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date: 25 June 2022

War, Military Forces, and Society in Colonial Brazilfree

War, Military Forces, and Society in Colonial Brazilfree

  • Miguel Dantas da CruzMiguel Dantas da CruzUniversidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais


War played a crucial role in the political and administrative development of colonial Brazil. The adoption of different government solutions, from the initial naval expeditions and proprietary captaincies to the establishment of a general government, were, in part, a response to the military challenges the Portuguese faced in the New World. In the 17th century, the leading municipalities in Brazil expanded their political prominence and reinforced their autonomy precisely when they assumed the commitment to feed the troops and pay for the army’s wages.

War and military conflicts also played an important role in the formation of the colonial society in Brazil. There was a natural overlay between the hierarchical structure of the military institutions created in, or transplanted to, the colony and the hierarchical society the Portuguese established in America. The armed forces consolidated the social status of local elites; while they provided opportunities for the more marginalized groups of blacks, mixed-race, and Indians—active participants in the defense of Brazil from the outset—they also helped colonial administrators organize society along racial lines.

Regulars, militias, ordenanças, and other military units filled different functions in the territory. They often took part in different military operations in a territory that was hardly suitable for large-scale operations, prolonged siege warfare, or coordinated deployment of mass infantry formations. In Brazil, similarly to other colonies in America, a distinct kind of warfare emerged, marked by a synthesis of European, Indian, and African military knowledges. It was called Guerra Brasílica, and it was both admired for its effectiveness and disparaged for not fitting nicely in traditional European military orthodoxies and for being undisciplined and supposedly “uncivilized.” The negative imageries attached to military campaigns in Brazil persisted in the minds of colonial administrators for a long time, underpinning the territory’s undeserving military status (when compared with India and North Africa)—a status that the colony seldom escaped.


  • History of Brazil
  • 1492–1824
  • Military History
  • Social History
  • Colonialism and Imperialism

Establishing a Military Presence in America

Exploratory Voyages

The Portuguese arrived in Brazil in 1500. After a tentative exploration of the coastline and brief interactions with the Indians, they resumed their journey toward the Indian Ocean. Although the Portuguese immediately laid claim to the new American territory, Brazil remained a distant afterthought for the ruling house of the small European country, already committed to North Africa and Asia. The initial exploration of Brazil and of dyewood—the only valuable commodity the territory seemed to yield—was, in fact, leased to private merchants. In return for the trade monopoly of brazilwood, the merchant consortium had to survey approximately 1,200 miles of coastline and establish fortified trading posts. In 1504 the expedition that Vespucci was part of founded a factory in Porto Seguro and garrisoned it with twenty-four men.

The crown reassumed direct control over Brazil in 1506, but the imperial enterprise remained largely exploratory. Incentives were promised to would-be settlers in 1516; even if there are mentions of Brazilian sugar in Antwerp as early as 1519, the European presence in the territory was exceptional, mainly composed of convicts, deserters, and castaways who lived scattered among the Indians. During the first decades of the 16th century there was no real effort to establish colonial settlements.

The main objective of the Portuguese had military underpinnings: blocking European competitors from trading with the Indians. Several punitive expeditions were sent to the South Atlantic to seek and destroy ships from countries that did not recognize the Iberian partition of the world proclaimed in Tordesillas (1494). During these initial stages, the Portuguese military activities in the New World were mostly naval operations against French interlopers and pirates.1 These expeditions were marked by extraordinary cruelty—according to eyewitnesses, the Portuguese commander, Cristóvão Jacques, hanged and buried alive several Frenchmen—provoking immediate protests from the French court.

In 1530, John III (1502–1557) sent a new and different expedition to Brazil. This time the purpose was the establishment of colonial settlements. The presence of four hundred settlers would provide a challenge to those that questioned the Portuguese juridical claims, demonstrating that the territory was effectively being occupied and defended. The expedition foreshadowed, in many ways, the new Portuguese commitment to Brazil, confirmed in 1534 by the creation of proprietary captaincies, which was, in a way, a strategic and military response to broader challenges. Like the commander of the 1530 expedition Martim Afonso de Sousa, the new proprietary captains (capitães-donatários) were invested with ample military powers to keep European rivals at bay and blocked them from trading with the Indians.2

The System of Proprietary Colonies

The creation of territorial lordships changed the nature of the Portuguese colonization process in Brazil, but it did not increase the involvement of the crown. The concession of these hereditary lordships meant that colonization of Brazil would be, at least for the foreseeable future, a private endeavor. The crown was able to keep its focus in Asia, where the Portuguese had become a major maritime and commercial player, with their thalassocracy of scattered imperial outposts and fleets.

The proprietary captaincies were a tested solution. Based in the old medieval lordships, the proprietary captaincies had been effectively introduced in the Atlantic Islands of Madeira and Azores since the 15th century. The capitães-donatários had several powers and responsibilities. They could establish towns and appoint their municipal officials; they also could concede land grants, collect taxes, and administer justice.3 But, like with the feudal example, they also had to ensure that their captaincy was well defended. They had to carry out military levies on the settlers, provide military equipment, and make sure that everybody was ready to face enemy incursions.

Military readiness was expected from the burgeoning colonial elite of senhores de engenho (sugar mill owners) and lavradores de cana (plantation owners) and from the settlers more broadly. The document that regulated the relations between the lord proprietor and the settlers and demarcated the rights of the crown in the captaincy of Pernambuco (called foral) stated that: “The inhabitants and settlers of the said captaincy will be forced, in times of war, to serve, with their captain, if necessary.”

Other captaincies had similar mandatory dispositions. The results, however, were very poor. The system of proprietary colonies proved unreliable. Only two captaincies—São Vicente and Pernambuco—were successful, partly because they were better in dealing with the Indian challenge. The peaceful coexistence that marked the initial contacts between the Indians and the Europeans that were essentially looking for dyewood had become impossible the moment these Europeans began to settle in the territory. The pushback was significant. Several Portuguese settlements in the New World, such as Bahia, São Tomé, Espírito Santo, and Porto Seguro, were on the verge of being completely wiped out during the 1545–1546 wave of attacks.

Notwithstanding the carelessness of some absentee capitães-donatários, which was a common feature, and one which would render any governing solution unredeemable, the system of proprietary captaincies also suffered from underlying weaknesses. First, there was a lack of correspondence between the original military might of feudal lords and the real military abilities of their South Atlantic successors, who constantly required royal assistance to defend their territories, often because there were too few settlers.4 Second, the inherent tendency toward particularism and self-interest of the lord proprietors thwarted the formation of a coordinated military effort. This ultimately convinced John III that he needed to establish a general government in Brazil, reinstituting royal authority in the process, although not without causing some discontentment among colonial administrators, always protective of their own jurisdiction.

The Creation of the General Government

The first governor general arrived in Brazil in 1549. Tomé de Sousa received a regimento (statute of instructions) that vested him with supreme authority in Bahia, while also bestowing him substantial clout to interfere in the affairs of the other captaincies, which remained lordships. Some have argued that this was an unprecedented measure. Its centralizing underpinnings were only replicated and enhanced more than one hundred years later, during the tenure of the second viceroy of Brazil, the Count of Óbidos (1663–1667).5 Others preferred to speak about a more general trend toward “royalization” of colonial administrations—the phase of delegated power in the hands of private individuals was gradually substituted by royal bureaucracy. Similar process also happened in Spanish America, with royal officials taking the place of the conquistadores—though in a much more conflictual manner, because the encomenderos were stronger and more entrenched.6

Military considerations were front and center in the regimento of Tomé de Sousa. He had to make sure that all Portuguese settlements were well protected. He had to punish insurgent Indians as soon as the situation permitted. Restraining pirate activities was also addressed, although much later in the statute, confirming that the European rivals were no longer the main military issue, at least for the moment.7

The creation of a general government also prompted an increase of the military contingent, starting with his personal guard of twenty-four musketeers, with a captain and a sergeant, all paid by the treasury. The Relação das Capitanias do Brasil, an anonymous work that was later transcribed and published by Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen, provides a general overview of each captaincy in 1611–1612, including their defenses. There were significant and not entirely understandable discrepancies. For example, while the successful São Vicente had no professional corps, the recently settled Rio Grande had eighty musketeers, and Pernambuco, the wealthiest of all the captaincies, had two companies of 130 musketeers with their officers. In addition to these paid soldiers, the document mentions the men that could be mobilized. For example, Paraíba, which had a garrison of fifty soldiers in the fortress of Cabedelo, could also muster “four hundred white men,” thirty of them horsemen.8

These numbers should be put into perspective. The military presence in Brazil was relatively small when compared with the martial apparatus of Estado da Índia, where the Portuguese were heavily committed. Many of the five ships that Portugal sent to Asia every year between 1550 and 1600 carried more than five hundred soldiers.9 Stationed in one of several Asian outposts, where they faced starvation, they often opted for desertion, intermingling with the local societies, converting to Islam, and offering their services and military expertise to other rulers, sometimes avowed enemies of the Portuguese kings.10

Not even the incorporation of Portugal and its empire in the Habsburg Monarchy in 1580 changed the size of Portuguese defenses in America, at least initially. Some parts of Brazil remained defenseless in spite of the territory’s new strategic importance, buttressing the Spanish colonies in South America.11 While the Estado da Índia had approximately four thousand to five thousand paid soldiers garrisoning its many fortresses in 1627, Salvador, the capital of Brazil, had less than two hundred professional soldiers when the Dutch invaded in 1624.12 The remaining force was composed by poorly trained and highly disorganized men.13 It was precisely this war with the Dutch that triggered the impressive growth of the Iberian military forces in Brazil. By the late 1630s the Iberian army and navy in Pernambuco had more than eight thousand servicemen.

Military Organization

The Portuguese military forces were organized in three formal components: regulars or the professional army; the militias, also called auxiliares; and the ordenanças, which were purportedly a third line of defense. In the empire, and especially in Brazil, this formal structure underwent a mutation. An additional layer of forces, irregular and normally unpaid units, was added in order to meet the challenges of the territory and its social environment.


The regulars were the top of the pyramid. They were stationed in the main political centers of Brazil, normally in coastal cities where they could fend off invading forces of rival European powers. In theory, that was their main function, although they were also used against Indians or quilombos. For example, they took part in the war against the Guaranis (1753–1756), the indigenous groups who had rejected the territorial rearrangement of the Luso-Spanish frontiers in America, proclaimed in the Treaty of Madrid (1750). On certain critical occasions, the regular army was also seen by Lisbon as a solution of last resort to be used against insurgent settlers.14

The regular army is one of the less studied institutions of the Portuguese administration in Brazil, in part because the professional military was, for a long time, construed as the ultimate metropolitan institution. It was an institution that was supposedly completely filled with men born in the mother country and sent to America, where they lived in barracks almost completely detached from the colonial society. In other words, they had nothing to do with the historical formation of Brazil. In 1942 the Marxist historian Caio Prado Jr. put forward this view, writing that the regular army was “almost always composed of Portuguese regiments which kept even their names of origin.”15

The shadow that was cast over the regular army by a more traditional academy that insisted on interpreting Brazil as an isolated entity, separated from the broader early modern Portuguese world, endured for several decades, practically until the end of the 20th century. It made the regular army in colonial Brazil less appealing to young researchers looking for the roots of modern Brazil. Francis William Orde Morton, and in the early 21st century Hendrik Kraay, showed how misplaced this view was: soldiers and officers of the regular army were part of the colonial society, irrespective of their origin.16 Men were recruited locally with the same impressment methods used in the mother country. Luso-Brazilian young men that were not exempted from military service tried to dodge conscription, just like their metropolitan counterparts.17 They also saw their fate being decided by a recruiting officer, who, to the dismay of several authorities, often took advantage of having such lifechanging power.18

Like other military forces or any other imperial institutions, the regular army, far from being a metropolitan force, integrated leading sectors of the colonial society into officership positions, thus reinforcing ties between the crown and its extended polities. American-born men progressed through the ranks in the same way as European-born men did. They were subject to seniority rules, while also being selected for top positions, both as a reward for their services and through patronage ties. The purchase of commissions and promotions in the regular army, so pervasive in other European professional armies, seems to gradually disappear from the Portuguese practices. The capitães de cavalos (cavalry captains), who effectively bought the position in exchange for the promise to levy a company, are the foremost exception to the trend.19 Moreover, this post of capitão de cavalos did not fit the Portuguese military hierarchy that started to take shape in the second half of the 17th century. And the same thing happened to the position of capitães de fortaleza (fortress captains), which were often granted as inheritable offices and could have lucrative perquisites.20

In 1763, the Portuguese government reinforced the social standing of military officers, likening them to the magistrates’ corps. In 1767 the same government of the Marquis of Pombal sent three European regiments to Rio de Janeiro, but this did not derail the professional expectations of American-born officers. By the late 18th century, American-born and European-born Portuguese were evenly matched at the top of the army in the most important captaincy of the colony: Rio de Janeiro.21 This means that, contrary to what happened in the Spanish empire, Portugal never attempted to curb criollos’ autonomy and preeminence. There was nothing to fear or berate; local elites never developed a distinctive and threatening identity, hostile to the men that would be called peninsulares in Spanish America. Lisbon had no reason to discriminate against men that never showed threatening signs of resentment.


The militias were created in metropolitan Portugal in 1645 during the War of Restoration, the war of Portuguese secession from the Spanish Habsburgs (1640–1668). The ordenanças—the original militia force in the Portuguese world—had proven to be unreliable at best, while also causing widespread complaints.22 Unlike the ordenanças, this new usually unpaid force could be mobilized to serve in the frontlines, where all of its officers and soldiers would become salaried.

The introduction of these militias, also called auxiliares, in colonial Brazil was a gradual process. The original units seem to have been established in Pernambuco, but the precise moment and circumstances of their establishment remain unclear, partly due to the semantic ambiguity of the term. In early modern Portuguese, “militia” had several meanings. It meant arte militar (military art), gente de guerra (combatants), and the military orders, all at the same time.23 As early as the 1630s there were military units in Pernambuco that were loosely called militias. One of them was the black unit of Henrique Dias, created by Matias de Albuquerque, brother of the proprietor of the captaincy and lieutenant governor during the initial period of the war with the Dutch. These, however, bear no formal resemblance with the militias that were created afterward in the mother country, in 1645, even if they shared the same name. A later account, by Francisco de Brito Freire, governor of Pernambuco, references the introduction of what probably was the first official milícia auxiliar in the territory during his tenure in 1661–1664.24

In Bahia, the creation of these official auxiliares units was delayed several times. Whenever someone considered the introduction of regiments of auxiliares in the capital of the colony, the plan was condemned by a governor general. Luís António da Câmara Coutinho (1690–1694), for instance, stated that these corps would further oppress the population. There are also contemporary signs that the officers of the ordenanças in Bahia feared the competition, which, according to them, would eventually be competing for the same pool of available men.25 The expansion of auxiliares in Brazil definitely picked up the pace during the early 1740s, after John V ordered the introduction of these units in every sea port in 1739.

The hierarchy of the militias reproduced, to some degree, the hierarchy of the regulars. Their superior officers were appointed by the governor, although the commission (carta patente) had to be confirmed in Lisbon.26 The hierarchy of the militias also reproduced the social structure of the hierarchy of Portuguese society. The mestre de campo (or colonel), the commander of each terço (afterward renamed regiment), ought to be filled by an influential man, preferably someone from the planter class. At the same time, securing a top post would help local elites to confirm their social status. Just like the ordenanças, the militias came to symbolize the alliance between the crown and colonial elites, who received a royal commission in exchange for their services.

Promotions followed the principle of seniority, although patronage ties and family kinship also played a role.27 The organization of militia regiments was often based on geography (e.g., regiment of São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro), class (e.g., regiment of local nobles), and profession or occupation (e.g., regiment of merchants of Salvador da Bahia). But it was also based on race, such as the regiment of pretos forros (free blacks), also called Henriques, after the famous Henrique Dias.28

For blacks and pardos (the term “mulatto” was less frequent and was always pejorative), these regiments became opportunities to escape enduring vexations of day-to-day life and to serve on equal footing as the whites. There were, however, obvious disparities between these units, in spite of the legislative action of the Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782) during the 1760s, determining equality between white, black, and pardo officers (admittedly, not exactly for humanitarian reasons).29 For example, in 1780s Rio de Janeiro, the militia regiments of blacks and pardos were only led by a captain and a major, respectively, while the other regiments not predicated on race were all led by a mestre de campo (equivalent to a colonel).30 The need to ensure military proficiency during the last decades of the 18th century—marked by intense militarization—only made things worse. The order to fill the positions of major and adjutant in each militia regiment—the officers tasked with the military drilling of the militiamen and therefore the only paid men in these units—with officers exclusively selected from the regulars, in theory all white, meant that blacks and pardos would be snubbed.31 This created some tension.32 In 1802, Lisbon intervened again in an attempt to clear the path for blacks and pardos officers. These men, Lisbon affirmed, should be favored in the vacancies of their nonwhite regiments. They did not need to have experience in the regulars to fill the positions of major and adjutant, as long as they showed capacity. Obstructionism to such measures remained strong, though.


The ordenanças were established in 1570, when the Portuguese king Sebastian I ordered the creation of a system for mustering men at the local level and for periodic drills. The Regimento dos Capitães-mores also established a hierarchy that partly reiterated the political organization of the kingdom. If the cities, towns, or municipalities—where the men ought to be mustered—had an overlord, the overlord would assume the commanding rank of capitão-mor; if they did not, the municipalities would elect the capitão-mor among the principais das terras (local elites and local nobility). The idea was that these men would command respect and use their influence to raise recruits.

Every able-bodied man between the ages of eighteen and sixty was compelled to serve in the ordenanças, if they were not already serving in the regulars or in the auxiliares. The recruiting pool was so comprehensive that it resembled the modern style of mass national conscriptions. This was often highlighted by scholars and amador researchers of the 19th and 20th centuries. In fact, the ordenanças became sort of mythmaking material, since they proved, in their eyes, an innate love for the country, as well as the Portuguese bravery and martial inclination. Obviously, this idealized and anachronistic vision did not take into consideration the amount of exemptions the law permitted, as well as massive rates of desertion. For the most part, the ordenanças were nothing more than a muster roll of potential draftees, undisciplined and refractory. According to Fernando Dores Costa, the ordenanças were never really part of the military world.33

Operational readiness of the ordenanças was also called into question in Brazil, even when the Portuguese government set in motion a process of intense mobilization, during the warring decades of the 1760s and 1770s. For example, in 1767, the governor of São Paulo, Morgado de Mateus, choose not to mobilize the seventy-six companies of ordenanças because, according to him, they were totally unprepared.34 It was mostly on the administrative level that the ordenanças played a crucial role. Together with the municipalities and the religious brotherhoods, especially the Misericórdia, the ordenanças provided the institutional framework for colonial life. As Caio Prado Jr. noted many years ago, the ordenanças were indispensable to enforce the law.35 Raymundo Faoro, another leading Brazilian intellectual, said that the ordenanças, as well as the auxiliares, were the “backbone of the colony.”36 Early 21st-century research confirms these initial impressions entirely.37

The commissions in the ordenanças, like in the auxiliares, represented the alliance between the crown and subjects, while also helping to reiterate the social hierarchy of local societies. Holding a commission in the ordenanças conveyed or confirmed social preeminence, and that is why these commissions were a recurrent request—mercê (royal reward)—made by those who had served the monarchy and who were looking for symbols of social distinction. These commissions were always in high demand, and the selection process was always filled with irregularities, cyclically addressed by the crown. For example, in 1709, the municipalities, frequently accused of playing favorites in the selection of ordenanças officers, saw their autonomy curtailed. Thereafter, they could only propose candidates, not elect them. In 1739, there was an attempt to put a stop to the ever-expanding number of commissions issued by the governors, which were a way to extend a governor’s patronage ties. And in 1749, after almost fifty years of temporary commissions—they had become triennial since 1700—the Portuguese government reintroduced lifelong commissions, probably in an effort to avoid recurring complaints.

In spite of its problems, the system endured, and it was even used as a model in the 1757 Directory of the Indians, which secularized the missions of the religious orders. Each village was organized in accordance with the system of ordenanças. As far as blacks and pardos were concerned, they were also enrolled in the ordenanças, and they could entertain the possibility of becoming an officer of their own company. Yet, they did not reach the top spot. The rank of capitão-mor was always filled by a white powerful man, at least in the well-studied captaincy of Minas Gerais.38

Organic Adaptations

In Brazil, in addition to the more regulated units, which shared all the same features as their metropolitan counterparts, there were also other troops, irregular troops created with specific aims. All of them were adaptations to the physical and social challenges of the colony. Although some of them acquired a stable military framework with an identifiable and specific hierarchy, such as the homens-de-mato, entradas, and assaltos (roughly translated as bushmen), normally known as capitães-de-mato, the large majority of the recognizable fighting groups, such as the paulistas, adopted features from other forces. For example, their commander usually received a commission of the militias and the ordenanças.

The main function of the capitães-de-mato was to hunt runway slaves, but these were not solitary men moving through the forest trails and mountains, as was once believed. As Francis Cotta showed, the units that tracked slaves were formations with variable size and with a top-down hierarchy, from the capitão-mor-de-mato to the soldado-do-mato.39 In 1674, the governor general António Furtado de Mendonça even issued a commission of cabo-dos-capitães-de-mato-campo to Sebastião Correia de Sã. He would have authority over all these troops serving in the northern part of Salvador da Bahia.40 The top-ranking officials were proposed by the municipal councilors due to their knowledge of the backwoods and specific military expertise. The capitães-de-mato were recompensed with a prize—the tomadia—for a recaptured slave. These troops included free blacks and free mulattos, as well as slaves who were trying to gain their freedom.

The pedestres were a military force established during the second half of the 18th century at least in two captaincies—Minas Gerais and Goiás. In Minas, these units served alongside the paid companies of dragoons; they policed the captaincy and its registos (checkpoints), preventing recurring tax evasion and smuggling. This meant they had to execute difficult missions in the scrubland of the captaincy, down the streams and through sharp cliffs. Unlike other troops, these were paid units, and they also included slaves in their ranks, in addition to free blacks, whites, and Indians.41

Arming slaves was far from unusual in colonial Brazil. On the one hand, they were used by the state in military units like the pedestres, and on the other hand, they were privately used by their masters, with the latter being much more prevalent. Throughout the colonial period, masters used their slaves for protection and for settling scores with other settlers, but also to project political power and even to commit crimes. Slaves were particularly important in the frontier, in mining areas, where they helped their mining lords fight off other miners. Slaves took part in several conflicts in the burgeoning settlements of Minas Gerais, including in the War of Emboabas in (1708–1710), which was a civil war between the paulistas, who discovered the alluvial gold, and the newcomers.

Having slaves carrying arms everywhere always raised concerns, but the measures taken by the colonial government to restrict weaponry clashed with the masters’ right to use their slaves as they chose.42 The public use of slaves as soldiers for colonial defense would be an even bigger encroachment of the state in the private affairs of the masters, threatening their property rights, which the crown logically avoided, even if the country needed more soldiers. A king’s soldier was, in principle, a free or freed man, but the power of manumission was solely held by the master. The king could not grant freedom, even if he needed more men in the frontlines. At best, he could encourage owners to free their slaves for a “patriotic” cause; he could not dispossess them. For example, during the war with the Dutch (1630–1654), calls were made to free the slaves that joined the Portuguese side, but Lisbon refused to overreach. Queen Luísa de Gusmão indicated that the promises that were made should definitely be kept—the slaves ought to be freed, but only with the indispensable permission of the masters.43

The mobilization efforts of the 1760s also involved several proposals for large-scale enrolment of slaves, with eventual manumission of those that distinguished themselves in the defense of the Portuguese king. The treasury would compensate the slaveowners for their patrimonial losses.44 The plans, however, did not go ahead. Arming slaves in an extensive way was considered too dangerous at that point, since it could prompt a general insurrection.

Indians were also an integral part of the military defense of colonial Brazil. Even if not integrated in European-style units, Indians often fought on the Portuguese side, both as warriors and as trackers. They played an active and important role in the Luso-Dutch War, carefully choosing sides. They were not mere pawns of European powers or defenseless victims of colonization, which remains a persistent narrative. António Filipe Camarão, the commander of a Potiguare faction of 350–450 men that remained loyal to the Portuguese king, was, according chronicler Manuel Calado, “the most loyal soldier that El Rei had in this war.”45

António Filipe Camarão was rewarded for his services by Felipe IV in 1633 with a habit of the Order of Christ, forty thousand réis of income, and a commission to serve as capitão-mor of the Indians of all the captaincies between Pernambuco and Ceará. Two years later he received the title of Dom, which was a hereditary title of nobility.46 He was not the only one to be rewarded for his past and ongoing military services. Several Portuguese believed the military contribution of the Indians was crucial in colonial Brazil. In 1654, the famous Jesuit António Vieira even wrote: “This state having so many leagues of coast and islands and open rivers, cannot be preserved . . . except with assaults, with canoes and most of all with Indians.”47 Thus, the governors general tried to repay the loyalty of these men with other honors and military commissions. Between 1668 and 1676, at least thirty-one commissions of capitão de índios (captain of Indians) or capitão-mor de aldeia (captain-mor of the village) were issued by the secretary of state of Brazil.48 Such ranks did not have equivalents in the traditional Portuguese military hierarchies, but they helped these Indian elites cement their social standing in their communities and more broadly in the colony.49

Reciprocity did not last, though. Once the international threat disappeared, the Portuguese crown stopped granting rewards to their old Indian allies, both habits of the military orders and military commissions, as Ronald Raminelli showed. This had the unforeseen effect of destabilizing the social reproduction of Indian nobility.50

The captaincy of São Paulo provides the best examples of Portuguese martial ingenuity in Brazil. During the 17th century, groups of men from the small settlements of São Paulo started exploring the interior of the continent, looking for Indians to seize and precious metals. Prepared locally and without the involvement of the crown, these expeditions often clashed with the Spanish and their interests. They became infamous, being immediately criticized by the religious orders that controlled the Indian missions plundered by paulistas.51 They were described as fearsome, self-reliant, and great experts in backwoods warfare, but, at the same time, they were also seen as selfish, untamed, and too independent minded—characteristics that the sources tied to their mixed-race heritage.52

During the 17th century, the paulistas were unreliable at best for the crown, who suspected their loyalty, but they were also absolutely necessary to quash quilombos or to wage war against Indian communities. Their strong sense of identity, defiantly opposing men from Iberia and newcomers in general, and their 17th-century military activities, were reappropriated in the 20th century, becoming the subject of mythmaking narratives and the source of national pride.

During the 1760s, the captaincy of São Paulo was, like many others, the scene of large-scale mobilization, which, however, did not receive the same historiographical care of the 17th-century paulistas. The military backdrop was not the same; the involvement of paulistas in the campaigns of the south in the 1760s was not predicated on the distinct features of autonomy that the nationalistic historiography liked and envisaged in their 17th-century counterparts. The organization of the forces remained essentially based in irregular troops, though. The governor, in addition to some regulars and the militias, raised units of voluntários (volunteers) and aventureiros (adventurers), which the dictionarist Raphael Bluteau (1638–1734) describes as “any soldier who by his own will, and without rank or pay, serves in the army and in the navy.”53

This mixture of troops, and their ethnic background, was not to the liking of some colonial administrators and professional soldiers, especially those who were not used to it and whose military thinking had been solely based on what they saw and learned in the professional battlefields of Europe. The general Johann Heinrich Böhm, for example, a Prussian sent to Brazil in 1767, failed to see the strategic advantage of such a system. Böhm was indeed very vocal, but he was not the first to complain.54 He was upholding a long tradition of military thought that felt uncomfortable with colonial warfare and colonial combatants.

Warfare in Colonial Brazil

Battleground Perceptions

The economic importance of Brazil grew in the last decades of the 16th century. In 1580, the incorporation of Portugal and its territories by the Habsburg Monarchy stressed the strategic importance of this American possession, which could play a supporting role for the Spanish colonial interests on the continent.55 Yet, this did not immediately change the symbolic status of the territory. Brazil continued to be seen as a secondary battleground. Brazil lacked the religious features—the Muslims—that fueled the Portuguese martial imaginary founded on the crusading ideals of the initial expansion—crusading ideals that put North Africa and India front and center of the Portuguese military culture.

There were no equivalents in Brazil for Afonso de Albuquerque or João de Castro, major figures of the Portuguese Asiatic military experience, consecrated by a scholarly tradition devoted to the Portuguese achievements in Estado da Índia. Seen as a less than dignifying battlefield, the New World was forsaken by the Portuguese literary culture and was not even covered by the Portuguese incentive system of mercês during the initial stages of the colonization.56

The gradual exposure to the Spanish military experience in Europe reshaped the mental framework of the Portuguese military perceptions, adding new confessional and political elements. The war with the Protestants, once a distant afterthought, became central in the Portuguese culture. And when these same Protestants began their imperial expansion, they bestowed a new martial prestige to previously undeserving territories. Brazil, in particular, gained a new military appreciation, confirmed by the influx of rewards granted in exchange for military services rendered there against the Protestants. In early 1641, António Vieira even said, with some exaggeration, that there were “no services Your Majesty pays with a more liberal hand than those of Brazil.”57 This war also became the subject of literary and artistic outputs.58 It was important to establish a historical memory of deeds that could not be forgotten. Juan Bautista Maino’s painting La recuperación de Bahía de Todos los Santos, which ought to be exhibited alongside other representations of the Habsburgs’ might, is the ultimate example of this artistic production.

In the long run, however, the territory would eventually regress to its previous secondary position, at least for many, as a 1662 letter from the governor general to the newly appointed governor of Rio de Janeiro makes abundantly clear. Francisco Barreto de Meneses, belittling the service in Brazil, denounced the nomination to Rio de Janeiro, which he considered completely incompatible with Pedro de Melo’s social station and military status. He wrote:

I cannot help feeling your frustration; in a time in which you could have remained in the Kingdom Wars—an occupation of reputation—I see you buried in Brazil, a scandal of His Majesty’s service. . . . Allow me Your Lordship’s modesty to speak in this way, what difference it is to defeat Castilians than to have to deal with Mazombos.59

Guerra Brasílica

The war with the Dutch for Pernambuco (1630–1654) was one colonial offshoot of a broader conflict that started in Europe between the Spanish Habsburgs and the United Provinces. The conflict in the South Atlantic mirrored the original confessional features, but it did not reproduce the same military tactics used in the battlefields of Flanders since the end of the 16th century. The territory was hardly suitable for large-scale operations, prolonged siege warfare, or coordinated deployment of mass infantry formations. Open field battles, such as Mata Redonda (1636) and the two Battles of Guararapes (1648, 1649), were also exceptional.60 The war for colonial Brazil was a fusion of Indian, African, and European knowledges, and it was marked by violent skirmishes, sudden assaults, and ambushes. It would be known as Guerra Brasílica. The Portuguese troops and their Indian allies, in particular, were very successful in attacking small Dutch military detachments in the cane fields, scrublands, and woodlands of Pernambuco. Commenting on the hardships of the Protestant army, a Dutch commander said: “The Portuguese live in the woods like werewolves and our men, being caught off guard, rarely escape their claws.”61 During the conflict, the Dutch soldiers found themselves on the backfoot, often confined to strongholds and desperately waiting for reinforcements.

The Brazilian frontlines disgusted the Dutch professional soldiers in the same way they disgusted the professional soldiers and officers on the catholic side, who also had troubles adapting to the territory. For example, in 1631, the Count of Bagnuolo, a Neapolitan nobleman that served Philip IV, wrote about his new assignment in Brazil: “I know I am going on a journey that is in no way convenient to me, because I am going to a place where one could gain little reputation, with a climate so distempered.”62 For those accustomed to the linear formations of the Low Countries and Northern Italy, the guerrilla tactics were perceived to be beneath their expertise and status. The disdain of the professional soldier toward American guerrilla warfare was brashly expressed by Luís de Rojas e Borja, another seasoned officer with experience in Flanders, Milan, and Naples. Rojas e Borja appears to have said “that he was no monkey to march through the bushes.”63

The ultimate triumph of the Portuguese was mainly owed to local military forces, experts in Guerra Brasílica, not to professional forces sent by the mother country, which, in the meantime, was also waging war with the former Habsburg ruler (Portugal seceded in late 1640). The role played by Bahian and Pernambucan settlers would uphold the political and social ambitions of the leading men of the colony.64 In Pernambuco this role would also feed a heroic narrative, inflating claims to autonomy and contributing to the formation of an obstinate nativist identity.65 The memory of the Luso-Dutch War and its tactics, which continued to be used in the backlands of Brazil against maroon communities and defiant Indians, remained very much alive in meeting rooms of the Portuguese imperial administration. The untamed and, according to Dutch sources, cruel side of Guerra Brasílica would often be remembered as a military asset, while also being gradually rekindled along racial lines.

Colonial Categorization and Selected Violence

During the first half of the 18th century, the organization of colonial troops along racial lines was a disputed issue. In the Overseas Council, for example, there was a recurrent concern with revolts by black and mixed-race militiamen, especially if their units were also commanded by a black or mixed-race officer. Often colonial administrators were ordered to terminate the racially segregated units. Apparently, these orders did not have much success, since the racial segregation of military units persisted, even if some continued to elicit serious concerns.66

Most Portuguese late-colonial administrators followed the Enlightenment penchant for ordering colonial societies according to emerging classifications. Men like the Marquis of Lavradio disagreed with the Prussian general Böhm, previously mentioned, about the usefulness of mixed-race servicemen. He wanted to make sure these colonial populations would help in the defense of Brazil, but not in just any capacity. In his view, the regular units ought to be filled solely by white men, recruited in America or levied in Portugal and in the Azores Islands (Azorean soldiers were often praised).67 In 1774, Lavradio complained to his Bahian counterpart that had promised him several conscripts, saying that “the recruiters only cared about making more soldiers, but they are in such a way that if you had time to see them you certainly would not allow them to come.” According to the viceroy, these conscripts were “so extremely Black, with curly hair, that they make little difference from those who are purely Black.”68 A few years earlier the governor of Mato Grosso was instructed along similar lines. He was to establish dragoons, but, “in order to enhance the pride of the Dragoons, only Brancos Inteiros [full whites] not married to mix-raced women, should be admitted.”69 In an attempt to organize that frontier territory according some form of racial conception, the same instruction also stated: “those that were not White enough to serve in the Dragoons” or “Black enough to serve in these corps [of adventurers]” should become local farmers.

As militiamen, these groups would patrol the roads in search of runaway slaves, Indians, and outlaws who attacked villages and settlements.70 Luiz Vilhena, for example, shared his insights on such repressive actions carried out by nonwhite militias.71 Men like the Marquis of Pombal even thought that the defense of Brazil rested fundamentally in these black and mixed-race groups, mainly because he believed they were more suited to New World warfare. In an instruction to a viceroy, Sebastião de Carvalho e Melo said that the war in Brazil was “of vague insults, ambushes, and surprises in unknown paths,” adding that for this war “the Natives of these Countries are much more apt.”72 Although he sent three regiments of regulars to Brazil in 1767, he warned they would not do much difference, due to their pampered reliance on vulnerable supply lines. Successful campaigning in Brazil, at least since the 17th century, was believed to be dependent on the ability to live off the land, beyond what would be considered civilization, which, in a way, excluded regulars and consequently white soldiers. That is why Pombal spoke about the usefulness of light troops and backwoodsmen.73 And that is why he reiterated the myth of the martial aptitudes of the mixed-race paulistas, who were, according to Pombal, “the torment of the Castilians; with ease they will expand our territory.” It was of paramount importance to promote their “natural predisposition in order for them to continue these useful progresses.” In other words, it was crucial to stimulate the paulistas’ untamed and violent behavior. Similarly, and for the same reasons, the Portuguese minister emphasized the role of blacks, “descendants,” in his words, “of heroes as great as the black Henrique Dias and the Indian António Felipe Camarão,” who defeated the Dutch.74 Critically, in Pombal’s recollection of that war, the white commanders, André Vidal de Negreiros and João Fernandes Vieira, are not mentioned. He did not mention them because he was establishing a correlation between race and a certain type of warfare—a useful but also erratic, less-organized, and, in his mind, less-European type of warfare.

The professional disciplined white soldier was to be used in an orderly manner against other white soldiers in a well-regulated combat, in which he would be commanded by a nobleman and in which, ideally, he would be expected to exercise restraint; such restraint was not expected in the backwoods among criminals and “less than civilized” people.

Military Administration

Paying and Feeding the Troops

As in other places, military life for soldiers in colonial Brazil was full of hardships, partly due to low pay. In Grão-Pará, in the 1770s, a colonel had a monthly wage of 62,000 reis, whereas a soldier would only receive 1,470 reis. More importantly, the payment was never regular. Men went unpaid for several months or even years. For example, in 1726 the governor of Colónia do Sacramento (the southernmost Portuguese settlement in America) complained to Salvador da Bahia, saying that the army had not received pay for more than ten months.75 This generated regular unrest, but revolts such as the 1688 munity of the garrison of Salvador were less common.

Troops also needed to be fed, which was in many instances ensured by the municipality throughout the 17th century. In Salvador, in addition to paying for the army’s wages, the city also controlled the contract to supply manioc flour to the troops until 1713, when the treasury took its place.76 Apparently, the transition to rations based on non-European foodstuffs was a long process. Evaldo Cabral de Mello showed how the Iberians and their descendants in Brazil continued to consume wine, olive oil, and wheat bread during the 16th century (the consumption of manioc flower and palm oil were still stigmatized by some Europeans).77 The expedition to retake Salvador da Bahia from the Dutch, sent by Madrid in 1625, was stocked with supplies that could be easily found in any European military magazine of the time. It was, to some degree, the long-lasting war with the Protestants that forced widespread use of manioc flower among the soldiers. By the late 1630s, with approximately eight thousand men, the Iberian army and navy had become too big to be supplied from Europe.

The military rations in the majority of the captaincies were ultimately completed with meat or dry fish and were always discounted from the men’s wages. Uniforms were also discounted from the men’s wages, but delays were frequent. Sometimes a garrison had to wait for more than three years to be conveniently attired, as happened in Sacramento in the late 1720s. The governor stated that he found the troops practically naked.78 In Sacramento, with its colder winters, there were also complaints about the inadequacy of the uniforms normally produced for hotter climates of the northern parts of the colony. This sort of standardization was partly the result of wholesale procurement procedures, where a businessman would agree to send uniforms or fabric materials to all major maritime captaincies: Bahia, Pernambuco, and Rio de Janeiro.

Soldiers, and even officers, endured other kinds of adversities in colonial Brazil. For example, during the campaign of 1755–1756, against the Guarani that resisted the implementation of the Treaty of Madrid (1750), Gomes Freire de Andrade prohibited the men to take a female companion or family, which would be their main solace. Although this was a common feature in the early modern world—the army’s tail—Gomes Freire decreed that the men who disobeyed him in this situation would be punished: if commoners they would be condemned to hard labor, if nobles they would be fined 400 reis. Regarding the female companions, a white woman would be arrested for an unspecified period of time, a mulatto would be burned in the face, and a black woman would be put up for sale in the market.79

Authority and Military Administration

Several institutions and offices participated in the Portuguese imperial administration and specifically in the military affairs of the empire. This was due to the influence of the “jurisdictionalist” culture, prevalent in the Iberian world, which conveyed blunt hostility toward any political or administrative innovation and toward what could be called “executive action.” Governing was a reactive activity, not proactive; governing was about reestablishing order and overseeing the protection of rights and privileges, always in compliance with the corporative conception of society. This meant that the creation of a new political body for imperial administration, such as the Council of the Indies, in 1604, was perceived as an illegitimate royal intrusion in the natural order of things, a threat to established privileges. Institutional solutions for new challenges—and there were many on the imperial front—had to be found without producing radical changes.80

The creation of the Overseas Council in 1642, which reallocated jurisdictions, provoked an immediate backlash, even though the institution was built along traditional forms of government. The Conselho da Fazenda (Council of Finance) and the Desembargo do Paço (Royal Council of Justice) complained and tried to undermine the imperial purview of the new council. The defense of colonial Brazil was bound to be affected by the Portuguese jurisdictional practices and its “constellation of powers,” and this was especially true in the aftermath of the Portuguese secession from the Habsburg Monarchy. The newly royal Braganza dynasty was so unsure of its standing that it opted to consult everybody on how the war with the Dutch in Brazil should proceed. John IV received formal inputs from the Council of State, Overseas Council, Council of Finance, Conselho the Guerra (War Council), and Junta dos Três Estados (Board of the Three States). Being more secretive, or absolutist, may have been the wiser option, given the high-stakes situation that Portugal found itself in. Yet, if the issue was handled without a broad consultation process, the king might have been accused of failing to uphold regular order, of governing beyond his consecrated powers.

There were constant jurisdictional conflicts in the administration of the colonies. One of the major points of contention in the military world was the power to commission officers, which was disputed by colonial administrators and by metropolitan institutions as well. Inconsistent legal provisions and contradictory statutes provoked endless conflicts throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. For example, according to their statutes, both the War Council, established in late 1640, and the Overseas Council had the formal authority to select and propose men to fill military vacancies in Brazil. The dispute was eventually won by the members of the Overseas Council, but their authority was also challenged by the governors or the viceroys in Brazil, who claimed the same prerogative. The records of the meetings of the Overseas Council are a telltale sign of direct confrontation. They are, for example, filled with sarcastic remarks. During the 1660s, whenever the top colonial administrator decided to commission someone in loco, these meetings invariably started with comments on the governor’s controversial claims: “The Governor of Brazil . . . given the faculties and jurisdiction that he thinks his statute grants him.”81

It should be noted that losing commissioning powers also hindered one’s ability to establish or reinforce patronage ties, decisive in early modern societies—hence the fierceness with which such power was disputed at least until the second half of the 18th century, when these roles became more defined and when traditional councils and courts seemed to lose their leeway.

The financial and logistical aspects of military operations in colonial Brazil were also problematic for the Portuguese “constellation of powers.” For example, in the early 1640s, in the aftermath of the Portuguese secession from the Habsburg Monarchy, colonial defense was to be ideally discussed in the Overseas Council. Yet, the new body did not have the resources to spend on everything that was agreed upon and accepted by the king. The control of fiscal resources earmarked for war in Brazil, partly collected on colonial staples that went through the metropolitan customs, had remained within the purview of the Council of Finance, even after the creation of the Overseas Council. Only in 1671 was the Overseas Council able to expand their financial jurisdiction—a jurisdiction that would continue to grow until the beginning of the 18th century, when the payment of military expenditures, such as the acquisition of uniforms, had to be requested to the paymaster of the Casa da Moeda (Lisbon Mint).82

The executive brand of imperial administration initiated by Pombal was less concerned with traditions, reducing therefore the amount of jurisdictional conflicts. New institutions were created in the meantime to assume specific functions, as was the case with Intendências da Marinha (Navy Intendancies). These were initially established in Bahia, in 1770, to oversee navy ships, inspect the arsenal, and conduct judicial reviews on arriving ships. The institution was run by a military officer, who was also tasked with the supervision of wood forests in his captaincy.

Discussion of the Literature

The military history of colonial Brazil, in spite of its undisputable capacity to reach wider audiences (as with any other military history), tends to be a devalued field of research, mainly reserved for nonacademic historians. As in other places, the earlier major inroads were made by independent scholars, sometimes army officers, such as Colonels Laurenio Lago and Jonathas Rego Monteiro or General Francisco Paula Cidade. This scholarship, although empirically solid, was, to some degree, traditional and nationalistic.

During the first half of the 20th century, military issues also found their way into general histories of colonial Brazil. Although moved by a broader question, Formação do Brasil Contemporâneo, by Caio Prado Jr., or Os Donos do Poder, by Raymundo Faoro, offered a conceptual frame to understand the role of the armed forces in the development of the colonial society.83 More sophisticated and less ideological approaches were in the meantime proposed, notably in Pernambuco by the great historian Antônio Gonçalves de Mello, with his biographies of the Restauradores of Pernambuco.84 In 1975, Evaldo Cabral de Mello published his Olinda Restaurada, which eventually became a classic.85 This is a comprehensive depiction of the 17th-century Luso-Dutch War, exploring social, economic, political, and strictly military aspects of the conflict. The chapters “Gente de Guerra” and “Guerra de Flandres e guerra do Brasil” established the groundwork for fruitful research on the specificities of warfare in colonial Brazil and its broader social implications.86 Pedro Puntoni, with his Guerra dos Bárbaros, followed Cabral de Mello’s footsteps, providing a vivid account of one of the longest military conflicts of colonial Brazil.87

At an international level, Charles Boxer’s initial incursions on the military history of Brazil were in the meantime continued by Francis William Orde Morton and in the 2000s by Hendrik Kraay, among others. The prosopographical approach, which was widely adopted, shed light on military groups, generally officers, and their integration into the colonial society. Morton and Kraay, for example, explored the connections between the army and the Bahian planter class.

Until the early 2000s, the historiographical field had already been gradually developing around new subjects and modern-day concerns. A commitment to go beyond the battlefield fostered an interest in the intersection of war and the military world at large with the territorialization of the colony, the economy of the territory, and social stratification. It was, however, the early 21st century expansion of Brazilian universities and the proliferation of postgraduate programs that change the historiographical landscape.

The pursuit of rewards for military service, for example, is in the early 21st century a consolidated topic in academia. Thiago Krause, José Eudes Gomes, Christiane Pagano Mello, and Ana Paula Costa are some good examples of a much broader scholarship.88 Virtually every social historian exploring the formation of social elites in colonial Brazil has dabbled with this issue, even when their focus lies elsewhere. Military services were a great bargaining chip when dealing with the crown. This historiography, in exploring the constant negotiation between Lisbon and the American subjects, has also emphasized the Atlantic scope of the Portuguese identity—the strong sense of belonging to a broader imagined community, shared by Portuguese on both sides of the Atlantic.

Warfare or, more broadly, colonial military administration have been used to understand racial realities of colonial Brazil. Historians such as Francis Dutra, Hebe Mattos, Hendrik Kraay, Ronald Raminelli, Luiz Geraldo Silva, and Rafael Ale Rocha have been discussing how military services provided opportunities for upward mobility for blacks, Indians, or those of mixed race. Clearly, in times of military crisis the crown was much more open to rewarding these subaltern groups. There are, however, some disagreements on what would, in normal circumstances, stall the aspirations of these blacks, Indians, or mixed-race militias. Some argue that the major disqualifiers were definitely skin color or race, while others put an emphasis on features such as quality of birth (noble ancestry) and occupation (manual labor)—both their own and their immediate ancestors’—which superseded any other consideration.89

The economic and institutional sides of military operations in colonial Brazil have also received scholarly attention, although seldom specific attention. The involvement of municipalities in the defense of the territory, collecting taxes and paying for the troops, was well established by earlier studies that had studied the general role of this local institution. Several PhD dissertations have also been centered on a particular colonial administrator and their government in Brazil. They all show to a greater or lesser extent the military attributions, functions, and actions in a given period. Rarely, however, is there an attempt to revisit the military administration of a captaincy in the long term.

Forgotten for a long time, the Overseas Council received during a short period of time the attention of four PhD candidates, some of whom eventually published their dissertations.90 These works paid special attention to the involvement of the Overseas Council in the defense of Brazil, approaching it from several angles and coming to somewhat different interpretations. The relation between warfare and the rise of the fiscal state was also a traditionally less explored issue for colonial Brazil. The idea that taxes created the modern state was proposed for more than a century and is widely accepted. Wolfgang Lenk’s 2013 book goes a long way in exploring the usefulness of this theory in colonial Brazil. The Luso-Dutch War would have played a central role in the consolidation of the Portuguese imperial structures.91


This work is supported by national funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., within the framework of the contract-program prescribed by numbers 4, 5, and 6 of article 23 of the D.L. 57/2016, of August 29, and changed by the Law 57/2017, of July 19. The author would like to express his gratitude to Adriana Barreto de Souza and Thiago Krause for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this text.

Primary Sources

Portuguese archival history is profoundly marked by the destructiveness of the 1755 earthquake. Many irreplaceable collections of the central administration disappeared during that major geological event, consumed by the ravaging fires and washed away by the retreating waters of the tsunami that ensued. For example, the records of meetings of the Council of State—the top council in the monarchy and where pressing issues would be discussed—were all lost. The pre-1755 documentation originally produced or held by many metropolitan councils or courts that was not lost is often scattered throughout many archives, accessible but not always organized in the friendliest way for a researcher.

Sources pertaining to Portuguese imperial experience, and its military aspects, were also affected by the quake. For example, a substantial part of the records held by Casa da Índia (India House)—the institution that to a large extent administrated the empire in its earlier stages—was lost. Luckily, the documentation produced or held by the Overseas Council, and by the secretary of state for the navy and overseas territories, was preserved. These collections kept in the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino constitute the main source of materials for anyone who wants to explore the military history of colonial Brazil. These materials include muster rolls, petitions for rewards or promotions, correspondence about military operations, commissions, legislation, and much more. The separate documents are all catalogued by chronological and geographical order (captaincies). There are also several collections of bound codices of note for the military history of Brazil, such as Consultas Mistas do Conselho Ultramarino, Registo de Consultas de Mercês Gerais, and Registo de decretos da Secretaria de Estado da Marinha e Ultramar. A few years ago the Brazilian government, through the Projeto Resgate, led an extraordinary effort to digitalize all these materials. They are now available online, via the National Library of Rio de Janeiro website, to be consulted by researchers worldwide.

The Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo in Lisbon also has important holdings related to war. The archive is especially important for the reconstitution of military trajectories and can be explored by the name of supplicants when they received promotions or when they applied for a habit of a military order. These holdings include: Registo Geral de Mercês, Chancelaria da Ordem de Cristo, Habilitações da Ordem de Cristo, Chancelaria da Ordem de Santiago, Habilitações da Ordem de Cristo, Chancelaria da Ordem de Avis, and Habilitações da Ordem de Avis.

The Biblioteca da Ajuda is particularly important for the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Arquivo Histórico Militar is indispensable for the end of the colonial period. The organization of the Portuguese expeditionary force to rein in Brazilian independent ambitions, for example in 1821, is to be found in this archive (2ª divisão, 1ª seção). There are other Portuguese archives with relevant information for the military dimensions of colonial Brazil, such as the Biblioteca Nacional, the Biblioteca da Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, or the Arquivo da Marinha. The relevant information is, however, more scattered, rarely organized in serial fashion.

The Arquivo da Casa do Cadaval is the most important family archive to the study of colonial Brazil, as its catalogue shows.92 Unfortunately, the archive is not open to the public.

In Spain, the Archivo General de Simancas holds important documents for the period of the Iberian Union (1580–1640), mainly found in Secretarías Provinciales, Portugal.

In Brazil the principal collections are to be found in the Arquivo Nacional, in Rio de Janeiro, and the Biblioteca Nacional, also in Rio de Janeiro. Codex 70 of the Secretaria de Estado do Brasil, in the Arquivo Nacional, essentially comprising correspondence of the viceroy to local authorities, is of great usefulness to reconstitute the military operations and military logistics. There are other collections held in local archives of interest, such as the Seção Colonial e Provincial in the Arquivo Público do Estado da Bahia, or Casa dos Contos in the Arquivo Público Mineiro.

Many documents related to the colonial period have been published since 1838, with the publication of the first volume of Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro. Other collections were in the meantime published in periodicals, such as Documentos Interessantes para a História e Costumes de São Paulo, Revista do Arquivo Público Mineiro, and Documentos Históricos (Rio de Janeiro). Due to their ubiquity, war and military administration are therefore abundantly present in these collections. They are also represented in the collections of Portuguese legislation, published since the end of the 18th century in ambitious editorial efforts. For example, the 1645 Regimento das Fronteiras (Statute of Frontiers) that provided a new regulatory framework for the armed forces, introduced in Brazil in 1653, was published in Collecção Chronologica da Legislação Portugueza, in 1856.93

Further Reading

  • Mello, Evaldo Cabral de. Olinda Restaurada: Guerra e Açúcar no Nordeste, 1630–1654. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Top Books, 1998.
  • Cotta, Francis Albert. Negros e Mestiços nas Milíciasda América Portuguesa. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Crisálida, 2010.
  • Cruz, Miguel Dantas da. Um império de conflitos: O Conselho Ultramarino e a defesa do Brasil. Lisbon, Portugal: ICS, 2015.
  • Cruz, Miguel Dantas da. “Imperial Perceptions and Circulation in the Portuguese Atlantic World (1620s–1660s).” Itinerario 41, no. 2 (2017): 375–403.
  • Cruz, Miguel Dantas da. “From Flanders to Pernambuco: Battleground Perceptions in the Portuguese Early Modern Atlantic World.” War in History 26, no. 3 (2019): 316–341.
  • Cruz, Miguel Dantas da. “The Portuguese Army in Late-Eighteenth-Century Brazil: A Colonial Elite or a Metropolitan Force?” War and Society 39, no. 4 (2020): 234–255.
  • Kraay, Hendrik. Race, State and Armed Forces in Independence-Era Brazil: Bahia, 1790–1840. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.
  • Kraay, Hendrik. “Arming Slaves in Brazil from the Seventeenth Century to the Nineteenth Century.” In Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age. Edited by Cristopher L. Brown and Philip D. Morgan, 146–179. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
  • Krause, Thiago. Em busca da honra: A remuneração dos serviços da guerra holandesa e os hábitos das ordens militares (Bahia e Pernambuco, 1641–1683). São Paulo, Brazil: Annablume, 2012.
  • Langfur, Hal. “Moved by Terror: Frontier Violence as Cultural Exchange in Late-Colonial Brazil.” Ethnohistory 52, no. 2 (2005): 255–289.
  • Lenk, Wolfgang. Guerra e Pacto Colonial: A Bahia contra o Brasil Holandês (1624–1654). São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2013.
  • Mattos, Hebe. “‘Black Troops’ and Hierarchies of Color in the Portuguese Atlantic World: The Case of Henrique Dias and His Black Regiment.” Luso-Brazilian Review 45, no. 1 (2008): 6–29.
  • Mello, Christiane Pagano de. Forças militares no Brasil colonial. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: E-Papers, 2009.
  • Possamai, Paulo. A vida quotidiana na Colónia do Sacramento: Um bastião Português em terras do futuro Uruguai. Lisbon, Portugal: Livros do Brasil, 2006.
  • Possamai, Paulo, ed. Conquistar e defender: Portugal, Países Baixos e Brasil; Estudos de História Militar Moderna. São Leopoldo, Brazil: Oikos, 2012.
  • Puntoni, Pedro. A Guerra dos Bárbaros: Povos indígenas e a colonização do sertão nordeste do Brasil, 1650–1720. São Paulo, Brazil: Hucitec, 2002.
  • Puntoni, Pedro. “‘The Barbarians War’: Colonization and Indigenous Resistance in Brazil (1650–1720).” In Resistance and Colonialism: Insurgent Peoples in World History. Edited by Nuno Domingos, Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, and Ricardo Roque, 153–173. Berlin: Springer, 2019.
  • Schwartz, Stuart. “The Voyage of the Vassals: Royal Power, Noble Obligations, and Merchant Capital before the Portuguese Restoration of Independence, 1624–1640.” American Historical Review 96, no. 3 (1991): 735–762.
  • Silva, Luiz Geraldo. “Gênese das milícias de pardos e pretos na América portuguesa: Pernambuco e Minas Gerais, séculos XVII e XVIII.” Revista de História 169 (2013): 111–144.


  • 1. Rolando Laguarda Trías, “Cristóvão Jaques e as Armadas de Guarda Costa,” História Naval Brasileira, vol. 1 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Serviço de Documentação Geral da Marinha, 1975), 247–299.

  • 2. The military services of Martim Afonso de Sousa in Brazil and other places in Iberia would be well rewarded. He received two of the fourteen hereditary captaincies—the captaincies of São Vicente and Rio de Janeiro—and, a few years later, he would become governor of the Portuguese Estado da Índia (1542–1545).

  • 3. For a general view of the proprietary system in Brazil, see António Vasconcelos de Saldanha, As capitanias do Brasil: Antecedentes, desenvolvimento e extinção de um fenómeno atlântico (Lisbon, Portugal: CNCDP, 2001).

  • 4. Saldanha, As capitanias do Brasil, 193.

  • 5. Evaldo Cabral de Mello, A Fronda dos Mazombos: Nobres contra Mascates; Pernambuco (1666–1715) (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1995), 27. The top colonial administrator in Brazil had for a long time the title of governor general (1549–1640), in line with the lesser status of the colony when compared with Estado da Índia, often governed by a viceroy. This changed with the appointment of the Marquis of Montalvão as the first viceroy of Brazil. The experience was only repeated in 1663–1667, with the appointment of the Count of Óbidos; in 1714–1718, with the appointment of the Marquis of Angeja; and from 1720 onward. The change of title of the leading administrator, from governor general to viceroy, did not entail a massive change in the jurisdiction and authority. It implied, however, the growing importance and prestige of Brazil during the 18th century.

  • 6. See Harold Johnson, “Portuguese Settlement, 1500–1580,” in Colonial Brazil, ed. Leslie Bethell (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 20.

  • 7. Marcos Carneiro Mendonça, Raízes da Formação Administrativa do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: IHGB-Conselho Federal da Cultura, 1972), 35–51.

  • 8. Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen, ed., “Relação das Capitanias do Brasil,” Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro 62, no. 1 (1900): 5–34.

  • 9. Vitorino Magalhães Godinho, Mito e Mercadoria, Utopia e Pratica de Navegar: Séculos XIII–XVIII (Lisbon, Portugal: Difel, 1990), 338.

  • 10. The integration of Portuguese men in Asian societies was recently revisited by António Hespanha, Filhos da Terra: Identidades mestiças nos confins da expansão Portuguesa (Lisbon, Portugal: Tinta da China, 2019), 233–235.

  • 11. José Manuel Santos Pérez, “Brazil and the Politics of the Spanish Hapsburgs in the South Atlantic (1580–1640),” in “The South Atlantic, Past and Present,” special issue, Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies 27 (2015): 108.

  • 12. Timothy Coates, Degredados e Órfãs: Colonização dirigida pela coroa no império português, 1550–1750 (Lisbon, Portugal: CNCDP, 1998), 159; “Registo da folha Geral deste Estado . . . ,” in Documentos Históricos, vol. 15 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Typographia Monroe, 1930), 33–37; and see also Wolfgang Lenk, Guerra e Pacto Colonial: A Bahia contra o Brasil Holandês (1624–1654) (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2013), 37, 149.

  • 13. According to the sources, this contingent ranged from 1,600 to three thousand men. See Lenk, Guerra e Pacto Colonial, 39.

  • 14. Thiago Krause, “A Formação de uma Nobreza Ultramarina: Coroa e elites locais na Bahia seiscentista” (PhD diss., Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2015), 210–221; and Miguel Dantas da Cruz, “The Portuguese Army in Late-Eighteenth-Century Brazil: A Colonial Elite or a Metropolitan Force?” War and Society 39, no. 4 (2020): 237–241.

  • 15. Caio Prado Jr., Formação do Brasil Contemporâneo (São Paulo, Brazil: Editora Brasiliense, 1948), 308.

  • 16. Francis William Orde Morton, “The Military and Society in Bahia, 1800–1821,” Journal of Latin American Studies 7, no. 2 (1975): 249–269; Hendrik Kraay, Race, State and Armed Forces in Independence-Era Brazil: Bahia, 1790–1840 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001); and see also Cruz, “The Portuguese Army,” 234–255.

  • 17. Enrique Peregalli, Recrutamento no Brasil Colonial (Campinas, Brazil: Editora da UNICAMP, 1986). See also Christiane Pagano de Mello, “Os Corpos de Ordenanças e auxiliares: Sobre as relações militares e políticas na América Portuguesa,” História: Questões e Debates 45 (2006): 53–56.

  • 18. Grateful families became inevitably indebted to these recruiting officers. While describing the patronage ties that stemmed from these recruiting practices, the Portuguese historian Joaquim Romero de Magalhães made a remarkable comment: “making soldiers, tremendous power! Not making them, even greater!.” Romero de Magalhães, Algarve Económico (Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Estampa, 1988), 338.

  • 19. Fernando Dores Costa, Insubmissão: Aversão ao serviço militar no Portugal do século XVIII (Lisbon, Portugal: ICS, 2010), 204–205.

  • 20. Luiz Guilherme Scaldaferri Moreira, “Os capitães das fortalezas de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (c.1650–c.1700),” in Conquistar e defender: Portugal, Países Baixos e Brasil; Estudos de História Militar Moderna, ed. Paulo Possamai (São Leopoldo, Brazil: Oikos, 2012), 88.

  • 21. Cruz, “The Portuguese Army.” This ratio was kept even after the independence of Brazil. Between 1837 and 1850, approximately half of the generals of the Brazilian Army had been born in Europe. See Adriana Barreto de Souza, “Ao serviço de Sua Majestade: A tradição militar portuguesa na composição do generalato brasileiro (1837–50),” in Nova história militar brasileira, ed. Celso Castro, Vitor Izecksohn, and Hendrik Kraay (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Editora FGV, 2004), 160–163.

  • 22. Costa, Insubmissão, 29.

  • 23. Raphael Bluteau, Vocabulario Portuguez & Latino, vol. 5 (Lisbon, Portugal: Na Officina de Pascoal da Sylva, 1716), 487.

  • 24. Kalina Vanderlei Silva, “Francisco de Brito Freire e a reforma militar de Pernambuco no século XVII,” in Conquistar e defender: Portugal, Países Baixos e Brasil; Estudos de História Militar Moderna, ed. Paulo Possamai (São Leopoldo, Brazil: Oikos, 2012), 216–217.

  • 25. Miguel Dantas da Cruz, Um império de conflitos: O Conselho Ultramarino e a defesa do Brasil (Lisbon, Portugal: ICS, 2015), 96.

  • 26. Consulta (record of a meeting) of the Overseas Council, November 20, 1745, Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, Avulsos, Box 44, doc. 130, and Box 47, docs. 56–58.

  • 27. Kraay, Race, State and Armed Forces, 85.

  • 28. It has been convincingly argued that the use of racial categories is not entirely suitable to discuss social relations in the modern world, in general, and in Brazil, in particular. Perceptions on race were too fluid and unprecise. This article acknowledges these arguments, yet it also recognizes that some form of racial conception was definitely brewing in the Portuguese world, especially in the second half of the 18th century. See, for example, Hebe Mattos, “‘Black Troops’ and Hierarchies of Color in the Portuguese Atlantic World: The Case of Henrique Dias and His Black Regiment,” Luso-Brazilian Review 45, no. 1 (2008): 6–29; and José António Gonçalves de Mello, Henrique Dias, governador dos crioulos, negros e mulatos do Brasil (Recife, Brazil: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 1988).

  • 29. Kraay, Race, State and Armed Forces, 98.

  • 30. José Correa Rangel, “Guarnição do Rio de Janeiro com seus uniformes e mapas do número de homens dos regimentos pagos e dos auxiliares,” 1786, Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro.

  • 31. The initial order was apparently sent on March 22, 1766. Thirty years later Lisbon insisted on the need to fill these positions with regulars—the Royal decree of August 7, 1796. Antonio Delgado da Silva, Collecção da Legislação Portugueza desde a ultima compilação das ordenações: Legislação de 1791 a 1801 (Lisbon, Portugal: Na Typografia Maygrense, 1828), 295–296. In the meantime, the crown had changed its opinion. In the 1767 the crown insisted on the equality of all servicemen, irrespective of color or race.

  • 32. Adriana Barreto de Souza, “O meio militar como arena política: Conflitos e disputas por direitos no Regimento de Homens Pardos do Rio de Janeiro, 1805,” Tempo 26, no. 2 (2020): 363–382.

  • 33. Costa, Insubmissão, 29.

  • 34. Heloisa Liberalli Bellotto, Autoridade e conflito no Brasil colonial: O governo do morgado de Mateus em São Paulo (1765–1775) (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2007), 95.

  • 35. Prado Jr., Formação do Brasil Contemporâneo, 322.

  • 36. Raymundo Faoro, Os donos do poder: Formação do Patronato político Brasileiro, vol. 1 (Porto Alegre: Globo, 1984), 196.

  • 37. See, for example, José Eudes Gomes, As Milícias D’el Rey: Tropas militares e poder no Ceará Setecentista (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: FGV, 2010); Mello, “Os Corpos de Ordenanças e auxiliares”; and Francis Albert Cotta, “No rastro dos dragões: Políticas da ordem e o universo militar nas Minas Setecentistas” (PhD diss., Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 2004).

  • 38. Francis Albert Cotta, Negros e Mestiços nas Milícias da América Portuguesa (Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Crisálida, 2010), 71.

  • 39. Cotta, Negros e Mestiços, 83.

  • 40. “Commission to Sebastião Correia de Sã,” Documentos Históricos, vol. 12 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Augusto Porto, 1929), 330–331.

  • 41. See Cotta, Negros e Mestiços, 74–82.

  • 42. Hendrik Kraay, “Arming Slaves in Brazil from the Seventeenth Century to the Nineteenth Century,” in Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age, ed. Cristopher L. Brown and Philip D. Morgan (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), 149.

  • 43. Kraay, “Arming Slaves,” 156.

  • 44. Letter of the Marquis of Lavradio, June 20, 1775, in Cartas do Rio de Janeiro, 1769–1776 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Secretaria de Estado da Educação e Cultura/Instituto Estadual do Livro, 1978), doc. 535, pp. 160–161.

  • 45. Manuel Calado, O valeroso Lucideno e triumpho da liberdade, vol. 1 (Lisbon, Portugal: Paulo Craesbeeck, 1648), 12.

  • 46. Ronald Raminelli, Nobrezas do Novo Mundo: Brasil e Ultramar Hispânico, século XVII–XVIII (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: FGV, 2015), 149.

  • 47. António Vieira, Cartas do P. Antonio Vieyra da Companhia de Jesu, vol. 1 (Lisbon, Portugal: Na Officina da Congregação do Oratório, 1735), 49–56.

  • 48. These commissions are reproduced in Documentos Históricos, vols. 11–12 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Augusto Porto & Cia, 1929).

  • 49. For these Indian leaderships see the work of Rafael Ale Rocha on the Amazonas region, especially his PhD dissertation: “A elite militar no Estado do Maranhão: Poder, hierarquia e comunidades indígenas (século XVII)” (PhD diss., Universidade Federal Fluminense, 2013).

  • 50. Raminelli, Nobrezas do Novo Mundo, 172–173.

  • 51. Adriana Romeiro, Paulistas e Emboabas no Coração de Minas: Ideias, Práticas e Imaginário Político no Século XVIII (Belo Horizonte, Brazil: UFMG, 2008), 231.

  • 52. Among many others, see the interpretation of Anthony John Russel-Wood, “Identidade, etnia e autoridade em Minas Gerais do século XVIII: Leituras do Códice Costa Mattoso,” Varia Historia 21 (1999): 100–118.

  • 53. Raphael Bluteau, Vocabulario Portuguez & Latino, vol. 1 (Coimbra, Portugal: No Collegio das Artes da Companhia de Jesu, 1712), 666.

  • 54. Vitor Izecksohn, “Ordenanças, tropas de linha e auxiliares: Mapeando os espaços militares luso-brasileiros,” in O Brasil colonial 1720–1821, ed. João Fragoso and Maria de Fátima Gouvêa (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Civilização Brasileira, 2014), 508.

  • 55. Pérez, “Brazil and the Politics of the Spanish Hapsburgs,” 104–120.

  • 56. Miguel Dantas da Cruz, “Imperial Perceptions and Circulation in the Portuguese Atlantic World (1620s–1660s),” Itinerario 41, no. 2 (2017): 385–386.

  • 57. António Vieira, Sermam que pregou o P. Antonio Vieira da companhia de Iesus na Misericordia da Bahia de todos os Santos em dia de Visitação de nossa Señora Orago da Casa (Lisbon, Portugal: Na Officina de Domingos Lopes Rosa, 1655), 320.

  • 58. Miguel Dantas da Cruz, “From Flanders to Pernambuco: Battleground Perceptions in the Portuguese Early Modern Atlantic World,” War in History 26, no. 3 (2019): 339–340.

  • 59. Letter from Francisco Barreto de Meneses, April 29, 1662, in Documentos Históricos, vol. 4 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Braggio & Reis, 1928), 146–149. Mazombo is a word with African origin that was reappropriated in Brazil to designate someone of European ancestry. It was roughly the equivalent of criollo in Spanish America.

  • 60. Evaldo Cabral de Mello, Olinda Restaurada: Guerra e Açúcar no Nordeste, 1630–1654 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Top Books, 1998), 372.

  • 61. Quoted in Mello, Olinda Restaurada, 362.

  • 62. Quoted in Mello, Olinda Restaurada, 365.

  • 63. Quoted in Mello, Olinda Restaurada, 360.

  • 64. Among others, see Luiz Felipe de Alencastro, O Trato dos Viventes: Formação do Brasil no Atlântico Sul (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2000), 247–323; and Thiago Krause, Em busca da honra: A remuneração dos serviços da guerra holandesa e os hábitos das ordens militares (Bahia e Pernambuco, 1641–1683) (São Paulo, Brazil: Annablume, 2012).

  • 65. Evaldo Cabral de Mello, Rubro Veio: O imaginário da restauração pernambucana, 3rd ed. (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2008).

  • 66. Francis Albert Cotta, “Os Terços de Homens Pardos e Pretos Libertos: Mobilidade social via postos militares nas Minas do século XVIII,” Mneme: Revista de Humanidades 3, no. 6 (2002): 76; and Luiz Geraldo Silva, “Gênese das milícias de pardos e pretos na América portuguesa: Pernambuco e Minas Gerais, séculos XVII e XVIII,” Revista de História 169 (2013): 111–144.

  • 67. José Damião Rodrigues, “A emigração para o Brasil: As levas de soldados no século XVIII,” in Portos, Escalas e Ilhéus no relacionamento entre o Ocidente e o Oriente: Actas do Congresso Internacional Comemorativo do Regresso de Vasco da Gama a Portugal, vol. 2 (Lisbon, Portugal: Universidade dos Açores-CNCDP, 2001), 109–130.

  • 68. Letter from the Marquis of Lavradio to Manuel da Cunha de Meneses, November 23, 1774, in Lavradio, Cartas do Rio de Janeiro, 150–152.

  • 69. Instructions, August 8, 1765, in Nauk Maria de Jesus, “Para uma história da organização militar na Capitania de Mato Grosso,” cited in Conquistar e Defender: Portugal, Países Baixos e Brasil, ed. Paulo Possamai (São Leopoldo, Brazil: Oikos, 2012), 322.

  • 70. Cotta, Negros e Mestiços, 65.

  • 71. Luiz dos Santos Vilhena, Recopilação de noticias soteropolitanas e brasilicas contidas em XX cartas, vol. 2 (Bahia, Brazil: Imprensa Offical do Estado, 1921), 254–255.

  • 72. Letter to the Count of Cunha, January 26, 1765, in Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça, Século XVIII: Século Pombalino do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Xerox, 1989), 425–427.

  • 73. Letter to the Marquis of Lavradio, April 6, 1775, in Mendonça, Século XVIII, 632–633.

  • 74. Letter to the Marquis of Lavradio, May 9, 1775, in Mendonça, Século XVIII, 635–639.

  • 75. Paulo Possamai, A vida quotidiana na Colónia do Sacramento: Um bastião Português em terras do futuro Uruguai (Lisbon, Portugal: Livros do Brasil, 2006), 200.

  • 76. Cruz, Um império de conflitos, 234.

  • 77. Mello, Olinda Restaurada, 269–275.

  • 78. Possamai, A vida quotidiana na Colónia do Sacramento, 212.

  • 79. “Diário,” in Mendonça, Século XVIII, 320.

  • 80. Pedro Cardim, “‘Administração’ e ‘Governo’: Reflexão sobre o vocabulário do Antigo Regime,” in Modos de Governar: Idéias e Práticas Políticas no Império Português, ed. Maria Fernanda Bicalho and Vera Ferlini (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2005), 64.

  • 81. Cruz, Um império de conflitos, 321.

  • 82. Cruz, Um império de conflitos, 279.

  • 83. Prado Jr., Formação do Brasil Contemporâneo; and Faoro, Os Donos do Poder.

  • 84. See, among others, António Gonçalves de Melo, João Fernandes Vieira: Mestre de Campo do Terço de Infantaria de Pernambuco, 2nd ed. (Lisbon, Portugal: CNCDP, 2000).

  • 85. Mello, Olinda Restaurada.

  • 86. The Dutch side was explored by, among others, Bruno Miranda, “Gente de Guerra: Origem, cotidiano e resistência dos soldados do exército da companhia das Índias Ocidentais no Brasil (1630–1654)” (PhD diss., Leiden University, 2011); and Wim Klooster, The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016).

  • 87. Puntoni, Guerra dos Bárbaros.

  • 88. Krause, Gomes, and Mello were already mentioned. Ana Paula Costa, Corpos de ordenanças e chefias militares em Minas colonial: Vila Rica (1735–1777) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: FGV, 2014).

  • 89. Mattos, “Black Troops”; Silvia H. Lara, Fragmentos setecentistas: Escravidão, cultura e poder na América portuguesa (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2007), 282–285; and Silva, “Gênese das milícias,” 132, 142–143.

  • 90. Edval de Souza Barros, Negócios de tanta importância: O Conselho Ultramarino e a condução da guerra no Atlântico (1643–1661) (Lisboa, Portugal: CHAM, 2008); Marcello Loureiro, A Gestão do Labirinto: Circulação de informações no império marítimo português (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Apicuri, 2012); Cruz, Um império de conflitos; and Erik Lars Myrup, “To Rule from Afar” (PhD diss., Yale University, 2006).

  • 91. Lenk, Guerra e Pacto Colonial.

  • 92. Virgínia Rau and Maria Gomes da Silva, eds., Os Manuscritos do Arquivo da Casa do Cadaval respeitantes ao Brasil, 2 vols. (Coimbra, Portugal: Imprensa da Universidade, 1956–1958).

  • 93. “Regimento das Fronteiras,” in Collecção Chronologica da Legislação Portugueza: 1640–1647, ed. José Justino de Andrade Silva (Lisbon, Portugal: Imprensa de F.X. de Souza, 1856), 275–289.