in full colour. It is a story that is largely unknown, particularly in the English-speaking world.

 

The Fifteenth Century saw a succession of Popes dividing up the emerging world between Spain and Portugal, with the lion’s share being handed to Spain. The French and English corsairs would begin to attack Spain in the Americas because the Spanish refused to open their colonies to trade. Initially, the corsairs waited for the Spanish ships to begin their final stage of Atlantic crossing, but they soon began to range across the Atlantic, attacking Spanish colonies. Then the English rounded Cape Horn into the Pacific and attacked the Spanish ports that had been built on the West coast of the Americas. With this focus on the Americas, the Portuguese were steadily increasing their facilities around the coast of Africa and on to India.

 

Vasco da Gama had opened the way for Portugal to Africa and India towards the end of the 15th Century and during the early years of the 16th Century. Where the Spanish had approached the Americas with a Catholic zeal, determined to seize the wealth of the American aborigines and ruthlessly convert them to Catholicism, or exterminate them, the Portuguese took a more commercial approach to Africa and India. They did attack African and Indian coastal cities and settlements, but they were also prepared to trade and established a chain of forts and ports. They shared a colonial mindset with other European nations and there was a natural bond between Portuguese traders and Arab slavers that founded a slave trade that was to grow with the colonial developments in the Americas.

 

The Portuguese brought a new form of warfare to Africa. Initially, they used steel armour, carriage guns, bows, swords and spears, with but a few hand held firearms. They arrived in sailing ships and had an ability to lay off the coast, choosing the time to land and attack. Progressively, the armour reduced and the gun became a numerous weapon.

 

There was a natural and long held antipathy to the Muslims, but they also fought Africans, Dutch, Omani and Ottoman rivals as they attempted to establish Portuguese dominance. The climate and terrain was often inhospitable and sickness could be as much a lethal enemy as any warrior. Battles were frequently close fought, reverses and defeats by no means exceptional.

 

The author paints a compelling picture and tells a story that has previously avoided an audience. The scale and challenges of Portuguese colonial development is just as important and interesting as the Spanish activities in the Americas and the later expansion of empire by the British. What is most useful is a tabular chronology at the beginning of the book.

 

A highly recommended book.

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