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History Dictionary


Captaincy (or Donataria)

A Captaincy corresponds to an overseas territory handed over by the king to a private individual (the donee captain), generally belonging to the low nobility, whose main obligation was the promotion of settlement and the economic exploitation of that territory. Brazil, for example, was initially divided into 15 captaincies, each of which was handed over to a donee captain. The grantee captains had a monopoly on various products and means of production, administered justice, and collected taxes. It was, therefore, a type of administrative management of overseas territory very similar to the manorial regime of the Middle Ages, in which the donor captains were true feudal lords.

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