European colonization of the Americas:

  • European colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled limited areas on the shores of present-day Greenland and Canada.
  • Extensive European colonization began in 1492, when a Spanish expedition headed by Genoese Christopher Columbus sailed west to find a new trade route to the Far East(India) but inadvertently found the Americas.
  • Columbus’s first two voyages (1492–93) reached the Bahamas and various Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and Cuba.
  • In 1497, sailing from Bristol on behalf of England, John Cabot landed on the North American coast, and a year later, Columbus’s third voyage reached the South American coast
  • As the sponsor of Christopher Columbus’s voyages, Spain was the first European power to settle and colonize the largest areas, from North America and the Caribbean to the southern tip of South America. Spanish cities were founded as early as 1496 with Santo Domingo in today’s Dominican Republic.
  • Other powers such as France also founded colonies in the Americas: in eastern North America, a number of Caribbean islands, and small coastal parts of South America.
  • Portugal colonized Brazil, tried early (since 1499) colonizing of the coasts of present-day Canada.
  • Europe had been preoccupied with internal wars, and was only slowly recovering from the loss of population caused by the bubonic plague; thus the rapid rate at which it grew in wealth and power was unforeseeable in the early 1400s.
  • Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere came under the ostensible control of European governments, leading to profound changes to its landscape, population, and plant and animal life. In the 19th century alone over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas.
  • The post-1492 era is known as the period of the Columbian Exchange, a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations (including slaves), communicable disease, and ideas between the American and Afro-Eurasian hemispheres following Columbus’s voyages to the Americas.

Early European explorations and conquests:

  • Early explorations and conquests were made by the Spanish and the Portuguese immediately following their own final reconquest of Iberia in 1492.
  • In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas(following return of Columbus), ratified by the Pope, these Spain and Portugal divided the entire non-European world into two areas of exploration and colonization, with a north to south boundary that cut through the Atlantic Ocean along eastern part of Brazil.

    Red part Portugal and Green Part Spain
  • Based on this treaty and on early claims by Spanish explorer Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Spanish conquered large territories in North, Central and South America.
  • By the mid-16th century, the Spanish Crown had gained control of much of western South America, Central America and southern North America, in addition to its earlier Caribbean territories. 
  • Over this same time frame, Portugal claimed lands in North America (Canada) and colonized much of eastern South America, naming it Santa Cruz and Brazil.
  • Other European nations soon disputed the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas. 
  • England and France attempted to plant colonies in the Americas in the 16th century, but these failed. England, France and Dutch Republic succeeded in establishing permanent colonies in the following century. Some of these were on Caribbean islands, which had often already been conquered by the Spanish or depopulated by disease, while others were in eastern North America, which had not been colonized by Spain north of Florida.
  • Early European possessions in North America included Spanish Florida, Spanish New Mexico, the English colonies of Virginia (with its North Atlantic off-shoot, Bermuda) and New England, the French colonies of Acadia and Canada, the Swedish colony of New Sweden, and the Dutch New Netherland.
  • In the 18th century, Denmark–Norway revived its former colonies in Greenland, while the Russian Empire gained a foothold in Alaska.
  • As more nations gained an interest in the colonization of the Americas, competition for territory became increasingly fierce. Colonists often faced the threat of attacks from neighboring colonies, as well as from indigenous tribes and pirates.
Early state-sponsored colonists:
  • The first phase of well-financed European activity in the Americas began with the Atlantic Ocean crossings of Christopher Columbus (1492–1504), sponsored by Spain, whose original attempt was to find a new route to India and China, known as “the Indies”.
  • He was followed by other explorers such as John Cabot, who was sponsored by England and reached Newfoundland.
  • Cabral reached Brazil and claimed it for Portugal.
  • Amerigo Vespucci, working for Portugal in voyages from 1497 to 1513, established that Columbus had reached a new set of continents and Latinized version of his first name, America, was used for the two continents.
  • Other explorers included Verrazzano, sponsored by France; the Portuguese Corte-Real in Newfoundland; and Champlain(1567–1635) who explored Canada.
  • In 1513, Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and led the first European expedition to see the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the New World. In an action with enduring historical import, Balboa claimed the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for the Spanish Crown. It was 1517 before another expedition, from Cuba, visited Central America in search of slaves.
  • These explorations were followed, notably in the case of Spain, by a phase of conquest: The Spaniards, having just finished the Reconquering of Spain from Muslim rule, were the first to colonize the Americas.
  • Ten years after Columbus’s discovery, the administration of Hispaniola ( located in the Caribbean island group, the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba,)was given to Nicolás de Ovando (a Spanish soldier from a noble family ). Progressively the encomienda system, ( a legal system that was used by the Spanish crown during the Spanish colonization of the Americas to regulate Native Americans and to reward individual Spaniards for services to the crown)which granted tribute (access to indigenous labor and taxation) to European settlers, was set in place.
  • A relatively common misconception is that a small number of conquistadores ( a term used to refer to the soldiers and explorers of the Portuguese Empire or the Spanish Empire) conquered vast territories, aided only by disease epidemics. In fact, recent archaeological excavations have suggested a vast Spanish-Indian alliance numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Over the first century and a half after Columbus’s voyages, the native population of the Americas plummeted by an estimated 80% mostly by outbreaks of Old World diseases.
  • In 1532, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor of Spanish Empire sent a vice-king to Mexico, Antonio de Mendoza, in order to prevent Cortes’ independentist drives. Hernan Cortes was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile of Iberian Peninsula in the early 16th century. Two years later, Charles V signed the New Laws prohibiting slavery and the forced labor system, but also claiming as his own all the American lands and all of the indigenous people as his own subjects.
  • When in May 1493, the Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter caetera bull (a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on 4 May 1493)granting the new lands to the Kingdom of Spain, he requested in exchange an evangelization of the people. Thus, during Columbus’s second voyage, many priests accompanied him. As slavery was prohibited between Christians, and could only be imposed in non-Christian prisoners of war or on men already sold as slaves, the debate on Christianization was particularly acute during the 16th century. In 1537, the papal bull Sublimis Deus ( a papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on June 2, 1537) recognized that Native Americans possessed souls, thus prohibiting their enslavement .Some claimed that a native who had rebelled and then been captured could be enslaved nonetheless.
  • The process of Christianization was at first violent: when the first Franciscans(religious order) arrived in Mexico in 1524, they burned the places dedicated to pagan cult, alienating much of the local population. In the 1530s, they began to adapt Christian practices to local customs, including the building of new churches on the sites of ancient places of worship, leading to a mix of Old World Christianity with local religions.

(2) Colonisation and Decolonisation by Spanish:

(A) Colonisation:

  • Colonial expansion under the crown of Castile was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Catholic faith through indigenous conversions.
  • Beginning with the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus and continuing for over three centuries, the Spanish Empire would expand across half of South America, most of Central America and the Caribbean Islands, and much of North America (including present day Mexico, Florida and the Southwestern and Pacific Coastal regions of the United States).
  • In the early 19th century, the Spanish American wars of independence resulted in the emancipation of most Spanish colonies in the Americas, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, which were finally given up in 1898, following the Spanish-American War, together with Guam and the Philippines in the Pacific. Spain’s loss of these last territories politically ended the Spanish colonization in the Americas.

() Demographic impact:

  • It has been estimated that in the 16th century about 240,000 Spaniards emigrated to the Americas, and in the 17th century about 500,000, predominantly to Mexico and Ecuador.
  • In Hispaniola the indigenous Taíno pre-contact population of several hundred thousand declined to sixty thousand by 1509.
  • The population of the Native Amerindian population in Mexico declined by an estimated 90% by the early 17th century.
  • In Peru the indigenous Amerindian pre-contact population of around 6.5 million declined to 1 million by the early 17th century.
  • The indigenous Californian population at first contact, in 1769, was about 310,000 and had dropped to 25,000 by 1910. The vast majority of the decline happened after the Spanish period, in the Mexican and American periods of Californian history (1821–1910).

() Cultural impact:

  • The Spaniards were committed, by Royal decree, to convert their New World indigenous subjects to Catholicism. However, often initial efforts were questionably successful, as the indigenous people added Catholicism into their long standing traditional ceremonies and beliefs. The many native expressions, forms, practices, and items of art could be considered idolatry and prohibited or destroyed by Spanish missionaries, military and civilians.
  • Though the Spanish did not force their language to the extent they did their religion, some indigenous languages of the Americas evolved into replacement with Spanish.

(B) Decolonisation:

  • The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America that took place during the early 19th century, after the French invasion of Spain during Europe’s Napoleonic Wars.
  • These conflicts were fought as both wars of national liberation and civil wars, since on the one hand the goal of one group of belligerents was the independence of the Spanish colonies, and on the other the majority of combatants on both sides were Spanish Americans and indigenous people, not Spaniards. While some Spanish Americans believed that independence was necessary, most who initially supported the creation of the new governments saw them as a mean to preserve the region’s autonomy from the French.
  • Over the course of the next decade, the political instability in Spain and the absolutist restoration under Ferdinand VII convinced more and more Spanish Americans of the need to formally establish independence from the mother country.

(1) Factors leading to war of independence:

  • Bourbon Reforms of the mid-eighteenth century introduced changes to the relationship of Spanish Americans to the Crown. In an effort to better control the administration and economy of the overseas possessions the Crown reintroduced the practice of appointing outsiders, to the various royal offices throughout the empire. This meant that Spanish Americans lost the gains they had made in holding local offices as a result of the sale of offices during the previous century and a half.
  • In some areas—such as Cuba, Río de la Plata and New Spain—the reforms had positive effects, improving the local economy and the efficiency of the government.In other areas, the changes in crown’s economic and administrative policies led to tensions with locals, which at times erupted into open revolts, such as the Revolt of the Comuneros in New Granada and the Rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in Peru.
  • Neither of these two eighteenth-century developments—the loss of high offices to Criollos( a social class in the caste system of the overseas colonies established by Spain in the 16th century, especially in Latin America, comprising the locally born people of confirmed Spanish ancestry) and the revolts—were the direct causes of the wars of independence, which took place decades later, but they were important elements of the political background in which the wars took place.
  • The events in Spanish America were related to the other wars of independence in Haiti and Brazil.
  • Brazil’s independence, in particular, shared a common starting point with Spanish America’s, since both conflicts were triggered by Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, which forced the Portuguese royal family to resettle in Brazil in 1807.
  • A more direct cause of the Spanish American wars of independence were the unique developments occurring within the Kingdom of Spain and its monarchy during this period.
  • Other factors included Enlightenment thinking and the examples of the Atlantic Revolutions. The Enlightenment spurred the desire for social and economic reform to spread throughout Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. Ideas about free trade and physiocratic economics were raised by the Enlightenment in Spain. The political reforms implemented and the many constitutions written both in Spain and throughout the Spanish world during the wars of independence were influenced by these factors.

    Development of Spanish American Independence: (1)Red: Government under traditional Spanish law (2)Pale: Loyal to Supreme Central Junta or Cortes (3)Yellow: American junta or insurrection movement (4)Green: Independent state declared or established (5)Blue: Height of French control of the Peninsula

(2) Creation of new governments in Spain and Americas, 1808-1810:

Collapse of the Bourbon dynasty:

  • The Peninsular War was the trigger for the wars of independence. The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between the First French Empire and the allied powers of the Spanish Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Peninsular War began an extended period of instability in the world-wide Spanish Monarchy which lasted until 1823.
  • Napoleon’s removal of the Bourbon dynasty from the Spanish throne precipitated a political crisis. Though Napoleon gave the crown to his brother, Joseph, there was no clear solution to the lack of a king.
  • Following traditional Spanish political theories on the contractual nature of the monarchy, the peninsular provinces responded to the crisis by establishing juntas (the name chosen by several local administrations).
  • The move, however, led to more confusion, since there was no central authority and most juntas did not recognize the presumptuous claim of some juntas to represent the monarchy as a whole.

(3) Rebellion against Spanish Rule:

  • This impasse was resolved through negotiations between the juntas and the Council of Castile, which led to the creation of a “Supreme Central and Governmental Junta of Spain and the Indies” on September 25, 1808.
  • It was agreed that the traditional kingdoms of the peninsula would send two representatives to this Central Junta, and that the overseas kingdoms would send one representative each. These “kingdoms” were defined as “the viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, New Granada, and Buenos Aires, and the independent captaincies general of the island of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Chile, Province of Venezuela, and the Philippines.”
  • This scheme was criticized for providing unequal representation to the overseas territories. Several important and large cities were left without direct representation in the Supreme Junta. This unrest led to the establishment of juntas in these cities in 1809, which were eventually quashed by the authorities. An unsuccessful attempt at establishing a junta in New Spain was also stopped.
  • In order to establish a more legitimate government, the Supreme Junta called for the convening of an “extraordinary and general Cortes of the Spanish Nation.” The election scheme for the Cortes, based on provinces and not kingdoms, was more equitable and provided more time to determine what would be considered an overseas province.
  • The dissolution of the Supreme Junta on January 29, 1810, because of the reverses suffered after the Battle of Ocaña by the Spanish forces paid with Spanish American money, set off another wave of juntas being established in the Americas.
  • French forces had taken over southern Spain and forced the Supreme Junta to seek refuge in the island-city of Cadiz. Most Spanish Americans saw no reason to recognize a rump government that was under the threat of being captured by the French at any moment, and began to work for the creation of local juntas to preserve the region’s independence from the French.
  • Junta movements were successful in New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, Chile and Río de la Plata (Argentina). Less successful, though serious movements, also occurred in Central America. Ultimately, Central America, along with most of New Spain, Quito (Ecuador), Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia), the Caribbean and the Philippine Islands remained in control of royalists for the next decade and participated in the Spanish Cortes effort to establish a liberal government for the Spanish Monarchy.

(4) First phase of the wars of independence, 1810–1814:

  • The creation of juntas in Spanish America set the stage for the fighting that would afflict the region for the next decade and a half.
  • Political fault lines appeared, and were often the causes of military conflict. On the one hand the juntas challenged the authority of all royal officials. On the other hand, royal officials and Spanish Americans who desired to keep the empire together were split between liberals, who supported the efforts of the Cortes, and conservatives (“absolutists”), who did not want to see any innovations in government.
  • Finally, although the juntas claimed to carry out their actions in the name of the deposed king, Ferdinand VII, their creation provided an opportunity for people who favored outright independence to publicly and safely promote their agenda. The proponents of independence called themselves patriots.
  • The idea that independence was not the initial concern is evidenced by the fact that few areas declared independence after 1810.The congresses of Venezuela and New Granada did so in 1811 and also Paraguay in same year.
  • The reluctance to declare independence as a “mask of Ferdinand VII“: that is, that patriot leaders felt that they needed to claim loyalty to the deposed monarch in order to prepare the masses for the radical change that full independence eventually would entail. Nevertheless, even areas such as Río de la Plata and Chile, which more or less maintained de facto independence from the peninsular authorities, did not declare independence until quite a few years later, in 1816 and 1818, respectively.
  • Overall, despite achieving formal or de facto independence, many regions of Spanish America were marked by nearly continuous civil wars, which lasted well into the 1820s.
  • In Mexico, where the junta movement had been stopped in its early stages by a coalition of Peninsular merchants and government officials, efforts to establish a government independent of the Regency or the French took the form of popular rebellion, under the leadership of Miguel Hidalgo. Hidalgo was captured and executed in 1811, but a resistance movement continued, which declared independence from Spain in 1813.
  • In Central America, attempts at establishing juntas were also put down, but resulted in significantly less violence.
  • The Caribbean islands, like the Philippines on the other side of the world, were relatively peaceful. Any plots to set up juntas were denounced to the authorities early enough to stop them before they gained widespread support.

Social tensions:

  • Underlying social tensions had a great impact on the nature of the fighting. Rural areas were pitted against urban centers, as grievances against the authorities found an outlet in the political conflict. This was the case with Hidalgo’s peasant revolt, which was fueled as much by discontent over several years of bad harvests as with events in the Peninsular War. Hidalgo was originally part of a circle of liberal urbanites, who sought to establish a junta. After this conspiracy was discovered, Hidalgo turned to the rural people of the Mexican Bajío to build his army, and their interests soon overshadowed those of the urban intellectuals.
  • A similar tension existed in Venezuela, where the Spanish immigrant José Tomás Boves was able to form a nearly invincible, though informal, royalist army out of the Llanero (Venezuelan or Colombian herder) mixed-race, plains people, by seeking to destroy the white landowning class.
  • Boves and his followers often disregarded the command of Spanish officials and were not concerned with actually reestablishing the toppled royal government, choosing instead to keep real power among themselves.
  • Finally in Upper Peru, the republiquetas ( independence-seeking guerrilla groups) kept the idea of independence alive by allying with disenfranchised members of rural society and Native groups, but were never able to take the major population centers.
  • This period witnessed increasingly violent confrontations between Spaniards and Spanish Americans, but this tension was often related to class issues or fomented by patriot leaders to create a new sense of nationalism.
  • After being incited to rid the country of the Peninsulares, Hidalgo’s forces indiscriminately massacred hundreds of Criollos and Peninsulares who had taken refuge at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas ( a grain storage building in Guanajuato City, Mexico).
  • In Venezuela during his Admirable Campaign, Simón Bolívar instituted a policy of a war to the death—in which and royalist Spanish Americans would be purposely spared but even neutral Peninsulares would be killed—in order to drive a wedge between the two groups. This policy laid the ground for the violent royalist reaction under Boves.
  • Often though, royalism or patriotism simply provided a banner to organize the aggrieved, and the political causes could be discarded just as quickly as they were picked up. The Venezuelan Llaneros switched to the patriot banner once the elites and the urban centers became securely royalist after 1815, and it was the royal army in Mexico that ultimately brought about that nation’s independence.
  • Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan military and political leader. Bolívar played a key role in Latin America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas. Following the triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, now known as Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Bolívar is regarded as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator in Hispanic-America. During his lifetime, he led Venezuela, Colombia (including Panama at the time), Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire. Admirers claim that he helped lay the foundations for democracy in much of Latin America.
  • Miguel Hidalgo, was a Mexican Catholic priest and a leader of the Mexican War of Independence.After his arrival, he was shocked by the poverty he found. He tried to help the poor by showing them how to grow olives and grapes, but in Mexico, growing these crops was discouraged or prohibited by the authorities due to Spanish imports of the items.In 1810 he gave the famous speech, “The Cry of Dolores”, calling upon the people to protect the interest of their King Fernando VII (held captive by Napoleon) by revolting against the European-born Spaniards who had overthrown the Spanish Viceroy. He marched across Mexico and gathered an army of nearly 90,000 poor farmers and Mexican civilians who attacked and killed both Spanish Peninsulares and Criollo elites. These troops ran into a clan of 6,000 well trained and armed Spanish troops, and most fled or were killed at the Battle of Calderón Bridge. On 17 January 1811, Hidalgo was executed by a firing squad .
  • José Tomás Boves, royalist caudillo of the llanos during the Venezuelan War of Independence, particularly remembered for his use of brutality and atrocities against those who supported Venezuelan independence. Though nominally pro-Spanish, Boves showed little deference to any superior authority and independently carried out his own military campaign and political agenda.

Regional rivalry:

  • Regional rivalry also played an important role in the wars. The disappearance of a central, imperial authority—and in some cases of even a local, viceregal authority —initiated a prolonged period of balkanization in many regions of Spanish America. It was not clear which political units which should replace the empire, and there were no new national identities to replace the traditional sense of being Spaniards.
  • The original juntas of 1810 appealed first, to sense of being Spanish, which was counterposed to the French threat; second, to a general American identity, which was counterposed to the Peninsula lost to the French; and third, to a sense of belonging to the local province, the patria in Spanish.
  • More often than not, juntas sought to maintain a province’s independence from the capital of the former viceroyalty as much as from the Peninsula itself. Armed conflicts broke out between the provinces over the question of whether some provinces were to be subordinate to others as they had been under the crown. This rivalry also leads some regions to adopt the opposite political cause to that chosen by their rivals.
  • Peru seems to have remained strongly royalist in large part because of its rivalry with Río de la Plata, to which it had lost control of Upper Peru when the later was elevated to a viceroyalty in 1776. The creation of juntas in Río de la Plata allowed Peru to regain formal control of Upper Peru for the duration of the wars

(5) Royalist ascendancy, 1814–1820:

  • By 1815 the general outlines of which areas were controlled by royalists and pro-independence forces were established and a general stalemate set in the war.
  • In areas where royalists controlled the main population centers, most of the fighting by those seeking independence was done by isolated guerrilla bands. In New Spain, the two main guerrilla groups were led by Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerrero.
  • In northern South America, New Granadan and Venezuelan patriots, under leaders such as Francisco de Paula Santander, Simón Bolívar, Santiago Mariño, Manuel Piar and José Antonio Páez, carried out campaigns often with material aid coming from Curaçao and Haiti.
  • To pacify Venezuela and to retake New Granada, Spain organized in 1815 the largest armed force it ever sent to the New World. Although this force was crucial in retaking a solidly pro-independence region like New Granada, its soldiers were eventually spread out throughout Venezuela, New Granada, Quito, and Peru and were lost to tropical diseases, diluting their impact on the war.More importantly, the majority of the royalist forces were composed, not of soldiers sent from the peninsula, but of Spanish Americans.

Restoration of Ferdinand VII:

  • In March 1814, following with the collapse of the First French Empire, Ferdinand VII was restored to the Spanish throne. This signified an important change, since most of the political and legal changes made on both sides of the Atlantic—the myriad of juntas, the Cortes in Spain and several of the congresses in the Americas, and many of the constitutions and new legal codes—had been made in his name.
  • Before entering Spanish territory, Ferdinand made loose promises to the Cortes that he would uphold the Spanish Constitution. But once in Spain he realized that he had significant support from conservatives in the general population and the hierarchy of the Spanish Catholic Church; so, on May 4, he repudiated the Constitution and ordered the arrest of liberal leaders on May 10. Ferdinand justified his actions by stating that the Constitution and other changes had been made by a Cortes assembled in his absence and without his consent.
  • News of the events arrived through Spanish America during the next three weeks to nine months.
  • Ferdinand’s actions constituted a definitive de facto break both with the autonomous governments, which had not yet declared formal independence, and with the effort of Spanish liberals to create a representative government that would fully include the overseas possessions. Such a government was seen as an alternative to independence by many in New Spain, Central America, the Caribbean, Quito, Peru, Upper Peru and Chile. Yet the news of the restoration of the “ancien régime” did not initiate a new wave of juntas, as had happened in 1809 and 1810. Instead most Spanish Americans were moderates who decided to wait and see what would come out of the restoration of normalcy.
  • Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, nevertheless, continued to conspire to bring back a constitutional monarchy, ultimately succeeding in 1820.
  • Spanish Americans in royalist areas who were committed to independence had already joined the guerrilla movements. However, Ferdinand’s actions did set areas outside of the control of the crown on the path to full independence. The governments of these regions, which had their origins in the juntas of 1810, and even moderates there, who had entertained a reconciliation with the crown, now saw the need to separate from Spain if they were to protect the reforms they had enacted.

Patriot advances:

  • Towards the end of this period the pro-independence forces made two important advances. In the Southern Cone, a veteran of the Spanish army with experience in the Peninsular War, José de San Martín, became the governor of the Province of Cuyo. He used this position to begin organizing an army as early as 1814 in preparation for an invasion of Chile.
  • San Martín’s army became the nucleus of the Army of the Andes, which received crucial political and material support in 1816. San Martín led the Army over the Andes and Chile was secured from royalist control and independence was declared that year. San Martín invaded Peru in 1820.
  • In northern South America, after several failed campaigns to take Caracas and other urban centers of Venezuela, Simón Bolívar devised a similar plan in 1819 to cross the Andes and liberate New Granada from the royalists. Like San Martín, Bolívar personally undertook the efforts to create an army to invade a neighboring country, collaborated with pro-independence exiles from that region, and lacked the approval of the Venezuelan congress. Unlike San Martín, however, Bolívar did not have a professionally trained army, but rather a quickly assembled mix of Llanero guerrillas, New Granadan exiles led by Santander and British recruits. From June to July 1819, using the rainy season as cover, Bolívar led his army across the flooded plains and over the cold, forbidding passes of the Andes, with heavy losses—a quarter of the British Legion perished, as well as many of hisLlanero soldiers, who were not prepared for the nearly 4,000-meter altitudes—but the gamble paid off. By August Bolívar was in control of Bogotá and its treasury, and gained the support of many in New Granada, which still resented the harsh reconquest carried out under Morillo. Nevertheless Santander found it necessary to continue the policy of the “war to the death” and carried out the execution of thirty-eight royalist officers who had surrendered. With the resources of New Granada, Bolívar became the undisputed leader of the patriots in Venezuela and orchestrated the union of the two regions in a new state called Colombia (Gran Colombia).

Independence consolidated, 1820–1825

To counter the advances the pro-independence forces had made in South America, Spain prepared a second, large, expeditionary force in 1819. This force, however, never left Spain. Instead, it became the means by which liberals were finally able to reinstate a constitutional regime. On January 1, 1820, Rafael Riego, commander of the Asturias Battalion, headed a rebellion among the troops, demanding the return of the 1812 Constitution. His troops marched through the cities ofAndalusia with the hope of extending the uprising to the civilian population, but locals were mostly indifferent. An uprising, however, did occur in Galicia in northern Spain, and from there it quickly spread throughout the country. On March 7, the royal palace in Madrid was surrounded by soldiers under the command of General Francisco Ballesteros, and three days later, on March 10, the besieged Ferdinand VII, now a virtual prisoner, agreed to restore the Constitution.

Riego’s Revolt had two significant effects on the war in the Americas. Militarily, the large numbers of reinforcements, which were especially needed to retake New Granada and defend the Viceroyalty of Peru, would never arrive. Furthermore, as the royalists’ situation became more desperate in region after region, the army experienced wholesale defections of units to the patriot side. Politically, the reinstitution of a liberal regime changed the terms under which the Spanish government sought to engage the insurgents. The new government naively assumed that the insurgents were fighting for Spanish liberalism and that the Spanish Constitution could still be the basis of reconciliation between the two sides. The government implemented the Constitution and held elections in the overseas provinces, just as in Spain. It also ordered military commanders to begin armistice negotiations with the insurgents with the promise that they could participate in the restored representative government.

New Spain and Central America

In effect, the Spanish Constitution served as the basis for independence in New Spain and Central America, since in both regions it was a coalition of conservative and liberal royalist leaders who led the establishment of new states. The restoration of the Spanish Constitution and representative government was enthusiastically welcomed in New Spain and Central America. Elections were held, local governments formed and deputies sent to the Cortes. Among liberals, however, there was fear that the new regime would not last; and conservatives and the Church worried that the new liberal government would expand its reforms and anti-clerical legislation. This climate of instability created the conditions for the two sides to forge an alliance. This alliance coalesced towards the end of 1820 behind Agustín de Iturbide, a colonel in the royal army, who at the time was assigned to destroy the guerrilla forces led byVicente Guerrero. In January 1821, Iturbide began peace negotiations with Guerrero, suggesting they unite to establish an independent New Spain. The simple terms that Iturbide proposed became the basis of the Plan of Iguala: the independence of New Spain (now to be called the Mexican Empire) with Ferdinand VII or another Bourbon as emperor; the retention of the Catholic Church as the official state religion and the protection of its existing privileges; and the equality of all New Spaniards, whether immigrants or native-born. The following month the other important guerrilla leader, Guadalupe Victoria, joined the alliance, and March 1 Iturbide was proclaimed head of a new Army of the Three Guarantees. The representative of the new Spanish government, Superior Political Chief Juan O’Donojú, who replaced the previous viceroys, arrived in Veracruz on July 1; but he found that royalists the entire country except for Veracruz, Mexico City and Acapulco. Since at the time that O’Donojú had left Spain, the Cortes was considering greatly expanding the autonomy of the overseas Spanish possessions, O’Donojú proposed to negotiate a treaty with Iturbide on the terms of the Plan of Iguala. The resulting Treaty of Córdoba, which was signed on August 24, kept all existing laws, including the 1812 Constitution, in force until a new constitution for Mexico could be written. O’Donojú became part of the provisional governing junta until his death on October 8. Both the Spanish Cortes and Ferdinand VII rejected the Treaty of Córdoba, and the final break with the mother country came on May 19, 1822, when the Mexican Congress conferred the throne on Itrubide.

Central America gained its independence along with New Spain. The regional elites supported the terms of the Plan of Iguala and orchestrated the union of Central America with the Mexican Empire in 1821. Two years later, following Iturbide’s downfall, the region, with the exception of Chiapas, peacefully seceded from Mexico in July 1823, establishing the Federal Republic of Central America. The new state existed for seventeen years, centrifugal forces pulling the individual provinces apart by 1840.

South America

Main articles: Libertadores, Military career of Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín and Antonio José de Sucre

Unlike in New Spain and Central America, in South America independence was spurred by the pro-independence fighters who had held out for the past half decade. José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar inadvertently led a continent-wide pincer movement from southern and northern South America that liberated most of the Spanish American nations on that continent. After securing the independence of Chile in 1818, San Martín concentrated on building a naval fleet in the Pacific to counter Spanish control of those waters and reach the royalist stronghold of Lima. By mid-1820 San Martín had assembled a fleet of eight warships and sixteen transport ships under the command of Admiral Cochrane. The fleet set sail from Valparaíso to Paracas in southern Peru. On September 7, the army landed at Paracas and successfully took Pisco. After this, San Martín, waiting for a generalized Peruvian revolt, chose to avoid direct military confrontation. San Martín hoped that his presence would initiate an authentic Peruvian revolt against Spanish rule, believing that otherwise any liberation would be ephemeral. In the meantime, San Martín engaged in diplomacy with Viceroy Joaquín de la Pezuela, who was under orders from the constitutional government to negotiate on the basis of the 1812 Constitution and to maintain the unity of the Spanish Monarchy. However, these efforts proved fruitless, since independence and unity of the monarchy could not be reconciled, so the army sailed in late October to a better strategic position in Huacho, in northern Peru. During the next few months, successful land and naval campaigns against the royalists secured the new foothold, and it was at Huacho that San Martín learned that Guayaquil (in Ecuador) had declared independence on October

Bolívar, learning about the collapse of the Cadiz expedition, spent the year 1820 preparing a liberating campaign in Venezuela. Bolívar was aided by Spain’s new policy of seeking engagement with the insurgents, which Morillo implemented, renouncing to the command in chief, and returning to Spain. Although Bolívar rejected the Spanish proposal that the patriots rejoin Spain under the Spanish Constitution, the two sides established a six-month truce and the regularization of the rules of engagement under the law of nations on November 25 and 26. The truce did not last six months. It was apparent to all that the royalist cause had been greatly weakened by the lack of reinforcements. Royalist soldiers and whole units began to desert or defect to the patriots in large numbers. On January 28, 1821, the ayuntamiento of Maracaibo, declared the province an independent republic that chose to join the newnation state of Gran Colombia. Miguel de la Torre, who had replaced Morillo as head of the army, took this to be a violation of the truce, and although the republicans argued that Maracaibo had switched sides of its own volition, both sides began to prepare for renewed war. The fate of Venezuela was sealed when Bolívar returned there in April leading an army of 7,000 from New Granada. At the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, the Gran Colombian forces decisively defeated the royalist forces, assuring control of Venezuela save for Puerto Cabello and guaranteeing Venezuelan independence. Bolívar could now concentrate on Gran Colombia’s claims to southern New Granada and Quito.

In Peru, on January 29, 1821, Viceroy Pezuela was deposed in a coup d’état by José de la Serna, but it would be two months before San Martín moved his army closer to Lima by sailing it to Ancón. During the next few months San Martín once again engaged in negotiations, offering the creation of an independent monarchy; but La Serna insisted on the unity of the Spanish monarchy, so the negotiations came to nothing. By July La Serna judged his hold on Lima to be weak, and on July 8 the royal army abandoned the coastal city in order to reinforce positions in the highlands, with Cuzco as new capital of viceroyalty. On the 12th San Martín entered Lima, where he was declared “Protector of the Country” on July 28, an office which allowed him to rule the newly independent state.

To ensure that the Presidency of Quito became a part of Gran Colombia and did not remain a collection of small, divided republics, Bolívar sent aid in the form of supplies and an army under Antonio José de Sucre to Guayaquil in February 1821. For a year Sucre was unable to take Quito, and by November both sides, exhausted, signed a ninety-day armistice. The following year, at Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, Sucre’s Venezuelan forces finally conquered Quito; Gran Colombia’s hold on the territory was secure. The following year, after a Peruvian patriot army was destroyed in the Battle of Ica, San Martín met with Simón Bolívar in Guayaquil on July 26 and 27. Thereafter San Martín decided to retire from the scene. For the next two years, two armies of Rioplatense (Argentinian), Chilean, Colombian and Peruvian patriots were destroyed trying to penetrate the royalist bastion in the Andean regions of Peru and Upper Peru. A year later a Peruvian congress resolved to make Bolívar head of the patriot forces in the country. An internecine conflict between La Serna and General Pedro Antonio Olañeta, which was an extension of the Liberal Triennium, proved to be the royalists’ undoing. La Serna lost control of half of his best army by the beginning of 1824, giving the patriots an opportunity.

Under the command of Bolivar and Sucre, the experienced veterans of the combined army, mainly Colombians, destroyed a royalist army under La Serna’s command in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. La Serna’s army was numerically superior but consisted of mostly new recruits. The only significant royalist area remaining on the continent was the highland country of Upper Peru. Following the Battle of Ayacucho, the royalist troops of Upper Peru under the command of Olañeta surrendered after he died in Tumuslaon April 2, 1825. Bolívar tended to favor maintaining the unity of Upper Peru with Peru, but the Upper Peruvian leaders—many former royalists, like Casimiro Olañeta, nephew of General Olañeta—gathered in a congress under Sucre’s auspices supported the country’s independence. Bolívar left the decision to Sucre, who went along with the congress. Sucre proclaimed Upper Peru’s independence in the city which now bears his name on August 6, bringing the main wars of independence to an end.

As it became clear that there was to be no reversal of Spanish American independence, several of the new states began to receive international recognition. Early, in 1822, the United States recognized Chile, the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, Peru, Gran Colombia, and Mexico. Britain waited until 1825, after the Battle of Ayacucho, to recognize Mexico, Gran Colombia, and Río de la Plata. Both nations recognized more Spanish American states in the next few years.

() Last royalist bastions, 1825–1833:

  • These began a movement for colonial independence that spread to Spain’s other colonies in the Americas. The ideas from the French and the American Revolution influenced the efforts. All of the colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico, attained independence by the 1820s. The British Empire offered support, wanting to end the Spanish monopoly on trade with its colonies in the Americas.
  • The Spanish coastal fortifications in Veracruz, Callao and Chiloé, were the footholds that resisted until 1825 and 1826 respectively. In the following decade, royalist guerrillas continued to operate in several countries and Spain launched a few attempts to retake parts of the Spanish American mainland. In 1827 Colonel José Arizabalo started an irregular war with Venezuelan guerrillas, and Brigadier Isidro Barradas lead the last attempt with regular troops to reconquer Mexico in 1829. But efforts like these did not reverse the new political situation.
  • The increasing irrelevancy of the Holy Alliance after 1825 and the fall of absolutism in France in 1830 during the July Revolution eliminated the principal support of Ferdinand VII of Spain in Europe, but it was not until the king’s death in 1833 that Spain finally abandoned all plans of military re-conquest, and in 1836 its government went so far as to renounce sovereignty over all of continental America.
  • During the course of the 19th century, Spain would recognize each of the new states.Only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule, until the Spanish–American War in 1898.
  • In 1898, the United States won victory in the Spanish-American War from Spain, ending the Spanish colonial era. Spanish possession and rule of its remaining colonies in the Americas ended in that year with its sovereignty transferred to the United States.
  • The Spanish–American War was the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain’s Pacific possessions led to involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine–American War.Revolts against Spanish rule had occurred for some years in Cuba. In the late 1890s, American public opinion was agitated by anti-Spanish propaganda led by journalists which used yellow journalism to criticize Spanish administration of Cuba. After the mysterious sinking of the American battleship in Havana harbor, political pressures from the Democratic Party and certain industrialists pushed the administration of Republican President William McKinley into a war he had wished to avoid. Compromise was sought by Spain, but rejected by the United States which sent an ultimatum to Spain demanding it surrender control of Cuba. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.Although the main issue was Cuban independence, the ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris., which allowed temporary American control of Cuba, and ceded indefinite colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine islands from Spain.
  • The defeat and collapse of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche, and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic revaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.
File:Spanish Empire - 1824.jpg
Map of territories that became independent during those wars (blue).

() Effects of independence:

(a) Economics:

  • The nearly decade and a half of wars greatly weakened the Spanish American economies and political institutions, which hindered the region’s potential economic development for most of the nineteenth century and resulted in the enduring instability the region experienced.
  • Independence destroyed the de facto trade bloc that was the Spanish Empire .  After independence, trade among the new Spanish American nations was less than it had been in the colonial period.
  • In addition, the protection against European competition, which the Spanish monopoly had provided to the manufacturing sectors of the economy, ended. Protective tariffs for these sectors, in particular textile production, were permanently dropped and foreign imports beat out local production. This greatly affected Native communities, which in many parts of Spanish America, specialized in supplying finished products to the urban markets, albeit using pre-industrial techniques.
  • The wars also greatly affected the principal economic sector of the region, mining. Silver production in Bolivia halved after independence and it dropped by three quarters in Mexico.
  • To compensate for the lack of capital, foreign investment, in particular from Great Britain, was courted, but it was not sizable enough to initiate an economic recovery.
  • Finally the new nations entered the world economy after the end of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, when the economies of Europe and the United States were recovering and aggressively seeking new markets to sell their products after more than two decades of disruption. Ultimately Spanish America could only connect to the world markets as an exporter of raw materials and a consumer of finished products.

(b) Society:

  • In addition to improving the economy, the lower social classes also had to be integrated into the new body politic, although they often got few rewards from independence.
  • The political debate seeking answers to these questions was marked by a clash—at times on the battlefield—between liberalism and conservatism.
  • Conservatives sought to maintain the traditional social structures in order to ensure stability; liberals sought to create a more dynamic society and economy by ending ethnically-based social distinctions and freeing property from economic restrictions. In its quest to transform society, liberals often adopted policies that were not welcome by Native communities, who had benefited from unique protections afforded to them by traditional Spanish law.
  • Independence did not include a full social revolution where full social equality was achieved. Nevertheless, the new republics from the beginning abolished the casta system,( hierarchical system of race classification created by white elites), the Inquisition (a group of institutions within the judicial system of the Roman Catholic Church whose aim is to combat heresy i.e nonbelievers) and nobility, and slavery was ended in all of the new nations within a quarter century. Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the New World) and mestizos (those of mixed Indian and Spanish blood) replaced Spanish-born appointees in most political offices. Criollos remained at the top of a social structure which retained some of its traditional features culturally, if not legally.
  • Independence initiate the abolition of slavery in Spanish America, as it was seen as part of the independence struggle, since many slaves had gained their manumission by joining the patriot armies.
  • In areas where slavery was not a major source of labor (Mexico, Central America, Chile), emancipation occurred almost immediately after independence was achieved. In areas where slavery was a main labor source(Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina), emancipation was carried out in steps over the next three decades, usually first with the creation of free-womb laws and programs for compensated emancipation. By the early 1850s, slavery had been abolished in the independent nations of Spanish America.

(c) Role of women:

  • Women were not simply spectators throughout the Independence Wars of Latin America. Many women took sides on political issues and joined independence movements in order to participate on many different levels.
  • Women could not help but act as caring relatives either as mother, sister, wives or daughters of the men who were fighting. Women created political organizations and organized meetings and groups to donate food and supplies to the soldiers. Some women supported the wars as spies, informants and combatants.
  • Manuela Sáenz was a long term lover of Simón Bolívar and acted as his spy and confidante and was secretary of his archive.She saved his life on two occasions, nursed wounded soldiers. She became to be known in Latin America as the “mother of feminism and women’s emancipation and equal rights.”
  • Bolivar himself was a supporter of women’s rights and suffrage in Latin America. He wanted to set the women of Latin America free from the oppression and inferiority of what the Spanish regime had established.
  • Bolivar even made Sáenz a Colonel of the Colombian Army due to her heroics which caused controversy because there were no women in the army at the time.
  • Revolution for women meant something differently than to men. Women saw revolution as a way to earn equal rights as men, such as voting, and to overcome the suppression of the superiority of men over women. Women were usually identified as victims during the independence wars for the women of Latin America were forced to sacrifice for the cause. The ideals of womanhood meant that women must sacrifice what the situation required such as a mother sacrificing her son.

(d) Government and politics:

  • Independence also did not result in stable political regimes, save in a few countries. First, the new nations did not have well-defined identities, but rather the process of creating identities was only beginning. This would be carried out through newspapers and the creation of national symbols, including new names for the countries (“Mexico”, “Colombia,” “Ecuador,” “Bolivia,” “Argentina”), that broke with the past.
  • In addition, the borders were also not firmly established, and the struggle between federalism and centralism, which begun in independence, continued throughout the rest of the century.
  • Two large states that emerged from the wars—Gran Colombia and the Federal Republic of Central America—collapsed after a decade or two, and Argentina would not consolidate politically until the 1860s.
  • The wars destroyed the old civilian bureaucracy that had governed the region for centuries, as institutions and many Peninsular officials fled to Spain.
  • The Catholic Church, which had been an important social and political institution during the colonial period, initially came out weakened by the end of the conflicts. As with government officials, many Peninsular bishops abandoned their dioceses and their posts were not filled for decades until new prelates could be created and relations between the new nations and the Vatican was regularized. Then as the Church recovered, its economic and political power was attacked by liberals.
  • Despite the fact that the period of the wars of independence itself was marked by a rapid expansion of representative government, for several of the new nations the nineteenth century was marked by militarism because of the lack of well-defined political and national institutions. The armies and officers that came into existence during the process of independence wanted to ensure that they got their rewards once the struggle was over. Many of these armies did not fully disband once the wars were over and they proved to be one of the stabler institutions in the first decades of national existence. These armies and their leaders effectively influenced the course of political development. Out of this new tradition came the caudillos, (a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power) strongmen who amassed formal and informal economic, military and political power in themselves.

(3) Colonisation and Decolonisation of Brazil:

(A) Colonisation of Brazil:

(1) Arrival of Portuguese:

  • The land now called Brazil was claimed by Portugal in April 1500, on the arrival of the Portuguese fleet the second Portuguese India Armada, commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral on the Bahian shores of Rio Buranhém . The Portuguese encountered Indigenous nations divided into several tribes, most of whom shared the same Tupi-Guaraní language family, and shared and disputed the territory.
  • Although the Portuguese sailors stayed for only nine days, the indigenous people soon became fascinated by the iron tools used, the Catholic mass service observance and the alcoholic beverages that they observed. Because of this perceived interest in the Roman Catholic religion, the Portuguese assumed that these ones would quickly convert to Christianity once educated.
  • Still, Portugal did not really appreciate the value of Brazil, since their imports came mainly from India and the Far East. It was only the New Christian (who were converted Jews) investors that were scouting and defending the coast. These ones traded in brazilwood and would share their monopoly contracts with the Portuguese king. The king would then allow private investors to conquer certain areas for their own benefit, but at their own costs. This led to a combination of royal and private ownership.
  • It was not long before other European nations wanted the opportunity to conquer and occupy parts of Brazil. Brazilwood provided a rich red dye, which was valuable in the colouring of textiles and clothing. The French and Spanish made repeated efforts at entering Brazil. The Portuguese fought determinedly against their invasion, dispatching strong fleets to clear the coast. Another one of its efforts was to establish permanent settlements. The first of these was São Vicente, established in 1532.
  • Though the first settlement was founded in 1532, colonization was effectively started in 1534, when Dom João III divided the territory into fifteen hereditary captaincies. This arrangement proved problematic, however, and in 1549 the king assigned a Governor-General to administer the entire colony.
  • The Portuguese had established a management culture of violent domination and abuse in India. However, this did not go down well with Brazilian locals, who captured and ate their Portuguese ‘owners’ in complex ceremonies. This forced the Portuguese king to listen to the warnings of the indigenous folk and assume direct control.
  • Tomé de Sousa was made the first Governor General of Brazil in 1549 and reigned until 1553. By order of the king, Sousa declared Salvador the capital city. Sousa then went about declaring war on the indigenous people to decrease the threat posed upon the country by the French (who planned to cooperate with the locals for increased power). This Governor General was an integral motivator for building towns, sugar mills and important buildings. Later, the crown had ordered Sousa to treat the locals well, with the aim of converting them to Christianity. Anyone that did not convert was likened to a Muslim and could, rightfully, be enslaved.
  • As the groups began to intermingle, so did the cultures and genes. Colonists adopted as much of the Brazilian culture as the indigenous ones did the European culture. As the crown and bishop of Portugal underwent renewal, the concept of slavery was no longer approved of, and the numbers of slaves in Brazil dropped drastically.The Portuguese assimilated some of the native tribes while others slowly disappeared in long wars or by European diseases to which they had no immunity.
  • In 1562 and 1563, smallpox, measles and the flu struck the local people, annihilating huge proportions of their population numbers. This was followed by a famine. The locals were desperate for food and any sort of income, which led them to sell themselves as slaves, rather than to die of starvation.
  • Investors were required for portions of land as well as for sugar mills, and so on. Portuguese colonisers also needed to establish and maintain positive working relationships with the locals. Centuries later, sugar would become the agricultural and financial pillar of Brazil.
  • Towards the end of the 1500’s, the ‘Indians’ fled to the interior parts of Brazils to escape the colonial elements. So, the European settlers imported slaves from Africa. It is largely due to this mass introduction of African men and women that Brazil boasts a culture and heritage based very much on those found in Africa.
  • By the mid-16th century, sugar had become Brazil’s most important export due to the increasing international demand for sugar. To profit from the situation, by 1700, over 963,000 African slaves had been brought across the Atlantic to work in Brazil. More Africans were brought to Brazil up until that date than to all the other places in the Americas combined.
  • Through wars against the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their territory to the southeast, taking Rio de Janeiro in 1567, and to the northwest, taking São Luís in 1615.
  • They sent military expeditions to the Amazon rainforest and conquered English and Dutch strongholds.
  • In 1680 they reached the far south and founded Sacramento (present-day Uruguay).
  • At the end of the 17th century, sugar exports started to decline but beginning in the 1690s, the discovery of gold by explorers in the region that would later be called Minas Gerais (General Mines) in current Mato Grosso, The state of Minas Gerais, saved the colony from imminent collapse. From all over Brazil, as well as from Portugal, thousands of immigrants came to the mines.
  • In 1775, the three colonies of Portuguese America (the State of Brazil, the State of Maranhão and Piauí; and the State of Grão-Pará and Rio Negro) were united into a singular colony, under the State of Brazil. This arrangement would last until the end of Colonial Brazil. As a result, Brazil did not split into several countries, as happened to its Spanish-speaking neighbors.
  • The Spanish tried to prevent Portuguese expansion into the territory that belonged to them according to the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, and succeeded in conquering the Banda Oriental in 1777. However, this was in vain as the Treaty of San Ildefonso, (The agreement mainly settled territorial disputes. Based on the terms of the agreement, Spain ceded territories in Brazil to Portugal (i.e. Amazon Basin) in return for maintaining control over the Banda Oriental (i.e. Uruguay). )signed in the same year, confirmed Portuguese sovereignty over all lands proceeding from its territorial expansion, thus creating most of the current Brazilian borders.

(2) From colony to United Kingdom:

  • During the invasion of Portugal (1807), by Napolean France, the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, establishing Rio de Janeiro as the de facto capital of Portugal. This had the side effect of creating within Brazil many of the institutions required to exist as an independent state; most importantly, it freed Brazil to trade with other nations at will. After Napoleon’s army was finally defeated in 1815, in order to maintain the capital in Brazil and allay Brazilian fears of being returned to colonial status, King John VI of Portugal raised the de jure status of Brazil to an equal, integral part of a United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves, rather than a mere colony, a status which it enjoyed for the next seven years.
The United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves with its colonies

(B) Decolonisation of Brazil:

  • The Independence of Brazil comprised a series of political events that occurred in 1821–1824, most of which involved disputes between Brazil and Portugal regarding the call for independence  presented by the Brazilian Empire.
  • September 7, 1822 date regent Prince Dom Pedro declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal. Formal recognition came with a treaty signed by Brazil and Portugal in late 1825.

(1) The Portuguese Cortes:

  • In 1820 the Constitutionalist Revolution erupted in Portugal. The movement initiated by the liberal constitutionalists resulted in the meeting of the Cortes (or Constituent Assembly), that to create the kingdom’s first constitution.
  • The Cortes at the same time demanded the return of King Dom Joao VI, who had been living in Brazil since 1808 , elevated Brazil to Kingdom as part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in 1815 but On 26 April 1821, he left Brazil in the hands of his son, the newly elected Prince Regent, Dom Pedro, and returned to Portugal. Dom Pedro remained in Brazil governing it with the aid of the ministers.
  • The Portuguese military officers headquartered in Brazil were completely sympathetic to the constitutionalist movement in Portugal.
  • The main leader of the Portuguese officers, General Jorge Avilez, forced the prince to dismiss and banish from the country the ministers of Kingdom and Finance. Both were loyal allies of Pedro and the prince was left feeling helpless and humiliated as he was manipulated by Avilez.. The humiliation suffered by the prince, who swore he would never yield to the pressure of the military again, would have a decisive influence on his abdication ten years later.
  • In September 1821, the provincial governments of Brazil were put in political subordination to Portugal, which left Pedro nothing more than the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, which was just a province. Pedro was also ordered to go back to Europe and any courts that his father had created in 1808 were done away with. The Brazilian inhabitants had, by this stage, become completely outraged by the Cortes’ actions. This resulted in the uprising of the Bonificans (led by Bonifácio de Andrade) and the Liberals (supported by the Freemasons and led by Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo). These two groups were united only by the fact that they wanted to keep Brazil united with Portugal as a sovereign monarchy.

(2) Avilez rebellion:

  • As the open mockery and humiliation of Dom Pedro continued at the hands of the Cortes, the prince drew further and further away from his homeland, gradually shifting his loyalties to Brazil. Then, with the encouragement of his wife, Princess Leopoldina, Pedro made announcement in the newspapers of 9 January 1822: “As it is for the good of all and for the nation’s general happiness, I am ready: Tell the people that I will stay”.
  • Pedro dismissed Jorge Avilez, who had instigated armed riots in response to Pedro’s announcement, ordering him and his soldiers back to Portugal. Jose Bonifácio was made the Minister of Kingdom and Foreign Affairs in January 1822, and he and Pedro soon became very close, both personally and politically.
  • who began to consider the experienced statesman his greatest ally. Gonçalves Ledo and the liberals tried to minimize the close relationship between Bonifácio and Pedro offering to the prince the title of Perpetual Defender of Brazil.For the liberals, the meeting of a Constituent Assembly for Brazil was necessary, while the Bonifacians preferred that Pedro grant the constitution himself to avoid the possibility of similar anarchy to the one that occurred during the first years of the French Revolution.The prince acquiesced to the liberals’ desires and signed a decree in 3 June 1822 calling for the election of the deputies that would gather in the Constituent and Legislative General Assembly in Brazil.

(3) From United Kingdom to Independent Empire:

  • In August 1822, Pedro went to São Paulo to pledge loyalty to the Brazilian cause. Upon his return to Rio de Janeiro in September, he received a letter from José Bonifácio informing him that the Cortes had cancelled all acts from the Bonifácio cabinet and had stripped him of all the power he retained.
  • Pedro turned to his companions and spoke: “Friends, the Portuguese Cortes want to enslave and pursue us. From today on our relations are broken. No ties unite us anymore” . He instructed them to remove their blue and white armbands (symbolising their ties to their Mother Land), and said, “Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil. For my blood, my honour, my God, I swear to give Brazil freedom. Independence or death!” This event is remembered as “Cry of Ipiranga”.
  • Word of the independent Brazil spread quickly, and locals celebrated the stance taken by Dom Pedro. Liberals had spread pamphlets (written by Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo) that suggested the idea that the Prince should be acclaimed Constitutional Emperor.
  • The official separation would only occur on September 22, 1822 in a letter written by Pedro to João VI. In it, Pedro still calls himself Prince Regent and his father is considered the King of the independent Brazil.On 12 October 1822, Prince Pedro was acclaimed Dom Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. It was at the same time the beginning of Pedro’s reign and also of the Empire of Brazil.
  • The reason for the imperial title was that the title of king would symbolically mean a continuation of the Portuguese dynastic tradition and perhaps of the feared absolutism, while the title of emperor derived from popular acclamation as in Ancient Rome.

(4) Independence War:

  • The war between the Brazilians and Portuguese lasted from February 1822, with the burst of first skirmishes between militias, to November 1823, when the last Portuguese garrisons surrendered. In land and naval combats.
  • In the newly created Army and Navy the Brazilians had forced enlistment including foreign immigrants. They also made use of slaves in militias as well as freeing slaves to enlist them in army and navy.
  • Despite the arrival of additional forces from Portugal along the year of 1822 ,failed to defeat the militias.

(4) Other Colonisation and Decolonisation by Portuguese:

(A) Colonisation:

(1) Settlements in North America:

  • Based on the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Portuguese Crown claimed it had territorial rights in the area visited by John Cabot in 1497 and 1498. To that end, in 1499 and 1500, the Portuguese mariner Lavrador visited the north Atlantic coast, which accounts for the appearance of “Labrador” on topographical maps of the period.
  • Subsequently, in 1501 and 1502 the Corte-Real brothers explored, what is today, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador claiming these lands as part of the Portuguese Empire.
  • In 1506, King Manuel I of Portugal created taxes for the cod fisheries in Newfoundland waters. Fagundes and Barcelos established fishing outposts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1521; however, these were later abandoned, with the Portuguese colonizers focusing their efforts on South America.

(2) Caribbean merchants:

  • The Early Navigators practically have been to the entire Caribbean, from The Bahamas to Jamaica. Papiamento, one of the languages spoken in the islands, is a mixture of Portuguese and African languages.
  • Portuguese merchants have been trading in the West Indies. To such an extant, that, for instance, for the Portuguese town of Póvoa de Varzim, most of its seafarers dying abroad, most of the deaths occurred in the Route of the Antilles, in the West Indies. At the turn of the 17th century, with the union with Castile, the Spanish kings favored the free movement of the people, and other lands of the New World, such as Peru and the Gulf of Mexico, were open to the Portuguese merchants.

(3) Colonization of Uruguay:

  • The Portuguese founded the first Uruguayan city, Colonia del Sacramento.

(4) Conquest of French Guiana:

  • In French Guiana, where happened the unpleasantness of interests between France and United Kingdom is also the place that was marked by the Portuguese conquest of French Guiana.

(B) Decolonisation:



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