Businesses, Partnerships and Chartered companies: The Time of Tea and Porcelain

Susana Münch Miranda, João Paulo Salvado

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the eighteenth century, Euro-Asian maritime trade peaked, following an unprecedented surge in European demand for exotic goods. Cotton textiles, porcelain, tea and coffee experienced an increasing penetration in European households. The popularisation of tea also triggered a profound change in European material culture. The hot beverage was associated with the spread of less durable materials, like porcelain, and new objects that contributed to the emergence of new patterns of sociability and domesticity. While the big East India companies dominated most of the Euro-Asian trade, Portugal also engaged in it. Still little studied, this involvement aimed to supply both the main consumer market, the North-European market, and the domestic market, with its extension to the Brazilian market.
We examine the circumstances that determined the alignment of interests between the Portuguese crown and the mercantile communities of Lisbon, which favoured the establishment of direct trade flows with China from Lisbon. Through licenses granted by King João V, from 1710 onwards, ships regularly set sail from Lisbon to Macau, Coromandel and Bengal, without needing to call at Goa. This trade was carried out by merchants organised in trading partnerships or chartered companies, but it also involved the participation of foreign investors. In this integration in transnational business networks, Lisbon and its mercantile agents responded to the growing European demand of Asian commodities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOne King and Three Emperors
Subtitle of host publicationPortugal, China and Macau in the Time of King João V
EditorsJorge dos Santos Alves
Place of PublicationLisbon
PublisherMuseu de São Roque
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-989-8712-90-5, 978-989-8712-90-05
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • China
  • Euro-Asian trade
  • Tea
  • Porcelain
  • Partnerships
  • Chartered companies
  • Transnational business networks
  • Lisbon


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