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Francisco Bethencourt

The Impact of Magellan’s Circumnavigation of the World

Humanities Conference Tuesday, 17 March 2020, 19:30 hours Madrid

General information:

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces. Calle Vitruvio, 5. 28006. Madrid.

Free admission. Necessary previous online registration. Limited capacity.  

It belongs to the Conferences cycle: The Journey Around the World of Magellan-Elcano: Causes and Consequences

In cooperation with:

Cátedra Luis de Camoens. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Register online

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Connections between the different parts of the world had been reorganised through intercontinental maritime trade from the 1490s onwards when Magellan’s voyage of circumnavigation took place. This voyage was the arrival point of three decades of exploration and cartography, although the Pacific had remained largely unknown. But the voyage was also a point of departure, since it revealed the existence of new markets, triggering the debate between Portugal and Castile concerning the demarcation line of the Treaty of Tordesillas on the Pacific Ocean. Most importantly, it showed the possibility of crossing the extraordinarily large Pacific Ocean. The return voyage from Mexico to the Far East became therefore a crucial issue. In the meantime, French, English and later Dutch competition targeted the Atlantic and the passage to Asia. The French were beaten in Brazil after several attempts of occupation from the 1520s to the 1550s, but Dutch and British managed to build a comprehensive knowledge and capacity in the following decades, becoming quite successful by the end of the sixteenth century. World context is important here to define possibilities of trade and dominion. This paper will analyse the varied situation of continents in the 1520s to return to the competition between the two main Iberian powers.


Tuesday, 17 March

19:00 h.

Attendees check-in

19:30 h.

The Impact of Magellan’s Circumnavigation of the World 

Francisco Bethencourt  
Charles Boxer Professor, Department of History, King's College, London. 

Francisco Bethencourt  is Charles Boxer Professor of History at King’s College London since 2005. He was Director of the Gulbenkian Cultural Centre in Paris (1999-2004) and Director of the National Library of Portugal (1996-98). He taught at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (1982-1998). He is the author of Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2013), The Inquisition: a Global History, 1478-1834 (Cambridge, 2009), and O Imaginário da Magia no século XVI (São Paulo, 2004). He edited or co-edited Inequality in the Portuguese-Speaking World (Eastbourne, 2018), Cosmopolitanism in the Portuguese-speaking World (Leiden, 2018), Utopia in Portugal, Brazil and Lusophone African Countries (Oxford, 2015) Frontières religieuses à l'époque moderne (Paris, 2013), Racism and Ethnic Relations in the Portuguese-Speaking World (Oxford, 2012), Portuguese Oceanic Expansion, 1400-1800 (Cambridge, 2007), Correspondence and Cultural Exchange in Europe, 1400-1700 (Cambridge, 2007), L’empire portugais face aux autres empires (Paris, 2007), História da Expansão Portuguesa, 5 vols. (Lisbon, 1998-1999). Bethencourt organised an exhibition on Racism and Citizenship at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon, with more than 80 objects (paintings, sculptures, ceramics, postcards, videos and photographs) from the sixteenth century to the present (May-September 2017, c. 60,000 visitors).  He co-examined nineteen PhD theses in the UK, France and Portugal, and supervised or co-supervised seventeen PhD dissertations in the UK, Portugal and Brazil. 

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