Brazil Early History

Brazil Early History

South America

The colonial period

Discovered in April 1500 by the Portuguese navigator P. Álvares Cabral, the Brazil was claimed and obtained from Portugal as it returned to its area of ​​relevance according to the treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. After the expedition of MA de Sousa(1531-33) and the completion of the reconnaissance of the Atlantic coast, King John III started the colonization of the country, dividing it into 12 feudal captains, destined to increase in number. In 1549 the administration was centralized with the creation of the General Government of the Brazil, but the system of the captainries remained in force until the 18th century, providing the basis for the population of the country and the formation of an aggressive and enterprising class of settlers.. From the middle of the 16th century. the Jesuits started the evangelization of the indigenous, providing the first nucleus of scholars of their languages ​​and creating important missions in the interior, where the indigenous peoples enjoyed a certain autonomy and, above all, were saved from enslavement by the settlers. bandairas to the missions and the massive importation of slaves from Africa, phenomena that continued until the 18th century.

During the union between Portugal and Spain (1580-1640) the Brazil was negatively affected by European political events and saw the development of English piracy, the French occupation of Maranhão (1612-15) and the Dutch occupation of Bahia(1624-45 ).

From the end of the 17th century. the discovery of metal and precious stone mines in the southern regions caused a notable internal emigration and an influx of Portuguese, with consequent rise of tensions and conflicts, but also with a more intense exploration of the country. At the same time there was an increase in agricultural production, the prohibition for foreigners to own goods or trade was lifted, reforms concerning land ownership were introduced and the system of captaincy was progressively overcome. In 1777 the treaty of San Ildefonso put an end to a centuries-old dispute with Spain by assigning to the latter the Colonia del Sacramento, founded in 1679 by the Brazilians on the banks of the Rio de la Plata.

The independence process

The French invasion of Portugal (1807), which forced the regent Don Giovanni to take refuge in Brazil with his court (1808), leaving the defense of the country to England, created the conditions for a growth of the spirit of independence of Brazil. The opening of ports to English ships favored the development of production and trade, but the expenses for the maintenance of the Portuguese court and for the war against France impoverished the treasury and determined, with the increase in the tax burden, serious discontent.. In 1816 Don Giovanni was proclaimed king (John VI) of the united Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve (under the English regency until 1820) but, forced by the Portuguese revolution of 1820 to return to Portugal, he lost the Brazil, who had remained under the regency of his son Don Pedro. In fact, in 1822 he proclaimed the independence of Brazil and was crowned emperor (Peter I), receiving Portuguese recognition in 1825.

Despite the relatively liberal Constitution promulgated by Peter I in 1824, the first years of the new state were convulsive. After the rebellion of the Cisplatina province (occupied by the Brazilians between 1816 and 1821), which gained independence as the Republic of Uruguay, the emperor was forced to abdicate in 1831, following a popular uprising flanked by the army, leaving the throne to his 6-year-old son Peter II. The crisis worsened in the following period, with a series of rebellions in the provinces that jeopardized the very unity of the country, recovering only after the proclamation of the age of majority of Peter II (1840). The reign of Peter II (1840-89) proved to be a period of growth and modernization: explorations in the interior were resumed, agricultural production intensified, the first railways were created and the merchant navy developed; furthermore, a vast stream of immigration from Europe began. Peace with foreign countries was disturbed by the war against Paraguay (1865-71), in which Brazil, allied with Argentina and Uruguay, was victorious. For Brazil history, please check

The democratization process

Towards the end of the 1970s, the growth of social tensions and popular pressure for a democratization of the country led the military to start a process of gradual liberalization of the regime: after the advent of General JB Figueiredo (1979) as President of the Republic an amnesty law was promulgated for political crimes and, with the ARENA and the MDB dissolved, the formation of new political parties was allowed. At the end of Figueiredo’s mandate (1985) the presidency was assumed by J. Sarney, founder of the Partido da Frente Liberal (PFL).

Among the reasons that had led the military, for the first time in twenty-one years, to accept, albeit in a prudent form, the return to a civilian government, there was undoubtedly the economic crisis into which Brazil had fallen from the beginning. of the 1980s (recession, galloping inflation, explosion of foreign debt), with serious consequences on the standard of living of large sections of the population and an exacerbation of social tensions. The new government, which inherited this difficult situation, also had to complete the transition process towards a democratic regime and tackle basic social problems, starting with the unresolved knot of agrarian reform, central in a country characterized by enormous estates, largely partly uncultivated, and by tens of millions of landless peasants or owners of tiny parcels.

On the political level, the return to direct election of the President of the Republic was approved in 1985, the extension of the right to vote to the illiterate and the legalization of all parties (including the two communists), in 1986 the new Congress was elected, which also assumed the function of a constituent assembly. As for the agrarian reform, a project formulated in 1985 was blocked by the opposition of the large landowners and conservative forces, while the violent reaction of the former (often equipped with private militias) to the pressure of the peasants caused over a thousand deaths (among the victims, numerous trade unionists and exponents of the Catholic Church).

Economically, in the face of inflation of over 200% per annum and a foreign debt of over $ 100 billion, the stabilization plans were unsuccessful, while rising unemployment and austerity measures sharpened political conflicts and social. The presidential elections of 1989, the first direct since 1960, led the moderate F. Collor de Mello to the head of the government.

Brazil Early History