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Cacey Farnsworth

Department of History
2017-2018 Rotham Doctoral Fellow

Cacey Farnsworth received a Rothman Doctoral Fellowship for his dissertation project entitled “Atlantic Lisbon: From Restoration to Baroque Splendor, 1640-1755.” He will travel to Lisbon for archival research on Lisbon’s social transformation into an imperial capital.

The Portuguese empire faced significant change in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as imperial competition and the conflict-ridden political union with Spain disrupted their participation in the space trade. When peace and the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy was declared in 1668, royal attention increasingly shifted towards the Atlantic and imperial rivalry. Intensifying Atlantic influences transformed the capital of Lisbon physically, socially, and culturally as race-, class-, and gender-based tensions increased and dynamics shifted; subjects coming from and in contact with diverse areas of the empire increasingly impacted daily life in the metropole. As urban and taxation reform changed the landscape of Lisbon, these spaces became sites of conflict where nobility, new bourgeoisie merchants, Africans, women, and Christians of Jewish ancestry contested their roles and identities within the empire. These social and political shifts are essential factors in the development of state projects and full-fledged government reorganization in the style of European absolutism.

Farnsworth challenges old models neglecting to address the Portuguese empire through an Atlantic perspective in order to demonstrate how Lisbon’s transformation sheds light on imperial Portuguese and Atlantic history in this period and beyond. Furthermore, his study will deepen our understanding of the role of Atlantic in the rise of absolutism and will encourage scholars to bring Lisbon into a wider discussion of the development of absolutism in early modern Europe.