King's College London

Research portal

Professor Francisco Bethencourt

Research interests

  • History of Inequality in the World
  • History of Racism in the World
  • European Expansion (15th-19th centuries)
  • Religious History and the Inquisition
  • Cultural Exchange in the Iberian World
  • Identities in the Portuguese speaking World

Biographical details

Francisco Bethencourt is a leading historian of the Portuguese-speaking world; he also contributes to world and global history. His book Racisms from the Crusades to the Twentieth Century, published by Princeton University Press, is a case in point. Racisms is largely based on primary sources and compares the Western world to Asia and Africa. His earlier comparative work focused on magic in Portugal and southern Europe, before studying the Inquisition in Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Iberian empires. A major theme in his research has been how individuals interact and shape patterns of behaviour. This led Bethencourt to experiment with socio-metrics when reconstituting networks of sorcerers in two Portuguese towns, or apply methods from the sociology of organisations to understand the ubiquity of inquisitorial bureaucracy and its rootedness in the social fabric. The issue of power in social exchanges has been at the core of his research on religion, first in relation to the competition between magicians and priests, then in relation to the role of the Inquisition within the Catholic Church and its impact on society. He enlarged his scope even further when working on the Portuguese and European expansion across continents. He co-edited with Kirti Chaudhuri the most comprehensive history of the Portuguese expansion in five volumes. The complex relations of power between European structures and native agency increasingly became the focus of his work. Comparative and long term history breaks through local, regional and national frameworks of academic research, highlighting social configurations and institutional behaviour across frontiers. Bethencourt keeps publishing on different aspects of the history of the Portuguese-speaking world, particularly on racism, utopia, cosmopolitanism, and inequality. He received a Major Leverhulme Fellowship to work on The New Christian Trading Elite, 1497-1773 (2017-2019). He is also committed to a long term project on the history of social inequality in the world. In 1993, the PhD on the Inquisition received the Salvador Madariaga prize and, in 2003, Bethencourt was honoured for his achievements as historian with the Order of Henry the Navigator. 

Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Ethical and Racial Discriminations and Religious Identities, Norms, Practices and Interactions, 1400-1850

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

24 Oct 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Secrets of Business: Empires and Global Commercial Practices in the early modern period, University of Leiden

Francisco Bethencourt (Member of programme committee)

8 Sep 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar on Global History, University of Leiden

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

8 Sep 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar on Imperial and Global History, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

19 Jun 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Racisme et la notion de race, Universite de Nice

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

24 Feb 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Multiple functions of the Inquisition

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

30 Nov 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Social Inequality in early Modern Europe

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

16 Nov 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

The origins of the Inquisition in comparative perspective

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

21 May 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar Reconfiguring the British

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

20 Nov 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar Portuguese Studies, Oxford

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

4 Nov 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

The Debate on Inequality

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

8 Feb 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Histories of Empires, Instituto de Ciencias Sociais, Lisbon

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

May 2013

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

'Portugal na Balança da Europa e do Mundo' (Lisbon, Foundation Champalimaud)

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

Apr 2013

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

University of Coimbra, Doctoral Programme on Portuguese Heritage

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

Mar 2013

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Global and Imperial History, Oxford University

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Oct 2012

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar of Research in History, University of Manchester

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

May 2012

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar of research at the Wolfson College, Cambridge

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Feb 2012

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

King’s College London-Georgetown Global History Forum

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

May 2011

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar on Global History (University of Notre Dame, delegation in London

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Mar 2010

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Medieval and Renaissance Seminar

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Mar 2010

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Races in Latin America

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Feb 2010

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

‘Cultural Hybridity, Syncretism, Cultural Translation’, Gilberto Freyre Week, Embassy of Brazil

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

Nov 2009

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Round table on ‘World History’, Institute of Historical Research

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

Oct 2009

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Round table on the Portuguese Elections

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

Oct 2009

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Identidades no Brasil e em Portugal

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

Nov 2008

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Seminar on Early Modern History, University of Oxford

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Oct 2008

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Orb and Sceptre: Global and Imperial Histories

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

May 2008

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Participation in conference

Early Modern Mercantile Culture

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

22 Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

The Stone Cross from Cape Cross - Colonial Objects and Historical Justice

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

7 Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Migração, terrorismo e racismo: há ligação?

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

27 Nov 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Global Portuguese Scientists

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

20 Nov 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Eurocentrism: Retrospect and Prospects, University Notre Dame, St. Jonh's College Cambridge

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

4 Jul 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Gendering the Portuguese-Speaking World

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

26 May 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Racismo e Cidadania

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

24 May 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

The impact of colonialism on World Inequality

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

19 Apr 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Inequality in the World: Tombs and Burial Places

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

7 Oct 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Utopia: the Present and the Past

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

5 Jul 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Norbert Elias

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

25 Feb 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Les races: entre racisme et identités

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

12 Feb 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Inequality in the Portuguese-Speaking World

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

4 Dec 20155 Dec 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Humankind: from Division to (Re)-composition

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

8 Oct 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

L'histoire du monde: la place du racisme

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

14 Sep 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

XVIIth World Economic History Congress

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

5 Aug 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Heritage of Portuguese Influence in the World

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

13 Jun 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

The Future of the World and Global History

Francisco Bethencourt (Invited speaker)

22 May 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Racisms

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

21 May 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Cosmopolitanism in the Portuguese-Speaking Countries

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

20 Mar 201421 Mar 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Utopia in the Portuguese-Speaking

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

Dec 2012

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

The Catholic Reformation

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

Dec 2011

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

The Pursuit of Empire: The Dutch and Portuguese Colony of Brazil, 1621-1668

Francisco Bethencourt (Keynote/plenary speaker)

Nov 2011

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

European Ports in Asia

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

Mar 2011

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Racism and Race Relations in the Portuguese-Speaking World

Francisco Bethencourt (Organiser)

Dec 2009

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Types of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

'Portugal na história do mundo’ (Portugal in World History)

Francisco Bethencourt (Lecturer)

Feb 2011

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

Debate on the new História de Portugal by Rui Ramos, Bernardo Vasconcelos e Sousa e Nuno Monteiro

Francisco Bethencourt (Participant)

May 2010

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

“Racism before the Theory of Races”

Francisco Bethencourt (Lecturer)

Mar 2008

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

“Race Relations in the Portuguese Empire”

Francisco Bethencourt (Lecturer)

Feb 2008

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

Types of External academic engagement - Invited talk

Racismo e Desigualdade

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

17 Jun 2015

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

Racisms: the main issues

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

23 May 2015

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

Hay Festival

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

27 May 2014

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

“A Inquisição: novas abordagens”

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Nov 2009

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

“A personificação dos continentes”

Francisco Bethencourt (Speaker)

Jun 2009

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

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