Nobility and the Estado da Índia in the 16th century



Over the past few years, CHAM developed a field of research on the presence of the Portuguese nobility in Asia. In 2000, the first results surfaced with published works: “A Nobreza e a Expansão – Estudos Biográficos” [The Nobility and the Expansion – Bibliographical Studies] and “Descobridores do Brasil – Exploradores do Atlântico e Construtores do Estado da Índia” [The Discoverers of Brazil – Explorers of the Atlantic and Constructors of the Estado da Índia], supervised by João Paulo Oliveira e Costa – and a series of free courses and lectures devoted to this topic.


The main goal of the project «Nobility and the Estado da Índia in the 16th century» is to further investigate the results of a field of research developed by the Centre for Overseas History and the Department of Social Sciences of the Institute of Tropical Scientific Investigation, set in motion with an initial funding in 2000.


In January 2000, the project «Nobility and the Estado da Índia in the 16th century» applied for funding from the FCT under the Operational Programme Science, Technology and Innovation and has been reviewed by the international evaluation board with the rating of «Excellent», and obtained funding for a period of 3 years, started on April 1, 2001, further extended until March 2005. This work was developed by scholarship holder Teresa Lacerda. In June 2004 the project applied once again to FCT, received the rating of «Very Good», and got new funding in order to widen the chronological scope and documentary research. This new stage, developed by scholarship holder Silvana Pires, was started in January 2006 and will be completed in December 2007.


This project is entirely funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. However, given the good results throughout the project, the research team was able to obtain additional funds, granted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The first was granted in June 2002, the second in December 2004. These funds were used to hire three part-time collaborators who, alongside the main scholarship holder, were dedicated to collect data, inserting it in a database and its subsequent correction.


The main purpose of the project is to study the status and path of the noblemen and officers that significantly contributed for the construction of the Estado Português da India. The materialisation of this project has been marked by the creation and development of two distinct but complementary tools: The Database of Noblemen and Officials in the “Estado da Índia” in the 16th century and the Genealogies of the Viceroys and Governors of the “Estado da Índia” in the 16th century.


The main purpose in creating the database is to collect and systematise data on the noblemen and officers acting in the Indian Ocean during the 16th century. The information contained herein are from the reading and analysis of various documental collections and specialty studies. The research of this information aims, firstly, to consolidate what is known about the personal journey of individuals who served the Crown in India, secondly, to reach out to new horizons of sociological study of the Portuguese Expansion and Discoveries and, lastly, to find more on the Portuguese nobility at the dawn of the Early Modern Period.


The research and scanning of the genealogies of the viceroys and Governors of India is fully subsidised by the BCP Foundation and is aimed mainly at studying the kinship networks of the agents of the Crown in the Indian.


Aside from the innovative scientific contribution, the added value of this project lies in the permanent update of content and its availability to the general public, thus assuring this information is accessible beyond the academic world.


Apart from its informative component, this project intends to raise questions and doubts, thus leading to the creation of various new topics of study and research. Rather than a finish line, this project turned out to be a starting point for new analyses.



•To understand the role of the nobility in the assertion and consolidation of the Portuguese presence in the East during this period;

•To identify the holders of military and administrative positions in the Estado da Índia of the 16th century;

•To deepen the knowledge on the personal journey of each officer of the Estado da Índia;

•To study the kinship networks of the agents of the Crown in the East.


Code: POCTI/36414/HAR/99 & POCI/HAR/55685/2004

Start: 2004

Duration: 36 months

Principal Investigator: João Paulo Oliveira e Costa (CHAM)




- Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Main Research Unit

- Centro de História d'Aquém e d'Além-Mar / Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas/Universidade Nova de Lisboa | Universidade dos Açores

- Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa


- Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical


- Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
- Fundação Millennium bcp
- Fundação Oriente



João Paulo Oliveira e Costa   .    Coordenator

Alexandra Pelúcia (CHAM)
Andreia Martins Carvalho (CHAM)
João Luís Ferreira (CHAM)
João Silva de Jesus (CHAM)
Madalena Teotónio Pereira Bourbon Ribeiro (IHC / NOVA FCSH)
Marisa Pires Reis Correia
Silvana Roque de Oliveira (CHAM)
Teresa Lacerda (CHAM)


Work tools

Genealogies of the Viceroys and Governors of the Estado da Índia in the 16th century