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Merchants and merchant networks

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Chapter Summary

Sugar remained only one product traded on the circuit comprising Brazil, the Atlantic Islands, Portugal and northwestern Europe. Profits in trade on this route came from a wide range of commodities. Not surprisingly, merchant communities of a very heterogeneous nature collected at the staging points of this trade and were tied together through their common involvement. This chapter offers a descriptive examination of how an inter-imperial merchant network was constructed through space and across political and ethnic boundaries. Most large wholesale traders in Portugal, including those also active in the Carreira da India had some involvement also in the circuits of Brazilian sugar. These Carreira investors included the large merchant families/networks of Brandão, Fernandes, Gomes Denis e Solis, Silveira, Tinoco and Vaz de Souza. All of them had members in Brazil, usually in Bahia or Pernambuco in the period of 1580 to 1640.

Keywords: Atlantic Islands; Brazilian sugar; inter-imperial merchant network; northwestern Europe; Portugal



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