São Vicente

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São Vicente

São Vicente, Portugal's first permanent settlement in Brazil. São Vicente was founded by Martim Afonso de Sousa in 1532 as was the much larger captaincy of the same name which dominated the settlement of southern Brazil. The settlement of São Vicente survived while other settlements failed because of the good relations the Portuguese established with nearby Indians. The Jesuit Order played an important role in São Vicente by building missions, churches, and schools for the Indians and by opposing the widespread use of Indian slavery. By the second half of the sixteenth century the sugar mills of Bahia and Pernambuco had rapidly overshadowed those of São Vicente, so that in the seventeenth century, the colonists of São Vicente turned inward, toward the wilderness. Claiming large tracts of virgin land, they created wheat farms and ranches worked by Indian slaves brought by the Bandeiras to the major towns, such as São Paulo.

In the early eighteenth century, after the discovery of gold in the interior, the captaincy of São Vicente reverted to the crown. It was renamed "São Paulo and the Mines of Gold," after its largest and most prosperous town. Thereafter, the name São Vicente referred only to the small coastal town, site of Brazil's first settlement.

See alsoSlavery: Brazil.


Alida C. Metcalf, Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Stella, Roseli Santaella. Sobre a capitania de São Vicente: Séc. XVI-XVII. São Paulo: Academia Lusíada de Ciencias, Letras e Artes, 1999.

                                            Alida C. Metcalf