Periodicals / Journals
Revista da Faculdade de Letras : História
The making of Methuen : the commercial Treaty in the English imagination
AbstractThough it was a remarkably brief and obscure agreement, the Methuen Commercial Treaty came to exercise an enduring hold over the English imagination as the treaty became a litmus test of political affiliation and national loyalty. Yet the treaty's beginnings were inauspicious. Signed in England in 1703, it remained all but unknown for a decade and in 1713 was almost abandoned in favour of a treaty with France. The attempt to revoke the treaty drew Portugal traders and the "wool interest" into a political confrontation with the Tory government. Though the government drew on the extraordinary propaganda skills of Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe to defame the treaty and its signatories, it was unable to overcome animosity to the French, suspicion of free trade, and a new-found popular loyalty to Portugal and its wines. This paper examines the struggle — and the part played in it by Portuguese diplomats — between French and Portuguese commercial interests that elevated John Methuen to something of a national icon and port wine to the national drink.
Last Update: 2014-04-16
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