Geography and history
Portugal has no natural resources and is a feudal society run by a monarch. Its only asset is Lisbon harbour. Landmass is not accessible; Spain being a neighbour and direct competitor, also Britain France, Germany all within striking distance of Portugal severely limited its land expansion. Wars in the middle East, Eastern Mediterranean route and spice routes closed to the Porteguese.Trade at this time in the East was done by Muslim and Chinese traders, who had established trade routes and commerce across borders, in India the moguls ruled, the Mamluk dynasties of Egypt, the Turkish sultanates. The Ming dynasty in china. As a consequence of the economic, political geography of the region, Portugal’s options for expansion was either to find new sea routes to the East, and or displace or take over the trade and sea routes of the existing trading system of the Muslims and Chinese. It simply was not powerful military to take on the big empire builders.
Russia being landlocked and vulnerable to overland invasion as it was under successive Mongol hordes who managed to carve out vast areas into what became known as the khanate states .Russia surrounded by mainly enemies and its borders determined by its neighbours, China, Ottoman Turks, Poland, and Sweden Finland.
With no access to a viable ports or sea routes, international trade for Russia was going to be limited, also having had lost territory to countries like Sweden and finland, Russian expansion became (1) about creating buffer land between itself and its enemies (2) to have access to sea and ports, (3) to get back land lost to neighbours (4) to incorporate the khanate kingdoms into the Russian domain. Russian geography did not lead it to create a plunder and profit empire like the Portuguese, but to create an Empire domain to protect itself from foreign invaders, although fur trade was partly responsible for expansion but not the main reason.
Trade and economics
Early trade expansion of the Portuguese was mainly a private affair, with investors pooling money and hiring or paying for ships to sail to the East. The role of the crown to provides protection and establish trading bases, mainly port areas as in Goa India for pepper trading .These trading posts were often heavily fortified with Portuguese and local soldiers recruited to protect them. The Portuguese would often negotiate favourable trading terms with local traders, very rarely force was used. Their aim was to take over existing trade of the Muslim/Arab/Chinese traders and to exact a toll on local and national and international trade within their domain. Trade was a public/private partnership with the Crown and business interests from within Portugal or investors from abroad.Vasco de Gama was given permission by Crown to act as he wished in pursuing and expanding trade in the name of the Crown, using whatever means.
The Russian Empire similarly gave permission to the Strogonov’s family to expand trade in the name of the Tsar. The Tsar gave military support and built forts to protect this trade. Both Empires relied on powerful business elites to expand their Empires. In Russia the state collected 10% revenue from the fur trade administered by the Strogonov’s.With the Portuguese revenues could be anything from 10% to 70% depending on the type of trade and the honesty of the business elites
The Portuguese eventually displaced the Muslim and Chinese traders and secured the shipping routes, from which any ship sailing through tits sea route would have to pay duties on goods it was carrying; also any ship which docked at any of its ports would also have to pay duties. Business syndicates would often finance cargo ships and naval ships of the Crown. Along with this the Crown authorized individuals like vasco de Gama under the protection of the Crown to use plunder and extortion for profits split with the Crown. Profit and self interest being the drive for Empire expansion not ideology. The trading posts also had substantial Portuguese settled their to secure Portuguese interests.
Russian expansion was less about trade, more about securing Russia’s boundaries. Access to the sea and ports did secure more free trade. The fur trade became the main commodity of the Russian Empire; this trade was not created already existed through Kiev, Novograd and Moscovy, the main trading areas under the Russian Empire. The fur and timber trade did expand under the Russian domination along the extensive river system which became like the Portuguese shipping routes for controlling trade and Commerce. Unlike the Portuguese who tried to monopolise existing trade the Russian empire often initiated trade and industry through what can only be described as a state industrial policy
With the Portuguese Empire expansion was the main means of acquiring assets and wealth. The drive for this was in relation to other competitor Empire builders like, France, Holland, and UK.All these countries expansion to new lands was backed financially and militarily by the respective Crown. The rational was to acquire new lands and territories before your competitor gets their and claim on behalf of the Crown
The political rational for Russian expansion was much more complex. Russia’s intention was to protect, cultural and political integrity of the Russian lands, to protect it what it considered to be foreign political and cultural entities like the khanate states, and Europe. Also it had many border disputes with neighbouring states like the China, by acquiring land it would create buffer lands as protection against future incursions. Much of the land it acquired was not wanted by other empire builders, because it was of little economic value being dry and arid, so the political animosity against the tsars of the day of these land grabs simply did not arise from other Empire builders, unlike the Portuguese who had to justify their actions when conflict arose with other Empire builders.
The Portuguese by acquiring and securing trading posts like in Goa, India had a policy of settlement, in India some 50,000 Portuguese settled, creating a lively local community, many married local women, so there became a sizable mixed population. in the area’s the Portuguese controlled there was civil society, civil institutions a legal code in action, commerce controlled and regulated through the factories, Porteguese interests to have primacy at all times, force used if necessary, these Portuguese enclaves became the cultural and economic life of the settlers, as well as military and naval bases, to remind the local who is charge.
The Russian’s also built fortified forts, in acquired territories, with secure supply routes to provide goods and services to these enclaves, just like the Porteguese.the only difference being the Russian enclaves did not encourage inter-marriage with the locals or try to impose their political, civil, legal code on the locals. The forts like their Portuguese counterpart became centres of cultural life of the Russians with their own civic and legal codes, very little cultural influence of the Russians extended beyond the fortified enclaves. These forts were mainly military basis in hostile territory as opposed to the Portuguese whose forts were trading posts as well as the cultural life of the Portuguese.
In Russian and Portuguese expansion the Church had a supportive role, but the reasons were different. The church was part crusade to Christianize the heathens and part enterprise. The Jesuits had strong links with the crown they shared profits from the empire expansion and consolidation of the Portuguese. The Jesuits also performed administrative duties on behalf of the crown especially in Japan where some learnt Japanese. So the fortunes of the Church were closely linked to the Crown in success of Empire
The Russian Church initially did not play much part of Empire; the areas of Russian Empire were very diverse in religion and ethnicity. It was at the behest Peter the Great who saw his country as backward compared to the Europeans that he decided to give Russia a Christian identity by adopting the Russian Orthodox Church. The tsar gave the Church a Christian mission as a bulwark against Islam. Mosques destroyed khan moguls who not convert to Christianity drowned, Churches built. It was soon learnt this policy was not working, as it was difficult to rule an Empire with a large Muslim population.Peter the Great used the Orthodox Church as means of expansion, to bring Christianity to the Empire, like the Portuguese Church, notable conversions did take place in the Permian region. The Portuguese Church also in Japan created a sizable Christian minority
The tsar’s ambition was to create an absolute state unlike the Portuguese who controlled an informal Empire; the Church helped the tsar in the project of autocracy. The Church in Russia came later after imperial expansion. In the Portuguese Empire the Church was involved right at the beginning of Empire expansion with the Crown
The Portuguese expansion to the East was to drive out the Muslims, its enterprise was less about trade more about extortion through military means if necessary, to collect duties from seaborne trade by monopolizing favourable trade routes it controlled. To ensure this it created factories and navel military bases along its Empire. Soldiers came from lower nobility who hoped to make their fortunes from trade of the Empire. In effect the crown had a private mercenary army and navy at its disposal. The Portuguese imperial strategy was like the mafia, they hoped to profit from existing trade, rather create new trades
The tsar similarly used the Cossacks as mercenary army in expansion of Empire. Their reward was land rights, grain and armanents.like the Portuguese local nobles were expected to provide troops to the state. Conquered lands like the khanate states, the nobility of which was encouraged to join the Russian nobility to provide more troops for further imperial expansion
The tsar also collected tribute and duty from the Empire.Conqured lands being primarily agricultural with surf labour there was not too much money to be collected. The fur trade tended to move to where there was s plentiful animal life, often along river basins.
Part of the imperial strategy was to expand to the black sea and the baltics, giving Russia access to the sea, as it had ambitions to become a naval power like the porteguise.the Russian expansion became the creation of a military industrial complex with client states to control the Eurasian heartland from western Christianity and the Muslims. Russian Empire was not one of trade; the Portuguese Empire right from the beginning was solely about trade and how to profit from it. The Portuguese had no territorial ambitions for the sake of acquiring land unless there was profit to be had.
Transport and communication
The Russians used the river system, to invade and expand the empire, also built canal systems. The river system acted like the railways of the empire, used to transport goods, people, armanents, and soldiers with inn’s and postal stations, and settlements on the periphery of Empire.
The Portuguese used the sea routes of the international water ways similarly to navigate the empire and have navel stations and settlements along its empire, the monopoly of the sea routes and navel port bases and fortified factories enabled the Portuguese to secure the periphery of their empire.
The Russian empire was a land based empire. Its expansion East and West was not primarily trade but to secure its borders and create buffer states at the periphery of empire to deter any incursions into its territories the main trade was fur which Russia used to expand along the river basins which acted similarly to the sea routes of the Portuguese
The Portuguese empire was one of pure profit from trade. Both Empires relied on mercenaries to expand; the Portuguese shared the profit from trade while the Russian’s gave the mercenaries like the Cossacks, grain and weapons. The Portuguese mercenaries shared in the plunder and profit of empire
Both empires relied on business elites to fund and finance the expansion of trade for profit. The Russians relied on stroganov business family, while the Portuguese relied relied on people like vasco de Gama to pursue trade by foul or fair means with the protection of the Crown
The church was used as justification in expansion of Empire. With the Portuguese the church was an active player in administration of empire from which it profited. With the Russian empire the Orthodox Church was used as bulwark against European church influence and Muslim khanate states, to give the Russian Empire a Christian identity. The church unlike the Portuguese came much later once the Russian Empire had been secured
Both empires had settlements, the Russians forts remained isolated Russian enclaves of cultural and civic life, while the Portuguese settled in great numbers ,inter married and had sizeable mixed race population, with a more varied cultural life