In 1807, when Napoleon’s army began the war against Portugal, it was decided to transport the king and his court to Rio de Janeiro, where they remained until 1821. The British government took direct part in this move. It took advantage of the plight of Portugal and, with the intention of receiving even greater privileges in trade, gave the ships necessary for the royal family to move.
Don John VI transferred Portuguese state institutions to Rio de Janeiro, founded the royal library, military academy, medical and law schools. By his decree on December 16, 1815, he gave all Portuguese possessions the status of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve, thus making Brazil equal to Portugal.
In 1811, taking advantage of instability in the area of La Plata during the national liberation movement in Spanish America, John sent troops to the Eastern strip (now Uruguay) , but thanks to the British mediation, on May 26, 1812, a treaty was signed. In accordance with the third article of the treatise, the Portuguese troops had to leave the “Spanish territory”.
But in 1816, John again sent troops to the Eastern strip and captured it in 1817.
In 1821, King John VI was forced to surrender to the political pressure of Portugal and return to Lisbon, leaving his successor to Pedro in Rio and endowing him with the title of viceroy of the viceroy.
In September 1821, the Portuguese Parliament voted to dissolve the kingdom of Brazil and the royal institutions in Rio de Janeiro, thereby subordinating all the provinces of Brazil directly to Lisbon. At the same time, military units were sent to Brazil, and all Brazilian military units were transferred to the Portuguese command. Refusing to execute the order, on September 7, 1822, Don Pedro proclaimed the independence of Brazil and on October 12, 1822, was crowned as her first emperor, Pedro I.
After the UK outlawed the slave trade in the Atlantic Ocean in 1807 (Slave Trade Act 1807), and the Royal Navy began to patrol the waters of West Africa (West Africa Squadron) to ensure the so-called “blockade of Africa”, Mozambique, a previously minor source of commerce, became a very important source of slave supplies to Brazil in the 19th century, attracting captives from the vast territory of East Africa, including Madagascar Island.
Pedro I (1822–1831)
The first ruler of an independent Brazil was a strong personality, and his contribution to the social and political development of the 19th century society can not be overestimated. So, thanks to Pedro I, first in 1824 in Brazil, and after 2 years in Portugal, only the most advanced Constitution of its time was adopted, in which there were no words about the divine origin of kings. After the death of John VI in 1826, Don Pedro inherited his crown. However, he refused the Portuguese throne in favor of his daughter, while still a little girl, Maria da Gloria, who ascended the throne under the name of Queen Mary II.
Pedro largely lost credibility after the unsuccessful three-year war with Argentina because of the Eastern Belt (1825–1828). The war ended with the formation of Uruguay as an independent buffer state.
In 1831, Pedro I abdicated from the throne in favor of his son Don Pedro II, who at that time was only five years old. This decision was partly due to disagreements with the Brazilian parliament, partly because of his love of risk, which forced the former king to return to Portugal to overthrow his brother Miguel from the throne, who usurped the throne of juvenile Queen Mary.
Pedro II (1831–1889)
When taking the throne, Pedro II was only five years old. Therefore, in 1831—1840 the country was governed by regents, and various Brazilian political figures. In 1834, the State Council, composed of the Portuguese, was liquidated, and each province was allowed to establish a local legislature. After the death of Pedro I, supporters of the restoration of the Portuguese authorities formed the Conservative Party, while supporters of anti-Portuguese and republican convictions formed the Liberal Party. During the regency in the country, uprisings took place in different regions, the largest of which was the Ragamuffin war (literally “ragged”), as a result of which the Rio Grande do Sul province became an independent republic for 10 years (1835-1845 ). In 1840, conservatives and liberals agreed to transfer the full authority of Pedro II.
Unlike his father, Pedro II was a tough and balanced monarch. During its half-year reign, Brazil reached political and cultural maturity, and the unity of its territory was firmly guaranteed. Social and political institutions were in a stage of calm development and stability. He created a competent administration, slavery in the country gradually disappeared, until complete destruction in 1888. The influx of immigrants from Europe continued, and welfare and health growth programs were adopted nationwide. Thanks to the influence that the emperor enjoyed among the people and in the “upper echelons”, the country’s transition from monarchy to the republic occurred later and bloodless.
Between 1847 and 1889, Pedro II formed and dissolved 30 councils of ministers; during this time, 23 people, both liberals and conservatives, were prime ministers.
In May 1851, during the Uruguayan civil war, Brazilian troops invaded Uruguay. This led to the war of Brazil in alliance with the Argentine rebels against the Argentine dictator Rosas in August 1851, as a result of which Rosas was overthrown.
Attempts by Pedro II to seize Uruguay led to the war of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay (1864–1870). Paraguay was defeated, but Brazil paid dearly for this victory, suffering heavy losses and spending considerable funds. This war helped to strengthen the Brazilian army, which has become a powerful political force.
After 1830, coffee became Brazil’s main export. From 1831–1840, its share was 43.8% of the country’s export earnings, while sugar accounted for 24%, in 1881 it was 61.5% , respectively, and less than 10%. In the middle of the XIX century, Brazil supplied 40% of the coffee production to the world market, in 1880 – 50%, in 1902 – 65% (480 thousand tons).
The abolition of slavery and the end of the Empire (1888)
The abolition of slavery is often called the main cause of the fall of the monarchy. In the absence of an emperor who was in Europe, his daughter, Princess Isabel, became regent. The last stage of the crisis of the slave system came in the country, and under the pressure of abolitionists, on May 13, 1888, Isabel signed the so-called “Golden Law” , according to which slavery in Brazil was abolished. In fact, the abolition of slavery was the result of Britain’s constant pressure on the Brazilian authorities to end the slave trade.
Nevertheless, the “Golden Law” caused a negative reaction from slave owners, which undermined the political foundations of the monarchy. A few months after the parliamentary crisis, on November 15, 1889, the military deprived the emperor of power and proclaimed the end of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. The change of order occurred without bloodshed. They treated the emperor and his family with deserved respect, but offered them to leave the country. Accompanied by several of the most trusted people, they went into exile in France. Help and support for the new regime were offered by such prominent statesmen of the country as Baron de Rio Branco. His knowledge and diplomatic skills helped Brazil put an end to all differences over borders through peaceful negotiations.