Royal Government in Colonial Brazil: With Special Reference to the Administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, Viceroy, 1769-1779

Royal Government in Colonial Brazil: With Special Reference to the Administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, Viceroy, 1769-1779

Royal Government in Colonial Brazil: With Special Reference to the Administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, Viceroy, 1769-1779

Royal Government in Colonial Brazil: With Special Reference to the Administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, Viceroy, 1769-1779

Excerpt

“No nation has ever accomplished such great things, in proportion to its means, as the Portuguese … and whatever changes may take place, Brazil will always be the inheritance of a Portuguese people.” So wrote the poet laureate Robert Southey at the conclusion of his celebrated History of Brazil. In the century and a half that has elapsed since Southey completed his massive three-volume work, Brazilian historians have examined many facets of their colonial past; but few foreigners, certainly few North Americans, have followed in his footsteps. Although a recently published directory lists eightythree historians in the United States who claim to specialize in Brazilian history, only a handful are actually engaged in research and publication on topics that relate to the colonial period. That Brazil’s colonial experience is worthy of serious scholarly investigation both for its own sake and for the opportunity that offers to make enlightening comparisons with contemporary developments in other former European colonies is the major premise upon which this study rests.

Scholarly projects commonly undergo many modifications in design between their original conception and ultimate completion. This one is no exception. It began—more years ago than I like to remember— as an analysis of the impact of the Marquis of Pombal, Portugal’s celebrated minister of state between 1750 and 1777, upon Brazil, then Portugal’s most important colony. After several weeks of intensive bibliographical searching, I reached the conclusion that, considering the number of archival and printed sources that would have to be utilized for such a study, the subject was too ambitious for the purposes of a doctoral dissertation. In the course of my search, however, I discovered that there was a good deal of source material in print and in manuscript concerning the administration of the Marquis of Lavradio, who held the post of viceroy of Brazil longer than anyone else during the Pombaline era. It seemed to me that by concentrating on his administration I could gain considerable insight into the aims and achievements of Pombal in Brazil. That assumption, in fact, proved correct, though the conclusions I have reached regarding Pombal’s abilities as a statesman will appear less flattering to that so-called enlightened despot than those offered by many previous writers.

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