The story

Discovery of Brazil - Brazilwood


In order not to leave Brazil totally abandoned, Portugal began to explore various natural products of the colony: wood, spices, seeds, medicinal herbs, some animals, etc.

These products were often obtained from the Indians in exchange for some gifts: necklaces, combs, axes. Of all natural products, the most significant thing was redwood. However, its exploitation did not represent a remarkable activity in the history of the colony, since it did not provoke the colonization of the land nor the settlement of settlements.

Their search is due to the fact that they extract from it a red color paint, widely used as a dye in the fabric industry.

The exploitation of this product was rudimentary and predatory. The wood was cut by the Indians and piled on the beaches in large warehouses. The ships that arrived here took her to Europe.

The coastal forests of brazilwood extended from Rio Grande do Norte to Rio de Janeiro, with Pernambuco, Porto Seguro and Cabo Frio being the regions with the highest concentration of the product.

Redwood could only be exploited with the permission of the king of Portugal. That's why it is said that redwood was monopoly (dictionary link) from the king.

This privilege was given by the king, who, in turn, retained much of the profits.

Redwood extraction was carried out in various parts of the territory. When the redwood ended up in one place, the merchants began to exploit it in another and thus felled the forests. As this activity did not require Europeans to settle in America, in the first thirty years no settlements were built, only fortified buildings called trading posts, in some parts of the coast, for the defense and storage of redwood or other goods taken from the earth.

News about the large amount of redwood on the coast has attracted other European countries. Especially France, which, feeling undermined by the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas, did not recognize its validity. The French government then sponsored groups of privateers who began to travel the "redwood coast", negotiating the extraction of wood directly with the Indians, through barter.
As a result of pressure from frequent French and other European raids on their lands, the Portuguese Crown organized expeditions, called "body guard"to expel the privateers.

The first took place in 1516 and the second in 1526. Christopher Jacques commanded the two bodyguard expeditions organized by the Crown.

Both proved insufficient to combat smuggling and the constant threat of foreign occupation, given the vast expanse of coastline. The Brazilian historian Capistrano de Abreu stressed another major difficulty: the alliances made between the Europeans and the indigenous people. The Tupinambás often allied themselves with the French and the Portuguese had by their side the Tupiniquins. And, according to Capistrano, "for years it was undecided whether Brazil would belong to the Peró (Portuguese) or the Mair (French)."

However, the existence of shipwreck survivors, exiled and Portuguese outcasts in Brazil, as well as favoring contact with the Indians, facilitated the defense and occupation of the land. These men, who would have arrived with the first trips and stayed for various reasons, were already adapted to the physical and social conditions of the territory and the indigenous way of life. Some of them succumbed in half to the point of piercing lips and ears, killing prisoners according to rites. natives, and feed on your flesh. They believed in existing myths, incorporating them into their way of life, as is the case with that man who came to think of himself as an anteater. In all the holes he was flocking on all fours to find ant food, his favorite food. Others, on the contrary, revolted and imposed their will, such as the bachelor of Cananeia. There were also intermediate types who lived with the natives and established family ties with them. They married and had children with the Indians, most of them a large family of several women and a large number of children. mamelucos (dictionary link)