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Transformative Events Analysed

Rochelle Pinto

By Maria de Jesus dos Mártires Lopes
Manohar, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 455, Rs. 995.00


This is a much welcome translation of Mártires Lopes original work in Portuguese, first published in 1993, with a second edition (also in Portuguese) in 1999. As the author herself states in the preface to her first edition, this is one of the few times that material from the Pastoral Visits and Church Rolls in Goa has been used. This is not the only source whose publication whether in Portuguese or English makes this book a valuable contribution to the field of Goan and Portuguese history. The wealth of empirical detail on various aspects of eighteenth-century life provides many insights, particularly when this book is read alongside existing work on other periods of Goan history. Mártires Lopes’ material has been gathered across Portugal, Brazil and Goa, from national archives, University libraries, local church records and the Archives of the Patriarchal Curia of Goa.   The author indicates in the first section of the book that the significant political marker of this century is the Pombaline reforms that were initiated in the middle of the century, in Portugal and the colonies. The reforms of the Marquis de Pombal were enabled by his position as Minister under the King D. José I from 1750 until 1777; a period of dominance that was brief and cataclysmic. The Pombaline reforms have been customarily seen to typify Portugal’s engagement with Enlightenment thought – always in conflict with the strong monarchist and ecclesiastical traditions of the country. The most widely circulated epithet about Pombal as an enlightened despot indicates that his writ in favour of economic rationalization and nationalization of trade and commerce within the empire, along with other reforms, was enforced through his influence with the monarchy, and not necessarily as an extension of political consensus within Portugal. This is also evident in the fact that his controversial suppression of the European religious orders within Goa as elsewhere, along with the attempted expurgation of their influence on pedagogy was overturned or ignored quite easily under the reign of D. Maria who succeeded D. José I. These aspects could have been more usefully illuminated through a discussion of what Pombal’s engagement with Enlightenment thought, and Portugal’s in general, actually constituted. Unfortunately, the question of impact and transformation tends to be addressed through enumeration, description and statement of fact, undoubtedly valuable for the field, but somewhat wanting as a suggestion for how to understand social, religious, economic and ...

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