Episode 6 – The Dutch Strike Back and Brazil Strikes Gold (Quick History #3)

We cover the rest of the 17th century in this episode. The Dutch recover from their initial failures to conquer Portugal’s Atlantic colonies and conquer northern Brazil along with several other colonies, including Angola. The Dutch were pretty decent rulers, but there were too many cultural differences. In the midst of this, Portugal decides to reestablish its crown separate from Spain and must fight for its existence against Spanish, leaving Brazil and the colonies largely on their own in fighting the Dutch. Exciting times!

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Dutch Brazil (New Holland) at its greatest extent.
Routes of various entradas and bandeiras, including that of Antônio Raposo Tavares in blue.
Routes of various entradas and bandeiras, including that of Antônio Raposo Tavares in blue.



1624 – WIC begins attempts to conquer Portuguese territory throughout the South Atlantic. In Brazil, they capture Salvador (the capital) but nothing else and its plans do not go well in general.
1625 – Salvador is retaken by Luso-Spanish forces (Portugal is ruled by Spain at this time) and the WIC, now broke, takes up piracy.
1628 – WIC forces capture a Spanish silver convoy. Flush with cash, they restart their conquests.
1630 – In Pernambuco, WIC forces capture Olinda and Recife. Over the next several years the WIC would take control of much of northern Brazil.
1640 – Portuguese nobles organize a coup against the Spanish viceroy and proclaim Duke João of Bragança King João IV. Spain and Portugal would be at war until 1668.
1640 – The Dutch and Portugal sign a truce, which is recognized in Brazil in 1642. However, occasional, low-level fighting continues to occur.
1645 – A full scale revolt against Dutch rule begins in Pernambuco.
1648 – Salvador Correia de Sá leads forces across the Atlantic to retake Luanda, Angola from the Dutch.
1648-1651 – Antônio Raposo Tavares leads the longest bandeira in Brazil’s history, 11,000km.
1649 – João IV founded the Brazil Company to manage and defend Portuguese and Brazilian trade.
1653 – A large Brazil Company fleet blockades Recife in December
1654 – The last of WIC forces surrender in January and leave Brazil.
1663 – Formal peace agreement is signed.


aldeamento – mission settlement, in Brazil most of these were run by Jesuits.
Antônio Raposo Tavares – one of the greatest bandeirantes, leader of the longest bandeira ever, which traveled 11,000 km.
bandeira – the name for an entrada (see below) in São Paulo.
bandeirante – a Paulista (person from São Paulo) backwoodsmen, see also sertanista.
Belém – Brazilian city situated at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Brangança – the family who took up the Portuguese crown after 1640.
Companhia Geral do Brasil – the Brazil General Company, a company formed by Portugal as a counter to the WIC.
Dutch West Indies Company – the stock company formed by the Dutch Republic to carry out the Groot Desseyn.
entrada – an expedition into the sertão for the purposes of exploration and/or capturing Indians.
Groot Desseyn – the “Grand Design”, Holland’s plan to conquer the Portuguese holdings in the South Atlantic.
Iberian Union – the period from 1580 to 1640 when the Portuguese and Spanish crowns were combined, and Portugal was ruled by Spain.
João Fernandes Vieira – the leader of the revolt against Dutch rule that began in 1645.
luso- – a prefix meaning “Portuguese”, e.g. Luso-Brazilian or Luso-Spanish.
Maranhão – one of the captaincies of northern Brazil conquered by the Dutch.
Minas Gerais – the present day state were gold was discovered at the end of the 17th century.
mocambo – a small settlement of escape slaves and other marginalized peoples
Pernambuco – one of the captaincies of northern Brazil conquered by the Dutch.
quilombo – a large settlement or collection of settlements of escape slaves and other marginalized peoples
salto – slave hunting expedition
sertanista – a backwoodsman (see also bandeirante)
sertão – backcountry
Salvador Correia de Sá – Brazilian captain who led a fleet across the Atlantic to retake Angola from the Dutch.
WIC – See Dutch West Indies Company.

Até próxima – until next time!

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