Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The High Court of Bahia and Its Judges, 1609-1751

Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The High Court of Bahia and Its Judges, 1609-1751

Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The High Court of Bahia and Its Judges, 1609-1751

Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The High Court of Bahia and Its Judges, 1609-1751

Excerpt

Three fingers with pen in hand is the boldest ofhuman ventures. How many sins are embellished bya pen's flourish? How many virtues obscured by astroke? How much fame darkened by a blot?

Padre Antônio Vierra

Vasco da Gama on the quay at Calicut, Hernán Cortes beholdingthe splendors of Tenochtitlán, Francis Drake on the Spanish Main,and other images of swashbuckling soldiers and bold mariners havelong been prominent in the history of European expansion. But inthe wake of these adventurers other more mundane types followed--merchants, midwives, priests, servant girls, and bureaucrats. Inthe areas of America settled by these men and women, a complexsociety arose, a society which blended the racial and cultural elements of Europe, Africa, and America, but which always maintained a strong European flavor in its government and in the socialorganization of its elites. The creation of overseas empires was undoubtedly one of the most significant processes of European andworld history in the period after 1450, and its effects are still felttoday.

At about the time overseas expansion began, yet another historicalprocess commenced to shape the societies of Western Europe:strong centralized states emerged under the aegis of royal authority. As monarchs sought to establish their authority and todiminish the powers of various groups, corporations, and estates . . .

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