The empire in the duke’s palace: Global material culture in sixteenth-century Portugal

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From the death of his father in 1532, to his own demise in 1563, Teodósio I led the wealthiest, most prominent and powerful family of the Portuguese nobility as the 5th Duke of Bragança. When he died, an extraordinary inventory was made listing the contents of the family’s main palace, in Vila Viçosa, in the southeast of Portugal. It is the largest inventory to have survived from sixteenth-century Portugal and one of the largest of the same period in Europe.
Given the exceptional wealth of information it contains, this inventory can be approached from many angles and its data can be used for the analysis of many aspects of the material, social, cultural and even political life in early modern Portugal. In this chapter I will focus on the entries that reflect the duke’s interest and involvement in the maritime voyages that the Portuguese had been engaged in since the early fifteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Global Lives of Things
Subtitle of host publicationThe Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World
EditorsAnne Gerritsen, Giorgio Riello
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781317374558
ISBN (Print)9781138776661
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Duke of Bragança
  • D. Teodósio I
  • 16th century
  • Inventory
  • Material culture
  • Global commodities


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