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Imperial rivalry and frontier commerce: some aspects of contraband between Spanish missions of Mojos and Chiquitos and Portuguese capitania of Mato Grosso (c. 1767-1800)

Author(s): Francismar Alex Lopes de Carvalho

Journal: Antíteses
ISSN 1984-3356

Volume: 4;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 595;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Contraband | Mato Grosso | Mojos | Chiquitos | Commercial policy.

Spaniards and Portuguese had applied different policies concerning the contraband in South American frontiers. While Spanish Empire forbade the commerce with foreigners, the Portuguese Crown secretly stimulated the contraband at Colônia do Sacramento and Mato Grosso. During the second half of eighteenth century, contraband became intensely practiced by merchants, missionaries, military and even governors in the valley of the Guaporé River. The missions of Mojos and Chiquitos consolidated the production of cattle, tallow, mules, cocoa, cotton and sugar, but irregular supply of European goods encouraged missionaries and Spanish merchants to seek alternative suppliers. At the same time, in Portuguese capitania of Mato Grosso, orders of the central power, availability of gold and demand in fort Príncipe da Beira propitiated convergence with Spanish vassals’ aspirations. This paper analyses the impacts of contraband among Spanish and Portuguese administrative institutions, merchants and indigenous peoples in the contested frontier of Mojos, Chiquitos and Mato Grosso provinces. It focuses on the period after the expulsion of Jesuits, when contraband prospered, and the late Spanish reformist governors.
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