First Reign: independence, main facts, exercises

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O first reign was the period in the history of Brazil started from the country independence, in 1822. This phase lasted until 1831, when Emperor D. Pedro I abdicated the Brazilian throne in favor of his son, Pedro de Alcântara, future D. Peter II.

Independence of Brazil

The First Reign was a direct result of Brazil's independence process, which had as its starting point the transfer of the Portuguese Court to Rio de Janeiro from 1808. When this happened, a series of transformations took place in Brazil: the city of Rio de Janeiro grew and developed, ports were opened and trade prospered. Thus, Brazil ceased to be a colony, becoming part of the Kingdom of Portugal.

Brazil's tempers were relatively under control until 1820, when the Porto Liberal Revolution, in Portugal. This revolution was carried out by the Portuguese bourgeoisie, which demanded the Portuguese king's return to Lisbon and the repeal of the measures that had been implemented in Brazil.

Porto's Liberal Revolution was very poorly received by Brazil's economic elites, who saw this revolt as an attempt to recolonize the country. Thus, a movement for the independence of Brazil emerged, which considered Pedro, son of D. João VI, as the ideal person to lead this process.

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After being pressured by the Portuguese Cortes (a kind of parliament) to return to Portugal, Pedro realized that the only path to be taken was to declare Brazil's independence. So, on September 7, 1822, the Ipiranga's scream, through which the regent declared the independence of Brazil. Peter was then crowned emperor, becoming D. Peter I.

Also access:Five fun facts about the independence of Brazil

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independence wars

Unlike what many believe, the independence of Brazil it was not peaceful. There were provinces that remained loyal to the Portuguese, so it was necessary to wage war in order to guarantee the territorial unity of the country. A prominent name in this fight against the Portuguese and their allies in Brazil was Lord Cochrane, commander hired by D. Peter I.

Among the regions that rebelled against independence, we can mention the provinces of Pará, Maranhão, Bahia and Cisplatina. By mid-1823, the conflicts against the country's independence were under control, and Portugal's supporters were already defeated.

Why did Brazil become a monarchy?

When Brazil declared its independence, its directors chose to establish the monarchy as the country's form of government. It was unique in South America, as the former Spanish colonies in this part of the continent had become republics. In Latin America, apart from Brazil, only Mexico was transformed, for a short period of time, into a monarchy.

According to historians Lilia Schwarcz and Heloísa Starling, the choice of the monarchy over the republic happened for some reasons|1|:

  1. The idealizers of our independence feared that the territory of Brazil would be fragmented if they installed the republic in the country.

  2. The Brazilian elite had been literate in the monarchist traditions of Portugal.

  3. This form of government prevented transformations in the status quo happen.

Consolidation of independence

After the declaration of independence, Brazil had immediate challenges to be overcome. First, it was necessary to stop the war waged against the rebel provinces. Afterwards, it was essential to guarantee international recognition and, finally, it was important to write a Constitution to structure the country.

At first, neighboring nations were reluctant to recognize Brazil's independence because the country had become a monarchy. Much of the recognition of our independence came as a result of the actions of England and the United States.

The British were responsible for mediating the negotiations between Brazil and Portugal. The recognition of the independence of Brazil by the Portuguese only occurred in 1825, upon payment of indemnity and with the commitment signed by Brazil not to encourage the independence of the Portuguese colonies in Africa.

Constitution of 1824

After independence, the new nation needed a constitution. For this task, it was necessary to form a constituent Assembly, which should be chosen through elections. The work of the Constituent Assembly began in May 1823 and was marked by friction between D. Pedro I and Brazil's economic and political elites.

Disagreements between parliamentarians and D. Pedro I occurred as a result of the arbitrariness and authority of the emperor in decision-making. In the case of the Constitution, parliamentarians defended the existence of greater individual freedoms and the limitation of royal power. On the other hand, D. Pedro I wanted unlimited powers to govern Brazil.

As he did not agree with the terms of the Constitution drawn up by the parliamentarians, D. Pedro I decided to veto the document, which became known as Cassava Constitution. This action took place on November 12, 1823 and was accompanied by an event called NightgivesAgony. On this occasion, D. Pedro I ordered troops to surround and dissolve the National Constituent Assembly. On that day, several parliamentarians were arrested.

After this episode, a new constitution began to be drawn up by a commission formed by the emperor. That Constitution was completed in 1824 and it was given by order of the emperor. The document reaffirmed that Brazil would be a monarchy and instituted absolute powers over the nation to the emperor. For this, the Moderating Power, represented exclusively by D. Peter I. This Constitution also determined the imposition of the census vote. Thus, only those with annual income above 100,000 réis could vote.

Also access:See six facts about D's granddaughter. Peter I.

How did the First Reign end?

The wears on the D relationship. Pedro I with a large part of society, especially with a certain political and economic elite, made the emperor renounce the throne in favor of his son, Pedro de Alcântara. Thus, in 1831, the First Reign came to an end.

Among the events that contributed to weaken the emperor's position, we can mention as the most prominent:

  1. Dissolution of the Constituent Assembly

  2. Confederation of Ecuador

  3. Cisplatin War

  4. Bottled Night

The government of D. Pedro I was not very popular in Northeast Brazil, mainly because of the emperor's authoritarianism. Therefore, the region became the focus of criticism of the Empire. In this context, two names stood out: cheap cyprian and Joachim of Divine Love (Fr. Caneca), who published their criticisms in local newspapers.

The main focus of dissatisfaction was the province of Pernambuco, a place historically marked by tensions. The region's dissatisfaction in the 1820s was largely inherited from the Pernambuco Revolution, a separatist movement with a republican bias that took place in 1817. Republican ideals, associated with dissatisfaction with the emperor, led to a new rebellion: the Confederation of Ecuador.

This revolt was triggered by the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the appointment of a governor who was not wanted by the local elite. At the time, there was also strong speculation that the region would be invaded by the Portuguese. The combination of all these factors, associated with the living memory of the Pernambuco Revolution, made the province rebel.

The Confederation of Ecuador began on July 2, 1824 in Recife, Pernambuco. Under the leadership of friar mug and Manoel de Carvalho Paes de Andrade, the movement soon spread throughout the Northeast, reaching Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão. The emperor's reaction was violent: a series of executions was ordered in Pernambuco, Ceará and Rio de Janeiro. By September, the rebels had already been defeated.

The First Reign crisis is also associated with the Cisplatine War, fought between 1825 and 1828. In this conflict, Brazil fought for the maintenance of the Cisplatina province in order to prevent it from being annexed by the United Provinces (now Argentina). This war was extremely unpopular in Brazil.

It all started when local inhabitants of Cisplatin started a rebellion, declaring the separation of the province of Brazil and its link with the United Provinces. The Brazilian reaction came with the declaration of war against the rebels and against the United Provinces. Over the three years of conflict, Brazil suffered a series of defeats, which destroyed the army's morale and ruined the country's economy.

The war ended with the signing of an agreement between Brazil and the United Provinces. Both parties agreed to give up Cisplatin, which led to the Emperor's popularity declining. Thus, in 1828, the independence of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.

In addition to authoritarianism, violence and the ruined economy, the political game also contributed to undermining the emperor's position. During the First Reign, two political blocs were gradually formed: the brokenBrazilian it's the brokenPortuguese. While the first represented opposition to the emperor, the second offered him support.

These disagreements between Brazilians and Portuguese caused an open confrontation to take place. This episode was known as Bottled Night it lasted for days on the streets of the city of Rio de Janeiro. As a result, D. Peter I resigned from the throne.

Upon leaving his position, the emperor offered the throne to his son, Pedro de Alcântara. As the prince could only assume power when he was 18 years old, a transitional phase began in the country, known as Governing Period.

Exercise solved

The First Reign was a period that began in 1822, with the independence of Brazil. Its end came in 1831, when the emperor relinquished the throne. This was a period marked by the low competence of D. Pedro I to exercise the office of emperor. Among the alternatives below, select the event that did NOT happen in the First Reign:

a) War of Cisplatin

b) Confederation of Ecuador

c) Praia Revolution

d) Night of Agony

e) Night of Bottles


Of the events mentioned, the only one that did not take place in the First Reign was the Praieira Revolution. This liberal and federalist movement broke out in Pernambuco in 1848, during the first years of the Second Reign.

|1| SCHWARCZ, Lilia Moritz and STARLING, Heloísa Murgel. Brazil: A Biography. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015, p. 223.

*Image credits: Georgios Kollides and Shutterstock

By Daniel Neves
Graduated in History
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