The advent of the Iberian Union, despite not promoting change in the social groups that controlled power in colonial Brazil, established a series of changes in some aspects of the colony. Spanish domination meant the end of the Treaty of Tordesillas and the crisis in the supply of African slaves in Brazilian lands. In this context, we see the rise of the bandeirantes within the colony.
Departing into the interior forests, the bandeirantes ventured in search of drugs from the backlands, the recapture of African slaves who had escaped from quilombos and gold prospecting. In addition to these activities, the bandeirantes made large profits from the capture of Indians destined for slave labor on large properties in the coastal region. The lack of African slaves and the lower value of indigenous slaves created a large consumer market for this type of labor.
The commercialization of these enslaved Indians developed to the point where the bandeirantes began to establish contacts with the Spanish colonizers in the Rio de la Plata region. This entire business network was established throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and already represented an important commercial activity within the colony. Even some farmers became involved in the capture and sale of indigenous labor.
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With the end of the Iberian Union, in 1640, the Portuguese Crown directly interfered in the issue of indigenous enslavement. Economically weakened by the period of Hispanic domination, Portugal prohibited the enslavement of Indians. With such a measure, the Portuguese Crown sought to increase its profits from the trade in African slaves brought from regions on the African coast.
Feeling directly harmed by such a measure, a group of bandeirantes from São Paulo organized a reprisal that expelled the Jesuit priests, also opposed to indigenous slavery, from Vila de São Paulo. Furthermore, they tried to ally themselves with the farmer and bandeirante Amador Bueno in this revolt against the Portuguese administration. The São Paulo bandeirantes intended to elevate Amador Bueno to the status of governor of São Paulo.
Amador Bueno, who feared some type of reprisal from Portugal, did not join the movement and swore allegiance to the Crown. As a result, the São Paulo bandeirantes movement lost its support and the order to end indigenous slavery was maintained.
By Rainer Sousa
Graduated in History