The History of Brazil

The history of Brazil began with the occupation of human beings about 12-20 thousand years ago.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese began to colonize these lands and transferred Africans to be slave labor on the plantations they built here. In turn, these forced laborers would bring new foods and animals that would change the history of the native peoples forever.

Pre-History or Pre-Cabraline Period

There is evidence of the presence of humans in Brazil for at least 12 thousand years. About three large groups of primitive human beings occupied Brazil, such as hunter-gatherers, sambaquis and agricultural peoples.

We can find traces of prehistoric peoples in various parts of Brazil, for example, in Serra da Capivara (PI) or in Lajedo de Soledade (RS).

Arrival of the Portuguese in the territory (1500)

In 1500, the Portuguese realized that there was land south of the Equator and began to occupy the territory. This would forever change the lives of indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans.

According to the official history of Brazil, this period is called “colonial”, as Brazil became a colony of the Kingdom of Portugal.

colonial period (1500-1822)

The colonial period is the period between 1500 and 1822, the year of Brazil's independence.

At that time, Brazil was ruled by Portugal and this meant that its riches should go to this country. Any administrative and justice problems were also resolved there.

Let's see how Portuguese America was organized.

Economy in the colonial period

The Portuguese aimed to exploit the natural wealth of Brazil and the first product sold was pau-brasil.

Afterwards, the Portuguese transplanted the cultivation of sugar cane, already practiced in Madeira, to the Americas. To work on these plantations, the indigenous people were enslaved. However, to complement the economy of Portuguese factories in Africa, the slave trade was established between the two continents.

Political organization in the colonial period

To encourage the settlement of the new territory, the Hereditary Captaincy system was created, where a person received ownership of a large tract of land. Between 1534 and 1536, the 14 hereditary captaincies that existed in Brazil were distributed.

As the Hereditary Captaincies were not very successful, the General Government whose capital was Salvador was established. This attitude represented an attempt to centralize the administration of the colony and make it more efficient.

Dutch occupation (1630-1644)

Other European peoples were interested in the territories of America. French had already tried to take Rio de Janeiro, but were expelled by the Portuguese.

Likewise, the Dutch expelled the Portuguese from the Northeast and stayed there for ten years.

Gold in Minas Gerais

In the 18th century, settlers finally found gold in the current state of Minas Gerais.

Mining exploration changed the shape of the colony: the capital was transferred from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro, so that the Portuguese crown could better control the output of metal. Likewise, there was a large internal emigration to this region and the foundation of several cities in the interior of Brazil.

Mining Inconfidence (1789)

The Inconfidência (or the Revolta Mineira) was a movement to proclaim the independence of the Minas Gerais region. The pretext was the collection of back taxes – the spill – which would be decreed by the authorities.

As a result, a group of miners and intellectuals planned to unseat the governor and seize power. The plans, however, were discovered before the agreed day and the participants were arrested. Only one of them, known as Tiradentes, was sentenced to death by hanging.

See too: Brazil Colony

Arrival of the Royal Family in Brazil (1808)

Within the Colonial period, the arrival of the Royal Family was a real change in Brazil.

Several institutions are created in Rio de Janeiro such as the Royal Library, the Botanical Garden, the Military Academy. In order to increase the status of Brazil, Dom João elevated it to the rank of United Kingdom in December 1815 and Brazilians have the right to send their own deputies to the court of Lisbon.

Imperial Period (1822-1889)

The Imperial period is subdivided into I Reign, Regency and II Reign.

First reign (1822-1831)

Brazil's independence was achieved in 1822 and the chosen system of government was the constitutional monarchy.

The new government faced the rebellion in the Province of Cisplatina and also the problem of succession to the Portuguese throne. As Dom Pedro I had not renounced his Portuguese heritage, he preferred to leave Brazil with his underage son and head for Portugal.

Regency period (1831-1840)

As the heir to the Brazilian throne was only five years old, the country's government was occupied by successive regency. This moment is marked by several revolts against the central government, such as Balaiada, Sabinada and Farroupilha.

Second reign (1840-1889)

Faced with the constant uprisings, a group of conservatives began to defend the anticipation of the coming of age of Dom Pedro II and to reinforce the central power. This maneuver became known as the Coup of Majority.

During the Second Reign, coffee growing expanded and replaced sugar as the main export product. At the same time, the British began to press for the abolition of slavery, which was done gradually and without compensation to the owners.

This caused a real political battle that caused the agrarian elite to no longer support the monarchy. Likewise, to supply the slave workforce, European immigration was encouraged.

Paraguay War (1864-1870)

The Paraguay War was a military conflict that started after Paraguay invaded Brazilian territory to attack Argentina.

It was a war that professionalized the Brazilian Army and made the military aware of its political strength. The idea of ​​a republic, especially with positivist characteristics, began to grow among Brazilian officials.

See too: Brazil Empire

Republican period (1889 - present day)

The republic was established after a coup carried out by a group of military personnel on November 15, 1889. A new Constitution was enacted in 1891 and several rebellions took place in Brazil against the new political regime such as Canudos, Contestado or the Revolta da Armada.

The political scene is dominated by state oligarchies that achieve favorable results in elections through fraud. To fight them, the states harmed by this power arrangement revolted in 1930, with Getúlio Vargas at the head of the movement. Defeated Washington Luís, Vargas assumes the presidency where he will stay for 15 years.

It was Vargas (1930-1945)

Getúlio Vargas' government was marked by several distinct phases. First, Vargas chooses the state interventores, which displeases the São Paulo elite. The result is the Revolution of 32 and the promulgation of the Magna Carta in 1934.

However, due to the growing mobilization of leftist groups, brought about in the Communist Revolt of 1935, Vargas instituted the Estado Novo, where elections were suspended and Congress closed.

The Vargas era coincides with the immigration from the countryside to the city and the growing industrialization of Brazil. Therefore, Vargas seeks the support of these workers through the enactment of labor laws that will guide class relations in Brazil until the 1990s.

See too: It was Vargas

New Republic (1945-1964)

During this period, presidential succession and elections took place without interruption until the military dictatorship in 1964.

In 45, with the end of World War II, the Vargas dictatorship is openly criticized. In this way, the Army applied a coup and instituted elections, from which General Eurico Gaspar Dutra was the winner.

Vargas succeeds him and this mandate is defined by an intense campaign for the nationalization of oil that culminates in the creation of Petrobras. However, the president's possible involvement with the attempted assassination of Carlos Lacerda precipitates his suicide in 1954.

With the election of Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil enters the developmental phase where resources are channeled towards the construction of Brasília and the substitution of imports. JK, as he became known, is succeeded by Jânio Quadros, in a government that will approach socialist countries like Cuba and China.

Jânio Quadros resigns and his vice president, João Goulart (Jango) is not well regarded by most politicians due to his progressive tendency. Despite this, Jango manages to take office, but the military and civil society stage a coup in March 64, when the military regime is installed.

Military Dictatorship (1964-1985)

The military dictatorship was marked by censorship, the end of elections, persecution of political movements considered dissident and political centralization.

The military regime, in the late 70s, was opening up and gradually granting political freedoms to citizens in order to prepare the political transition. This was carried out through the Amnesty Law that allowed the return of exiles, the end of censorship and the civil campaigns for Diretas Já.

New Republic (1985 - present day)

The New Republic began with the indirect election of Tancredo Neves to the presidency, but his premature death caused him to be replaced by José Sarney.

It fell to this president to convene the Constituent Assembly and try to reorganize the Brazilian economy that was being devoured by inflation. Even so, Sarney ends his term and Collor de Mello, in 1989, becomes the first president elected by direct vote in twenty-five years.

Then began the time of neoliberalism in Brazil, where there was privatization of state-owned companies, reduction of labor rights and opening of the national market. Accused of corruption by allies and opponents, the population takes to the streets to demand the impeachment of the president, who prefers to resign rather than be prosecuted.

Collor de Mello's vice president, Itamar Franco, takes over and attacks inflation through the Plano Real, headed by the finance minister, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The latter would win the 1994 elections and pass the constitutional amendment that guaranteed the reelection of executive positions. Fernando Henrique himself would be reelected.

FHC, as it went down in history, reformed the Brazilian State, adapting it to neoliberal agendas. However, although the country's economy was stabilized, the poor distribution of income continued, which impeded real growth in Brazil.

With the election of Lula da Silva, in 2003, for the first time a leftist party came to government in Brazil. Despite its alliance with conservative sectors, there was a real reduction in poverty in the country, achieved thanks to the appreciation of raw material prices on the international market.

Lula would still repeat his term in office, but his second stint in the presidency was marked by accusations of corruption from several allies close to the president. Even so, the president managed to pass the position on to his political heir, Dilma Rousseff.

We have more texts on the topic for you:

  • Brazil Republic
  • Brazilian territory
  • Brazilian Constitutions
  • Brazil: everything about our country
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