History of São Tomé Island, 1470-1655: The Key to Guinea

Author: Garfield, Robert
Year:1992
Pages:376
ISBN:0-7734-9456-1
978-0-7734-9456-5
Price:239.95
This book is the history of the Portuguese island of São Tomé from its discovery in 1470 to 1655 - its internal social and economic development and changing relations with the African mainland and the world trade system. Settled by Portuguese criminals, prostitutes, children of Jews, and African slaves, their mulatto descendents became a wealthy sugar-growing planter class, Europe's leading sugar suppliers in the sixteenth century. This study illustrates how the too-perfect adaptation of a small-scale society to its original economic relationships, issues of race, and the lack of alternatives caused by an entrenched ruling class which had lost its economic justification for rule, combine to create a destructive rigidity that can lead to social collapse and make effective amelioration impossible.

Reviews

"Robert Garfield has provided us with a meticulously researched book on the history of the first two centuries of the Portuguese occupation and rule of this tiny island (330 square miles) located just 180 miles off the modern Middle African state of Gabon. This study . . . is firmly based on an analysis of unpublished primary sources gleaned from archives in Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands. . . . It is the work of a cautious and sound historian, who rarely ventures beyond what the documents choose to tell us. It will no doubt remain for long as a reliable account of the main political, economic, and social developments in São Tomé during the period it covers." - Sixteenth Century Journal