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History 2501E Lecture Notes - Serro

Course Code
HIS 2501E
Luz Hernandez- Saenz

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Oct, 23, 2012
Brazil’s Economy
-When they found Brazil they were not interested but they realized they had to claim it and the crown divided
Brazil in 1534 and created donatarios who were granted land and in control of exploiting and colonizing the land
-The way it was divided suggests that they had no idea how big the areas were because the land tracts are
uncontrollable because of their size and the crown took over in 1572 and established government over two areas
after the above plan failed (1709 moved more westward onto Spanish territory and there were many disputes)
-At the beginning there was nothing to attract people there because they all wanted to mine and the crown
realized they needed to promote something and this ended up being sugar
The Sugar Industry:
-Sugar was the base of their economy early in the empire and it was highly profitable because it could not be
produced everywhere (had islands where they tried sugar before)
-Was an ideal place to plant sugar because it was hot and humid with lots of water and timber and there was
enough land to be able to farm and then move on (also farmed cotton, tobacco, cacao, rice, etc)
-Brazil was settled on the north eastern tip because the winds made it easy for them to get to their other colonies
and it was also close to Africa where they got most of their slaves and the south was not settled much until later
-Most of the sugar Europe received came from here but later in the 18th century when other countries occupied
the Caribbean the competition was upped (tobacco was shipped to Europe and Africa and this was big business)
-There were two planting seasons and this was something that was impossible in Europe and you had to maintain
plants and weed them but the real work was cutting the stalks in the hot weather so they used slaves for this job
-Engenho was their word for mill and lavradores were farmers and most of the plantations were near the sea for
easier exportation and being near a river was ideal because you needed the water for the crops
-Not all mills had their own plantations and to get into the business you needed land, you could invest in setting up
a mill (wealthy had both), or you could just grow it and send it off to be milled
-Mills often bought sugar cane because they always needed a bigger supply and mills with land sometimes had
tenants living there renting the land and they would work for them under some sort of agreement
-The mills required specialists and this part of the operation did not involve slaves but in other areas there were
native wage labourers who were people living around the area who wanted to come to work and many natives
from Jesuit missions were hired on to work if their villages were near by (most expensive thing was the slaves)
-Brazil had a high mortality rate especially for slaves so there were not many slave families and this was seen as a
business and it made more sense to buy a slave and work him three or four years then replace him
-This led to a high demand for slaves from Africa and it was not worth having slave families for the owners because
the children would likely die maybe taking the mothers with them and it would also take some of the mother’s
productiveness away if she were caring for a child
-The busiest time of the year was the harvest and milling because you would cut the cane and you only had so
much time to process the cane before it went bad and the cane had to be crushed to get at the sugar and this
didn’t require much speciality but the boiling of the mashed cane needed special care
-The time when you cut the sugar cane was called safra in Portuguese and lafrá in Spanish
-Labour was indispensable and in some areas they would use native labourers and in some places there were more
native slaves than Africans and in the north and there were slaving expeditions
-Native slaves were considered not as good as African ones and they were more expensive and the native slaves
were cheaper because of the amount of effort comparatively to get them was less (natives not used to that labour)
-The sugar industry grew fast and by 1570 they had 60 mills and in the 1580’s they had 100 and in the beginning of
the 18th century there were over 800 and there were more people consuming sugar and the demand went up
-There was less control by the crown because things were not centralized
-The society was different because there was such an influx of African slaves into the area and their cultural ways
spread and their large population made them harder to absorb into the Portuguese culture
Mining Gold and Diamonds:
-While Spain found silver the Portuguese found gold and they had heard unconfirmed rumours that it was around
and by the late 17th century they had the first gold strikes
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