The Indian Ocean. Societies, Trade and War


To understand the cultural and civilizational diversity of the Indian Ocean and its political, economic and social frameworks, from the Cape of Good Hope to Southeast Asia.
To link correctly the different strategies of penetration, adaptation and settlement adopted by the Portuguese with the Asian contexts, between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries.
To assimilate the most relevant dynamics of the Portuguese Empire in Asia – the «Estado da Índia» – in their social, economic and military/naval aspects.
To identify and characterize the fundamental lines and stages of the Portuguese presence – formal and informal – in Maritime Asia, including the responses given to both Asian and European challenges.
To develop critical thinking skills on historical sources and historiographical approaches.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Paulo Jorge Corino de Sousa Pinto


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 280

Teaching language



Available soon


Costa, J. P. O & Rodrigues, V. L. G. (1992). Portugal y Oriente: el Proyecto Indiano del Rey Juan. Madrid: Ed. MAPFRE.
Das Gupta, A., & Pearson, M. N. (1987). India and the Indian Ocean, 1500-1800. Oxford University Press.
Disney, A. (2009). A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, vol. II, “The Portuguese Empire”. Cambridge University Press, 119-203.
Thomaz, L. F. F. R. (1994). Estrutura política e administrativa do Estado da Índia no século XVI. In Luís Filipe F. R. Thomaz, De Ceuta a Timor. Lisboa: Difel, 207-243.
Subrahmanyam, S. (2012). The Portuguese empire in Asia, 1500-1700 : a political and economic history (2ª ed.). John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 
Subrahmanyam, S. & Thomaz, L. F. F. R. (1991). Evolution of Empire: The Portuguese in the Indian Ocean during the Sixteenth Century. In James D. Tracy (ed.), The Political Economy of Merchant Empires. Cambridge University Press, 298-331.
Winius, G. (1983). The “Shadow Empire” of Goa in the Bay of Bengal. Itinerario, 7, 83-101.   

Teaching method

Teaching is given in asynchronous e-learning, using the Moodle platform, in which multimedia resources and various support materials are available, as well as selected bibliography (general and specific). The use of a forum for permanent monitoring of the subjects taught and for collaborative learning is essential.

Evaluation method

Método de avaliação - a review or comment (25%), a written essay(50%), and continuous participation in the forum(25%)

Subject matter

1. Notions and concepts. Asia, India and East.
2. Maritime Asia at the turning of the 16th century: political fragmentation, mercantile networks and communities.
3. The formation of Portuguese Estado da Índia: from Mozambique to Melaka and beyond.
4. «To trade whenever possible, to make war whenever necessary»; Portuguese strategies of penetration in the Indian Ocean.
5. King Manuel’s messianism and King John III’s realism.
6. Crisis, Reform and Regeneration; the European competition and the «World War I».
7. Sunset and survival of the Empire.
8. Formal and informal Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean; »Estado da Índia» and «shadow-empire».



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