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King Pedro of Portugal

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King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:30 pm

One of the things I like about playing games like this is it gives me a personal interest in history, so I go out and buy and read stuff that I never would otherwise.

I just picked up "Economy and Society in Baroque Portugal 1668 - 1703" on Amazon. Now the fact that such book exists amazes me, but it has some great material in it (which I am NOT going to incorporate into the in-game version of him!).

Apparently he was very informal about audiences, and often didn't have the number of guards about him that other Europeans considered proper. He preferred to dine alone. he dressed in black and was a teetotaler. But was apparently quite the chaser of young women. but here's the real kicker:

"D. Pedro apparently maintained liaisons in which he displayed a preference for black women. According to an exaggerated by nonetheless revealing account made by an anonymous contemporary, the young ruler's nocturnal forays might include visits to the domiciles of two or three women before sunrise. As a result of these sallies into the night, the prince regent probably contracted venereal disease sometime during the early 1670s. Our unkonwn informant also claimed that D. Pedro had fathered several mulattos whom he later shipped of to the colonies. For male companionship, D. Pedro enjoyed gossiping with the junior officers of his household and also liked to associate with a number of fun-loving mulattos who acted as his incognito agents in the capital and as combatants in brawls that the would provoke and then join"

Wow. King Pedro was apparently a wild and crazy kinda guy. Maybe it was better that he didn't drink! Let's hope the rest of the book has this kinda fun historical facts.


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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:50 pm


Apparently there were a lot of beggars in Lisbon, and....

"Other problems of the poor periodically surfaced in the documents produced by the Lisbon city council. A 1670 consulta, for instance, reveals that there was an insufficient number of small-denomination coins in circulation for use by the poor. The lack of small copper and silver coinage caused additional difficulties for beggars since charitable passersby were less likely to part with larger coins. Three years after the 1670 consulta was submitted, nothing had still been done about the shortage and then, according to the Camara, the problem had become so acute that trade in less costly items was being impeded by the lack of small change. Finally, in 1676, the Lisbon mint began to stamp out new low-denomination coins of copper, a metal chronically in short supply."

Also, apparently, the size of fishing net mesh was regulated on the Tagus river in Lisbon to preserve the fishing stock (couldn't be too small, so the smaller fish could escape the net). I think that's a damn clever idea. Also, apparently the tobacco trade was a state monopoly, so there was a ton of smuggling by the Spanish of tobacco into the Algraves.

Also, I hadn't realized how many slaves were in Portugal itself during the period.

"During the mid-sixteenth century, approximately ten percent of the population of Lisbon were slaves. During that same century, it has been estimated that ten percent of the population of the Algrave were also slaves. The slave population was made up of blacks, mulattos, indians from the subcontinent and Moors. By the seventeenth century, however, the number of Moorish and Oriental slaves had probably dropped considerably, thanks to legislation that constricted their importation into Portugal."
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:34 pm


Apparently, the Portuguese Inquisition and the Jesuit Order were at huge odds through much of the period in question in Portugal. The Portuguese inquisition had, in fact, in 1641 through the office of the grand inquisitor supported and assassination attempt on John IV, the first king of Portugal after its fight for liberation from Spain.

The Portuguese Inquisition had more ties to Spain, while the Jesuits who ran the universities supported an independent Portugal. They also backed the 'new christians' as necessary for the economic success of Portugal.

(If you don't know, following the Spanish explusion of jews in 1497, many 'converted' and became 'new christians', these were continuously watched and harrassed by the inquisition to ensure they didn't lapse. There was also a great deal of belief in 'purity of blood' in the period and intermarrying with a former jewish family would definitely pollute your blood!)


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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Frank on Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:48 am

A very good book is also "The Methuens and Portugal 1691-1708" from A.D. Francis. Especially if you want more informations about the economical situation of Portugal.
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:42 pm


Thanks for the tip, I'll look for it. It's already clear that given the needs of simulation, the in-game economy doesn't exactly match history, though I think Richard would be crazy to attempt to try to get more accuracy in the simulation than he already has given the complexities.

The chapter that talked about the various guilds and how each of them had different rights was interesting, but a little mind-boggling.
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:30 pm


Finished the book on the plan to mexico where I'm spending a sunny christmas (Merry Christmas all!).

I found the last chapters fascinating, but not useful from a game perspective. It seems the key instrument of economic development policy of the period was the monopoly. You'd sell a monopoly on the trade of a certain product in exchange for guaranteed investments or other actions. I think modeling this for one country would be devilish, and for more, sheer insanity.

A couple of interesting sidepoints to me:

Taxes were often collected by those who had purchased that right. So the king and the Cortes set a tax, but then private businessmen bought the right to collect those taxes. The revenue to the crown wasn't so much the tax itself as the contracts sold to collect that tax. I'm sure a number here understood this, but I didn't. It makes more sense now why developing your own tax collectors is an option in game since this method seems very inefficient to me.

The level of corruption seems to have been remarkably high, and the clergy were apparently frequently happy to use their immunity to attempt to trade in monopoly products they weren't supposed to. Apparently the threat of transportation to Angola in africa didn't slow down the corruption too much either!
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:10 am

Started the Metheuns and Portugal book on the way back, and it's a gem too, thanks for the recommendation.

Apparently they used some of the same sources since there is a much longer quote about King pedro liking to eat alone on the floor on a cork mat! And that some of the moorish customs of lying down were still common in portugal.

Pedro also apparently loved bull fighting and hunting, but gave up the former at the request of his second wife.

The book then begins to give a window into all the politics around the spanish succession, and wow that was complex, even for just the lead up to the war proper that I'm reading now.
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:48 pm


Another thing the book makes clear is one of Richards points about how strapped all the national treasuries were at this period. Everyone struggled to fund a ship here or there, or a company or two of men.

I'm glad Richard chose to give everybody more money and freedom, because a game where you could maybe choose to do one thing a year, as they did, doesn't strike me as that much fun - even if accurate!
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Ardagor on Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:48 pm

Yes of course, a lot of money make the game much more exciting but sometimes the fleets and armies bashing it out can be very large indeed.
The British with 27 SOL`s destroyed the French/Spanish fleet of 33 SOL`s at Trafalgar in 1805. This would be fairly moderate clash in a long running game.
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:16 pm


Yes, the french with their >100 SoL menacing the Americans in Game 3 isn't quite period, but I think it works well for game play to have more choices, and if it means the numbers are larger, in the end the effect is the same.

The only thing I've noticed is that it seems in the longer running games the disparity between the large and the small grows quite substantially, so smaller positions that have enough to be a challenge or a threat early in the game, don't late in the game.

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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:22 pm

These are very interesting posts - thank you for sharing.

I can't add much to Portugal-specific comments, but might be able to add something on national treasuries and the problems of raising money.

Nations were short of cash for several reasons, not least the difficulty of assessing and collecting tax and losses due to corruption or tax monopolies. Improvements came more from spending the money better (reducing embezzlement, e.g. Pepys and the English Navy) than raising more. A good book to try is A Popular History of Taxation by James Coffield (ISBN 0-582-10411-4), published 1970 it is still useful as an introduction. It tries to give a general treatment starting in Ancient Rome, but it mainly focusses on England with a few chapters on the US. England benefitted by various reforms in the late 1600s which made it easier to raise money to pay taxes, not least the Bank of England.

Elsewhere on the continent of Europe things were far worse. Most larger nations (Spain, France) had regional parliaments or assemblies which jealously guarded their historical privileges. The nobility saw themselves as collectors of tax, but avoided changes to their privileges so they would have to pay tax. To get around that monarchs had to be very inventive and made tax codes complicated. In France the inability to reform the tax system was a major cause of Louis XV's problems and directly led to the revolution. Louis XIV's minister Colbert, did manage to push through some reforms, but tax riots were still common, particularly over the hated gabelle (salt tax) which was particularly regressive. The situation was no better in most German states, despite their smaller size. After Franche-Comte became part of France its local assembly at Besancon still clung on to serfdom until just before the revolution.

There was a lot of wealth around, but the first challenge was agreeing in principle how it could be taxed. For an economy primarily based on agriculture it is very difficult (it isn't much easier today). Consider the case of a sheep farmer: typical problem - a sheep farmer should look to maximise the number of sheep he has in his flock so that over time his flock grows; he 'reinvests' in his flock by only killing the minimum number he has to, and of course there is a problem selling part of a sheep to raise cash unless it is dead. Then there are the administrative issues: if he decided to eat one of his own sheep, then should he be taxed on the value of that sheep? Not in 1700. Neither could he be taxed on the number of new lambs born - as he didn't have the cash available to pay any tax and the lambs might suddenly die of natural causes just before the date of assessment. If he was taxed on the sale of lambs at market, then was he able to offset the cost of lambs which had died? How did he calculated the cost of feeding the lambs when they grazed on land he owned? Of course, nobles did have income which could be taxed, but this came from tenants paying rent rather than from farming the land directly. Thus the irony that instead of building their flocks up, tenants were forced to sell their own lambs to receive cash to pay the nobles rent (a more easily taxed source of income) who could then subsidize their own flocks and avoid paying tax over to the government.

The problem of taxing sheep is an old one. See www.bahs.org.uk/02n1a3.pdf for an idea of the debate in England (1549); in the end they went through various ideas including a poll tax on sheep (big problems counting the sheep at a time when they couldn't even agree on how many people were in a parish), a tax based on acreage (various objections to grazing density and sheep which wandered about), before deciding it was easier to stick with a tax on wool sales instead. It is a good read if you are interested in that kind of thing.

I don't know how the great complexity of the tax system of the time could be replicated in the game, and I for one am quite relieved that I don't have to dream up new forms of tax to inflict on the people.
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:52 pm


Interesting, and thanks for the post, I'll have a look at those.

I didn't figure people would have much to add on the Portugal bits, but hoped they would be found interesting.

I wholeheartedly agree after my reading that I'm glad the game simulation of the economy and taxation is so much simplified. Reading some of the problems of managing various tax monopolies and the like made my eyes bleed!
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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Deacon on Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:13 am


Great quote from that link!

"Men passe not moche howe manye lawes be made, for they see
very fewe put in execution."

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Re: King Pedro of Portugal

Post by Guest on Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:14 am

I find the history of taxation very illuminating - the same questions of principle keep coming up today!

It isn't difficult to imagine the rich landowners in Parliament deciding that they could offset the tax on sheep against the tax on goods (thereby subsidising their own tax payments), then running into difficulty with implementation. Page 18 about resistance in the North Riding of Yorkshire rings particularly true: "If the North Riding returns represent what the parish priest and the honest men of the vllage found that midsummer, they must have been men who did not know a sheep when they saw one. Only 4 or 5 villages in each wapentake were represented at all, and in these the flocks consisted of 100 sheep or less". Poor parish priest - didn't he have enough to do? These same men who were prepared to go to war over 'religion', were unwilling (surely not unable) to identify a sheep. Also, when the tax was finally declared unworkable and monies ordered to be returned they seemed to have difficulty doing this as well! In the end the tax refunded was greater than collected (p20/22). Finally we are reminded that the first successful census of people wasn't until 1801, and of sheep 1866. Where would we be in LGDR without a population census?

Before being too hard on the nobility, though, perhaps we should remember that at the time they were responsible for looking after the poor in parishes themselves without any aid from the state, so I suppose that up to a point they could have felt justified in resisting new taxes.

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