Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2013)|
The transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil refers to the escape of the Braganza royal family and its court of nearly 15,000 people from Lisbon on November 29, 1807. The Braganza royal family departed for the Portuguese colony of Brazil just days before Napoleonic forces invaded Lisbon on December 1. The Portuguese crown remained in Brazil from 1808 until the Liberal Revolution of 1820 led to the return of John VI of Portugal on April 26, 1821.:321 For thirteen years, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, functioned as the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal in what some historians call a "metropolitan reversal" (i.e., a colony exercising governance over the entirety of the Portuguese empire.)
In 1807, at the outset of the Peninsular War, Napoleonic forces invaded Portugal due to the Portuguese alliance with the United Kingdom. The prince regent of Portugal at the time, John VI, had formally governed the country on behalf of his mother since 1799. Anticipating the invasion of Napoleon's army, John VI ordered the transfer of the Portuguese royal court to Brazil before he could be deposed. Setting sail for Brazil on November 29, the royal party navigated under the protection of the British Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Sir Sidney Smith. On December 5, almost halfway between Lisbon and Madeira, Sidney Smith, along with Britain's envoy to Lisbon, Lord Strangford, returned to Europe with part of the British flotilla. Graham Moore, a British sailor and career officer in the Royal Navy, continued escorting the Portuguese royal family to Brazil with the ships Marlborough, London, Bedford, and Monarch.:97
On January 22, 1808, John and his court arrived in Salvador, Brazil. There, Prince John signed a law opening commerce between Brazil and "friendly nations" such as the United Kingdom. This new law, however, broke the colonial pact that had permitted Brazil to maintain direct commercial relations with Portugal only. Secret negotiations at London in 1807 by Portuguese ambassador Domingos António de Sousa Coutinho guaranteed British military protection in exchange for British access to Brazil's ports and to Madeira as a naval base. Coutinho's secret negotiations paved the way for Prince John's law to come to fruition in 1808.:117
On March 7, 1808, the court arrived in Rio de Janeiro. On December 16, 1815, John created the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves), elevating Brazil to the same rank as Portugal and increasing the administrative independence of Brazil. Brazilian representatives were elected to the Portuguese Constitutional Courts (Cortes Constitucionais Portuguesas). In 1816, with the death of Queen Maria, Prince John became king of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. After several delays, the ceremony of his acclamation took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1818.
Among the important measures taken by John VI in his years in Brazil were creating incentives for commerce and industry, allowing newspapers and books to be printed, establishing two medical schools, establishing military academies, and creating the first Bank of Brazil (Banco do Brasil). In Rio de Janeiro, he also established a powder factory, a botanical garden, an art academy (Escola Nacional de Belas Artes), and an opera house (Teatro São João). All these measures advanced Brazil's independence from Portugal.
Due to the absence of the king and the economic independence of Brazil, Portugal entered a severe political crisis that obliged John VI and the royal family to return to Portugal in 1821. The heir of John VI, Pedro I, remained in Brazil. The Portuguese Cortes demanded that Brazil return to its former status as a colony and the return of the heir to Portugal. Prince Pedro, influenced by the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Senate (Senado da Câmara), refused to return to Portugal during the famous Dia do Fico (January 9, 1822). Political independence came on September 7, 1822 and the prince was crowned emperor in Rio de Janeiro as Dom Pedro I, ending 322 years of colonial dominance of Portugal over Brazil.