AH Discussion: Portuguese Cabo

OK, so let's talk about this: Portugal ( with Galicia, Asturias and Leon added somehow before 15th Century ) decides to establish a settlement in area of OTL Cape Town. Let's say that happens in mid-16-th Century. Just as a resupply point on way to Indias. Later people slowly start to arrive and colonise the area. Let's say that they name the place Cabo de Boa Esperanca ( in short just Cabo ). Later the whole area becomes known as Cabo.
What I would like to know is; how much area can Portuguese take ( and hold ). And what would be the population, something similar to Brazil ( with white population about half and the rest mixed race ) or more similar to OTL Angola and Mozambique or South Africa ( relativly small number of whites, 10-20% ). Would they ( black and mixed population ) be Portugalised or retain tribal affiliations? What happens with Angola and Mozambique- will they become part of Cabo or separate colonies/later countries? When could Cabo become independent? When could they find gold and diamonds?
 
It would be very similar to Brazil should Portugal have chosen to colonise it, and I think they would've sent far more settlers than the Dutch did.

I think both Angola and Mozambique would be quite different than OTL. With a wave of settlers pushing up from the south, the OTL prazo system would be totally different. They'd be far more tied to Portugal than OTL where they effectively "went native". However, their distance from the Cape might lead to their culture diverging quite a bit, especially since the economy will be much more based on slave trading and the native population much more dense. If the history of the Cape is like Brazil or Latin America and they become independent, they might try and bring Angola and Mozambique under their rule but be fought back by either the local elite or Portugal.

The maximum I could see is most all of Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique and everything south of there. However, the further north you go the more dense the native population will be, and they'll be much harder to bring under Portuguese rule. The "safe" guess would be everything south of the Zambezi River in the northeast and in the northwest the border would be similar to Botswana and Namibia, maybe with bits of southern Angola.

The population would be similar to Brazil I think. There's a lot of areas fantastic for white settlement so the southwestern areas (OTL Cape Colony) would resemble the south of Brazil. In places like the Witwatersrand with its gold rush (which could be like the OTL gold rush at Ouro Preto) and less densely populated areas like the Northern Cape, Namibia, and Botswana, you'd also see a white majority. Most of the rest of the country would likely have varying degrees of African ancestry and be classified as mixed-race, while some more isolated areas in the north would be majority black. But your average South African would have much more African ancestry than your average Brazilian has Amerindian (or African) ancestry, simply because the native population will be higher than in Brazil.

I think most of modern South Africa and bits of the adjacent areas would probably have native languages decline through mixing of race and ethnic groups (both Europeans and Africans) plus the slave trade. A lot of people in this area with fully African ancestry would not speak an indigenous language or identify with a particular ethnic group. But a place in the interior north like modern Zimbabwe would have native culture be much more similar to OTL and native languages widely used in daily life. There would also be a significant Indian minority (as they were active in Portuguese Zimbabwe) and Chinese, Malays, and other Asians as well.

TTL I think they'll still have Brazil but Brazil would be less important to them and most white settlers would go to South Africa. Bandeirantes would focus on South Africa instead. Brazil might only consist of everything east of the original Tordesillas Line. TTL's bandeirantes in South Africa would certainly find gold and diamonds although they'd face a much tougher opposition in the African states in the area. Like the bandeirantes, they'd attack the interior African peoples for slaves and no doubt be an important component of Portuguese colonialism.
 
I love every chance I get to link one of my favorite TLs: Portuguese America and Southern Africa the Redux
This TL uses demographic estimates of how many people left Portugal IOTL yearly + estimates on population growth and let me tell you, the results are quite spectacular for Portuguese South Africa. I don't want to spoil the TL so check it out for yourself.
 
OK, so let's talk about this: Portugal ( with Galicia, Asturias and Leon added somehow before 15th Century )
So Portuleon? That could happen if kingdoms of Castile and Leon remained separate and the latter at some point before 15th century joins union with Portugal. Such state (perhaps called Lusitania after union is estabilished?) would be twice as big as Portugal.
 
It's important to keep in mind that a Portuguese Cape Colony, much like its IOTL Dutch counterpart, would initially be a semi-accidental settler colony, as it would start as a port meant to facilitate Indian trade, around which Portuguese sailors wanting to start a new life would settle. The Portuguese may deliberately choose to send settlers later on, but this is how it would start. An obvious consequence is that, given that the settlers would be all male, it would be necessary for them to take native wives (later there may be Orfãs d'El Rei, but the very early settlers would surely mary natives), thus leading to the first generation born in the colony probably being 100% mixed race.

Also, the number of Indians, and possibly even Malays and Chinese later on, would be significant.
 
It would be very similar to Brazil should Portugal have chosen to colonise it, and I think they would've sent far more settlers than the Dutch did.

I think both Angola and Mozambique would be quite different than OTL. With a wave of settlers pushing up from the south, the OTL prazo system would be totally different. They'd be far more tied to Portugal than OTL where they effectively "went native". However, their distance from the Cape might lead to their culture diverging quite a bit, especially since the economy will be much more based on slave trading and the native population much more dense. If the history of the Cape is like Brazil or Latin America and they become independent, they might try and bring Angola and Mozambique under their rule but be fought back by either the local elite or Portugal.

The maximum I could see is most all of Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique and everything south of there. However, the further north you go the more dense the native population will be, and they'll be much harder to bring under Portuguese rule. The "safe" guess would be everything south of the Zambezi River in the northeast and in the northwest the border would be similar to Botswana and Namibia, maybe with bits of southern Angola.

The population would be similar to Brazil I think. There's a lot of areas fantastic for white settlement so the southwestern areas (OTL Cape Colony) would resemble the south of Brazil. In places like the Witwatersrand with its gold rush (which could be like the OTL gold rush at Ouro Preto) and less densely populated areas like the Northern Cape, Namibia, and Botswana, you'd also see a white majority. Most of the rest of the country would likely have varying degrees of African ancestry and be classified as mixed-race, while some more isolated areas in the north would be majority black. But your average South African would have much more African ancestry than your average Brazilian has Amerindian (or African) ancestry, simply because the native population will be higher than in Brazil.

I think most of modern South Africa and bits of the adjacent areas would probably have native languages decline through mixing of race and ethnic groups (both Europeans and Africans) plus the slave trade. A lot of people in this area with fully African ancestry would not speak an indigenous language or identify with a particular ethnic group. But a place in the interior north like modern Zimbabwe would have native culture be much more similar to OTL and native languages widely used in daily life. There would also be a significant Indian minority (as they were active in Portuguese Zimbabwe) and Chinese, Malays, and other Asians as well.

TTL I think they'll still have Brazil but Brazil would be less important to them and most white settlers would go to South Africa. Bandeirantes would focus on South Africa instead. Brazil might only consist of everything east of the original Tordesillas Line. TTL's bandeirantes in South Africa would certainly find gold and diamonds although they'd face a much tougher opposition in the African states in the area. Like the bandeirantes, they'd attack the interior African peoples for slaves and no doubt be an important component of Portuguese colonialism.


Interesting reply. I mostly agree, but not necesarrily about that Brazil will be smaller. On the other hand, I agree that the development might be similar to Brazil, especially about languages. They might even keep non-fully-Portuguised areas out of the country, so maybe OTL South Africa and Namibia, but not Mozambique, Zimbabwe or Botswana or Angola.
 
So Portuleon? That could happen if kingdoms of Castile and Leon remained separate and the latter at some point before 15th century joins union with Portugal. Such state (perhaps called Lusitania after union is estabilished?) would be twice as big as Portugal.

Yes, so Portugal can have twice as large population to settle...
 
It's important to keep in mind that a Portuguese Cape Colony, much like its IOTL Dutch counterpart, would initially be a semi-accidental settler colony, as it would start as a port meant to facilitate Indian trade, around which Portuguese sailors wanting to start a new life would settle. The Portuguese may deliberately choose to send settlers later on, but this is how it would start. An obvious consequence is that, given that the settlers would be all male, it would be necessary for them to take native wives (later there may be Orfãs d'El Rei, but the very early settlers would surely mary natives), thus leading to the first generation born in the colony probably being 100% mixed race.

Also, the number of Indians, and possibly even Malays and Chinese later on, would be significant.

Agreed. That would probably mean much better interracial relations than in SA.

Significant number of Asians like 10 percent or 2 percent?
 
On one hand, it has all the natural resources SA has, on other, it might have better distribution because there's no apartheid. It's also not under semi-isolation for 30-40 years...
 
Interesting reply. I mostly agree, but not necesarrily about that Brazil will be smaller. On the other hand, I agree that the development might be similar to Brazil, especially about languages. They might even keep non-fully-Portuguised areas out of the country, so maybe OTL South Africa and Namibia, but not Mozambique, Zimbabwe or Botswana or Angola.
I don't see why they'd bother, since the area would be very much ethnically mixed. There would be assimilated areas all throughout the country and white settlers in Zimbabwe and it's less a matter of ethnicity as it is a matter of can they take it from Portugal or not.
What do you think, would this "Cabo" be more or less developed than OTL South Africa?
It would likely have the "resource curse" given how important mining will be. But probably a lot like Brazil. Even if Apartheid isn't the law, it would be like your typical Latin American country with the huge income inequality.
 
thus leading to the first generation born in the colony probably being 100% mixed race.

So the oldest European settlers will probably be mixed race, with significant number of Portuguese arriving only later?
Could that mean that the oldest settler families will be mixed race, while newcomers being white?
 

xsampa

Banned
Could this evolve into a realistic Draka series? Given a combination of “whitening” ideology and assimilation instead of slavery, and Portuguese claims to the Swahili coast, possession of Angola and Mozambique and independence in the 1820s...
 
Could that mean that the oldest settler families will be mixed race, while newcomers being white?
Likely, but they wouldn't identify as it nor be recognized as it thanks to the racial whitening ideology common in Portuguese colonies. They would consistently marry Europeans. Even OTL many Boers have a degree of African ancestry yet would never identify as or be considered "Coloured".
Draka without slavery isn't Draka.
Oh there'd be plenty of slavery since slavery wasn't abolished in the Portuguese colonies or Brazil until the late 19th century. Given that there's a colossal source of slaves right beyond the borders of this country thanks to the Indian Ocean slave trade and the Swahili coast slave markets and the raiders who supplied them, it is possible for legal slavery to last until the 20th century or so and defacto slavery a lot longer.

However, I think their own economic issues (since they need an export market for their precious metals and diamonds) combined with rising European distaste for slavery would lead to them abolishing slavery. Especially since OTL ending the slave trade was one of the motives for European colonization of Africa and the one every colonizing country used, including King Leopold and his Congo Free State. I could see South Africa invited to the alt-Berlin Conference and abolishing slavery just so they could further expand in Africa and look good to Europe doing it.
 
Yeah that assumption of assimilation without slavery is kinda weird lol


It would have a lot of slavery actually, in the Dutch cape irl by the 18th century the slave price rose very quickly, and it actually became a policy of the voic to limit the slave population of the cape at roughly half the total non native one for security reasons, and it was commented there would have been much more slaves without this policy

So yeah, expect the cape to have a good majority of slaves, even if the settler population is quite larger than The several thousands of the our 18th century cape.

It would have a good amount of wealth early on, the agriculture was productive there irl in the colonial era and it would be on the routes to the east , recent studies have shown that the average white or urban population of the Dutch cape was as wealthy as american colonists in the 18th century, while we can reasonably assume the Portuguese settler population would have lower literacy rate and the wealth repartition may be a bit more unequal, and spread over a larger population I think we can reasonably assume the cape would be a semi attractive settler colony once it gets going, by the late 16th century maybe.

The large need for slave labour for the cape town’s shipbuilding and the wealthy agricultural sector could translate into either, or both, African bandeirantes enslaving the khoi and San inhabited regions (and pushing the discovered frontier north-east), or by significant expansion of trade with the Nguni coast and Mozambique which could supply many slaves (Angola May be a bit less attractive since ships sail against the wind to go south most of the year)

And then the mineral wealth of the interior will be discovered, Portugal may not have the technologies to exploit it to the extent of the British irl, but there will be a lot of ressources anyway, and that would probably change the cape from an important stopover with a peripherical hinterland to the Center of the Portuguese empire


Also while viriato’s popualtion estimate may be a bit optimistic, it’s true the cape will have a huge, above a hundred million without much doubt, of partially at least European descende de population, people often forget it because half of Brazil’s popualtion is mixed but the Portuguese descended population of Brazil actually exceeds the British descended population of the USA, and that’s with colonial Brazil having far higher death rate due to illness than America, where such death were only common in the early history of the southern Atlantic colonies
 
Last edited:
Hi guys!
I'm gonna try to write a semi-TL about Portuguese Cabo. I can't promise that I will finish it, not even progress too far. I will also try to keep things as simple and short as possible. Also, I will try to keep the butterflies as minimal as possible, so no random events and similar things I hate.
Considering that I'm not a Portuguese and I don't speak Portuguese language, any assistance of those that are/do is much needed and appreciated.
Also, English is not my first language, so have patience and forgive me for my poor English.
 
Last edited:
Part 1.

As a POD I will use Battle of Salt River in 1510.


The battle itself goes as OTL and Portuguese have a lots of casualties ( including Don Francisco de Almeida, first Viceroy of India ). But, the difference is: Portuguese do not just shrug and say: Okay, we will not land there anymore.
Instead, king Manuel I of Portugal decides that they have to avenge his death and show these savages who's the boss, to prevent future attacks. The location is too valuable to be left without Portuguese ressuply base, for Indian Armadas.

So, he sends a few ships with soldiers, who build a fort there ( inicially just wooden palisades ), with horses, guns and other things.
New fort- Fort Manuel de Cabo ( named after the king ) is founded in 1512. Natives tried to destroy it more than once, but were defeated by superior Portuguese firepower.
A few years later, a few ships more bring 200 first colonists that settle around the fort. Settlers are to produce the food and other necessities that Indian Armadas need. Pallisades were increased to keep settlement protected. Later, wooden palisades were streghtned with stone.

At first, the settlement wasn't too important. But, as Indian Armadas passed, they had more food, water, even wine ( Portuguese settlers brought viticulture in South Africa ). Some settlers started fishing in nearby waters. Population about 1520 was about 900 ( about 300 soldiers, 200 original settlers and about 400 later settlers ). First captain-general was Duarte de Menezes, former captain-general of Tangier..

Marking-the-grave-of-Almeida-1510-by-Pieter-van-der-Aa-c.1708.jpg

Portuguese soldiers erecting a cross on a place where Almeida died.
 
Brazil might only consist of everything east of the original Tordesillas Line.
I don't think so, the Bandeirantes gave around 0.00 shits about Tordesilhas, there's a documented situation where the Bandeirantes sacked an Incan outpost and went back to Brazil, getting ambushed by Guaicurus on the way back near Assunção.

Tordesilhas was a giant straight line drawn with absolutely zero knowledge about local geographic conditions.
Its generally believed the Portuguese had it pushed further West because they knew there was land there. Its pretty much accepted historiography nowadays that the Portuguese likely already knew about the American Continent before Colombus. So they knew there was land, and that was about it.

There's no way Tordesilhas is lasting more than it is convenient. Straight line borders are a 19th century thing, and never found great purchase with the Portuguese and Spanish. They were all about using natural landmarks like mountains, hills and rivers to create distinguishable, defensive borders.

At the very least, I think the Portuguese will take over the Amazon as they did, because that position's geographic area just makes it easier for Portugal to own than for Spain - the logistics don't work for Spain at all, because the Portuguese own the delta so they can send whatever they want up the river.
While its not like the Amazon river, I believe similarly goes for other rivers like the São Francisco.

Brazil might less west than in our reality, but Tordesilhas simply doesn't work as a border at all. Even if by some miracle, Portugal keeps to that side, eventually sooner or later the other side is going to get demographically swamped by luso-brazilian colonists, just like what happened to the American Southwest. There just ins't much chance of the Spanish really colonizing that land, too inland and they got better places to go. Somewhere like Mato Grosso for example, its a bunch of inland swamp.
people often forget it because half of Brazil’s popualtion is mixed but the Portuguese descended population of Brazil actually exceeds the British descended population of the USA,
Very true. All the whole "Brazil is super-diverse" is actually overestimated. If you get a map showing primary european ancestry, the US has significant portions of British popullations and entire areas of other ancestries, like Italian and German. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Map is pretty much portuguese flags everywhere, with the odd german, italian, french or spanish flag. Even that, from reactions I saw in facebook, these might be low-balling the sheer amount of portuguese.

I suspect more than half the population is mixed, actually. There's a lot of white people here, but unlike in the US, having some non-white ancestry doesn't make you instantly into a black or brown person. I suspect a lot of "browns" are actually very tanned whites while a lot of "whites" are actually light brown. A lot of white people have non-white ancestors.

A good example is my mother's immediate family: My maternal grandmother was half-italian and my maternal grandpa was a Cafuzo. Almost all my maternal uncles and aunts are luso-italian whites, but almost all have curly hair and white skin, with the exception of one uncle who is Cafuzo and looks like gramps' clone. However, I inherited more tanned skin, some african features and frizzy super curly hair from gramps, while my brother is pretty white. People generally consider me as white (white with some extras), and many of my documents have me as white.

The way race works here is very different. One-Drop rule doesn't exist here.

Deep down, Brazilians are Portuguese served with chocolate and some extras.
So the oldest European settlers will probably be mixed race, with significant number of Portuguese arriving only later?
Could that mean that the oldest settler families will be mixed race, while newcomers being white?
Yes, that's kinda how it happened in Brazil. But the newcomers will eventually mix and blend with the black popullation.

Thing is, the oldest richest families will "whiten" with time as more wealthy portuguese and other european people appear with time and society goes from frontier to more civilization. Then again, it might not happen as much if the entire colony is blacker in general. Its funny, if you take a DNA sample from someone from the oldest families of Brazil, you will see boatloads of ancient indigenous ancestry and sometimes even recent black ancestry, from people who look perfectly white.

If a class of wealthy indian merchants pop up, they might end up mixing with the portuguese elites.
 
Top