The death of Dom João V on 31 June 1750 marked the end of an era in Luso-Brazilian history. The quinquennium 1750–5 was an eventful period, both in the history of the mother nation and in that of her most important colony. It saw the rise to power of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, later to be the Marquis of Pombal. The Minister of State during these years was the ailing Pedro da Mota, but it was Pombal who dominated all sectors of the administration from his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs and War. The new king, Dom José I, left all decisions on policy to his capable minister. Portugal was experiencing a time of economic difficulty. Imports exceeded exports and the influx of low-priced commodities, especially from Britain, was adversely affecting home production. An illicit trade in the re-export of gold from Portugal was flourishing. The system of annual fleets was proving unsatisfactory. Warehouses in Lisbon were flooded with sugar and tobacco for short periods of the year, when prices fell. Pombal enacted a series of measures, replaced lax officials and exercised closer surveillance over the enforcement of dues in an attempt to remedy this situation. The greatest single event in Portugal in these years was the great earthquake of Lisbon on 1 November 1755. This destroyed the centre of the city and was followed by a tidal wave which completed the destruction of those few buildings on the waterfront which had escaped the main shock.
KeywordsSocial Service Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century City Council Royal Decree
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- 1.These comparisons are suggested by a reading of the following works: C. H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York, 1947: reprinted with cor-rections and a new bibliography in 1952 and 1957)Google Scholar
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