Portuguese American Journal

Book: ‘Power and Corruption in the Early Modern Portuguese World’ – Editor’s Note

Encompassing numerous territories across four different continents, Portugal’s early modern empire depended upon a vast and complex bureaucracy, yet colonial power did not reside solely in the centralized state. In a masterful reconceptualization of the functioning of empire, Erik Lars Myrup’s Power and Corruption in the Early Modern Portuguese World argues that beneath the surface of formal government, an intricate web of interpersonal relationships played a key role in binding together the Portuguese empire.

Myrup draws on archival research in Portugal, Spain, Brazil, and China to demonstrate how informal networks of power and patronage offered a crucial means of navigating – or circumventing – the serpentine paths of the governmental hierarchy.

Populated by a host of colorful characters, from backland explorers to colonial magistrates, Power and Corruption in the Early Modern Portuguese World demonstrates how informal social connections both magnified and diminished the power of the colonial state. If such systems contributed to corruption and fraud, they also facilitated effective cross-cultural exchange and ensured the survival of empire in times of crisis and decline. Myrup has produced a truly global study that sheds new light on the influence of interpersonal networks on the administration of a vast overseas empire.


About the Author

Erik Lars Myrup is assistant professor of history at the University of Kentucky. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Americas, Portuguese Studies, Itinerario, and the Hispanic American Historical Review.

Book Details

  • Title: Power and Corruption in the Early Modern Portuguese World
  • Author: Erik Lars Myrup
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Date of Publication: July 2015
  • Language: English
  • Hardcover: 256 pp.

Source: Louisiana State University Press