The colonial history of Brazil

Timeline created by Brazil1994
In History
  • Apr 6, 1494

    Treaty of Tordesillas

    Treaty of Tordesillas
    With the Treaty of Tordesillas Portugal and Spain decided to break up South America. Brazil, mostly undiscovered, belonged to Portugal.
  • Apr 23, 1500

    Discovery of Brazil

    Discovery of Brazil
    The Portuguese discovered Brazil by accident. Pedro Álvares Cabral landed on 23 April 1500 with a fleet of 13 ships. Then, in 1501 Amerigo Vespuci led another expedition to the new land. At first the Portuguese showed little interest in Brazil although merchants set up coastal trading stations and they exported brazil wood. So the land was portugese.
  • Jan 1, 1530

    First colonial villages

    First colonial villages
    In 1530, an expedition led by Martim Afonso de Sousa arrived to patrol the entire coast, ban the French, and to create the first colonial villages, like São Vicente, at the coast.
  • Jan 1, 1530


    Since 1530, Indians were brought from the heartland to the sugarcane plantations at the coast to work there for the the Portuguese - many of the Indians died because this work was much too hard for them.
  • Jan 1, 1534

    Captanicies of Brazil

    Captanicies of Brazil
    Between 1534 and 1536 King John III divided the land into 15 Captaincies of Brazil, which were given to Portuguese noblemen, who wanted and had the means to administer and explore them. The captains were granted ample powers to administer and profit from their possessions.
  • Apr 1, 1540

    First brasilian governor

    First brasilian governor
    The Spanish conquistador Cabeza de Vaca appointed the governor of the Brazilian province of Rio de la Plata.
  • Jan 1, 1549

    Establishment of central government

    Establishment of central government
    In 1549, Tomé de Sousa sailed to Brazil to establish a central government. De Sousa brought along Jesuits, who set up missions, saved many natives from slavery, studied native languages, and converted many natives to Roman Catholicism. The Jesuits' work to pacify a hostile tribe helped the Portuguese expel the French from a colony they had established at present-day Rio de Janeiro.
  • Jan 3, 1549

    Capital City

    Capital City
    1549 todays Salvador da Bahia got appointed as the capital city of the new land.
  • Jan 1, 1551


    In 1551, the colony was turned into a diocese with its seat in Salvador. It meant that the colony was supervised by a bishop.
  • Jan 1, 1565

    Foundation of Rio de Janeiro

    Foundation of Rio de Janeiro
    The third Governor General of Brazil was Mem de Sá (1557–1573), an efficient administrator that managed to defeat the natives and, with the help of the Jesuits, expel the French Calvinists that had established a colony in Rio de Janeiro (the France Antarctique). His nephew, Estácio de Sá, founded the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1565.
  • Apr 9, 1580

    Succession crisis

    In 1580, a succession crisis led to Portugal forming a personal union with Spain.The unification of the two Iberian kingdoms, known as the Iberian Union, lasted until 1640. The Netherlands obtained independence from Spain in 1581, leading Philip II to prohibit commerce with Dutch ships, including in Brazil.
    Since the Dutch had invested large sums in financing sugar production in the Brazilian Northeast, a conflict began with Dutch privateers plundering the coast.
  • Slaves from Africa

    Slaves from Africa
    The Portuguese relied on native slaves to work on sugarcane harvesting and processing, but they soon began importing black African slaves. Portugal owned several commercial facilities in Western Africa, where slaves were bought from African merchants. These slaves were then sent by ship to Brazil, chained and in crowded conditions.
  • Biggest sugar producer

    In 1600, Brazil became the biggest sugar producer.
  • Division of Brazil

    Division of Brazil
    Due to the huge size of Brazil, the colony hab to be divided into two states. King Philip II created the Estado do Brasil, the most important colony with Salvador as capital, and the Estado do Maranhão, with capital in São Luís.
  • The Dutch incursion

    The Dutch incursion
    Since the Dutch had invested large sums in financing sugar production in the Brazilian Northeast, a conflict began with Dutch privateers plundering the coast: they sacked Salvador in 1604, from which they removed large amounts of gold and silver before a joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet recaptured the town.
  • Battle against the Dutch

    Battle against the Dutch
    The great Brazilian general Henrique Dias won a decisive battle against the Dutch.
  • Viceroy

    After 1640, the governors of Brazil coming from the high nobility started to use the title of Vice-rei (Viceroy). It means that the governors were royal officials who ran the country, colony, or state in the name of and as representative of the Monarch.
  • Brazil is sold

    After several years of open warfare, the Dutch formally withdrew in 1661.The Portuguese paid off a war debt in payments of salt. Few Dutch cultural and ethnic influences remain.Holland sold Brazil to Portugal for 8 million guildas.
  • Colonial Expansion

    Colonial Expansion
    In 1679, the governor Manuel Lobo founded Colonia del Sacramento on the margin opposite to Buenos Aires in an attempt to expand the borders of colonial Brazil and profit from the silver mines. The fortified settlement quickly became an important point of illegal commerce between the Spanish and Portugal.
  • Discovery of gold

    Discovery of gold
    Due to the gold, which was found in 1693 in Minas Gerais, the interest in Brazil growed.
  • Struggle for freedom

    Struggle for freedom
    During the 17th century, many slaves escaped from the coast where the Portuguese brought them to work at the sugar plantations and founded own colonies. Not until 1699, the last of these Quilombos was destroyed by the Portuguese again.
  • Treaty of Madrid

    Treaty of Madrid
    The Treaty of Madrid was based on the principle of Roman law and regulated the actual situation, allowing further expansion of the Portuguese Empire at the expense of the Empire of Spain. This expansion eventually led to the formation of the Empire of Brazil.
  • Change of the capital

    Change of the capital
    The capital of Brazil changed from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro.
  • Conspiracy against colonial authorities

    In 1789 Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier led the first Brazilian rebellion against Portugal authorities. But in the same year the Portugese discovered the conspirators and banned them.
  • Death of da Silva Xavier

    Death of da Silva Xavier
    Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, the leader of the first conspiracy against colonial authorities was hung,drawn and quartered in Rio de Janeiro and his body parts displayed in several towns.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1490

    Brazil 1490 - 1800