Chapters of Brazil's Colonial History, 1500-1800

By Capistrano De Abreu; Arthur Brakel | Go to book overview

9
The Backlands

The Dutch invasion is little more than a minor episode in the occupation of Brazil's coastline. Settlement of Brazil's backlands is in all ways a more towering feat. It began at different times and at different places, but it finally became an inner current that was greater and more fertile than the tenuous thread of coastal population.

* * *

WE CAN BEGIN with the São Vicente Captaincy. The settling of Piratininga in 1530, at the edge of the backlands, is tantamount to a bloodless victory over the forest, which elsewhere cost several generations of struggle. The unique development of São Paulo stems from this advance.

The Tietê River ran nearby. One needed only to follow its course to reach the basin of the River Plate. And one easily traversed a gorge to reach the Paraíba River, which heads north between the Serra do Mar and the Mantiqueira Mountains. Southward lay vast open fields dotted with clumps of trees and even spotty forests. The forests were sometimes of decent size, but could not support southern expansion because they were so far from one another. To the east there was only a trail heading to the seashore. This trail was almost impassible and easy to block. And it was blocked more than once, leaving the backland populations independent from the authorities on the coast. Along that trail a handful of men could wipe out an army. And superhuman effort would be needed to open

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Chapters of Brazil's Colonial History, 1500-1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Library of Latin America ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editors' General Introduction vii
  • Preface xi
  • Works on Capistrano De Abreu xv
  • Works on Capistrano De Abreu xv
  • A House Built on Sand: Capistrano De Abreu and the History of Brazil xvii
  • Notes xxxii
  • 1 - Indigenous Antecedents 3
  • 2 - Exotic Elements 14
  • 3 - The Discoverers 20
  • 4 - The First Conflicts 30
  • 5 - Hereditary Captaincies 35
  • 6 - Crown Captaincies 43
  • 7 - Frenchmen and Spaniards 52
  • 8 - Fighting the Dutch 69
  • 9 - The Backlands 91
  • 10 - Setting Boundaries 166
  • 11 - Three Centuries Later 181
  • Notes 203
  • Bibliography 215
  • Index 221
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