Portuguese fortifications in Brazil. The colonial times memorial. © Copyright by Victor Aquino, 2001, 2006 WEA Books & Publishing Inc. Monroe, LA USA
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Between 1580 and 1640 communications with the Metropolis were affected by the new political orientation resultant from the union of the Crowns of Spain and Portugal. As has been pointed out in earlier chapters the powerful Portuguese maritime enterprise conquered strategic points while avoiding inland exploration exactly because the agent and dynamic force behind their presence was the sea together with the versatility of the Portuguese's trader who with his spirit of innovation was able to compensate for the, at that time, absence of mineral riches. Consequently, the “caravelas” (Portuguese men-of-war), and other types of sailing-ships were the first means of communication of the Portuguese colonial empire. The few points of fortified support at the beginning of the Colony
were gradually reinforced by constructions which also helped ultramarine communication. The dynamic force behind future commerce in the New World were the legends about Andian and Mexican treasures told by catechized or enslaved Brazilian indians. These people joined with the Portuguese and produced the versatile mameluco (half Indian, half white), who knew the jungle. The legends spread from the south and southeast to the north-east of Brazil. In the north-east the labour in intensive sugar-cane plantations and the sugar-mills constantly required fresh workers. From the ports of the region sugar was sent to Portugal while other ships brought from Africa new recruits for the flourishing slave-trade so completing an economic cycle. These operations were made possible through efficient communications between the captains of the ships and the ports, forts and lighthouses, and also between Angola, Guinea and Brazil through the dispatches of traders and navigators. These proceedings generated news not always confined to Portugal or Spanish interests. In this way ambitious navigators of other nationalities, on their own account or in the service of their kings, reached the Brazilian coast, particularly south of Sao Vicente. Every effort was made to lay hands on the Spanish
minerals which were well-guarded defended by the strictest of legislations.
So prevalent were the “merchant adventurers” that soon the southern regions of Brazil required the construction of forts: at Santos, the fort of Santos in 1543; at Vertigo, the Sao Joao de Vertigo Fortress, also in 1 543; at Rio de Janeiro, the Gloria Battery, the Fortress of Santa Cruz do Barras, and the Fort of Sao Sebastiao during the period 1555 to 1567. Generally speaking and by the standards of the times, the north-east of Brazil was prosperous but the capital, the city of Sao Salvador, had little defense. Consequently, the monarchy decided to fortify the Bahia territory and constructed the Casa do Torre de Garcia D'Avila on the Tatuapara Inlet (1551); the Castelo dos Porfas de Sao Bento, the Castelo dos Portas do Carmo and the Bateria em Palacio in the centre of Salvador in the mid XVI century.
Despite being well-armed these works of defense proved to be insecure at the time of the first Dutch invasion in 1 625. On this occasion the population and even the nuns from the convent took port in a guerrilla type of resistance which in 1 628 expelled the invaders from the Captaincy of Bhatia de To-dos so Santos of that time capital to the Colony. The some invaders again tried their luck, in 1 630, in the also rich Captaincy of Pernambuco.
Here they were more successful and had a longer-lasting, more that 20 years, period of dominance. Communications had always a subversive and revolutionary stomp and took advantage of the limited knowledge of the Dutch about local customs and the Portuguese language. The Dutch investment in culture and art in the city of Recife demonstrates the conquerors intention to stay. They, while having little support from the population in general, did hove a good relationship with the local powers who produced and exported sugar a valuable spice of that time. The intelligence dispatches to and from the headquarters of the West Indies Company who co-ordinated the invasion, were kept carefully and later transported to Holland. In recent years several books hove clarified the details of the permanence of the Dutch, who were accustomed with rivers and sea and with the ships with which they transported the riches of other countries to their homeland. For these purposes a well-constructed communications network was established which included the use of colored flogs as was already being done by the English. The usefulness of the forts was recognized by the Dutch who built in Pernambuco the Brum Fort which was invaluable for the support of their ships with
which communication was maintained through code signals transmitted by the cannons of the forts and of the ships. Portuguese competence in slave-trading was so highly developed that in order to increase the productivity of their mines the Spanish, through a contract called “assiento” (permission), authorized the Portuguese to deliver slaves to Spanish America even although their ports were closed and defended against other shipping. These operations involved communications and circulation of news essential for profit-making in the commerce of products and human beings. The Portuguese competence in the slave-trading business was such that the Dutch, when they conquered Pernambuco and took over north-east Brazil, also occupied the source of supply of Negro labour in which was Angola in Africa. The cultivation of agricultural products for export, especially sugar, began in the early years of the XVI century in the north-east of Brazil and as a subsistence crop in the south of the country. The small production in Sao Paulo was part of on economic scene in which other crops were necessary The principal activity of the men from Portugal was agriculture adapted to the necessity for long voyages and which served as
a bose for hard-earned prosperity while attracting the envy of other notions interested in the easy extraction of precious dyewoods. Some of these were also suitable for naval construction and the making of canvas for soils. Not only D. Jiao Ill, the king of Portugal, who decided to face up to the difficulties, stimulating colonization in Brazil and peopling it for the defense and prosperity of the land, but also Felipe I (Felipe II of Spain) decided at a later dote to give a new direction to the happenings in Brazil. The communication of these decisions was mode by royal dispatches sent to the Colony where their content was read aloud in the towns and villages by the criers of the local authorities.
Dreams of penetration into the inland areas entertained by Portuguese of all types, from laymen to clerics, aroused the urge of the inhabitants of the Colony to discover overland routes to the Andes and the mineral rich mountain ranges close to bedazzling cities like Sao Luis de Potosi in Peru. These cities attracted intense Spanish immigration so much so that lows hold to be laid down by not only kings but also religious orders in order to inhibit the use of the many
ways found by the Portuguese and other traders of getting round the royal prohibitions. At the time of the frequent attacks by pirates, the church-bells sounded the alarm of danger to the local inhabitants. Even along the extensive coastline there was a lock of structured communication in colonial Brazil with the exception of strategic points at which, in the XVIII century, regular troops were stationed. Communication with more distant regions was maintained in a military manner principally after there was greater knowledge of the routes used by the trail blazers, the “bandeirantes” (flog-Carrying pioneers), from Sao Paulo. These explorers left signals on the frees to indicate trails already followed so facilitating penetration by others. Defense came from the laying down of a system of decrees which led to the recruiting and training of the common citizen for specific military missions. Especially resistant horses and mules were gradually introduced to form the basic structure of overland communications. Horses were used by messengers and the mules for the transport of merchandise and equipment. Oxen-drawn wagons were also used in this, for the times, complex system of communications and transport, and the goods
being frequently destined to the ports while the instructions were verbal and direct. A large part of the population of Sao Paulo and further south spoke little Portuguese until the XVIII century when by royal decree the use of Tupi-Guarani, the dominant Indian language in the region, was prohibited. Indian women whether as slaves in the homes or as “informal” wives passed on to their children “curumins” (boys), the Guarani language that even Jesuit priests encouraged in their zeal to catechize the indigenous natives. The non-catechized Indians spoke different varieties of Guarani and further to the north there were tribes whose languages were not understood by other Indians. Members of these tribes were called “linguas-travadas” (tongue-tied) or “barbaros” (barbarians), by the colonialists. It can be deduced that communication between the indians was oral and regional. It has to be recognized that the so-called “lingua geral” (the general language) was the work of anxious Jesuit priests trying to make themselves understood by the future subjects of Christianity. The only Tupi-Guarani grammar is for many specialists in indigenous subjects a work of fiction which however served as a guide for understanding
Between the Jesuits and the indigenous sheep they coveted. Visual communication became a useful tool in the New World and was employed in the religious theatre and the presentations put on for the purposes of indoctrination by the Jesuits.
The beginning of the XVII century marked the peak of Portuguese penetration and the conquest of innumerable territories amongst which the mines called Sao Paulo were of special importance. These were taken over by the Portuguese and with this the Captaincy of Sao Paulo and the mines formed a single unit to which people from Sao Paulo were not welcome during the government of the tyrannical Francisco de
Sousa who, although Portuguese was loyal to Spanish projects. In this same movement to inland areas not only were new mines discovered in Goyas by the pioneers from Sao Paulo but also settlements were founded which profited from the mining activities. At the beginning of the XVIII century, navigation on previously unknown rivers such as the Araguaia and the Tocantins and the penetration of unexplored territories brought more ample configuration to the Captaincy of Goyas which come to provide alternative means of communication for the shipment not only of gold but also of jerked beef from the vast ranges in the area. Commercial correspondence between the Old and New Worlds were sources of information and important as forms of frequent communication. They are valuable sources of information for the evaluation of colonial life principally in the more dynamic economic centers. In colonial times communication was either oral or hand-written and through which people in an independent form fixed and made material their messages in order to avoid distortion.
The printing press which reproduced writing was invented as a result of observation and use of a wine press. Movable cast-iron type, paper, ink, calligraphy and xylography were employed. In these books had their beginning. In the XV Century Coster and Gutenberg using wood engravings improved the system of typography. The printing press enabled the same text, and ideas, to be reproduced many times. In this way a greater number of people were able to obtain enlightenment and reflect on the happenings of their time so amplifying their personal and social knowledge. Consequently, individuals became potential threats and dangers in the eyes of instituted authority. For this reason many books written during the XVI. and XVII. Centuries were never printed as they were not liberated by the censors of the Church, the tribunals of the Inquisition, and the Crown. England, France, and Holland adopted the new technology with great enthusiasm so much so that knowledge acquired in these countries was rapidly divulged. The same was true in several other European countries which went on to develop new technical inventions. Portugal and Spain, on the other hand, were late in recognizing the multiplying effect of printed messages as at this time their priority
and focus of attention, was directed towards progress and development of navigation, nautical studies and the discoveries at which they were masters and in which rapid expansion was being made. As a result, Portuguese seamen were always very highly considered by the navies of other countries. Notwithstanding, censure was a real obstacle to the Iberian peninsula when the era of the printing press began. The Portuguese monarch was kept informed on a continuous basis of overseas events through letters sent by his official correspondents in the townships or on-board ship where they were, in fact, members of the crew. Communications were always essential, especially after the great discoveries and Portugal was one of the first European countries to use them for news about the colonies. In fact, through Letters and Decrees carried by ships, or by authorized on-board messengers, the Portuguese authorities coordinated the administrative and cultural activities of the various strategic points which they controlled. It is to be noted that Spain operated in a similar fashion with its overseas possessions.
The XVIII Century with its perturbing literature and its new scientific, philosophical and religious concepts was, or so the Iberians thought, most unsettling for good order in the colonies. Pamphlets became the weapons of sedition and revolts based on foreign ideas from France and even North America. The right to argue and discuss, obtained with great difficulty by Portuguese men-ofletters, did not flourish with the same force in the colonies. In Brazil the press was established
much later and it was only in the XIX century with the arrival of Infant D. Jiao, the future D. Joao VI, in the American dominion that there took place what the historians call “inversao colonial” (colonial inversion). Part of this inversion was the establishment of the Court in Brazil and the transport of about ten thousand books, by English ships, to Rio de Janeiro. These events characterized the new importance given to Rio de Janeiro, home of the royal family and their cultural possessions. The establishment of the Royal Press, in conjunction with other so-called civilizing measures, brought to journalism objectives other than the communication of birthdays and the astrological tables of the members of the Court. Hostile forces against the constituted authorities began to publish pamphlets in order to expound their ideas and oppositional stances. These aspects of communication, however, were merely incipient when the Marques de Pombal, as minister of D. José Ill, began to take vanguard measures and came to be considered a “despota esclarecido” (the enlightened despot) together with other European political leaders.