The Portuguese Expansion (15th-19th centuries)


- To understand the concepts of the History of the Portuguese Discoveries and Expansion within the framework of the History of Portugal and of the European Expansions (14th to 18th centuries).
- To understand the main models and vectors of the Portuguese Expansion, particularly in terms of colonization, commerce, interactions and impacts.
- To critically identify the specificities of the Portuguese Expansion within a framework of Global History.
- To understand and identify the global political, economic and ecological perspectives of the Portuguese Expansion.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Cristina Maria Ribeiro da Silva Brito


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 280

Teaching language



Available soon


Bibliografia básica

COSTA, João Paulo Oliveira e (coor.), RODRIGUES, José Damião, & OLIVEIRA, Pedro Aires de. História da Expansão e do Império Português, Lisboa, A Esfera dos Livros, 2014, pp. 11-339.

DOMINGUES, Francisco Contente (dir.), Dicionário da Expansão Portuguesa 1415-1600, 2 vols., s.l., Círculo de Leitores, 2016.

BETHENCOURT, Francisco; CURTO, Diogo Ramada, Portuguese Oceanic Expansion, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007 (há edição portuguesa, 2010).


Bibliografia geral

BENTLEY, J.H., SUBRAHMANYAN, Sanjay & WIESNER-HANKS, Merry E. (Eds.) The Cambridge World History. Volume VI. The Construction of a Global World, 1400-1800 CE. Part I: Foundations. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

BETHENCOURT, Francisco e CURTO, Diogo Ramada (dir.), A Expansão Marítima Portuguesa, 1400-1800, Lisboa, Edições 70, 2010.

DISNEY, Anthony, A history of Portugal and the Portuguese empire. Nova York, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

GREENE, Jack P. & MORGAN, Phillip D., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

RUSSELL-WOOD, A. J. R., O Império Português, 1415-1808 – O Mundo em Movimento, Lisboa, Clube do Autor, 2016 (1ª ed. portuguesa: Um Mundo em Movimento. Os Portugueses na África, Ásia e América (1415-1808), Algés, Difel, 1998.

Teaching method

This course will be taught using asynchronous e-learning supported by the Moodle platform. The course will be taught using bibliography, podcasts and different online resources.  Teaching is based on collaborative learning - stimulating, for example, participation in peer forums.

The syllabus for this curricular unit has been formulated taking into account that this is a compulsory curricular unit that will serve as an anchor for the geographical (territorial specialisation) and thematic seminars.

They have also been dimensioned so that the student:

i. Have an overall view of the History of the Portuguese Discoveries and Expansion;

ii. Know how to identify the main characteristics of Portuguese Expansion, especially the models of military conquest, colonisation and trade;

iii. Understand how the major events of the Portuguese Expansion relate to the history of Portugal and European colonial empires;

iv. Have a minimum knowledge of the specificities of Portuguese Expansion by major geographical areas.

Evaluation method

Assessment will be carried out as detailed below:

20% - Participation in the forums on the Moodle platform (continuous).

30% - Mid-semester assignment (November)

50% Final written assignment (topic to be chosen together with the lecturer) (December).

The various individual assignments produced throughout the course and, above all, the final paper, aim to develop and deepen research skills and critical analysis of the central issues dealt with in this curricular unit. The aim is for the master's student to develop the conceptual tools of a global and comparative history applied to the themes developed in this unit.

Subject matter

Presentation and learning objectives

- To understand the concepts of the History of the Discoveries and Portuguese Expansion within the framework of the History of Portugal and European Expansion (14th to 18th centuries).

- Understand the main models of Portuguese Expansion, in particular military conquest, colonisation and trade.

- Critically identify the specificities of Portuguese Expansion within the framework of Global History.

- Understand the general frameworks of Portuguese Expansion, identifying the main political and economic conjunctures.



1. Portuguese Expansion in the current context: historiographical currents

2. the background to expansion: political, geographical and technological factors

3. The beginnings (1415-1460)

4. The definition of an expansionist policy and the definition of models (1415-1494)

5. A global maritime empire (1495-1580)

6. Rival powers and the reorientation of presence in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic

7. The territorialisation of the Portuguese empire 

8. Interactions and confrontations between peoples and ecological impacts


Programs where the course is taught: