Captaincies of Brazil

the hereditary captaincies of brazil

Hello, galera! How are you guys doing? Today our Portuguese class will help you learn a little bit of history. We are going to study the Captaincies of Brazil.

The Tordesillas Treaty

The Treaty of Tordesillas was an agreement between the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain made on June 7, 1494. It defined the limits of exploration areas between both kingdoms in South America. The lands discovered west of the imaginary line would belong to the Spaniards. While the lands discovered to the east would belong to the Portuguese.

Map by Luís Teixeira in 1574. Public Domain, in Wikicommons.

But this imaginary line passed right through the middle of what we know today as Brazil! That’s why the map of that time can look so different. After the Treaty of Tordesillas, the hereditary captaincy system was the first form of organization in the Brazilian territory.

The Hereditary Captaincies of Brazil

The Captaincies of Brazil were a system of territorial administration created in 1534 by the king of Portugal, D. João III. They were originally called Capitanias Hereditárias (Hereditary Captaincies). This is because they used to be passed from father to son.

The system involved dividing the territory and giving them to specific people to administrate. These administrators were noble people who were well-connected to the Portuguese Crown.

After some unsuccessful divisions, the final map consisted of thirteen captaincies. It’s important to say that Rio de Janeiro is located in what used to be the Captaincy of São Vicente.

Captaincy of MaranhãoCaptaincy of Porto Seguro
Captaincy of CearáCaptaincy of Espírito Santo
Captaincy of Rio GrandeCaptaincy of São Tomé
Captaincy of ItamaracáCaptaincy of São Vicente
Captaincy of PernambucoCaptaincy of Santo Amaro
Captaincy of Baía de Todos os SantosCaptaincy of Santana
Captaincy of Ilhéus

Although the Portuguese had organized this system to improve the governing, it wasn’t very effective. Only the Captaincy of Pernambuco and the Captaincy of São Vicente were successful. Most of them didn’t work out well for four main reasons. First, the massive size of each territory. Second, the difficulties of administration. Third, the lack of economic resources. And, finally, the constant attacks by indigenous people. Because of these problems, the captaincies and this system were abolished in 1759 by the Marquis of Pombal.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Based on the text and what you have learned in Portuguese, answer these questions:

  1. O que eram as Capitanias Brasileiras?
  2. Quem criou as Capitanias?
  3. Quantas Capitanias existiam?
  4. A qual Capitania pertencia o Rio de Janeiro?
  5. Quem foi responsável por abolir o sistema de Capitanias?

How’d you do, friends? With that, we’ll wrap up another Dica. If you want to know more about the Portuguese language and Brazilian history, subscribe to A Dica do Dia for tips. Also, don’t forget to follow our  Youtube Channel and watch our Dicas videos.

Bye, bye!
Hugs from Rio & Learn!

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
History of Tiradentes
The History of São Paulo
The History of Salvador

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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