Peter Russell's Henry 'the Navigator' is one of those rare books which has had classic, or rather legendary, status even before it was published.
In a seminal article on Portuguese merchants published 35 years ago (1), David Grant Smith suggested (on p. 247) that emigrants from Madeira ‘constituted a sort of gentile Diaspora’, highlighting how family ties and friendships originating on this small Portuguese Atlantic island ‘endured and formed the basis for a network of commercial relationships’.
The growth of academic interest in the ‘Iberian Atlantic World’ during the last decade has also witnessed the expansion of scholarship on the presence of, and role played in it by, Judeoconversos (or ‘New Christians’): the descendants of Jews who were converted (often by force) to Christianity in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Serge Gruzinski compares Cortés’s actions in Mexico with suggestions for the invasion of China, adumbrated by Portuguese captives in Canton in 1522–3.
The cotton industry is fundamental to the development of global capitalism and broadly shaped the world we live in today. It is therefore important to realise the extent to which this depended on the militarisation of trade, massive land expropriation, genocide and slavery.