Cartaz

Cartaz

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Cartaz was a naval trade license
License
The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

 or pass issued by the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 in the Indian ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 during the sixteenth century (circa 1502-1750), under the rule of the Portuguese empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

. It shared similarities with the British navicert
Irish Mercantile Marine during World War II
The Irish Mercantile Marine during World War II continued essential overseas trade during the conflict, a period referred to as The Long Watch by Irish mariners....

system of 1939-45. Its name could have derived from the Arabic "qirtas" and may have had a previous use.

Background


The licensing of vessels by the Portuguese was initiated by Prince Henry the Navigator in 1443, with the consent of the king and the Pope, when he decreed a monopoly on navigation in the west African coast
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

, starting a Portuguese Mare clausum
Mare clausum
Mare clausum is a term used in international law to mention a sea, ocean or other navigable body of water under the jurisdiction of a state that is closed or not accessible to other states. Mare clausum is an exception to mare liberum , meaning a sea that is open to navigation to ships of all...

policy in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Ships began to be licensed by Portugal, which authorized and supported navigation, in exchange for part of the profits (usually 20%, "the fifth"), encouraging investment in exploration travels by Portuguese and foreigners.

The cartazes


The "cartazes" licensing system was created in 1502 to control and enforce the Portuguese trade monopoly over a wide area in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, taking advantage of local commerce: the cartaz was issued by the Portuguese at a low cost, granting merchant ships protection against pirates and rival states, which then abounded in these seas. However its main purpose was to ensure that merchants paid the tax in Portuguese trading posts, directing them to the feitorias
Factory (trading post)
Factory was the English term for the trading posts system originally established by Europeans in foreign territories, first within different states of medieval Europe, and later in their colonial possessions...

 in Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

, Malacca
Malacca
Malacca , dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south...

 and Ormuz, guaranteeing its monopoly on the spice trade
Spice trade
Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes...

 and other products.

Officially, no vessel was permitted to sail in the Indian coast without this document, risking losing their cargo, being attacked and even sunk by the Portuguese - mainly Muslim, Hindu and Malay merchant ship
Merchant vessel
A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...

s. Every year, during the monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

, Portuguese fleets patrolled the coasts requiring this document. Later, as Portuguese lost influence, the issue of cartazes become in itself an important source of income for the crown.