25 julho 2007


Na coluna de artes do Financial Times (The ancient art of globalisation, Jeremy Grant, 24/07/2007), USA Ed1, p. 15, o jornal inglês comenta uma exposição sobre a história de Portugal. O título da matéria é apropriado e interessante pois informa que a globalização é mais antiga do poderíamos pensar.

Além disto, a matéria informa sobre a espionagem italiana, que rouba o "Cantino Planisphere", um mapa que contém informações das quatro grandes expedições marítimas: Colombo, Cabral, Vasco da Gama e os irmãos Corte-Real.

In 1502, an Italian diplomatic agent working in Lisbon for the Duke Ercole d'Este of Ferrara pulled off what must rank as one of the boldest thefts of a state secret. Somehow, he managed to make off with an item of inestimable value to the Portuguese king: a copy of the "Cantino Planisphere", a large map. This was no ordinary map. Using information brought back by Portuguese sailors in the latter half of the 15th century, it represented the most accurate view of the known world at that time, allowing the Portuguese to project their emerging maritime empire more effectively than any rival.

With the beginning of the reign of Joao II in 1481, Lisbon had become the seat of a vast project of exploration, carried out along the African coasts, with the objective of reaching the Indian Ocean and southern Asia. The Portuguese had begun their explorations in the early part of the century, colonising Madeira and the Azores, moving later along the west coast of Africa in search of slaves and gold. Asia soon followed, then Brazil.

Royal cartographers fashioned the map using information brought back by sailors from four series of voyages: Columbus to the Caribbean; Pedro Alvarez Cabral to Brazil; Vasco da Gama to eastern Africa and India; and finally the brothers Corte-Real to Greenland and Newfoundland. Except for Columbus, all had sailed under the Portuguese flag. The original of the Cantino map is presumed to have been lost in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. But the stolen version - a copy - has been housed at a library in Modena ever since.

(...) As empires go, the Portuguese seems to get less attention than those that followed. But Portugal was the first European nation to build an extensive commercial empire, creating a global network that relied more on trade than conquest of land. In the process, they not only made contact with regions previously unknown to Europeans, but also left a legacy that was more cultural than political. (...)

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