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On April 22, 1500, in the present state of Bahia, the first Portuguese landed in the lands that would become Brazil we know today.
However, it is necessary to understand the Discovery of Brazil as a broader episode, called Great Navigations.
In search of the Indies
The Great Navigations are the result of a major transformation process that took place in Europe in the late Middle Ages, seeking a new route to the Indies, aiming at the spice trade.
Portugal was the first
The first country to launch itself in search of new routes to the East was Portugal. This, thanks to the extremely favorable conditions in which this country was.
- Rich bourgeoisie: The Portuguese mercantile group has its origin linked to European commercial development and the emergence of new trade routes. There was one of them, the Atlantic-Mediterranean, which began in Italian cities and passed through the Straits of Gibraltar to reach the North Sea. The ships of this route called in Portugal to refuel and also used to trade. The use of this route gave the Portuguese bourgeoisie such a favorable economic position that it was able to finance the search for new maritime roas;
- Strong Monarchy: in 1385 the king D. João I of the Avis dynasty came to power in Portugal. As it was supported by the bourgeoisie, it had to attend, in its government, to the interests of this layer, orienting the Portuguese politics towards the search of new trade routes;
- Peaceful Situation: Portugal was going through a period of peace both internally and externally, while other European countries were involved in wars (England and France were waging the Hundred Years War and Spain was trying to expel the Arabs from its territory);
- Favorable geographical position: Looking at the map, we can see that Portugal is entirely facing the Atlantic Ocean which meant great position for sea navigation.
The objective of Portugal was to reach the Indies around the African continent, so we call the Portuguese navigations of Eastern cycle.
For a long time, Portugal was the only European country to sail:
- He conquered Ceuta in North Africa in 1415. In this region he founded his first base within the African continent;
- conquered several islands in the Atlantic;
- In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias skirted the Cape of Good Hope, proving the connection of the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian Ocean.