Lisbon and OPorto Factory Houses, British Merchants and Ec. Relations
Apart from black African slaves, wandering gypsies and immigrant artisans and peasants from Castile and Galicia, virtually all the foreigners who came to live in Portugal during the first half of the eighteenth century, whether they were wine merchants, wool traders, goldsmiths, architects, ships captains, organ builders, physicians, opera singers, dentists, booksellers or bell founders, belonged in their own countries to what may loosely be called the urban middle class. It may therefore be useful if, before attempting to assess the contribution that they made to Portuguese life and the development of Portuguese society during that period, we look briefly at the role played by their commercial and professional classes in general in the Portugal of D. João V and the position they occupied in the highly stratified social hierarchy of a rather small, poor and isolated country inhabited by a people whom their Spanish neighbours often contemptuously dismissed as "pocos y locos" and who by the standards of most of contemporary western Europe were proudly and obstinately traditional and conservative, and resistant to a fault to almost all changes, particularly if they were introduced from abroad.
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