27 March, 2009

L'Empire Tropical

Detail from the Plum Pudding in Danger

Europe is devastated by Bonaparte Hurricane that abolished almost all the European thrones and in November of 1807, is arriving in Portugal.

View from Lisbon

A desperate court runs over the harbour of Belém to embark. Children without parents, women without husband, people of the high nobility with only the clothes on their bodies and with little or no money. Prince Regent João and Dom Pedro Carlos, Infante of Spain, the Princes and Princesses embarks in the frigate Queen of Portugal; Dom Pedro, the Prince of Brazil, waits his grandmother, Maria I, the queen who, mentally unstable since 1792, refuses to embark and wants to be with the people and resist declaring in a moment of extraordinary lucidity: "Stop hurrying in such a way or people will think that we are running away"
Maria I, Queen of Portugal

Allegory of the Divine Providence guiding Prince João to Brazil

The Prince Regent of Portugal Dom João decided for the transference of the Portuguese Court to Brazil in order to keep the national sovereignty and independence and prevent the imprisonement of the Royal Family and government. The embarkment started in the port of Belém at 11pm, November 27th of 1807 and the number of royals was epic:
The embarkment of the Royal Family

Queen Maria I of Portugal; the Prince Regent, João, his wife Princess Carlota Joaquina and their 8 children, ( between them some years later: 1 Emperor, 1 King and 2 Queens): Dom Pedro; Dom Miguel, princesses Maria Teresa de Bragança, Maria Isabel de Bragança, Maria da Assunção de Bragança, Isabel Maria de Bragança, Maria Francisca de Assis de Bragança e Ana de Jesus Maria de Bragança; The Infantas Maria Ana Francisca and Maria Francisca Benedita de Bragança (the Queen sisters), and Infante Pedro Carlos of Spain. Another 15.000 people, many from the high aristocracy as dukes, marquises and counts had embarked bringing all the National Treasure.
The embarkment of thousands of people and its belongings were extremely confused. All a bureaucratic system was being transferred to the colony of Brazil: ministers, council members, judges of the Supreme Court, employee of the Treasure, patents of the Army and the Navy and members of the high Clergy. Trunks with clothes, luggages and bags followed with furniture from the several Royal Palaces. The Royal Art Collection, objects from the museums, the Royal Library with more than 60.000 books, all the money of the Portuguese Treasure and the Jewels of the Crown were placed in the bilges of the ships, as well as horses, oxen, cows, pigs and hens and all the type of foods. In November's 29th morning the Portuguese Royal Squadron composed by 80 ships finally left from Europe to the very exotic Rio De Janeiro. The situation in the ships was very difficult. The boats had left with the overcrowded bilges and three times the normal capacity of people on board.
Prince Regent João, later king Dom João VI of Portugal

The internal congestion on board was total. People and things were spread everywhere. There was not plenty of beds for all and some people slept in the deck, facing rains and the increasing heat approaching to the tropics.
Prince Dom Pedro, later King of Portugal and 1st Emperor of Brazil

Water and food had been rationed so that they woukd not lack until the end of the trip. In the confusion of the embarkment, many had been only with the clothes of the body and the ones that had embarked the luggage couldn't find it on board.
Prince Dom Miguel, later King of Portugal

It was very difficult to keep hygiene, therefore there wasn't water for everybody have a bath.
Queen Carlota Joaquina, wife of João VI of Portugal

This situation also reached the Royal Family. Princess Carlota Joaquina and the ladies of the court had been attacked by lices. To prevent it's propagation the ladies shaved their heads and decided to wear turbants. After 54 days in the sea, at January 22th 1808, Portuguese Royal Family disembarked in that exuberant and tropical territory. Maria I of Portugal and the Prince Regent had been the first European monarchs to cross, in 1808, the line of the equator and step in the tropics and Dom João VI was the first and only european monarch ever who was crowned in the Americas (1818), as 27th king of Portugal and 1st of the United kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves.
Portuguese Court in Brazil

Return to Portugal would take 13 years . On their return Europe was deeply changed and other disputes for the power would go to start!