BECK index

Brazil and Guiana 1500-1744

by Sanderson Beck

Portuguese in Brazil 1500-80
Brazil and the Dutch 1580-1654
Brazil and Vieira 1654-1700
Brazil and Slavery 1700-44
Guiana to 1744

This chapter has been published in the book America to 1744. For ordering information please click here.

Portuguese in Brazil 1500-80

In 1500 Portuguese captain Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered western land by accident on his way to India. He found the natives were "between white and black" and naked. Two degredados (deported criminals) were left ashore, and two sailors jumped ship to stay with the nude natives. Amerigo Vespucci went there with Gonçalo Coelho in 1501 and claimed it was the same land he had discovered in 1499. The Portuguese began exporting its brazilwood. Fernao de Noronha (Loronha) was given an exclusive license to trade for three years, and he was required to send out six ships annually to explore 2,000 kilometers of coastline. In 1505 the Portuguese crown resumed responsibility for Brazil. The sailor Diogo Alvares became known as Caramuru and married the Tupinamba princess Paraguacu, and he presided over a village of a thousand warriors in Bahia. In 1511 Noronha and his associates sent the Bretoa back to Portugal with 5,000 logs of brazilwood, parrots, and 35 slaves, despite the Portuguese instructions that prohibited harming the natives. The French also traded there, and in 1516 King Manuel complained to King François (Francis) about the interlopers. By 1525 Normans were in Rio de Janeiro. The next year Sebastian Cabot visited Rio de la Plata and Pernambuco, which was just beginning to export sugar. Also in 1526 King Joao III sent Christovao Jacques with a fleet that sank three ships from Brittany at Bahia. According to French protests, 300 prisoners were taken to Pernambuco, where they were tortured and executed.

The Portuguese called the natives on the coast of Brazil that had similar languages the Tupi-Guarani and those inland with diverse languages the Tapuias. Exiled degradados were sent there. In 1532 Martim Afonso de Sousa with four hundred men founded a royal colony at Sao Vicente, a thousand miles south of Bahia; but no married Portuguese woman was known to have come until 1538. Joao Ramalho had been in Brazil for twenty years and had a large family of mamaluco (mixed race) children. He assumed the wife he left in Portugal was dead, and his main wife was the daughter of Chief Tibiriça. His sons were criticized for their promiscuity. Sousa appointed Ramalho capitao mor, and he became an important intermediary between the Portuguese and the natives. In 1532 Pero Lopes de Sousa captured two French ships at Pernambuco and took back a fort the French had occupied. The French accused him of hanging the commander and twenty others, and a lawsuit disputed the charges. In 1536 some shipwrecked Portuguese and Spanish castaways joined with native allies to capture Sao Vicente, but Chief Tibiriça of Piritininga helped the Portuguese suppress the rebellion. A new port was built in 1543, and Bras Cubas was appointed captain of the colony two years later. He founded a charitable organization and had a church and hospital built.

Brazil was divided into fourteen hereditary captaincies (feitorias) by lines parallel to the equator west to the line of the Tordesillas Treaty. The bureaucrats, merchants, and aristocrats granted these sesmarias were obligated to cultivate the land within five years; but few did, and only Pernambuco succeeded at first. Native resistance wiped out the Bahia colony in 1545 and Sao Tomé the next year when those in Espirito Santo and Porto Seguro were severely damaged. Sao Vicente, Ilhéus, Itamaraca, and Pernambuco were still intact. Duarte Coelho was captain of Pernambuco, which was several times the size of Portugal. He was so wealthy that he did not need government support and was exempt from inspections. His opposition to royal authority began a tradition that lasted centuries. In 1547 Caramuru was acting as an intermediary when a flotilla was shipwrecked; all the Europeans were killed and eaten except him. Caramuru did much to help the two cultures understand each other until his death in 1557. By 1548 Luis de Gois reported that Sao Vicente had six engenhos for processing sugar cane and six hundred colonists, who owned 3,000 slaves. That year the natives besieged Igaraçu and Olinda, but the captaincy of Itamaraca owned by Pero Lopes de Sousa sent supplies to relieve them the next year.

In 1549 Tomé de Sousa was appointed the first royal governor and with more than a thousand people established a capital at Salvador in Bahia. With him came the first six Jesuit missionaries in the new world led by Manuel da Nobrega, and they brought seven orphan boys to learn the Tupi language. Nobrega was upset that the priests had concubines and many of the Europeans multiple unions. He appealed for more white women to be sent. Some Jesuits opposed enslavement of the natives and came into conflict with the Portuguese settlers, who resented the natives working on the Jesuits' lands. Pero Fernandes Sardinha, the first bishop of Brazil, arrived in 1552 and two years later was forced to move from Bahia to Sao Vicente.

Nobrega wrote the Dialogue about the Conversion of the Heathen in 1556. At first he believed that the natives were morally superior to the Europeans in following natural laws, and many were easily converted to accept baptism and marriage ceremonies; but he found they were just as easily unconverted. One character in his dialogue complained, "We see they are dogs because they kill and eat one another, and pigs in their vices and way of life."1 Nobrega suggested sending boys back to Portugal to be educated, or Europeans might be given incentives to settle in the interior. These proved impractical, and he tried to educate the native boys there. Some of the boys then denounced the sins of their elders. Tribal leaders were especially reluctant to confine themselves to one wife. In 1553 he joined together three villages into what later became Sao Paulo. Nobrega became furious when the Caeté killed and ate Brazil's first bishop Sardinha after a shipwreck in 1556. He realized that converting by love was very difficult while the servile people would do anything from fear. He founded a larger aldeia (community) near the Jesuit college in 1559, and soon 34,000 natives lived in parishes near Bahia. His colleague Anchieta by 1563 cynically decided that the natives must be compelled to come into their faith.

Duarte da Costa succeeded Tomé de Sousa as governor at Bahia in 1553. He sent Francisco de Brusa with twelve soldiers and a Jesuit on an inland expedition, but they found neither the gold nor the silver they wanted. The Governor appointed his son Alvaro da Costa to command the troops, and he burned villages to recover cattle and rescue captives. This war started in 1554, and Chief Tibiriça almost reverted to cannibalism. Within three or four years a plague began killing many of the natives who had attacked the settlements.

Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon led six hundred French Protestants, Catholics, and ex-convicts that settled at Guanabara Bay (Rio de Janeiro) in 1555, and he called himself the king of Antarctic France. He wrote to John Calvin that he confined men to an island to keep them from cohabiting with native women. When he tried to force a Norman to marry his native concubine or give her up, a revolt threatened Villegagnon's life. However, his Scottish bodyguard executed some of the plotters. Twenty or more interpreters fled to live among the natives, and an epidemic spread that killed hundreds. Calvin sent more Huguenots from Geneva to join them two years later, but in 1558 the Portuguese attacked them. Frustrated by the Calvinists' resistance, Villegagnon reverted to Catholicism and sailed back to France in 1559. The next year Mem de Sa led a force that drove the French out of Guanabara Bay, but he did not have enough men to hold the fort and prevent the French from returning to the islands. His nephew Estacio de Sa led the fleet from Portugal that arrived in Bahia in 1563, and two years later he established the military base that eventually grew into Rio de Janeiro. Cristovao de Barros commanded a fleet that finally drove out the French, though Estacio de Sa died of his wounds.

Mem de Sa arrived at Bahia as governor-general in 1558 and pacified the local natives by burning sixty villages. He was more sympathetic to the missionaries and governed until his death in 1572. Pero Leitao became the second bishop in 1559, and he worked with Mem de Sa and the Jesuits to establish missionary villages (aldeias) for the natives. Mem de Sa sent three expeditions to punish the natives. In 1560 his troops forced the French to abandon Villegagnon Island. The next year the Jesuit Jose de Anchieta accompanied the expedition down the Tieté River that defeated the natives, and in July 1562 Chief Tibiriça helped save the town of Sao Paulo from an Indian attack. That year Mem de Sa declared a "just war" against the Caeté for having killed Bishop Sardinha six years before. European diseases such as measles, smallpox, and cold viruses began devastating the native population of Bahia in 1562, causing at least 60,000 deaths in two years. Famine caused starving natives to sell themselves into slavery. In 1563 Nobrega and Anchieta went to Iperoig and made themselves hostages to cannibals. Nobrega left two months later, but Anchieta stayed, talked with natives, and composed six thousand verses in Latin he memorized and dedicated to the Virgin. In the 1560s the sons of Duarte Coelho, Jorge de Albuquerque Coelho and Duarte Coelho de Albuquerque, led the military campaigns against the natives in Pernambuco. The younger Duarte Coelho used 20,000 Indian allies to conquer Cape St. Augustine by 1571.

In 1570 Portuguese king Sebastian decreed that only cannibals and captives in a just war could be enslaved; but the settlers complained so much that this was revoked four years later. The previously abused system of resgate was allowed again to justify "rescuing" or "ransoming" captives of inter-tribal warfare, though such Indians enslaved had to be registered at the custom house. Tribes with diminishing numbers withdrew inland. The labor shortage stimulated the importation of African slaves in the 1570s. Magalhaes de Gandavo estimated that there were between one thousand and two thousand African slaves in Brazil in 1570.

In 1571 Sebastian decreed that only Portuguese ships could trade with Brazil. The next year he divided Brazil into northern and southern administrative regions. Luis de Brito de Almeida governed (1572-78) the north at Salvador, Bahia, and it extended from Ilhéus to Pernambuco. The south had its capital at Rio de Janeiro, went from Porto Seguro to Sao Vicente, and was governed by Cristovao de Barros (1572-74) and Antonio de Salema (1574-78). Slave-raiding provoked a war in 1572. A royal decree in 1573 exempting Brazil's sugar from import duties in Portugal encouraged settlers to take more land. In the south in 1574 Governor Salema approved new laws to protect the natives while guaranteeing colonists the use of their labor. He also led an army that defeated the French and Tamoios, slaughtering and enslaving thousands. The next year the Tamoios raided sugar plantations near Rio de Janeiro. Salema organized a force with 700 Indian allies and negotiated the surrender of 500 archers for breaking the previous peace; but when he massacred and enslaved them, the Tamoios fought back but were defeated by the Portuguese firearms. In the north in 1575 Governor Almeida led an expedition that brought 1,200 captives to Bahia, where most of them died of measles and smallpox. Brazil was reunited under Governor-General Lourenço da Veiga in 1578. He increased the subsidy to the Jesuits; but after learning that Portugal had fallen under the rule of Spain, he died in 1581.

Brazil and the Dutch 1580-1654

While Manuel Telles Barreto governed Brazil from 1583 to 1587, a judge named Martim Leitao recruited five hundred settlers and marched against a fortified camp of three thousand Indians in 1585, but the soldiers suffered dysentery and retreated. The next year the Potiguar were supported by allies from France and had only seventy or eighty men captured. The Portuguese burned the French brazilwood four years in a row.

Another interim government lasted from 1587 until 1591. Gabriel Soares de Sousa complained that the sugar mills in the Porto Seguro and Ilhéus captaincies had been destroyed by the Aimoré, who over a generation had killed 300 Portuguese and 3,000 slaves. The Aimoré took no prisoners and had been driven from the coast by the Tupi before the first Portuguese had arrived. Sousa also noted that most of the baptized natives had reverted to their heathen ways. A 1587 law prohibited attacking Indians, but Cristovao Cardoso de Barros led a "just war" using 20,000 natives to conquer Sergipe at the end of 1589, killing 1,600 and enslaving 4,000. Salvador Correa de Sa governed at Rio de Janeiro from 1578 to 1598. Sugar replaced brazilwood as the chief export in the 1580s, and many more African slaves were imported, mostly from Angola. By 1600 about 14,000 African slaves made up 70% of the plantation workers, though the European population was more than double that. Slave hunters called bandeiras began going into the jungle for years at a time. In the 1590s Captain-Major Jorge Correia of Sao Paulo and Jeronimo Leitao led slaving expeditions to Paranagua and then down the Tieté for six years that destroyed 300 villages and enslaved or killed 30,000 people according to the Spanish Jesuits.

Cunning Francisco de Sousa governed Brazil from 1591 until 1601. In 1591 foreign ships without a license were banned from Brazil, but that year Thomas Cavendish raided Santos, burning sugar mills. The Inquisitional Court arrived with Governor Sousa in 1591 and searched for "New Christians" (descendants of Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism in 1497) and those who practiced Jewish traditions. Many of those accused did not even know what they were doing was Jewish until they were told so. The Inquisition moved to Pernambuco in 1593 and departed two years later. In 1594 Spanish king Felipe II permitted the Dutch to send two fleets of twenty ships annually. In 1596 Felipe affirmed the freedom of the Indians and entrusted their care in the aldeias (communities) to the Jesuits. The next year the French and the Potiguar attacked the Portuguese fort on the Paraiba River but failed. Paraiba's governor Feliciano Coelho led a campaign that was devastated by smallpox but built a fort on the Potengi River. Finally a peace treaty was signed at Paraiba in June 1599. The Potiguar attacked the Reis Magos fort with 40,000 men, but they were defeated and came under Portuguese control in 1601.

Slave hunters called bandeiras went into the jungle for years at a time, especially in the early 17th century when the Dutch closed Angola to the Portuguese, blocking their slave trade to Brazil. Governor Francisco de Souza authorized the expedition led by Andre Leao in 1601 that crossed the Mantiqueira Mountains to the Sao Francisco River and the prospecting the next year by Nicolau Barreto down the Parana River. Barreto found no precious metals but returned with 3,000 Temimino captives that were sold at Sao Paulo with the usual third going to the crown. Spaniards in Paraguay protested the raids, but three more raids captured slaves in 1606 and 1607. Felipe (Philip) III decreed a law in 1609 that protected the natives, both those who were baptized and those who lived according to their own traditions, and those employing them on their estates must pay for their labor. The Relacao of Bahia instituted an appeals court to enforce the laws. All illegally captured Indians were declared free, and any legal documents attesting to their enslavement were made null and void. When the Relacao was presented to the Bahia council in June 1610, the opposition vehemently blamed the Jesuits and surrounded their college and the governor's residence. The Jesuits refused to condemn the law but agreed that legally captured Indians could be held, and the Jesuits promised not to employ natives. Governor Diogo de Meneses (1608-12) requested that the Spanish crown modify the law, and in 1611 a new statute allowed captures during "just wars" to be made slaves for ten years. Five more slave raids were organized between 1610 and 1615. In 1626 secular and ecclesiastical authorities decided at Maranhao that slaves costing more than five axes should be slaves for life.

Jesuits organized the province of Paraguay in 1607 and three years later founded new missions at Loreto and Inacio in Guaira. Manoel Preto led an attack on a Guaira settlement in 1616 and again in 1619. In 1623 he and Antonio Raposo Tavares captured a thousand Christian Indians from the missions of Guaira. In 1629 Raposo Tavares and 69 Paulistas led the largest bandeira so far with 900 mamelucos (offspring of Portuguese and natives) and 2,000 natives; they captured at least 5,500 Indians in Guaira and took them to Sao Paulo. After two more raids on three villages in the next two years, the Jesuits decided to move ten thousand Indians down the Parana River; but in 1632 Villa Rica and Ciudad Real were abandoned as the Guaira fled farther into the interior. The Jesuits fled south, and in 1636 Raposo Tavares raided the Jesuits' Tapia settlements. A large bandeira took thousands of Indians from the Jesuits' new villages on the Ibicui in 1637 and 1638, but that year Paraguay governor Pedro de Lugo y Navarra helped the Jesuits defeat them at Casapaguacu. In 1639 Spanish authorities in Asuncion allowed the Jesuits to arm their Indians, and the Guarani even made their own guns out of heavy bamboo and ox-hides. Bishop Bernardo de Cardenas became acting governor of Paraguay in 1640 and approved attacks on the Jesuit missions, but in March 1641 a large bandeira was defeated in the Mboreré territory. The missionaries retreated to the Uruguay and Parana rivers. Bandeirante Francisco Bueno died in 1644. These raids had diminishing returns as the African slaves brought prices four times higher than the natives. Raposo Tavares led his last raid in 1648 but continued on a journey of 8,000 miles that explored the Paraguay and Amazon watersheds.

The prelate Matéus da Costa Aborim imposed penance on those who abused the natives; he was sharply criticized and died of poisoning in 1629. His successors were also threatened or poisoned. The Jesuits were eventually driven out of Sao Paulo and did not return until 1653. Slave hunters in the Amazon region claimed they only seized Indians who had already been enslaved by others. Pedro Teixeira took possession of the valley by the Napo for Portugal in 1639, and this became Brazil's basis for claiming all of Amazonia. In Rio de Janeiro, Governor Salvador Correia de Sa e Benevides was a large landowner with many slaves, and he mediated an agreement with the Jesuits in 1640. He also recaptured Angola for Portugal in 1648, making African slaves more available for the sugar plantations.

In northern Brazil the French had been living among the natives of Maranhao since the shipwreck of 1594. Pero Coelho de Soares began an effort to conquer this territory in 1603; but he was repulsed by the French and Indians, and a drought devastated the population in 1606. The next year two Jesuits joined the expedition that reached Serra de Ibiapaba in 1608; but the Tacarijus natives killed Francisco Pinto, and Luis Figueira retreated. The Portuguese were given reinforcements, and finally in 1615 La Ravardiere and the French agreed to withdraw from Maranhao. The Portuguese pushed on and the next year built Forte do Presepio by the Para River. In 1623 Luis Aranha de Vasconcellos captured the Dutch settlements at the mouth of the Xingu River, and two years later Bento Maciel Parente drove the English from the Amazon and established Noss Senhora do Desterro.

The Dutch East India Company reached the coast between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Vicente in 1614. As the twelve-year Dutch-Portuguese truce was ending, the Dutch West India Company was chartered on June 3, 1621 with a monopoly over trade in the Americas and part of Africa for two dozen years. By then Amsterdam had 25 sugar refineries. In 1624 Jan Andries Moerbeeck published the pamphlet "Why the West India Company should attempt to Conquer Brazil from the king of Spain, without delay." In May of that year a Dutch fleet of 26 ships captured the Bahia capital at Salvador as the inhabitants fled; but a Spanish-Portuguese fleet of 52 warships was organized under Fadrique de Toledo with 12,000 men. The Dutch were besieged at Salvador and suffered guerrilla attacks, and in April 1625 they surrendered to the Spanish-Portuguese fleet, which returned to Europe in 1627. The next year Dutch commander Piet Heyn with a fleet of 31 ships carrying 4,000 men captured a lucrative Spanish fleet worth 12 million guilders that gave WIC stockholders a 75% dividend. During the struggle with the Dutch the Relacao was ignored as too expensive from 1626 until 1652.

Dutch merchants were already at Recife in Pernambuco, and in 1630 the Dutch fleet occupied Recife and Olinda. They conquered Arraial do Bom Jesus, Paraibe, and the Nazaré fort in 1635 during the Sugar War as the Portuguese Brazilians and the Dutch tried to destroy each other's sugar mills. Count Johan Maurits (Maurice) of Nassau arrived in 1637 and took over Pernambuco. Conde da Torre led an armada of 46 ships and went to Salvador for supplies in 1639, but the next year he was unable to take Recife. A Dutch fleet arrived that year and destroyed 27 engenhos (sugar mills) in Reconcavo. In December 1640 the Portuguese line of kings was restored with Joao IV, but the Portuguese had to fight for their independence from Spain until 1668. In Brazil even those who had Spanish relatives tended to side with the Portuguese. In March 1641 Maurits celebrated the news of Joao IV's restoration with festivals, plays, sports, and contests, and in June the Dutch leaders agreed to a ten-year truce with Portugal. In 1642 the English signed a treaty with Portugal in January, and Sweden did so in July. That year the Marques de Montalvao became the first president of the Conselho Ultramarino that governed overseas affairs.

Count Maurits sold the abandoned sugar mills at auction on credit and established a council and courts of justice. He approved returning to their masters fugitive slaves who had fled after their masters submitted to the Dutch; but he would not give back those who had deserted to the Dutch earlier. In a debate over free trade he maintained the Company's monopoly on African slaves, dyewoods, and munitions but he allowed free trade on other goods to Dutch stockholders in the West India Company. Maurits tolerated Catholic worship and Jews even though he was criticized by zealous Calvinists. Of the three thousand Europeans in Recife, more than a thousand of them were Jews; but most of them left when the Dutch surrendered in 1654. When so much sugar was being grown that the food supply was short, in 1638 Maurits ordered all landlords to plant two hundred hills of manioc (cassava) for each slave. During his government (1637-44) sugar production was estimated at 218,220 chests worth 28 million florins. Maurits made Recife his capital and improved the city. He created a museum and patronized artists. His physician Willem Piso made a comprehensive study of the diseases of Brazil. Maurits made his last conquest by occupying Sao Luis de Maranhao in November 1641, extending his government to seven of the fourteen captaincies. Before he left in 1644, he wrote that he knew from experience that the Portuguese valued courtesy and consideration more than money and property. A crowd of Indians wanted to go with him to Holland, and in April 1645 the Dutch organized an unusual conference of chiefs from twenty aldeias.

Fires in 1640, floods and epidemics in 1641 and 1642, and a drought in 1644 caused the price of sugar to go down so that by 1645 it was below the cost of production. Indians attacked the Dutch at Ceara in 1643. After Count Maurits was recalled the next year, Governor-General Antonio Teles da Silva and King Joao IV secretly began encouraging a revolt against Dutch rule. A plot to arrest the top Dutch officials at a banquet was discovered. In order to maintain his alliance with the Dutch against the Spanish, Joao gave little military aid to the Brazilians, who won some victories but in 1645 were besieged at Recife. In 1647 and 1648 Brazil lost 249 out of 300 merchant ships to Dutch privateers. In 1648 the Estates General in the Netherlands sent an army of 5,000 mercenaries led by the German general Sigismund von Schoppe, but in April they were defeated by 2,200 men commanded by Francisco Barreto at Guararapes, where the Dutch suffered another defeat in February 1649. That month King Joao IV allowed the property of New Christians condemned by the Inquisition to be invested in Brazil's new company, and the Companhia Geral do Comércio do Brazil was incorporated as 1,255,000 cruzados were raised. The Brazil Company financed a fleet of sixty ships that fought Haulthain's eight warships by Recife in 1652. Joao IV sent a fleet 77 ships commanded by Pedro Jaques de Magalhaes that forced the Dutch to surrender Recife in January 1654, ending the Dutch domination of Brazil.

Brazil and Vieira 1654-1700

Antonio Vieira was born February 6, 1608 in Lisbon and came to Brazil with his parents when he was six. He was educated at the Jesuit college in Bahia. Vieira was ordained in 1635 and became the most popular preacher in Brazil. He urged all races to join the Portuguese in defending Brazil from Dutch invaders. While working to help Indians and African slaves, he learned Tupi-Guarani and other Amazon languages and Kimbundu, which was used by slaves from Angola. In 1641 he went to Portugal and became King Joao's closest advisor. Even after Joao's death in 1656, he prophesied that the King would return and bring about a golden age of peace.

Vieira made enemies because he advocated tolerance of converted Jews and ceding Pernambuco to make peace with the Dutch. He returned as a missionary to Brazil and arrived at Maranhao in January 1653. Vieira could not even borrow Indians for a journey because they were working on the Governor's tobacco plantations. Frustrated, he sailed to the slave-trading base at Belem do Para in October. Observing the abusive capturing of Indians, he wrote the court urging that Jesuits be put in control of them as was done in Paraguay; but in October 1653 King Joao IV had decided that it was impossible to free all the slaves, and the justifications for taking captives were greatly relaxed and even included disobedience when called upon to work. Vieira preached to the settlers that they were endangering their souls, saying, "Break the chains of injustice and free those whom you hold captive and oppressed!"2 In January 1654 colonists signed a petition complaining that the Jesuits' preaching to Indians about their "legal freedom" was provoking uprisings against the whites. The Europeans did not want to do their own work. Vieira went on a "missionary" expedition but discovered that the Governor of Para was more intent on capturing slaves than on saving souls. When the eight hundred captives were mistreated, Vieira left the expedition.

Vieira visited Portugal, and in 1655 Joao IV granted his request and ordered the Jesuits put in control of all the Indian villages; but the Jesuit priests could authorize ransom expeditions, and life-long slavery continued. Vieira assigned Jesuits to 54 aldeias (communities) in northern Brazil over an estimated 200,000 souls. In 1657 he sent a letter to the King opposing for the first time the slavery of Africans. He continued to criticize the treatment of the natives, and the settlers complained they did not have enough workers. Smallpox struck Maranhao in 1660 and spread. In May 1661 the city council of Sao Luis forced Vieira to give up his administration of the Indians, and the next month citizens of Belem invaded the Colégio Santo Alexandre, captured Vieira and other Jesuits, and sent them to Sao Luis. Later they were shipped back to Lisbon. Vieira was expelled from Brazil in 1661, and he was imprisoned by the Inquisition in Portugal until 1668 for writing the Quinto Império. He wrote 25 articles in his defense but was banished to Coimbra and Oporto. In 1663 a law put the natives under the town councils of the settlers. In 1669 Vieira wrote,

The so-called expeditions into the sertao
must be totally prohibited and stopped,
so that the injustice and tyranny
cloaked with the name of "ransom" cease.
Under it many thousands of innocent Indians
have been enslaved, killed and extinguished.
It is the primary origin and cause of all the ruin of that State.3

Vieira spent six years in Rome as confessor to Queen Christina of Sweden, and he secured some toleration for the Jews. In 1680 he influenced a law that punished with exile those who captured natives. The next year Vieira was permitted to return to Brazil, where he championed Indian rights until he died in 1697. His regulations for conducting aldeias missions written in 1686 were influential for the next century. By 1710 all of his collected sermons had been published in 14 volumes.

After Joao IV died in 1656, the Conselho da Fazenda advised Portugal to take over the Brazil Company. In 1658 Queen-Regent Luisa decreed an end to the monopoly and reduced the fleet to one annual sailing. The Company was compensated by a tax on sugar, and in 1662 the crown took over its administration. In 1661 the English mediated a treaty between Portugal and Holland that was ratified in 1662. The Portuguese agreed to pay the Dutch four million cruzados indemnity over sixteen years and restored captured Dutch artillery, and the Dutch were allowed to trade with Portugal and Brazil.

In 1660 Jeronimo Barbalho led a tax revolt in Rio de Janeiro against Governor Salvador Correia de Sa e Benevides. Sa returned to Rio, and a convoy from Portugal helped him arrest them. He executed Barbalho in 1661 and sentenced others to long prison terms in Lisbon and Bahia. However, the court replaced Sa with the rebel's moderate brother, Agostinho Barbalho Bezerra, who was also given administration of the mines of Sao Paul in 1664. The peace treaty between Spain and Portugal in 1668 opened up trade between the two nations under licenses.

Pedro became prince regent of Portugal in January 1668, and that year two major expeditions explored the interior and fought the natives. The next year Governor Alexandre de Sousa Freire declared a "just war" that led to several inland settlements by 1673, when a thousand natives were captured. The Sesmarias governor Fernao Dias Pais led a bandeira from Sao Paulo looking for gold, silver, and emeralds in 1674 that lasted seven years. Others established numerous cattle ranches. In 1670 Pedro ordered Governor-General Afonso Furtado de Mendonça and the Pernambuco governor to investigate corrupt officials manipulating elections to engage in commerce and the collection of tithes, and Governor-General Roque de Costa Barreto implemented the Regimento Novo in January 1677. A month before that, the Pope issued a bull that extended the boundaries of Rio de Janeiro and designated Rio and Pernambuco as bishoprics with Bahia elevated to an archbishopric. In 1679 the new governor of Rio, Manuel Lobo, sent Jorge Soares de Macedo to establish a fort on the island of Sao Gabriel opposite to Buenos Aires, but Macedo and his men were shipwrecked and captured by two Jesuits and 800 mission Indians and were taken to Buenos Aires. Governor Lobo arrived and began building a fort on the mainland at Colonia in January 1680, but in August the Spaniards with Guarani allies captured Colonia. A treaty in 1681 restored Colonia to the Portuguese, but it remained a point of contention for a century.

In 1682 the state of Maranhao organized a commercial company that was given a monopoly for twenty years to import 500 African slaves annually. The historian Joao Francisco Lisboa criticized the company for excessive "robbery and vexations" and for selling materials and food of bad quality.

Many African slaves escaped into the interior and lived in quilombos, the most famous being Palmares with as many as 30,000 inhabitants. In 1662 Governor-General Francisco Barreto ordered an attack on the quilombos in Sergipe del-Rei. Zumbi was born at Palmares in 1655, but he was captured by a military expedition and was educated by the priest Antonio Melo. At the age of fifteen he ran away and returned to Palmares. In 1673 Zumbi led a force that defeated the expedition of Antonio Jacome Bezerra, and in 1676 he was wounded while fighting the attack led by Manuel Lopes, who burned two thousand houses. Zumbi was wounded again the next year defending against the expedition led by Fernao Carrilho. Chief Ganga Zumba was blamed for this defeat, but Zumbi's opposition failed to remove him. The next year Ganga Zamba made a treaty recognizing Palmares as free vassals of Portugal and agreeing to return runaways. Only a few hundred people joined Zamba in a new community at Cucau under Portuguese protection. The Great Council of Palmares then elected Zumbi. White colonists made incursions into Cucau seeking fugitive slaves, and in 1680 Zumbi's supporters seized weapons, poisoned Ganga Zumba, and killed his advisors. The Portuguese then executed four of Zumbi's men and enslaved 200 others. In the 1680s six expensive expeditions marched against Palmares without accomplishing much of anything, but in 1694 forces led by Domingos Jorge Velho attacked Palmares and killed King Zumbi and his staff the following year. The Jesuit Jorge Benci wrote Economia Crista dos senhores no governo dos escravos in 1700 to call for better treatment of slaves in Brazil. He urged the masters to set a better example by not keeping concubines in the house and by not enriching themselves at the expense of others.

In the early 1680s a drought devastated sugar production, and three years of smallpox were followed by two years of yellow fever which struck Recife in 1685. In 1684 Manuel Beckman led a revolt by colonists while the governor was away from Sao Luis. The new governor, Gomes Freire de Andrada, arrived the next year and put the leaders on trial. Beckman and Jorge Sampaio were hanged, and others were imprisoned or exiled. However, the new governor did ask the King to abolish the company, and the Jesuits returned. A new rule for the missions was established in 1686. The Indians were to be taught Portuguese and trades and were required to work. Royal decrees over the next generation assigned various tribes to the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Carmelites, the Franciscans da Piedade, and the Mercedarians. As cattle ranching spread in the interior, natives fought back. In 1687 Antonio de Albuquerque led 300 men from Pernambuco, but they were decimated by a force of 3,000 native warriors. The next year Governor-General Mathias da Cunha complained that the "barbarians of the Rio Grande" had killed more than a hundred people and destroyed over 30,000 cattle. The American disease of yellow fever took the lives of many Europeans, including the Governor-General in October 1688. The next year King Pedro II authorized private groups to bring back Indians from the interior at their own expense. They were supposed to persuade them, but within two years the King realized the abuse and pardoned the enslaved natives while fining their masters.

In 1691 measles ravaged the natives in the camp of Matias Cardoso, and the European troops mutinied because of lack of pay and supplies. The Jesuits appealed to Cardoso, and his men killed 600 Tapuia. Finally in 1691 Cristovao de Mendonça captured the Janduin chief, who had previously been baptized and surrendered with 2,500 people. A letter from the King Pedro II of Portugal written in January 1691 arrived ordering that Indians captured in the Rio Grande war be freed, and he accepted the Governor's proposal of shipping them to aldeias near Rio de Janeiro. Finally in April 1692 a treaty was signed at Salvador da Bahia between Pedro II and King Canindé of Janduin, promising perpetual peace and conversion to Christianity by 22 villages. The tribes of Paiacu, Janduin, and Ico helped the settlers pacify the other natives to create mission villages, and in 1697 the town council of Natal commended Captain-Major Bernardo Vieira de Mello for three years of success for having "reduced all the heathens to a universal peace." However, in 1699 the Paulista commander Manoel Alvares de Morais Navarro persuaded 200 Janduin to help him attack the Paiacu, and Navarro's men massacred 250 people while the Janduin watched. Missionaries complained, and King Pedro ordered Navarro arrested in 1701; but he was freed two years later. The French extended their territory from Guiana, but the Portuguese recaptured Macapa in 1697.

Brazil and Slavery 1700-44

Carlos Pedro da Silveira showed Governor Sebastiao de Castro Caldas samples of gold from Itaverava in 1695, and by 1698 people from Sao Paulo were going to Ouro Preto. Many new strikes were made in the early 1700s, and King Pedro II put up his claims for auction, granting owners fifteen feet of land for each slave. In 1701 Joao de Lencastre decreed that no one could go to the gold fields without a passport signed by a governor, but this was unenforceable. Also that year the Crown prohibited cattle ranches within eighty kilometers of the coast. A new mining code was decreed in 1702 to assure that the King got one fifth, but illegal and fraudulent practices were common. He prohibited foreigners to emigrate to Brazil and ordered those near the mines expelled. Governor-General Rodrigo da Costa (1702-05) complained that agriculture was suffering in the north because landowners were selling their slaves in the mining regions, though tobacco farming in Bahia helped the slave trade. Portugal gained protection on the seas by signing three treaties with England in 1703. So many clerics and friars were refusing to pay the fifth that the government excluded them from the mines. They preached that people should not pay the tax to the King.

Wealthy landowner Manuel Nunes Viana exploited the contraband trade, and in October 1708 Borba Gato ordered him to leave Minas and wrote to the governor of Rio de Janeiro. Frei Meneses asked Governor Lencastre for a monopoly on fresh meat. He refused and ordered Borba Gato to prevent price gouging on necessary articles. Meneses appealed to Viana for support, and a civil war broke out between these Emboabas (Portuguese) and the Paulistas (of Sao Paulo). Lawlessness was rampant, and the rich hired their own troops and even armed slaves. Antonio de Albuquerque Coelho de Carvalho became governor of Rio de Janeiro in June 1709 and got Viana to retire. In November he issued a pardon that helped restore order, and in 1711 the Paulistas got back much of their property taken by the Emboabas. In 1710 Governor Carvalho ordered gold confiscated, if the fifth was not paid, with one-third going to the informer. Brazil's gold production increased during the first half of the 18th century and then declined in the second half. Carvalho instituted law and order by declaring three mining camps municipalities in 1711 and others in succeeding years. Jacobina had 532 firearms deaths between 1710 and 1721, but in four years after it became a vila the only two murders were by a sword and a knife.

In 1711 Joao Antonil published The Culture and Opulence of Brazil as Revealed by Its Products and Its Mines in which he described the wealth that could be obtained from the sugar and gold industries. By then 528 sugar mills were producing 1,285,000 arrobas annually. Hides, tobacco, cattle, and other products also were doing well. Many thousands went seeking gold in Minas Geraes while 30,000 African slaves per year were imported into Bahia and Rio de Janeiro to do most of the hard work.

In 1710 Governor Castro de Caldas established a city council in Recife that favored the merchants over the landowners of Olinda. In October he escaped an assassination attempt with only minor wounds; but Olinda citizens disguised as Indians attacked Recife, and the Governor fled to Bahia. A year later a riot broke out in Bahia because the Governor refused to expel the French. A bishop had been made governor at Recife, but in June 1711 he was captured, restored the previous government, and escaped to Olinda. Felix Jose Machado de Mendonça arrived as the new governor of Recife in October empowered to issue a general pardon, but instead he punished the Olinda partisans. King Joao V stopped this in 1714, and the new viceroy, Marques de Angenja, favored Olinda but kept the government at Recife, helping the merchants. The King tried to stop illegal trade in 1715, but it continued despite the hanging of thirty "pirates" taken from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia.

Rio de Janeiro was a city of about 12,000 people when Jean François Duclerc with five French warships attacked in 1710. Duclerc and about 650 men were captured, but he was allowed to meet the ladies and was assassinated in March 1711. The French sent 17 ships with 5,800 men and captured Rio in September, losing 300 men while freeing about 200 prisoners. Rio governor Francisco de Castro Morais retreated to Iguaçu and ransomed so much to the French that he was hated, tried, and imprisoned in India for life.

In 1702 the captain of Ceara illegally sent Colonel Leonardo de Sa up the Parnaiba River to capture the Vidal and Axemi tribes; they in turn attacked ranches, but they were exterminated by the end of 1705. Piaui commander Antonio da Cunha Souto-Maior led a campaign against the Anaperu tribe, but a mameluco led the retaliation that killed soldiers and six Carmelite missionaries. In 1708 King Joao V ordered the Anaperu tribes of Maranhao destroyed, and Cunha's atrocities against the settled tribes in his camp provoked a major rebellion that killed Cunha and most of his officers. The rebel chief Mandu Ladino got his name because he had been taught Latin by the Jesuits. They seized 300 firearms and attacked settlers in Piaui and Ceara while sparing missionaries. Maranhao governor Christovao da Costa Freire led an unsuccessful punitive campaign against Mandu's tribes. In 1716 the rebels destroyed an armed convoy of cattle going to Maranhao, and by 1718 over a hundred ranches had been destroyed or abandoned. The Tupi were enemies of the inland Tapuia, and Tobajara chief Dom Jacob de Sousa e Castro defeated the Tapuia in the forest without European help and killed Mandu Ladino and four other chiefs in 1719. The Portuguese estimated their losses from the seven-year rebellion at 500,000 cruzados. Piaui captain-major Bernardo Carvalho de Aguiar claimed that he had destroyed "four nations of barbarians" with little cost, but he was still fighting them in 1725.

Cattle, horses, and other domesticated animals were brought to South America by the Europeans, and they multiplied in wild herds and were hunted before there were ranches. In 1711 a Jesuit estimated that 500,000 cattle were in the interior of Bahia and 800,000 in Pernambuco.

In 1718 King Joao V (r. 1706-50) decreed that the city of Sao Luis could sell 200 ransomed Indians to raise money to rebuild the cathedral. Authorities also demanded Indians for royal service. Minas Gerais became a captaincy in 1720. Joao da Maia da Gama governed Maranhao and Para 1722-28. He tended to side with the Jesuits against the settlers' demands, but he admitted that he and his predecessors often allowed the six-month limit on an Indian's labor to be exceeded. His successor Alexandre de Sousa Freire (1728-32) removed the limits on this exploitation, and even sick Indians were made to work. In 1721 Joao V urged localities to provide schools. In 1724 Viceroy Vasco Fernandes Cesar de Meneses founded the Brazilian Academy of the Forgotten, named because the Royal Academy of History in Lisbon had not invited any Brazilians to join. In 1732 legislation was enacted to prohibit women from leaving Brazil without approval by the crown, but this was modified the next year to allow wives to accompany their husbands. Rio de Janeiro started the Academia dos Felizes in 1736. In 1737 Jose da Silva Pais financed an expedition that took possession of Rio Grande.

During the annual monsoons flotillas of gold-miners traveled the bloated rivers, but in 1725 the Paiagua annihilated a convoy of two hundred people near the mouth of the Chanes River. They continued to attack each year, and a major battle took place in June 1730 when 400 people from Cuiaba transporting 60 arrobas (900 kilos) of gold were ambushed by hundreds of Paiagua; the battle lasted 29 hours, and most in the flotilla were killed. King Joao V issued proclamations of a just war and authorized the enslavement of captives, and in 1734 Manoel Ruiz de Carvalho led 842 men in 28 war-canoes from Cuiaba. After killing forty Paiagua sentries in their camp, they ambushed the Paiagua using 200 muskets. They slaughtered 600 Paiagua and sent 240 captives to be slaves in the mines. Yet during the 1735 monsoon the Paiagua killed or captured all but four people in a convoy of fifty canoes. The attacks became less frequent, but they went on until the 1780s when a few remaining Paiaguas took refuge with the Spaniards on an island reservation near Asuncion.

In 1726 Minas Gerais governor Lourenço de Almeida acquired some diamonds and, having lived in Goa, he knew what they were; but he did not report this to King Joao V until 1729. The next year Almeida promulgated the first regulations for diamond mining with a capitation tax on each slave and miner. In January 1732 he expelled all free Africans and mulattoes from the diamond region. By the late 1730s about 9,000 slaves were working in the diamond mines of Serro do Frio, and one European or mulatto supervised every eight slaves to prevent smuggling. In 1740 a four-year private contract was given to Joao Fernandes de Oliveira and Francisco Ferreira da Silva that limited diamond mining to the Jequitinhonha River area with no more than 600 slaves. Eventually bankruptcies became more frequent, and in 1771 the crown took over the diamond mines.

In 1741 Joao V persuaded Pope Benedict XIV to issue an encyclical to the bishops of Brazil, forbidding "enslaving, selling, buying, exchanging or giving Indians, separating them from their wives and children, despoiling them of their goods, leading them to strange places," and "depriving them of liberty in any way."4 The penalty for keeping Indian slaves was excommunication, but the Bishop of Para did not publish it for sixteen years.

Brazil under Portugal 1744-88
Brazil’s Rise to Power 1788-1817

Guiana to 1744

Guiana is west of the Amazon River and was populated by the Caribs and Arawaks. Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci explored the coast in 1499. Pedro Malaver da Silva led an expedition to Guiana between the Essequibo and the Wiapoco (Oyapock) rivers about 1530, but Caribs killed them all except one man. Juan Martinez claimed he was captured and visited a golden city called Manoa with a gilded king (El Dorado). Antonio de Berrio was the Spanish governor of Guiana and Trinidad, and he went looking for El Dorado in 1584, 1585, and 1591. He sent his lieutenant Domingo de Vera in 1593.

In 1594 Walter Raleigh led an expedition to explore the Orinoco River in Guiana, looking for El Dorado. In revenge for eight Englishmen killed at Trinidad, he burned the town of San Josef and captured Governor Berrio. After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Raleigh was imprisoned for treason. In 1604 Captain Charles Leigh led an expedition to the Wiapoco River, but he and others died of illness. The relief ship was lost in the West Indies, and the rest abandoned the settlement. In 1609 Robert Harcourt brought three ships to the Wiapoco to look for gold, and 1613 King James gave him a patent for Guiana between the Amazon and Essequibo rivers. Raleigh was released in 1616 in order to seek gold in Guiana on the understanding that if he harmed the Spanish he would be executed. Raleigh was ill, and his son Walter led about four hundred men into a fight at San Thomé; the young Raleigh and one other Englishman were killed. After Raleigh returned to England, King James had him executed on October 29, 1618 to satisfy Spain. Small groups of Dutch, English, and Irish planters and traders occupied the coast of Guiana. Roger North and the Amazon Company came in 1620; Harcourt failed again in 1627; and the Guiana Company arrived in 1628. However, the Portuguese destroyed most of the settlements in 1623, 1625, and 1630. Captain Marshall started a settlement that grew tobacco by the Surinam River in 1630.

After earlier Dutch failures the Zeelander Adrian Groenewegen established a settlement called Kykoveral on the Essequibo River in 1616. He learned the native languages and even married the daughter of a Carib chief to balance the influence of the Arawaks. Jan van der Goes brought more Zeelanders to Kykoveral in 1624, and they were supported by the Dutch West Indies Company until 1632. The trader Abraham van Pere settled on the Berbice River in 1627, and Fort Nassau was built about fifty miles upriver. With native allies Groenewegen destroyed the Spanish fort at San Thomé in 1637 and continued to look for gold until 1661. Because of financial losses, the Company abandoned Essequibo colony in 1657, but three Zeeland towns held on and founded a new settlement by the Pomeroon River called Nova Zeelandia. The Jewish merchant David Nassy agreed to transport Jews from the Netherlands and African slaves for 150 guilders each. The Dutch sent cane juice to Holland for refining into sugar, and they had only one sugar mill in Guiana by 1664.

The French founded Cayenne in 1637, but they did not get along with the natives, especially in 1643 when the Sieur de Brétigny was so tyrannical and cruel that most of the three or four hundred French took refuge with the Indians until he was killed while attacking the Indians. The settlement was abandoned, and some went to the new colony at St. Kitts. Chevalier De Royville led eight hundred people in 1652; but he was killed in a mutiny at sea, and the Rouen Company got to Cayenne before them. They quarreled with each other, and after suffering famine and disease they abandoned the colony. Dutch and Portuguese Jews from Brazil began settling by the Surinam River as early as 1639. The Dutch and Jews occupied Cayenne in 1656, but the French Equinoctial Company led by Lefevre de la Barre took it back in 1664 and drove out the experienced Jews. Nassy had arrived that year and led many Jews to the Surinam colony, which had more than forty sugar plantations and 4,000 people (counting slaves) the next year.

Wealthy Governor Willoughby of Barbados backed the first successful English colony to Guiana in 1651. Anthony Rowse made peace with the natives, and the English learned from the Jews at Surinam. Lord Willoughby had been granted land in 1663, and in late 1665 he sent Major John Scott with three hundred men and some Caribs to take over Essequibo and Nova Zeelandia. They did so, but most of the English soon left. Berbice commander Matthys Bergenaar was guided overland by Indians and recaptured Kykoveral. The small English garrison had brought in two hundred slaves but surrendered. Admiral Crynssen had already taken over the English colony at Surinam, where Governor Byam surrendered after being bombarded. In June 1667 John Harman recaptured Surinam for the English, who gave it back to the Dutch in the 1667 Treaty of Breda in exchange for New Netherlands (New York). After the end of the Anglo-Dutch war in 1674, the English were permitted to leave Surinam, and many went to Jamaica.

Admiral Binkes took over Cayenne from De Lezy in March 1676, and for a few months the Dutch possessed all of Guiana. However, in October the French sent fifteen ships to retake Cayenne. In 1683 the province of Zeeland sold Surinam in equal shares to the West India Company, the city of Amsterdam, and Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijk. The latter arrived in November and put the garrison to work digging a canal. In 1688 the workers went on strike for larger rations, and the soldiers killed Sommelsdijk and mortally wounded their commander Verboom. In 1686 the Dutch West India Company tried to limit the purchase of Indian slaves to those who had already been enslaved by Indian tribes.

The privateer Jean Baptiste du Casse attacked Surinam and Berbice in 1689. The French were defeated at Surinam, and Casse reduced the ransom he demanded from Berbice commander De Feer from 20,000 guilders to 6,000 because of the French prisoners. French buccaneers and three hundred Caribs destroyed the settlement at Pomeroon the same year. In 1708 three French privateers with three hundred men sailed up the Essequibo and raided Kykoveral as Commander Van der Heyden Resen kept his garrison of about fifty men in the fort. Captain Antoine Ferry left after receiving a ransom of 50,000 guilders, paid mostly in slaves and merchandise. The next year two French privateers did more damage, carried off 500 hogsheads of sugar, and left only two working sugar mills. Postholder Blake successfully defended Pomeroon from the French in 1709, killing many of them without suffering any casualties. Blake repulsed French buccaneers again in 1712. In November about 3,000 men in 38 ships directed by Jacques Cassard attacked Surinam and Berbice. Cassard accepted 747,350 guilders worth of sugar, slaves, and other merchandise. Baron de Mouans bombarded Fort Nassau and demanded 10,000 guilders for the private estates and 300,000 guilders for the fort and estates of Van Peres. The Dutch commander De Waterman could only raise 118,024 guilders from Van Peres. Mouans accepted this and credit, and merchants led by Nicolaas van Hoorn later paid 108,000 guilders and took over the colony. In 1730 a slave revolt broke out in Surinam that spread and lasted three years.

Laurens Storm van's Gravesande came to Essequibo as secretary in 1739 and supervised the reconstruction of the fort on Flag Island. He became commander in 1743 and allowed grants to English settlers. Sugar cane cultivation required much capital and labor to be successful. For each square mile of cultivation 65 miles of drainage, canals, and irrigation trenches were needed, and workers had to remove ten million tons of earth. Only wealthy planters could bear this expense and protect coastal plantations from the sea. By 1750 Gravesande noted that sugar was the main crop in Guiana.

Guiana 1744-1817

Spanish Colonies and the West Indies 1580-1744


1. Quoted in Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians by John Hemming, p. 103.
2. Ibid., p. 319.
3. Ibid., p. 343.
4. Ibid., p. 451.

Copyright © 2003-2006 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book America to 1744. For ordering information please click here.


Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas
Spanish Conquest 1492-1580
Brazil and Guiana 1500-1744
Spanish Colonies and the West Indies 1580-1744
Northern America to 1642
English, French, and Dutch Colonies 1643-1664
New France 1663-1744
New England 1664-1744
New York to Pennsylvania 1664-1744
Maryland, Virginia, Carolinas, and Georgia 1663-1744
Franklin's Practical Ethics
Summary and Evaluation of America to 1744

World Chronology
Chronology of America to 1817

BECK index