Could you tell the story of how Brazil became independent?
Yes, I was already working on that
The independence of Brazil happened in an unique way, as it was declared by the Crown Prince of an European nation, separating Brazil from that own nation. For this unusual event and to some extent for the existence of Brazil as it is, we have to thank none other than… Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1807, Napoleon was ravaging Europe, and was about to conquer Portugal. Thus, the Portuguese Royal family, at the time consisting of Queen Maria I “the mad”, Prince Regent Dom João VI, his wife, Spanish princess Carlota Joaquina and their children, including young princes Pedro and Miguel, and the court of about 400 people, ran away to Brazil, with the aid of the British navy.
Not much time later, Dom João declared the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, with capital in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore Brazil went from Colony to head of the empire.
The arrival of 400 European nobles changed the social structure completely. An urban society, more modern and more European, started to form. By the time of Napoleon’s demise, Brazilians, now richer and more powerful than ever, were not willing to go back to their former colonial status.
After the Liberal Revolution of 1820, Dom João had no choice but to come back to Europe to appease the Portuguese elites. But times had also changed in America too, and the royal family feared that, without them, Brazil would fall into the hands of Caudillos and break apart into small republics like Spanish America. To avoid that, the Royal family decided to leave the eldest prince, Dom Pedro, behind.
It is said that, before boarding on the ship, Dom João said to his son “Pedro, if Brazil separates, it would better separate to you, who owns me respect as your father, than to one of those adventurers”
Of course the Portuguese court was mad to find out that the Crown Prince had stayed in Brazil, so they sent him an intimation to go back to Lisbon, which Pedro refused, in an episode known as Dia do Fico, the “Day of the Stay”, considered by historians as the point of no return for Brazilian independence.
On September 7, 1822, Pedro was coming back from a visit to São Paulo (to gather alliances for the independence but also to visit his mistress, the Marquise of Santos) when he received a letter from the Portuguese, striping his counselor and right-hand man, José Bonifácio, from power, and annulling all his decrees.
Pedro is said to have stood by the road and given a speech known as the Yell of Ipiranga: “The Portuguese courts want to enslave and pursue us. From now on, our alliances are broken, no ties bond us together. Armbands off, soldiers. Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil from Portugal! For my blood, my honor and my god, I swear to bring Liberty to Brazil. Independence or death!”
With that, Pedro declared himself the first Emperor of Brazil. Dom Pedro I spend the next decade holding the empire together, fighting off rebellions in provinces. After his father’s death, his plans of holding the empire together under one crown were threatened by his brother, Dom Miguel. Pedro then left Brazil for his then 5 year old son, Pedro II, and went fight for the Portuguese crown, eventually defeating his brother. He is also a national hero of Portugal, where he is known as King Pedro IV.
Despite the Yell of Ipiranga being considered the birth of the nation, Pedro’s wife Leopoldina, José Bonifácio and the other counselors had already decided to secede from Portugal in a secret reunion in Rio on September 2nd.