Coutinho, José Joaquim da Cunha de Azeredo (1742–1821)

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Coutinho, José Joaquim da Cunha de Azeredo (1742–1821)

José Joaquim da Cunha de Azeredo Coutinho (b. 8 September 1742; d. 12 September 1821), bishop of Olinda (1794–1806) and author. A child of the late Portuguese Enlightenment, Coutinho was born into a landowning family from the Rio de Janeiro captaincy. He graduated with a degree in canon law from Coimbra University in 1780. Twelve years later he was elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences. In 1798, he left Lisbon for Olinda, Pernambuco, where he founded a renowned seminary, whose "Estatutos" (Ordinances) he wrote. Also serving as provisional head of Pernambuco's government, he took harsh measures against what he considered, given his enlightened outlook, abusive practices such as tax evasion, and private appropriation of funds from the royal treasury. By so doing, he offended powerful vested interests. In 1802, Coutinho was called back to Portugal, where he was nominated bishop of Elvas in 1806. He retired from his see in 1817, and was appointed the last general inquisitor of the realm the following year.

As an author, Coutinho was chiefly concerned with the economic policy of the crown. His A Political Essay on the Commerce of Portugal and Her Colonies was published in 1794, and was translated into English in 1801. Later, he wrote a number of important works in a polemic vein on religious and administrative matters. His physiocratic beliefs, shrouded in a conservative outlook, revealed his sympathies with the reform-minded officials of the times, but some extreme attitudes, such as the defense of the slave trade, kept him somewhat apart from the leading intellectuals of the period.

See alsoPortuguese Empire .


E. Bradford Burns, "The Role of Azeredo Coutinho in the Enlightenment of Brazil," in Hispanic American Historical Review, no. 2 (1964): 145-160.

Sérgio Buarque De Holanda, "Apresentação," in Obras econômicas de J. J. da Cunha de Azeredo Coutinho (1794–1804), edited by Sérgio Buarque de Holanda (1966).

Manoel Cardozo, "Azeredo Coutinho and the Intellectual Ferment of His Times," in Conflict and Continuity in Brazilian Society, edited by Henry H. Keith and S. F. Edwards (1969).

Severino Leite Nogueira, O Seminário de Olinda e seu fundador o bispo Azeredo Coutinho (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Alves, Gilberto Luiz. O pensamento burguês no Seminário de Olinda, 1800–1836. Ibitinga: Humanidades and Mato Grosso do Sul: U.F.M.S., 1993.

Férrer, Francisco Adegildo. "Proposta pedagógica do bispo Azeredo Coutinho para a educacão de rapazes e raparigas no Brasil colonial, 1798–1802." Revista do Instituto do Ceará 109 (1995): 365-387.

                              Guilherme Pereira das Neves

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Coutinho, José Joaquim da Cunha de Azeredo (1742–1821)

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