The Empire of Brazil

January is the month when the members of the blog is challenged to write about something outside their comfort zone. And as almost 90% of my updates are on Scandinavia or Vikings, have I decided that I’m turning the planet up side down, and looking at the southern Hemisphere for once.

When Spain and Portugal divided the known, and unknown, world between themselves in the late 15th Century, the lands which were to become Brazil ended up in the Portuguese part of the world. This was how the Colonies in Brazil became part of the Portuguese kingdom until the end of the Napoleonic wars. For it was during these wars that the Portuguese Queen Maria had to flee her European kingdom, and seek refuge in the American colonies, and she settled in Brazil with her court and government. From 1807 to 1821, the Portuguese empire was ruled from Rio. But when the Portuguese king in 1821 were forced to return to Lisbon, the Brazilians rebelled, and under the leadership of the Prince Pedro, Brazil was declared an independent Empire in 1822. An Empire which would come to last until 1889 when the republican uprising against the liberal king Pedro II and his Daughter Princess Isabel ended their reign.

The economical foundations of the empire lay in the slavery driven coffee and sugar plantations that were established in the north and east of the country. Coffee production became the economical foundation of the empire. But it was under the Portuguese exile to Brazil that the Brazilians started developing a wish for equality within the realm, and some degree of self-governance. It was first in 1815 that the then regent Crown-prince John on behalf of his mother elevated Brazil from Colony to Kingdom alongside Portugal and The Algarves. When John VI was forced to leave Brazil in 1821 due to social unrest in Portugal, he left his son Pedro behind as regent to control the kingdom beyond the Atlantic.

Only a year later did Prince Pedro declare himself the Emperor of Brazil, and Brazil as an independent Empire. For Pedro and other Brazilian leaders were not pleased when the Portuguese parliament in 1821, upon the return of John VI to Portugal, deprived Brazil of its Status and liberties as a Kingdom. Following the declaration of independence, a short war between soldiers loyal to Portugal and the newly declared Brazilian empire clashed within Brazil. But the war ended with Portugal recognizing Brazil’s independence in 1825. Brazil had become a constitutional Monarchy.

Emperor Pedro I only ruled until 1831, when he passed the Crown on to his son Pedro II, for the first Emperor met major political opposition for trying to balance the political interests of the relative conservative elite, and the liberal intelligentsia. Even though the Empire was a constitutional monarch, the early years of the second emperor Pedro II was plagued by rebellion and uprisings. The relative liberty each of the 20 provinces had within the constitution didn’t help the situation much. However, Pedro’s constitutional rule of Brazil lasted until the Coup d’etat of 1889 which turned Brazil into a republic.

What triggered the coup was the abolition of Slavery in Brazil, for the signing of the abolition law suggested to a group of conservative republican officers that the Emperor and his daughter were not impartial in politics as a Constitutional Monarch should be. The officers rebellion, and Pedro’s wish not to respond and fight the rebellion became the end of the Brazilian Empire.

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