This article is part of the
History of Brazil Series.
 Colonial Brazil
 Empire of Brazil
 History of Brazil (1889-1930)
 History of Brazil (1930-1964)
 History of Brazil (1964-present)

Table of contents
1 The Age of Exploration
2 Portuguese Settlement
3 United Reign Period
4 Related Topics

The Age of Exploration

The discovery of Brazil was preceded by a series of treaties between the kings of Spain and Portugal, the last of them is the Treaty of Tordesilhas, signed in 1494, creating the Tordesilhas Meridian, that divided the world between that two kingdoms. Every land discovered or to be discovered at east of that meridian was property of Portugal, and the land discovered or to be discovered at west of that meridian was property of Spain.

Brazil's discovery is officially dated at April 22 of 1500, by Pedro Alvares Cabral, who was trying to discover a new route to India, around Africa. However, his pioneerism is still debated; some say he was in fact preceded by Vicente Yez Pinzn who would have discovered Brazil months earlier on January 26. The land is named after a very abundant and precious wood, the Pau-Brasil, today an endangered tree.

The place where Cabral has arrived to Brazil is now known as Porto Seguro ("safe harbor"), and is located in the state of Bahia.

In 1503, a expedition from Goncalo Coelho discovered that the French were making incursions to the land and looting it. In 1530 there was a new expedition from Martim Afonso de Souza to patrol the entire coast, banish the French, and to create the first colonial towns: Sao Vicente and Sao Paulo.

Portuguese Settlement

The only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, Brazil was claimed for Portugal in 1500 by Pedro Alvares Cabral. It was ruled from Lisbon as a colony until 1808, when the royal family, having fled from Napoleon's army, established the seat of Portuguese Government in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil became a kingdom under Dom Joao VI, who returned to Portugal in 1821. His son declared Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822, and became emperor with the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, ruled from 1831 to 1889, when a federal republic was established in a coup by Deodoro da Fonseca, Marshal of the army. Slavery had been abolished a year earlier by the Regent Princess Isabel while Dom Pedro II was in Europe.

Having established some cities, Portugal started the colonization of Brazil. Having no means to administer the new colony, the king of Portugal divided the land in 15 "Capitanias Hereditarias" ("heritage captainships"), that were given to anyone who wanted to administer and explore them. From the 15 original Capitanias, only two, Pernambuco and Sao Vicente, prospered.

In 1789, there was the Inconfidencia Mineira, a rebel movement that failed, and the leader of which, Tiradentes, was hanged.

United Reign Period

In 1808, French troops from Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal, and Dom Joao, governor in place of his mother, Dona Maria I, ordered the transfer of the royal court to Brazil. Brazil was elevated to the condition of a Reino Unido de Portugal e Algarve (1815). There was also the election of Brazilian representants to the Cortes Constitucionais Portuguesas (Portuguese Constitutional Courts).

The King of Portugal, fleeing before Napoleon's army, moved the seat of government to Brazil in 1808. Brazil thereupon became a kingdom under Dom Joao VI. Although the royal family returned to Portugal in 1821, the interlude led to a growing desire for independence amongst Brazilians, In 1822, the son of Dom Joao VI, then prince-regent Dom Pedro I, proclaimed the independence, September 7, 1882, and was crowned emperor.

Related Topics