BCHP 012 - Forging an American Empire (Quick History #7)

March 27, 2016

Today we’re going to talk about Pedro I’s successor, his son, Pedro II. He will rule the Empire of Brazil for 58 years, until its demise in 1889—making him one of the longer ruling monarchs in all of history. e will guide Brazil through a series of revolts to prosperity then through a devastating war and beyond. Like many of his peers in this group, he became a monarch young, at age 5.


Portrait of Teresa Cristina. c1843.

Portrait of Teresa Cristina. c1843.

Teresa Cristina at age 55, 29 March 1877
Teresa Cristina at age 55, 29 March 1877

Map of the conjunction of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina and the contested territories at the time of the Paraguayan War.
Map of the conjunction of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina and the contested territories at the time of the Paraguayan War.

Leopoldina, Pedro II, Teresa Cristina (around age 41) and Isabel, c. 1863
Leopoldina, Pedro II, Teresa Cristina (around age 41) and Isabel, c. 1863


Brazil: Five Centuries of Change by Thomas Skidmore

Brasil: Uma Biografia by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz and Heloisa Murgel Starling


BCHP 011 - Lava Jato #2

March 17, 2016

A brief update on the on-going corruption investigations and current political situation in Brazil. Thousands, sometimes millions of people have protested against (in some combination): corruption, the currently-in-power Workers’ Party, President Rousseff, and ex-President Lula.There have been counter-protests, but in general they have been smaller as the Workers’ Party’s support has plummeted as a result of the scandal. Impeachment seems imminent.

See the full episode notes here: http://brazilcultureandhistory.com/bchp-011-lava-jato-2/


BCHP 010 - A Trans-Atlantic Game of Thrones (Quick History #6)

February 1, 2016
In this episode we explore the period from 1808 to 1831: how Brazil fared with the royal family in residence, the oblique path it took to independence, and the turbulent rule of its first emperor, Dom Pedro I.

For all their faults, without the royal family's presence, Brazil could not have made the first steps toward economic independence so quickly nor likely remained a single country. The other side of this is that their tenure in Brazil made independence a prolonged process instead of a clean break. Although that break would be accomplished with less bloodshed than others in the Americas. At the same time tensions over the form of the government, the role of the emperor, successions issues, and resistance to independence itself would force Brazil's firt leader to abdicate not one but two thrones.

Who's Who?

Maria I: (1734-1816) Called the Pious in Portugual and the Mad in Brazil. Mother of João VI. She ruled as Maria I until 1799 when she was forcefully retired due to mental instability.
Maria I, Queen of Portugal - Giuseppe Troni, atribuído (Turim, 1739-Lisboa, 1810) - Google Cultural Institute.jpg

João VI:  (1767-1826) Prince Regent and later King João VI of the United Kingdoms of Portugual, Brazil, and the Algarves. The only European monarch to set set foot in let alone rule from a New World colony.

Carlota Joaquina of Spain: (1775-1830) Wife of João VI and daughter of King Charles the IV of Spain.

Pedro I: (1798-1834) Son of João VI and later Emperor of Brazil and King of Portugal.
Painted half-length portrait showing a young man with curly hair and mustachios who is wearing an elaborate embroidered military tunic with gold epaulets and medals

Maria Leopoldina: (1797-1826) Daughter of daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, Archduchess of Austria. First wife of Pedro I.
Maria Leopoldina 1815.jpg

Amélie de Leutchenberg: (1812-1873) - Second wife of Pedro I. Daughter of of General Eugène de Beauharnais and Princess Augusta of Bavaria.
Anônimo - D. Amélia, duquesa de Bragança.JPG

Isabella Maria: (1801-1876) Younger sister of Pedro I, João's designate as regent for his "legitimate successor".
Infanta D. Isabel Maria de Bragança.png

Miguel I: (1802-1866) Younger brother of Pedro I. Exiled for wanting to restore the absolute power of the monarchy.

Maria II: (1819-1853) Maria da Gloria, daughter of Pedro I. Would become Queen of Portugal after her father's brief reign.

BCHP 009 - Scandal a go-go (Current Events)

January 9, 2016

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. A few years ago, Brazil was the darling of the BRICS countries: host of the World Cup and Olympics, 7% annual growth, lifting millions out of poverty...  now, inflation if up, growth is not just down but negative, joblessness is on the rise, the government is barely functioning, and people are questioning whether Brazil can manage the Olympics.

How did it all go so wrong so fast? It's a complex question with a complex answer, and part of the answer has been brewing for longer than you might think.

BCHP 008 - Revolt Interrupted (Quick History #5)

November 18, 2015

Departure of the Portuguese royal family from the docks of Belém, Portugal.


Wars and revolutions wrack the Americas and Europe. Colonies are becoming nations and monarchies are falling. And it's all because of the French. (Okay, not all, but a lot of the blame is theirs.) Brazil starts making tentative steps toward independence, but the revolts are interrupted when the royal family enacts plan B.

Sources for this episode:
1808, Laurentino Gomes
Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, Thomas E. Skidmore
Brazil: uma biografia, Lilia Moritz Schwartz
A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire: From Beginnings to 1807, Volmes 1 & 2, A. R. Disney

It's with a twinge of regret that after this episode we have to set aside A. R. Disney's excellent two volume history of Portugal and its empire. (Note the "to 1807" part of the title.) It has been a great resource for these first few history episodes!


BCHP 007 – Gold in Them Thar Hills (Quick History #4)

November 18, 2015

The 18th century brings unforeseen prosperity to the Portuguese Empire and Brazil in particular. People, political power, economic power and attitudes would all soon be on the move.

Gold and diamonds spill from the backcountry. Much is smuggled, but much makes into the crown's coffers. The crown takes barely a look at the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution and conservatively buries its head in precious minerals.

The riches are in the southeast, until this point little more than a hinterland. But they would draw people and slaves not only from Portugal and its empire, but from within Brazil itself. The shift was seismic and Brazil would be forever altered. As if to counter this, Lisbon used the windfall to remain as much the same as it could.

But change is the only constant. Read the full post here.


BCHP 006 – The Dutch Strike Back and Brazil Strikes Cold (Quick History #3)

November 18, 2015

We cover the rest of the 17th century in this episode. The Dutch recover from their initial failures to conquer Portugal's Atlantic colonies and conquer northern Brazil along with several other colonies, including Angola. The Dutch were pretty decent rulers, but there were too many cultural differences. In the midst of this, Portugal decides to reestablish its crown separate from Spain and must fight for its existence against Spanish, leaving Brazil and the colonies largely on their own in fighting the Dutch. Exciting times!

See the full show notes here.


BCHP 005 - Crucifixions, Resurrections, and Conspiratorial Teeth-pullers

November 18, 2015

Three national holidays - Good Friday, Easter and Tiradentes - in one weekend? What craziness is this? Spend a few minutes learning about Easter in Brazil as well as how a martyr for independence earned the nickname Teeth-puller.


Dia de Tiradentes - national holiday that commemorates the execution of Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, aka Tiradentes.

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier - a member of the Minas Gerais conspiracy, earned the nickname Tiradentes at his trial because he practiced dentistry.

Ouro Preto - a center of the gold rush in the 18th century; today a small city famous for its colonial architecture and Páscoa and Carnaval traditions.

Páscoa - Easter

Semana Santa - Holy Week, the week before Páscoa

Sexta-Feira Santa - Holy Friday (Good Friday)

Minas Gerais Conspiracy - (Inconfidência Mineira in Portuguese), a failed attempt to start a rebellion against the Portuguese crown

Tiradentes - a derogatory term for a dentist, literaly "teethpuller"

Páscoa Photos

Streeted carpeted for Santa Semana in Ouro Preto

Carpeted street in Ouro Preto


Street carpeted for Semana Santa in Ouro Preto

Carpeted street in Ouro Preto


Religious procession in Ouro Preto


Religious procession in Ouro Preto


Chocolate Egg roof in a supermarket


In case you are overwhelmed by the Páscoa products selection, the store has friendly Páscoa Consultants to help!


Street vendors display their Páscoa wares.


The Porto Alegre Fish Fair, which takes place the day before Sexta-Feira Santa. 


There is a LOT of fish for sale.



BCHP 004 - Colonial Era, 1500-1630 (Quick History #2)

November 18, 2015

As I mentioned in the show, this doesn't cover nearly as much as I had naively planned when first setting the podcast up. I suspect this is a trend that will continue with the rest of the (not so) quick history episodes. So it goes. I'd rather cover things at an appropriate level of detail than slavishly stick to a schedule. I hope you agree.

My guess is that we will not finish the colonial period with the next episode, but who knows. I have most of the reading I want to do for the colonial period done, but have not started writing. Regardless of how far we get in the next episode, I should be able to turn it around fairly quickly, since I have almost no research to do for it.



Below are a few maps to accompany the show as well as a timeline, list of Portuguese terms I used and the longer list of names, places, and events that are mention. This lists should be complete, but if I missed something, let me know and I'll add it.


The approximate locations of the Spain-Portugal dividing line according to Pope Alexander and later the Treaty of Tordesilhas. Also includes the Saragossa line, which in essence defined the location of the Tordesilhas line on the other side of the world.



A rough map of the locations of the various tribes inhabiting the coast around 1600. Of course the boundaries were not so sharp and many territories overlapped and intermingled, so I'm certain one could find inaccuracies if they want. 



A summary of the various holdings at various times (i.e. it's not a snapshot in time) of the Portuguese Empire


Hans Staden account links

As mentioned in the show, links to the story of Hans Staden, a German gunner who worked for the Portuguese and was captured by Indians and later ransomed by the French.

As aventuras de Hans Staden, Portuguese introduction accompanying a facsimile of the 1557 German edition

The Captivity of Hans Staden of Hesse, in A.D. 1547-1555, Among the Wild Tribes of Eastern Brazil, the only English translation I could find. Published in 1874 and includes annotations by Sir Richard Francis Burton (!).

Viagem ao Brasil na Biblioteca Nacional Digital, in Portuguese in case you hadn't guessed.


Dates, Places, People, Terms


1492 - Columbus reaches the Americas.

1498 - Vasco de Gama reaches India.

1500 - Pedro Álvares Cabral leading a 2nd voyage to India veers far to the west and arrives at the coast of Brazil on April 22nd then claims it for Portugal.

1501 - Gonçalo Coelho's voyage, explores coast in Rio-SP area.

1502-1530 - Feitoria (trading fort) phase, traded with Indians for Brazilwood.

1532 - Donataria of São Vicente founded in the present-day state of São Paulo by Martim Afonso de Sousa and 400 colonists.

1532-???? - Settlement/colonization phase.

1540c - majority of the donatarias have been abandoned or are struggling.

1549 - Tomé de Sousa appointed 1st governor-general of Brazil.

1550-1600 - Portuguese and French expansion triggers conflict with various Indians tribes.

1553 - São Paulo founded.

1555 - Frenchman Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon founds France Antarctique near the site of present-day Rio de Janeiro.

1558 - Mem de Sá becomes governor-general.

1565-67 - Rio de Janeiro is founded and French expelled.

1581 - Crowns of Portugal & Spain are united when Felipe II of Spain becomes Filipe I of Portugal

1600c - European Population Portuguese America reaches 30,000, the vast majority in Bahia and Pernambuco.

1615 - French fort of St. Louis is taken by the Portuguese, effectively ending French presence in Brazil.

1616 - Belém founded at mouth of Amazon.

1621 - Dutch West Indies Company (WIC) founded.

1624 - WIC captures Salvador, but it is retaken by the Portuguese the next year.

1630 - In Pernambuco, WIC forces capture Olinda and Recife.


Portuguese terms

donataria - large area of land granted by the crown to a donatário, also known as a captaincy.

donatário - the owner of a donataria

feitoria - garrisoned trading post

aldeamento - mission settlement, in Brazil most of these were run by Jesuits

mameluca - girl or woman of a white & Indian union

mameluco - boy or man of a white & Indian union

mulatta - a girl or woman of a white & African union

mulatto - a boy or man of a white & African union


People, Places, and Events

Battle at Alcácer Quibir - the disastrous battle that precipitated the take-over of the Portuguese thrown by the Spanish.

Cabo Frio - the first feitoria established in Brazil

Cardinal Henrique - King of Portugal, 1578-1580 and the last before the 60 year period of Spanish rule.

Diego de Lepe - the second Spaniard to explore the coast of Brazil

Duarte Coelho - the donatário of the donataria of Pernambuco, one of the two successful donatarias.

Duarte Pacheco - a Portuguese navigator who may have explored Brazil's coast 2 years before Pedro Álvares Cabral

Estácio de Sá - nephew of Mem de Sá, killed defeating the French in Brazil

Felipe II - King of Spain, 1556-1598. Also, for various periods of ruler of Naples, and England and Ireland. Became King of Portugal as well in 1580.

Filipe I - Felipe II's title as ruler of Portugal

Gonçalo Coelho - leader of the 2nd voyage to Brazil

Hans Staden - A German mariner who sailed with the Portuguese, captured by the Tupinambá

Igarassu (sometimes Igaraçu) - a city in Pernambuco founded by Duarte Coelho

João III - King of Portugal, 1521-1557

Manuel I - King of Portugal, 1495-1521

Martim Afonso de Sousa - commander of small fleet dispatched by King João III to secure Brazil against the Dutch & French

Mem de Sá - 3rd governor-general of Brazil, founder of the city of Rio de Janeiro

Olinda - a city in Pernambuco founded by Duarte Coelho

Pedro Álvares Cabral - (probably) the first Portuguese captain to reach Brazil

Rio da Prata (Spanish: Río de la Plata) - a river that reaches the Atlantic near, but on the Spanish side of, the Tordesilhas line; considered by Portugal to be the 'natural' boundary between their and Spain's holdings in southern South America

Salvador - first capital of Brazil and current capital of the state of Bahia

Sebastião I - king of Portugal from 1557-1568 (minority) and 1568-1578. Killed at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir.

São Vicente - the first permanent settlement in Brazil, in present-day São Paulo

Tabajara - a Tupí tribe that lived in the coastal areas of the present-day states from Pernambuco to Ceará.

Tomé de Sousa - 1st governor-general of Brazil

Treaty of Tordesilhas (Spanish: Tordesillas) - treaty between Portugal & Spain that divided the (heathen) world between them for purposes of trade, colonization and religious conversion

Tupinambá - a Tupí tribe from the donataria of Maranhão

Tupí - the name of one of the major families of South American languages as well as the peoples who speak them

Vincente Pinzón - the first Spaniard to explore the coast of Brazil




All books this time:

"1493", by Charles C. Mann

"A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire", volumes 1 & 2, A. R. Disney

"Brazil: Five Centures of Change", Thomas E. Skidmore

"1565: Enquanto o Brasil nascia", Pedro Doria


BCHP 003 - Carnaval, in the name of moderation

November 18, 2015

A short, impromptu episode about Carnaval that grew longer than I intended. It covers the origins of the holiday and its history in Brazil including the differences between Rio's Carnaval and how Carnaval is celebrated further north in cities such as Salvador.

Terms used in the podcast:

  • ala - wing or section, a section of a Carnaval procession
  • axé - a popular fusion music style developed in the 80s that quickly made its way into Carnaval.
  • Bacchus - the Roman god of wine and drinking
  • bateria - the drum section
  • bloco - block, as in a group not a city block
  • capoeira - an Afro-Brazilian martial art famous for its kicks and acrobatics
  • carnaval - Portuguese for Carnival
  • carnavalesco - the person in the school with overall responsibility for that school's Carnaval preparations
  • carro alegórico - literally, allegorical car, a float.
  • Dionysus - the Greek god of wine and drinking
  • Entrudo - a pagan festival celebrated in Spring in Portugal and Spain that was the precursor to Carnaval in Brazil
  • frevo - a fast past musical style associated with Carnaval in the north, played on wind instruments
  • maracatu - a mid tempo music associated with Carnaval in the north, played on drums
  • mestre-sala - the "room master", position in a samba procession whose job it is to honor and direct attention to the porta-bandeira
  • porta-bandeira - the woman who carries the flag of the samba school in its procession
  • passo - the capoeira-based dance of frevo
  • rainha de bateria - the queen of the drum, the dancer who leads the percussion section of a Carnaval procession
  • Salvador - the capital of the state of Bahia
  • samba - the most common dance style associated with Carnaval, especially in the south.
  • Saturn - A Roman god with many associations, but relevant to spring festivals are renewal and time
  • Santurnalia - a spring festival that honored Saturn
  • trio eléctico - a soundstage on wheels



As promised in the podcast, I've including some photos as well as links to some videos.

Carros alégoricos

Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Photo by Boneysp

Photo by Boneysp


Photo by Léo Pinheiro

Photo by Léo Pinheiro


Trio elétricos

An undecorated trio elétrico (photo by Tennessee7).

An undecorated trio elétrico (photo by Tennessee7).


A trio elétrico decorated and in action (photo by Wmourac).

A trio elétrico decorated and in action (photo by Wmourac).


Passo, just a little physically demanding. Yep. (Photo by Andre bispo.)

Passo, just a little physically demanding. Yep. (Photo by Andre bispo.)


A small Maracatu block  procession. (Photo by Tetraktys.)

A small Maracatu block procession.


A traditional Maracatu dance. (Photo by Pcoke.)

A traditional Maracatu dance. (Photo by Pcoke.)


A typical Frevo street performance in Recife (the capital of the state of Pernambuco).

"Learn Frevo dancing for Carnaval", in Portuguese, but it's dance, so it's the visuals that matter.

Brilliant Star Maracatu Nation procession in Carnaval 2012 in Recife.

clip from the 20 year anniversary DVD of the Pernambuco Maracatu Nation

Brilliant Star Maracatu Nation in Recife's Carnaval, 2009

And, in the category of "who knew they had not just Carnaval that far north, but frevo too", the Helsinki Samba Carnaval 2008 - Sambic Frevo dancing performace