Governors of Colonial Brazil

In “The Fortuitous Meeting”, Gerard is called before Governor Almeida to face charges of “vagrancy and practicing the Protestant religion”.

The governors were the highest authorities in Colonial Brazil, appointed by the King of Portugal himself (or, during the unification, the king of Spain).  The governor was the king’s official representative in the massive colony.

The position originated when King Dom João III appointed Tomé de Sousa first Governor of Brazil and sent him to establish the capital city of Salvador.

Tomé de Souza

Three positions were created just below the governor: the “ouvidor-mor” (head of justice), “capitão-mor” (head of defense), and “provedor-mor” (head of the treasury).  At the regional level, city councils were established which could communicate with the governor or directly to the king.

Over the years, the position of Governor evolved to that of General Governor and eventually to Viceroy, as both Brazil and its importance to Portugal expanded.

Except for two short periods where the colony was spilt into two different territories with two different governors (north and south), the governor and government resided in Salvador.  In 1763, near the end of the Colonial period, the capital was transferred to Rio de Janeiro.  In 1808, when Prince John (later John VI) left Portugal to live in Brazil, the position was discontinued.

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