Spain, Portugal, colonial policy, imitation


This paper seeks to investigate the histories of the Spanish Casa de Contratación and the Portuguese Casa da Índia in relation to one another, identifying possible ways in which each drew inspiration, or imitated the other during the period from 1500 to 1580. Though there is existing research into the individual Casas, comparative approaches have generally been avoided. This work synthesizes the literature and tracks interactions or trends between the Iberian empires from both an institutional and interpersonal perspective. Through analysis of bureaucratic charters, letters, and other documents, it outlines the time periods, possible reasons, and results of this imitation game. Ultimately, after decades of trial and error, each empire settled into a model more suited to its imperial situation on the ground: for the Spanish, this was a more privatized model, while for the Portuguese it was statist in the East and more privatized in Brazil.