Brazil 1648 CE

The complex societies of Amazonia have vanished.

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What is happening in Brazil in 1648CE

The Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral had touched the east coast of South America on his way to India (1500). He had claimed the country for Portugal, and several Portuguese expeditions were then dispatched to explore the region. The Portuguese, however, more interested in the East, neglected their American claims. The colonization of eastern South America was undertaken by leaders who established semi-independent fiefdoms, called “captaincies”, under only loose control of the Portuguese government. This neglect let other Europeans, notably the Dutch, establish their own colonies in the area. However, with the rise of the sugar trade, the Portuguese have renewed their interest and by now have all but cleared the other Europeans from the country. The dearth of Indian labour has led to black labourers being forcibly imported into Brazil from Africa as slaves. Here they form the mainstay of a plantation economy, producing tropical crops – chiefly sugar – for the European market.

The first Europeans to travel along the river Amazon reported seeing many large towns and villages, housing a large population. When Europeans visited the region again, however, all this had vanished, almost certainly carried away by European germs.

To the south, the region of present-day Sao Paulo has become the centre for poor cattle-rearing settlers. Unable to afford African slaves, and with Indian labour in the vicinity scarce, they have organized raiding parties called “Bandeirantes”, which penetrate ever-deeper into the interior in search of slaves. Interbreeding between the races produced a rough and energetic frontier society along this southern coast.

Next map, Brazil in 1789

 

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