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Presidente Vargas Avenue with the Central do Brasil train station in the background during the celebration of Independence.

The Empire of Brazil was a political entity that comprised present-day Brazil under the rule of Emperors Pedro I and his son Pedro II. Founded in 1822, it was replaced by a republic in 1889.

As a result of the Napoleonic occupation of Portugal, the Portuguese royal family, the Braganzas (Portuguese: Os Braganças), went into exile in Brazil, the most important of the Portuguese colonies. What followed was a period when Brazil actually became the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarve, a whole new status, and enjoyed self-government under the Braganza dynasty, with no reference to the authorities in Lisbon. This nurtured a distaste for the idea of returning to status quo ante upon the overthrow of Napoleon's influence over Portugal. Therefore, Brazil came to be independent of Portugal, albeit under the rule of a member of the Portuguese royal family.

After its independence from the Portuguese on September 7, 1822, Brazil became a monarchy, the Empire of Brazil, which lasted until the establishment of the republican government on November 15, 1889. Two emperors occupied the throne in that period: Pedro I, from 1822 to 1831; and Pedro II, from 1831 to 1889. Also, King João VI of Portugal held the title of Emperor of Brazil as stipulated by the treaty recognizing Brazilian independence.

The end of the Empire in 1889 and the foundation of the republic was a reactionary development following the abolition of slavery in 1888, which had created a serious threat to the interests of the economic and political oligarchy.After João VI returned to Portugal in 1821, his heir-apparent Pedro became regent of the Kingdom of Brazil, with an informal understanding — known as the Bragança Agreement that he was to take the crown if Brazil came to be independent. He meant to rule frugally and started by cutting his own salary, centralizing scattered government offices, and selling off most of the royal horses and mules. He issued decrees that eliminated the royal salt tax, to spur the output of hides and dried beef; he forbade arbitrary seizure of private property, required a judge's warrant for arrests of freemen, and banned secret trials, torture, and other indignities. He also sent elected deputies to the Portuguese Assembly (Cortes). However, slaves continued to be bought and sold and disciplined with force, despite his assertion that their blood was the same color as his own blood.In September 1821, the Portuguese Assembly, with only a portion of the Brazilian delegates present, voted to abolish the Kingdom of Brazil and the royal agencies in Rio de Janeiro, thus subordinating all provinces of Brazil directly to Lisbon. Accordingly, troops were sent to Brazil, and all Brazilian units were placed under Portuguese command. This marked the beginning of the small-scaled Brazilian War of Independence.

In January 1822, tension between Portuguese troops and the Luso-Brazilians (Brazilians of Portuguese ancestry) turned violent when Pedro, who had been ordered by the Assembly to return to Lisbon, refused to comply and vowed to stay. He had been moved by petitions from Brazilian towns, and by the argument that his departure and the dismantling of the central government would trigger separatist movements.Pedro formed a new government headed by José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva of São Paulo. This former royal official and professor of science at Coimbra was crucial to the subsequent direction of events and is regarded as one of the formative figures of Brazilian nationalism, indeed, as the "Patriarch of Independence".

The atmosphere was so charged that Dom Pedro sought assurances of asylum on a British ship in case he lost the looming confrontation; he also sent his family to safety out of the city.After Pedro's decision to defy the Côrtes, the "lead feet", as the Brazilians called the Portuguese troops, rioted before concentrating on Cerro Castello, which was soon surrounded by thousands of armed Brazilians. Dom Pedro then "dismissed" the Portuguese commanding general and ordered him to remove his soldiers across the bay to Niterói, where they would await transport to Portugal. On the following days, the Portuguese commander delayed embarkation, hoping that expected reinforcements would arrive. However, the reinforcements that arrived off Rio de Janeiro on March 5, 1822, were not allowed to land. Instead, they were given supplies for the voyage back to Portugal. This round had been won without bloodshed.

Blood had been shed in Recife in the Province of Pernambuco, when the Portuguese garrison there had been forced to depart in November 1821. In mid-February 1822, Brazilians in Bahia revolted against the Portuguese forces there, but were driven into the countryside, where they began guerrilla operations, signaling that the struggle in the north would not be without loss of life and property.

To secure Minas Gerais and São Paulo, where there were no Portuguese troops but where there were doubts about independence, Dom Pedro engaged in some royal populism. Towns in Minas Gerais had expressed their loyalty at the time of Pedro's vow to remain, save for the junta in Ouro Prêto, the provincial capital. Pedro realized that unless Minas Gerais were solidly with him, he would be unable to broaden his authority to other provinces. With only a few companions and no ceremony or pomp, Pedro plunged into Minas Gerais on horseback in late March 1822, receiving enthusiastic welcomes and allegiances everywhere.Back in Rio de Janeiro on May 13, he was proclaimed the "Perpetual Defender of Brazil" by the São Paulo legislative assembly and shortly thereafter called a Constituent Assembly (Assembléia Constituinte) for the next year. To deepen his base of support, he joined the Freemasons, who, led by José Bonifácio Andrada e Silva, were pressing for parliamentary government and independence. More confident, in early August he called on the Brazilian deputies in Lisbon to return, decreed that Portuguese forces in Brazil should be treated as enemies. He had already decreed that no decree from the Government of Lisbon would be carried out by officers in Brazil without his consent.Seeking to duplicate his triumph in Minas Gerais, Prince Pedro rode to São Paulo in August to assure himself of support there. It was on that trip that he began a disastrous affair with Domitila, Marchioness of Santos that later weakened his government. By that time, relations between Portugal and Brazil were so bad that Prince Pedro had already issued two manifestos, the "Letter to the Peoples of Brazil" and the "Letter to the Friendly Nations", that read like a declaration of independence. Returning from an excursion to Santos, Pedro received messages from his wife and from Andrada e Silva that the Côrtes had declared his government traitorous and were dispatching more troops. Pedro then had to choose between returning to Portugal in disgrace, or breaking the last ties with Portugal. In a famous scene by the Ipiranga River on September 7, 1822, Prince Pedro, riding his horse, tore the Portuguese blue and white insignia from his uniform, drew his sword, and swore in the presence of his guard of honour: "By my blood, by my honour, and by God: I will make Brazil free." Then he cried "It is time! Independence or Death! We are separated from Portugal". Those words constituted Brazil's Proclamation of Independence. The "Independence or Death" cry would become the motto of the Brazilian emancipation.

On 12 October 1822, his 24th birthday, Dom Pedro was acclaimed as the first Emperor of Brazil. He was crowned on December 1, 1822.To consolidate his claim, Pedro — now Emperor Pedro I of Brazil — hired Admiral Thomas Cochrane, one of Britain's most successful naval commanders in the Napoleonic Wars and recently commander of the Chilean naval forces against Spain. He also hired a number of Admiral Cochrane's officers, and the French General Pierre Labatut, who had fought in Colombia. These men were to lead the fight to drive the Portuguese out of Bahia, Maranhão, and Pará, and to force those areas to replace Lisbon's rule with that of Rio de Janeiro. Money from customs at Rio de Janeiro's port and local donations outfitted the army and the nine-vessel fleet. The use of foreign mercenaries brought needed military skills. The much-feared Cochrane secured Maranhão with a single warship, despite the Portuguese military's attempt to disrupt the economy and society with a scorched-earth campaign and with promises of freedom for the slaves. By mid-1823 the contending forces numbered between 10,000 and 20,000 Portuguese, some of whom were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, versus 12,000 to 14,000 Brazilians, mostly in militia units from the Northeast.

Brazilian independence is popularly believed to have come without bloodshed. In fact, although both sides avoided massive set battles, they did engage in guerrilla tactics, demonstrations, and countermoves. There is little information on casualties, but the fighting provided a female martyr in Mother Joana Angélica, who was bayoneted to death by Portuguese troops invading her convent in Bahia; and an example of female grit in Maria Quitéria de Jesus, who, masquerading as a man, joined the Imperial army and achieved distinction in several battles.The United Kingdom and Portugal eventually recognized Brazilian independence by signing a treaty on August 29, 1825. Until then, the Brazilians feared that Portugal would resume its attack. Portuguese retribution, however, came in a financial form. Secret codicils of the treaty with Portugal required that Brazil assume payment of 1.4 million pounds sterling owed to Britain and indemnify Dom João VI and other Portuguese for losses totaling 600,000 pounds sterling. Brazil also renounced future annexation of Portuguese African colonies, and in a side treaty with Britain, promised to end the slave trade. Neither of these measures pleased the slave-holding planters.

to be continued on wikipedia....

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Additional Photos by Marque Berger (rio_de_janeiro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 78 W: 82 N: 410] (2091)
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