The Makings of Good Governance: The Convergence of Immigration, Economic Policy and Scientific Statecraft – A Case-Study of Portugal at its Peak in the 16th Century
68 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2018 Last revised: 8 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 25, 2018
In 1481 when King John II ascended to the throne of Portugal, it was on the verge of bankruptcy. A quarter of a century later, Portugal all but ruled the world, economically and scientifically – at least. This article seeks to investigate the policy decisions of King John II and his successor, King Manuel, that catapulted their country to dominance on the world stage.
Surely da Gama’s voyage that captured the spice trade by sea for Portugal was one aspect. Cabral’s discovery of Brazil was another. But what enabled Portugal to usurp command of the seas – when Columbus, seven years earlier had a head start?
The features that emerge include the formalization of brain-trusts to advise the Kings. Removing the advisory roles from the nobility and entrusting it into Juntas composed of the most learned men of the day enabled Portugal to assume the lead in navigational advance, technology and expertise adopted by a monarchy intent on fostering scientific innovation and coupling scientific advances with economic expertise into Royal policy. Manuel, too, was keen on learning navigational sciences, such as how climate and storms would affect his sailors, sending his fleets not only equipped with food and rations but with navigational know-how.
This article also explores the contributions of the Jews fleeing Spain at the time, many of whom were to join the highest levels of the Kings advisors, providing the scientific advice and furnish economic prowess and capital. It is suggested that the convergence of these three facets, economic policy, scientific innovation, and utilization of the unique capital, both economic and intellectual, of a cadre of elite immigrants fueled and fanned the stratospheric rise of a Nation; that the convergence of economic and scientific statecraft along with integration of human capital – notably those of elite immigrants – is an exemplar of the best of good governance – important lessons for today.
Keywords: economic statecraft, scientific statecraft, economic policy, scientific policy, good governance, immigration, navigation, technology, innovation, scientific advances, trade, exploration, world dominance
JEL Classification: B1, B11, B15, B20, B25, B30, B31, B52, F56, F38, F42, F54, F63, F60, N00, N01, O14, O24, O33, O38
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