Um Homem Singular – Biografia política de Rodrigo da Fonseca Magalhães (Portuguese Edition)

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Prologue to the reader. Preliminaries, no page number. It is certainly his most complex work, rhetorically, intellectually and spiritually, and was perhaps aimed also at more learned audiences. The Jesuit Baltasar Duarte, on the other hand, expressed a somewhat different opinion in his censura written at the behest of the Royal Censor.

Similarly, the second parable is divided up into five chapters, dedicated to sugarcane. The third and final parable, the longest, is elaborated over the course of three chapters, dedicated respectively to each of the three estates which made up the social order of the Ancien Regime.

It thereby turns its gaze in turn to the clergy, the nobility and the common people, whose respective virtues, as well as vices, are represented in over thirty fruits Rosario As other scholars have pointed out, his expert navigation of the twisting paths of oratory allowed him to construct a discourse which is marked by its invention, wit and elaborate use of conceits.

Based on analogical thought, a principle which was intrinsic to the period, he successively constructs a series of metaphors in which the fruits of Brazil become the vehicles of his allegorical discourse. Underlying this all is the traditional image, the metaphor, of the world as a book, a universe which can be read and interpreted just as the words of a book are read and interpreted Blumenberg, In this sense, Rosario is carrying out a moral and ascetic reading of the natural world.

In his allegorical discourse, each of the plant species he describes becomes identified in moral terms with the different elements which made up this imagined monarchy, fulfilling the same purpose as emblems but without the visual element. In this language, the natural world, conceived as a text to be deciphered in order to uncover the language of the Revelation itself, became a code or instrument for the depiction of the political order.

The species and animals of the Creation were no more, therefore, than elements which became associated with specific moral meanings. Consequently, their properties came to foreshadow the vices and virtues of each of the many elements which together made up the Republic. This allowed him to establish a whole catalogue of some thirty-six fruits and species found in Portuguese America, which are listed at the beginning of the text. Not all of the species were native to Brazil; indeed, one example of a foreign species was the sugarcane plant.

Over the course of the book, some of the fruits cited in metaphorical terms include the pineapple, the papaya, the cashew, the banana, the coconut, the passionfruit, the Surinam cherry, the managaba Hancornia speciosa , the huito and the Brazil plum, to name only a few. However, the use of figurative language with clear moral undertones did not stop him from simultaneously giving concise descriptions of some of the characteristics which distinguished the different fruits from one another.

He often mentions, for example, their appearance, color and taste and even their possible uses. In this sense, the attributes and uses which both indigenous and European culture associated with certain species could come to take on new meanings and even blurred meanings Lima, The well-known sweet taste of pineapple —a fruit which represented the king— is thus seen as an accurate image of mercy and royal clemency. But, at the same time, he reinterprets to some extent the functions of its juice, traditionally considered an effective remedy for wounds because of its acidity.

Throughout the three parables which make up his text, he obeys the rules of sermon-writing, and therefore limits himself to noting in the margins the various parts of Scripture upon which he built his arguments, adding only a handful of authors linked to the patristic and spiritual tradition of the Church. It is entirely possible, therefore, that the knowledge he displays of Portuguese-American fruit could partly be down to his own experience as a missionary in those areas and his direct contact with the species he describes.

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From treatises, histories and natural histories to letters, missionary accounts and simple writings addressed to the king, they tended to be circulated primarily in manuscript form, although there were several works which were eventually printed in Europe. Other texts besides these also contributed to a better understanding of the natural world and were relatively common throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Every one of them, among other topics, dedicated a part of their exposition to the natural world of Portuguese America.

They described, in varying degrees of detail, not just mammals, birds and fish, but also minerals, plants and fruits, usually considering how they could be used. The text is that of the first two books of the Chronica da Companhia de Jesus no Estado do Brasil Lisbon, , where it acts as a lengthy prologue, a descriptive outline of Portuguese America with clear Edenic traits. The text was in fact censored upon publication, because, at certain points, it went as far as to attempt to pinpoint the exact location of Eden in Brazil.

However, it was printed again, standalone and expurgated, in under the title Noticias curiosas Ramos, ; Santos, His journey through the plants and fruits of the region was but a way of proving, in accordance with Scripture, the abundance, excellence and variety of a natural world which acted as an incitement to praise for the Creator. Furthermore, this natural world made Brazil a place which surpassed all others in beauty Vasconcelos, However, the text in this case is rather generic, short on details and, above all, intended to provide a backdrop of the region essentially, the region of Bahia for potential readers of his work.

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The text is in effect dedicated to constructing a narrative about the conquest of Portuguese America. But, in fact, it was not very different in its objectives from another, possibly more wide-reaching and denser, text written around the same time: Most are accompanied by corresponding texts, each image depicting a different species from the vegetable and animal kingdoms: It was not, specifically speaking, a treatise on natural history, although it made a huge use of natural knowledge.

Written in a missionary context, both of those latter authors had essentially sought to accumulate information about the Portuguese-American botanical and natural world. In this respect, several recent studies have made clear the close links which existed at that time between fields which historiographers have often considered to be inherently opposed, such as so-called modern science and Baroque culture Flor, ; Pimentel and Marcaida ; Marcaida and Pimentel ; Marcaida, Ultimately, it has been highlighted how in some learned circles in the s there was a way of understanding natural knowledge which turned it into a sort of preternatural knowledge, deeply pervaded with theological thought.

This was sustained by specific Neo-Platonic perceptions of the world which saw it as existing on two planes —one visible, the other invisible— which existed in harmony. But it was simultaneously supported by the way in which Saint Augustine had set out his understanding of nature as an expression of divine wisdom and omnipotence. Knowing the universe, essentially, was a way of becoming closer to the Creator. The natural world, as mentioned above, was merely a book, a text, written by God.

Like the Scriptures, knowing and understanding it required a whole exercise of exegesis, through which one had to observe the elements and species which made up the world beyond their external appearance and attempt to decode the hidden moral and spiritual meaning contained within plants and animals. For this purpose, similarities, analogies, metaphors —such characteristic epistemological bases of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries— were an essential instrument for the understanding of nature and the meanings which God had given to it R.

For many of them, America revealed itself to be a new Eden, a mythical world which took on providential meaning Ledezma, Ultimately, the nature of the New World, interpreted in this symbolic way, allowed him to construct his own unique vision of Portuguese America and the place it should occupy within the Portuguese Empire.

In this respect, we should not interpret a text like Frutas do Brasil outside of the distinctive political parameters of the age and context in which it was written.

Bonifácio, Maria de Fátima [WorldCat Identities]

It cannot be read from a perspective more relevant to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries —as a text in which there are hints of future separatist and nationalist claims. In any case, the treatise did indeed open the possibility of thinking about Brazil in a different way Almeida, He thus appeals for a central position for Brazil within an imperial structure which, at least in terms of perceptions and symbolic value, still bestowed greater significance on the Asian world, and particularly on India.

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For this, in fact, he turned to rhetorical features not very different from those which were increasingly being used from the end of the sixteenth century in a range of contexts in Spanish America and even in Portuguese India. As is well known, there were many images and lengthy reasoning constructed in colonial American contexts, through chronicles, hagiographies, natural histories and other texts, all with the aim of sacralizing the New World.

It became, as we have just seen, a space in which authors could claim the presence of a multitude of signs which were understood as no less than expressions of the divine. Furthermore, it was a space where holiness became possible, especially for those of peninsular descent who had been born in the New World. As a result, there was no shortage of accounts, especially during the Baroque period and sometimes written by criollos , which constructed a paradisiacal vision of the Americas and, naturally, of Brazil. There were also expressions which came from a less erudite world, such as those which are found in the unique cosmogony of the colonizer Pedro de Rates Henequim, who was condemned by the Inquisition in Gomes, These elements worked well as signs of the favor and divine blessing which had been bestowed on the New World.

Some of the most obviously symbolic depictions of the passionflower circulated from the beginning of the seventeenth century in printed works by authors like Antonio Possevino, Giacomo Bosio and Juan Eusebio Nieremberg himself, and served to reinforce this spiritualized vision of the flower. He also argued that a providential dimension could be attributed to Brazil, thanks to its fruits. In reality, only the greed and the sins which colonization had brought with it posed a threat to the original nature of this earth filled with signs of Redemption.

With those signs continuing to be ignored, the following punishment was the only possible result:. What land, what climate in this Brazil; what similarities the flowers and fruits of this land have to the Passion of the Christ. The first name with which this part of America was baptized by its discoverers was Santa Cruz; ambition beat the name Santa Cruz out of the land, and renamed it Brazil, after the Brazilwood tree; out of interest in wood, not remembrance of the Cross, this land is called Brazil, and not Santa Cruz, as it was at first known, when there was not so much sugarcane, so much fruit, so much Brazilwood, so much greed, so much coldness and so much sin.

Oh, how I fear that with so many signs of the Most Holy Passion of the Christ this new world will end up with punishments, for failing to take heed of those signs […]: He even sought to claim primacy for America over Europe, constructing an allegory putting two different images face to face. The first was that of a rosary made of flowers, drawn by the Virgin in the first volume of the book of the world corresponding to the Old World ; the second was that of a rosary made of fruit, which she had printed onto the second volume corresponding to Brazil.

In contrast, fruits grew and multiplied, lasted longer than flowers, were consequently more persevering and robust, and thus were favored by God:. The comparison even translated to the Asian sphere, implicitly revealing his consciousness of the worldly dimension of the Portuguese monarchy and of the way in which its different parts could be balanced. America, too, had fruits which represented the wonders of the rosary. The issue, of course, was not trivial, and would serve throughout the second half of the seventeenth century as an argument in attempts to determine the relationship between the monarchy and the elites of Pernambuco.

These elites sometimes asserted loyalty to the crown and sometimes, from a purely contractual standpoint, proclaimed themselves to be political subjects rather than simply natural subjects of the Portuguese monarch Mello, It was produced during a time of deep political, economic and social transformations across Portuguese America.

On the one hand, the sugar industry itself suffered from serious difficulties during the second half of the seventeenth century. The significant growth in sugar production in the British, French and Dutch Caribbean led to a substantial increase in competition and therefore to a sharp decrease in Brazilian exports. Furthermore, it brought with it a significant reduction in sugar prices and higher demand for slaves, whose price progressively rose Schwartz, There was no shortage of critics who, in these transition years from the seventeenth to the eighteenth centuries, spoke out to warn about the political, social and moral risks which could come about —or had already come about— from the exploitation of gold.

The euphoria which the gold industry had engendered, they said, attracted contemptible men to the gold regions, awakened greed in foreigners and ruined industries like sugar and tobacco by taking away a significant percentage of the slave workforce and diverting away other goods needed for the upkeep of sugar-mills and plantations Souza, We must not forget that after the war against the Dutch, and after the Dutch had ceded control over the region in , Pernambuco found itself embroiled in several political and social tensions which undoubtedly marked its unique course within Portuguese America.

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The king, keen to strengthen his authority, was not always willing to oblige such desires or, alternatively, he rejected them outright by supporting merchant groups, many of whom were from Portugal. Intermittent clashes of varying degrees occurred throughout this period, but they became particularly important during the Mascate War Mello, The difficulties which the sugar industry was then undergoing were also closely linked to this political situation.

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In the specific context of Pernambuco, the problems affected above all the colonial aristocracy, born in America and essentially made up of landholders and sugar-mill owners. Impoverished and ever more ruralized, this nobreza da terra , which had formerly built its apparatus of power through the institutions of a decadent Olinda, felt particularly wronged by the rise and the growing political, social and economic power of the mascates of Recife.

To add to this, many factory owners were economically dependent on them, heavily indebted and continually obliged to turn to loans from those same merchants to finance their sugar production Mello, Not explicitly, at least. This standpoint let him highlight to the monarch the role of his loyal vassals who had previously risked their lives and possessions in order to restore control over the sugar industry. As we have seen, this seems to be an allusion to the nobreza da terra which had taken part in the Dutch wars. But, at the same time, he makes significant criticisms of certain attitudes which he identified among those who were part of, or who wanted to become part of, the colonial nobility.

Never diverting his focus from the Portuguese-American world, he criticizes those who considered themselves to be nobles because of what they had —land and riches— rather than what they were: He denounced those who, forgetting their origins —something which happened easily in the New World— made themselves out as fidalgos. He also criticized the proliferation of a common method used to enter the nobility within the Portuguese Empire: It would be difficult to assert that the sugar-mill owners of Pernambuco were the ultimate and specific target of his invectives, although some of them probably felt as if they were.

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It appears, rather, to be a defense of a Pernambuco in which, ultimately, both sugar-mill owners and mascates were involved in an industry which he saw as a base for the riches of a rapidly-changing Empire. In this reading, that world became a place of Edenic and providential significance in which everything that was brought over from other worlds —even devotion to the rosary— seemed to acquire a greater degree of excellence. In his rhetorical strategy, in fact, he made use of his extensive natural knowledge, knowledge about fruits in Portuguese America which had been accumulated since the beginning of European colonization, including by Franciscans.

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