The First Reign (1822-1831) marked the initial years of Brazil as an independent nation after the independence process was conducted through D. Pedro I. With this event, Brazil became a monarchy – the only one in Latin America – and was ruled by D. Pedro I in an authoritarian manner.
Independence of Brazil
Brazil's independence process was the result of pressure exerted by the Portuguese courts on D. Pedro I, who became regent of Brazil when his father, D. João VI, returned to Portugal in 1821. The Portuguese courts had been formed during the Liberal Revolution of Porto and pressured the royal authorities for changes in Portugal.
These pressures on the regent led him to lead the process of rupture between Brazil and Portugal. Thus, encouraged by D. Leopoldina and José Bonifácio, D. Pedro I himself declared the independence of Brazil on September 7, on the banks of the Ipiranga River. Then followed a war of independence fought in different parts of Brazil, with low-intensity fighting.
Brazil's independence was only actually recognized by Portugal in 1825, after negotiations mediated by England that provided for the payment of two million pounds as compensation and the requirement that Brazil not claim, encourage or lead the independence of other Portuguese colonies.
With the independence of Brazil, D. Peter was crowned emperor under the name of D. Pedro I . This made the nation a monarchy – the only one existing in Latin America after the independence processes. The choice for the monarchic regime was explained by historians as a lack of interest on the part of the elites of southeastern Brazil in carrying out the changes in the socioeconomic framework that an eventual republican system could generate.
Events of the First Reign
Brazil's first two years as an independent nation had as their main debate (in addition to the search for international recognition) the drafting of a constitution For the country. This document would be prepared by a Constituent [Assembly] that had been chosen in elections held after independence.
The Constituent Assembly assumed its functions in May 1823, and the drafting of the Constitution generated deep disagreements between the deputies and D. Pedro I. The great debate was about the scope of the political powers of the emperor. The constituents wanted the Emperor's powers to be limited and he not be allowed to dissolve the Constituent Assembly at will. This posture of the constituents, of seeking to limit royal power, naturally generated dissatisfaction in D. Pedro I, who defended that his power was centralizing and authoritarian over the nation.
This dispute between the constituents and the Emperor resulted in an event known as the Night of Agony . On November 12, 1823, by orders of D. Pedro I, soldiers invaded the Constituent Assembly and arrested the deputies opposing the emperor. With that, the constitution that had been drawn up was barred by D. Pedro I.
This measure by D. Pedro I took place because, in September of the same year, the Constituent Assembly had finalized the elaboration of the constitution which, in addition to having a liberal character, also limited royal powers . From the arrest of his opponents and the impugnation of this document, D. Pedro I formed a Council of State and began to draft a constitution that pleased him.
The constitution drawn up by D. Pedro I and his council was granted, that is, it was imposed by the will of the emperor on March 25, 1824. Therefore, the first Brazilian constitution was product of authoritarianism and defined from the top down. This set of rules also had some liberal principles, but gave unrestricted powers to the Brazilian Emperor.
The Constitution of 1824 had as main foundations established:
- Existence of four powers :the executive ,legislative ,judicial and themoderator power . The moderating power only represented the figure of the emperor and gave him full political rights.
- The Emperor was considered figure sacred and inviolable .
- The form of government chosen was the monarchy , with the transmission of power done in a hereditary .
- Elections were established as indirect , and the right to vote was census , that is, income criteria were established to determine who would have the right to vote. In addition to these criteria, it was established that only free men over the age of 25 could vote.
- The constitution also guaranteed some individual rights important, such as religious tolerance (private worship of religions other than Catholicism was allowed), protection of private property, etc.
Resignation of D. Pedro I
D. Pedro I's authoritarian postures generated strong dissatisfaction, especially among the elites of the Northeast. This dissatisfaction was intensified in this region with the influence of Cipriano Barata and Joaquim from Love Divine , also known as frei Mug . They published their criticism of the emperor in newspapers that circulated in Pernambuco, called Sentinel of Freedom (Cipriano Barata) and Tífis Pernambucano (Fr. Mug).
In addition to the emperor's authoritarianism, the high taxes and ideological impacts that the Pernambucan Revolution of 1817 still generated in this region led the province of Pernambuco to a new rebellion:the Confederação do Ecuador . This revolt began on July 2, 1824 and was led by frei Mug and Manoel from Oak Paes from Andrade .
The Confederation of Ecuador, like the Pernambuco Revolution, had a separatist character and defended republicanism. This revolt spread to other regions of the Brazilian Northeast, such as the provinces of Paraíba, Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte. In September 1824, imperial troops had already retaken Recife and controlled this revolt. Those involved were harshly repressed, and Friar Caneca, for example, was executed.
In addition to the Confederation of Ecuador, another revolt broke out in Cisplatin , a province to the south that had been integrated by D. João VI when he invaded the region and defeated José Artigas in the 1810s. The revolt in Cisplatina declared the separation of this region from Brazil and its annexation to the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata (currently Argentina ). This started, in 1825, a conflict known as the Cisplatin War .
The Cisplatine War was, therefore, a conflict between the Brazilian Empire against the Buenos Aires government for the control of Cisplatine. This war lasted in an exhausting way for three years and, through the mediation of England, a peace agreement was signed in 1828 between the two governments. Both countries relinquished the Banda Oriental, and independence was granted to the region under the name of Eastern Republic of Uruguay .
This agreement was seen as a defeat, as Brazil failed to regain control over Cisplatin. In addition, Brazil's involvement in this war greatly damaged the economy, and the sum of factors (political authoritarianism, defeat in the war and economic crisis) resulted in the weakening of D. Pedro I's position.
D. Pedro I sought to reinforce his position by aligning himself more and more with the “Portuguese Party”, that is, Portuguese who had been against independence and who now defended the maintenance of D. Pedro I in power. This worsened the situation of political dissatisfaction, and disagreements between the “Portuguese Party” and the “Brazilian Party” intensified, which led D. Pedro I to abdicate the throne of Brazil on April 7, 1831 in favor of his son, Pedro de Alcântara.
D. Pedro I's abdication to the Brazilian throne in favor of his son began a period in Brazilian history known as the Regency Period, in which Pedro de Alcântara was only five years old and , therefore, was not of legal age to assume the Brazilian throne.
*Image credits:Georgios Kollidas and Shutterstock
Take the opportunity to check out our video lesson on the subject: