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Religion and TradeCross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000-1900$
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Francesca Trivellato, Leor Halevi, and Catia Antunes

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199379187

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199379187.001.0001

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Trading with the Muslim World

Trading with the Muslim World

Religious Limits and Proscriptions in the Portuguese Empire (ca. 1480–1570)

(p.91) 3 Trading with the Muslim World
Religion and Trade

Giuseppe Marcocci

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the commercial relations that the early modern Portuguese Empire entertained with the Muslim world. In principle, canon law forbade all Catholic countries and merchants from selling weapons, iron, wood, and other potential armaments to Muslims and other non-Christians. While promoting commerce and overseas expansion, Portuguese royal legislation abided by these canon law prohibitions. But how could religious proscriptions coexist with the need to trade with non-Christians within and beyond the boundaries of the Portuguese Empire? The answer can be found in the lively debates that developed among political authorities, theologians, and merchants in the mid-sixteenth century. Blanket canon law prohibitions gave way to distinctions between different regions and different Muslim groups based on the latter’s strategic usefulness. The global reach of the Portuguese Empire that extended from Asia to Africa and Brazil was thus sustained.

Keywords:   Portuguese Empire, Muslims, canon law, theology, armaments

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