History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2014: Q.5 (e)

History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2014: Q.5 (e)

Q.5 (e) How was Cartaz System used by the Portuguese to maintain their control over the oceanic trade?


Portuguese had tried to monopolise the oceanic trade in India which was contrary to the tradition of ooen trade in Asian waters.They declared trade in spices, drugs, dyes, arms & ammunition and war horses as royal monopoly and no nation or even Portuguese private traders were allowed to trade in these commodities.

Ships engaged in the trade of other commodities had to take a permit or trading license, known as Cartaz from Portuguese officials. Its aim was to control and enforce the Portuguese trade monopoly over a wide area in the Indian Ocean and to ensure that merchants paid the tax in Portuguese trading posts. The Portuguese attempted to force all ships going to the east or to Africa to pass by Goa and to pay custom duty there.

To enforce these rules, the Portuguese searched any ships suspected of engaging in trade without Cartaz or trade in monopolised commodities.Ships which refused to be searched were treated as prize of war and men and women abroad as slaves.

But the complete control over the oceanic trade by using Cartaz system did not succeed much and the rules regarding giving Cartaz to local traders had to be liberalized because:

(a)Traders who lost on sea put pressure on their governments to retaliate against Portuguese trade in their areas.

(b) It was impossible to police trade along huge coasts of Asia.

(c) Sea pirates preying on Portuguese ships were encouraged by traders and small rulers.

(d) The Arabs and Gujarati traders found ways to get round the Portuguese trade embargo and regulation.

(e) Even Portuguese private traders were unhappy due to royal monopoly and Cartaz and royal officials who received small salary often bribed by private traders (Portuguese, Arabs, Gujarati etc).

(f) The Portuguese control over Indian ocean remained incomplete because of their failure to capture Aden.

The Portuguese used the Cartaz system to control over the oceanic trade though not completely until the other European powers like the Dutch and English made their appearances in the 17th century.


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