How the Porto Revolution Stimulated Brazil’s Independence

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THE Independence of Brazil looks like a fictional plot with several twists before and after September 7, 1822 . To understand this history, it is necessary to review causes, effects and antecedent events. Among these episodes, writers highlight the Porto Revolution, which turned 202 on August 24.

The liberal revolt caused the downfall of absolutism in Portugal and generated different echoes in the main historical characters of the Portuguese regency in Brazil.

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For researcher Paulo Rezzutti, who wrote biographies of complex characters such as Dom Pedro and Maria Leopoldina, it is necessary to break stereotypes about powerful figures in Brazil and Portugal at the time.

“You have to understand that they are involved in a process of new ideas, breaking of paradigms, like the fall of absolutism in 1820. It’s a boiling cauldron with these interesting characters in the middle”.

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For Rezzutti, the arrival of the royal family generated economic impacts for Brazil, which was previously a kind of “private property of Portugal” and became the seat of the empire, while the metropolis sank between wars. The conflicts in Portugal only diminished when the English managed to expel the French from their territory.

While Dom João decreed the opening of the ports of Brazil to friendly nations (in particular, England), on the other side of the ocean, the story is one of suffocation, with less money circulating with the bourgeoisie, a turnaround that the Portuguese elite did not imagined.

“What is this revolt in Porto? These traders revolt because Portugal is starving. Little money circulating. Taxes drop. As Brazil opened its ports to England, the commercial elite no longer went through negotiations with the colony”, evaluates the biographer.

The impact also reached the Lisbon courts and other institutions that previously dealt, in the metropolis, with the bureaucracies of the colony. After all, the legal apparatus had changed land next to the headquarters. “They feel in their skin what Brazil has been through for 300 years”.

The Porto Revolution spread throughout Portugal and effectively ended the absolutist regime. When constitutional courts are created, the king loses power.

The Portuguese elite in Brazil, who began to experience a different freedom in the last 12 years of the arrival of the royal family, feel the change in the winds.

202 years of the Porto Revolution

For professor José Manuel Lopes Cordeiro, from the University of Minho, and researcher of the period, the Porto Revolt can be characterized as a “military pronouncement”, and not as a popular revolution.

“The military leave the barracks and the proclamations for the new regime are read. Roots of the constitutional system we live in in Portugal date back to that period,” he explained.

The subject was thoroughly investigated by the Porto writer in a work released in 2020 in more than 500 pages. The book “1820: Revolution Liberal do Porto” was written for 15 months with searches for unpublished documents about the episode.

“We tried to give a comprehensive view of what happened that year, because the post-August 24 [de 1820] was despised or not even addressed by historiography”.

One of the discoveries brought to light by José Manuel was the Livro de Vereações [livro de atas], which contains the possession of the Provisional Board of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom. “In other words, the foundation of the country’s liberal regime took place in the Chamber of Porto, on August 24, 1820. It always surprised me why this book of minutes was never shown and is not even mentioned by historians”.

For the historian, the absolutist frenzy is forever marked in the minute book itself. In reaction against liberals in that country, the council’s book was erased with corrosive ink in an attempt to erase the records in an upheaval by absolutist leadership.

At the same time that liberal transformations occur in Portugal, José Manuel Cordeiro considers that Brazilian society is in a cultural, political and ideological “effervescence”, in addition to already having a State infrastructure.

The insurgents in Europe demand that Dom João return to the metropolis. In February 1821, a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro demanded that the king swear obedience to the Constitution.

The events of February 26, 1821 reflect the moment. It was not known what Dom João VI’s reaction would be. It was against his will, according to historians, that the king returned to Portugal summoned by his country’s elite.

He even announced that he would send his son Pedro to “listen to the complaints” and reassure the rebels. Nothing done. Who returned to Portugal was Dom João IV himself.

Before setting sail, he advised his son about the instability between crown and colony. Upon arriving in Portugal, João discovered, in the worst way, that he was no longer the one who called the shots: he needed authorizations to get off the ship and make decisions.

In the opinion of Professor Teresa Marques, from the University of Brasília, the Porto Revolt is a movement that shows the resentment and unease of the Portuguese elite.

“The kingdom had become secondary in the Portuguese domains. So much so that the Portuguese were uncomfortable with Pedro’s maintenance in Brazil”.

Source: CNN Brasil

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