The Colony Brazil , in the History of Brazil, is the time that includes the period from 1530 to 1822.
This period began when the Portuguese government sent to Brazil the first colonizing expedition headed by Martim Afonso de Souza.
In 1532, he founded the first settlement nucleus, Vila de São Vicente, on the coast of the present state of São Paulo.
Shortly after the arrival of the Portuguese to their new colony, the first economic activity revolved around the exploitation of redwood, which existed in large quantities on the Brazilian coast, especially in the northeast of the country. This period became known as the Pau-Brasil Cycle .
The exploitation of redwood was purely extractive and did not give rise to effective occupation.
The work of felling trees and preparing timber for shipment was done by the indigenous people and a few Europeans who remained in coastal trading posts.
Predatory exploited trees near the coast disappeared as early as the 1520s.
The Beginning of Colonization
Map of Brazil in the Colonial Period
Several expeditions were sent by Portugal, aiming to recognize all Brazilian coast and to combat the pirates and French merchants.
The most important were those commanded by Christopher Jacques (1516 and 1526), who fought the French.
Also Martim Afonso de Sousa (1532), fought the French piracy. Likewise, he installed in São Vicente, the first settlement with a sugar mill .
To colonize Brazil and secure land tenure in 1534, the Crown divided the territory into 15 hereditary captaincies . These were immense plots of land extending from the coast to the limit set by the Treaty of Tordesillas .
These lots were donated to captains (grantees), belonging to the small Lusitanian nobility who, on their own, promoted local defense and colonization.
The sugar company was chosen because it presented the possibility of becoming a highly profitable venture, supplying Europe’s large sugar market.
It was in the northeast of the country that the sugar activity reached its highest level of development, especially in the captaincies of Pernambuco and Bahia.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Northeast became the dynamic center of Brazil’s social, political and economic life.
The General Government
The system of General Government was created in 1548 by the Crown, with the purpose of organizing the colonial administration .
The first governor was Tomé de Souza (1549-1553), who received from the Portuguese government a set of laws. These determined the administrative, judicial, military and tax functions of the General Government.
The second governor general was Duarte da Costa (1553–1558), and the third was Mem de Sá (1558–1572).
In 1572, after the death of Mem de Sá and his successor Dom Luís de Vasconcelos, the Portuguese government divided Brazil into two governments whose unification only returned in 1578:
- Northern Government, based in Salvador
- Southern Government, based in Rio de Janeiro
In 1580, Portugal and all its colonies, including Brazil, came under the control of Spain, a situation that lasted until 1640. This period is known as Iberian Unification .
In 1621, still under Spanish rule, Brazil was again divided into two states: the State of Maranhão and the State of Brazil. This division lasted until 1774, when the Marquis of Pombal decreed the unification.
The Social Formation of Brazil Colony
Representation of a village in the colonial period
Fundamentally three large ethnic groups, the Indian, African black and European white, mainly Portuguese, entered the formation of Brazilian colonial society.
The Portuguese who came to Brazil belonged to various social classes in Portugal. Most were members of the gentry and the people.
It should also be borne in mind that indigenous tribes had different languages and cultures.Some were enemies to each other and this was used by the Europeans when they wished to war against the Portuguese.
Likewise, blacks brought in as slaves from Africa had beliefs, languages and values that were being absorbed by the Portuguese and indigenous people.
In Colony Brazil, ingenuity was the dynamic center of all social life. This made it possible for the ‘lord of the big house’ to concentrate large numbers of individuals around him and to have the highest authority, prestige, and local power.
Around the mill lived the mulattos, usually the sons of slave masters, the priest, the black slaves, the overseer, the sugar master, the free workers, and so on.
Threats to the Portuguese Domain
In the early years after the discovery, the presence of French pirates and merchants on the Brazilian coast was constant.
The French invasion occurred in 1555, when they conquered Rio de Janeiro, founding there ” Antarctic France “, being expelled in 1567.
In 1612, the French invaded Maranhão, there they founded ” Equinoctial France ” and the village of St. Louis, where they remained until 1615, when they were again expelled.
English attacks on Brazil were limited to pirate and privateer robberies that plundered some ports. They invaded the cities of Santos and Recife and the coast of Espírito Santo.
The two Dutch invasions of Brazil occurred during the period when Portugal and Brazil were under Spanish rule. Bahia, seat of the General Government of the state of Brazil, was invaded, but the Dutch presence was short-lived (1624-1625).
In 1630, the captaincy of Pernambuco, the colony’s largest sugar center, was invaded by Dutch troops.
The conquest was consolidated in 1637, with the arrival of the Dutch ruler Count Mauricio de Nassau . He succeeded in establishing Dutch rule in Pernambuco and extending it to almost all of northeast Brazil.
The city of Recife, the administrative center, was urbanized, sanitized, paved, bridges, palaces and gardens were built. The Maurice de Nassau government came to an end in 1644, but the Dutch were not expelled until 1654.
The Century of Gold and Diamonds
The search for precious metals has always been the dream of the colonizers. The discoveries began in the 1690s in the Minas Gerais region.
From there it spread in various parts of the national territory. In the eighteenth century mining was the great source of wealth of the metropolis.
The Gold and Diamond Cycles were responsible for profound changes in the life of colonial Brazil, with urban growth and trade.
The Colonial System Crisis
In 1640, Portugal relied only on Brazilian lace. As a result, it has tighter control over tax collection and economic activities, even banning foreign trade.
The discontent with the economic policy of the metropolis gave rise to some revolts, among them:
- Beckman’s revolt (1684), in Maranhão
- Emboabas War (1708-1709), in Minas Gerais
- Muscat War (1710) in Pernambuco
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, movements began to liberate the colony from Portuguese rule, including:
- Mining Inconfidence (1789)
- Bahian Conjuration (1798)
By the early nineteenth century, the conditions for Brazilian emancipation were ripe. The conjuncture created by the Napoleonic Wars and the English Industrial Revolution also contributed.
With the invasion of Portugal, the seat of the kingdom moved to Brazil. In 1822, the decisive step was taken to consolidate Brazil’s Independence .