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prazo

any of the great feudal estates acquired by Portuguese and Goan traders and soldiers in the valley of the Zambezi River in what is now Mozambique. Begun in the 16th century as an attempt at colonization, the prazo system was formalized in the mid-17th century. While giving titular obedience to the Portuguese crown, the prazo-holders built up private armies and virtually independent fiefdoms.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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